Now just four days away from the season opener, today’s session acted as a Tuesday practice, with position specific drills followed by the team portion, which has been closed to media for two full weeks now. Chase Lucas, Evan Fields and offensive coordinator Zak Hill spoke with the media following practice. Here’s what they had to say this morning.
Lucas on the excitement
“I’ve been telling everyone man, it feels like the first day of school, and this will be my last first. I’m really excited and I’m just trying to bottle all that in until Wednesday,” the fifth year defensive back said. “The fact that we went 2-2 and have a top 25 ranking shows a lot about our coaches and our team. Thursday is going to be a big statement for us. I’m ready to go up against someone else, I told (Jayden Daniels) I don’t want to see any more of him until we’re playing on Sundays.”
It’s no secret that this year’s squad has seen the expectations from the outside, and elevated them within the locker room. Players haven’t been shy when it comes to where they see themselves at the end of the season. Evan Fields talked about the statement the group will make Thursday night.
“Our whole goal as a team is always just to go out there and dominate. Whatever the score may be we want to go out there and have no mercy, that’s always our mentality. We value showing up everyday and being about business. Once you get here and in this facility it’s time to go to work. We believe that we have the potential to do something great, and as a whole we want to prove ourselves right.”
Play Smart and the Rest Will Follow
“The talent level here is not an issue,” Fields said. “Our coaches always tell us to make it a mental game and play smart. It’s not a question that we’re going to go out there and be fast and physical but we have to play smart as well. We’ve emphasized the importance of not grabbing and putting our hands on receivers. Our coaches remind us of penalties everyday, we know we just have to look at the receiver’s hips and run.”
The man in charge of what is shopping up to be one of the Pac-12’s most high-powered offenses is coordinator Zak Hill. He preaches a commitment to the playbook, and wants to stress that his offense will be on full display no matter the opponent.
“My philosophy is that we’re not going to hold back,” Hill said. “Every game we want to be explosive and have fun and be creative, and really put it all out there. As we learned last year you never know how many games you're going to get.”
“It’s definitely great to have some big long bodies that are good receivers, let’s see if we can keep recruiting more of those,” Hill said with a grin. “The big tall guys (Johnny Wilson and Curtis Hodges). We have a lot of weapons, guys like Daniyel Ngata will get some good playing time this week as well.”
You never want to write off a game as an easy win, but Thursday’s opener is about as close to that as you’ll get. On Saturday night, San Jose State manhandled Southern Utah, rushing for over 400 yards in the blowout victory. On top of that, it will be a quick turnaround for the Thunderbirds, who will have just four days of rest under their belts when they take the field in Tempe.