Monken Breaks Down The Battles of Fall Camp

Monken Breaks Down The Battles of Fall Camp

In part 2 of our sit down interview with Coach Monken at Conference USA media day, he goes into detail about the some of the expectations from his players this season. Where does he feel confident, and where does he feel there are still question marks? You can find out here.

In part two of our conversation with Coach Monken from C-USA media days, we get down to talking about the players and what Coach Monken expects from his team this season.

Following an 0-12 situation, from the outside it would seem like a talent void situation that would take years to rebuild.

Fortunately for the Eagles, that is just not the case.

A team that went 13-2 two seasons ago still has some of those players around, and they are determined to show that last season was only a fluke, or a "bump in the road" as Coach Monken likes to call it.

Offensively, it starts with the QB, a position that Coach Monken will take himself. As his offensive coordinator, he brought in Marcus Arroyo because of the unique perspective he can bring.

"I've known Marcus a few years through some friends," Coach Monken said. "I wanted someone outside of the footprint of what we do but yet liked studying football. He came very highly recommended from Jeff Tedford.

"He's smart, loyal, works hard and connects with kids. I'm not talking X's and O's which he knows too, but he connects really well with kids. As long as he does that we'll win a lot of games."

Coach has talked often of the skill positions on offense being the strength of the team, especially at running back. With four players with game experience returning, and loads of talent, Coach Monken has plenty of options at that position.

It is the quarterback position that still has question marks, and Coach Monken knows securing him in place is still up in the air.

"It is a work in progress," Monken said. "Like a lot of the positions on our team, it is developing. That is why they pay me the money, to find out who is going to play QB and how they are going to do.

"So, whoever it is has to give us a chance to win.

"We have four guys that could all start, and I have to acknowledge that. Cole Weeks did a great job of managing the offense. He can run this offense, he really can. He's a smart kid who makes good decisions.

"Kyle has all the physical tools, and he just need to have confidence is what he's doing out there. He was lost in the beginning but he's got enough talent that he can get it done.

"Ricky is continuing to improve, and he's back to full strength. He's run this offense before so he's got a leg up there.

"With Alan, I mean, I don't know, we'll see. He's going to come in and have to pick things up immediately. He's experienced, so that helps. What he doesn't have is the chemistry with the WR's like the other guys who threw all spring and summer to them. So it will be like, 'hey you, throw it to that guy over there.'

"Whoever can give us the best chance to win will win the job, and I'm not sure how its going to shake out yet."

Winning football starts in the trenches, and Coach Monken is eager to see how a full healthy offensive line responds in the spring.

"No, we are not there yet," he said when asked about the development of the offensive line.

"Jordan got hurt go we had to pull Garrett from guard. Ed Preston was struggling academically so we had him out some. We had guys banged up who were learning a new system so that is always tough. They were processing and not playing.

"Hopefully we'll see that improvement because we have to see it. We won't be very good unless we see it.

"We can't be good offensively if we are not good up front. I think we have good guys there, and good people, but now we'll find out what kind of toughness we have."

At the WR position, the Eagles have several guys who have been through the battles, and fortunately they have picked up the offense quickly.

"Our receivers had really a really good spring as a group," he said.

"We have two nice outside targets who give us a lot in Dominque and Chris. We have guys who have been here and know how to play the position like D.J. and Justin. And we have depth with guys like Ricky Bradley who has come in and made a big impact."

Defensively, Coach Monken feels very confident in what he's seen out of his group.

One of the biggest assets, he says, is the man leading the defense.

"Coach Duggan was here for the 4 years Larry was here, so he has some working knowledge of how things are done here," Coach explained.

"He knows the recruiting landscape, and then he knows our players. That is where our strength comes. He's a great football coach, and he's a professional film watcher.

"He's one who pays attention to the details of the game, which is what I needed because I'm going to run the offense. I have to be able to trust that person and I can trust him.

"He's been a head coach, and he could run the entire program. Somehow everything just fell into place, and I'm thankful it did because its been great to have him."

Up front, there is talent, but staying healthy will certainly be the key.

"We just don't have a lot of depth there," Monken said.

"We have guys banged up like Dasman McCullum. Our front line guys are really good. The tough thing is that with everyone going no huddle you have to develop depth.

Speaking of Alan Howze and Dylan Reda at the LB position, he likes the leadership they'll provide.

"I feel really good about our defense," he added. "I love that we have a lot of seniors and some really good players.

"These guys are hungry, they didn't like the way teams ran over them last season and they want to bring back the toughness that Southern Miss is known for."

Notes:

-Coach said Dasman McCullum will be fine. He's got to get trust back and be able to play without thinking about it. His knee was scoped a few weeks ago but he's been running and working out on it this summer.

-Jacorius Cotton has a chance to make it, though it is a small chance.

-There was no mention of Deron Wilson at the C-USA media days. It is a fluid situation that may come down to the first day of camp before we know anything for certain.

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