New coach Dan Quinn had plenty to say at Tuesday's press conference, and we are fired up to give you some of the highlights.
There is plenty of interest in running back/touchdown scorer Antone Smith.
The speed is the first thing that jumps out when you talk about Antone. The big plays, and trying to feature him in unique ways, certainly, not just as a ball carrier, but out of the back field, catching screens, and on [special] teams. Really, one of the guys we are completely counting on. He is such a factor, along with Eric Weems. The speed. The attitude. It has been awesome getting him back in the mix.
Quinn sounds much more dedicated to truly utilizing Smith and getting the ball in his hands. He should have plenty of chances on offense, while contributing on special teams. At the very least, I am personally hopeful that Antone gets more than 3 carries up the middle before getting sent to the bench.
Quinn has been impressed with Ra'Shede Hageman's initial quickness. As many predicted, Quinn believes he can play Hageman at defensive tackle and defensive end, depending on the defensive package. He sounded very impressed with Hageman, specifically saying he will try "to utilize and feature" him in every way possible. Based on Quinn's comments, I am cautiously optimistic that Hageman will have a monster season.
Quinn stressed competition, saying that the team will give opportunities to every player on the roster. Quinn's comments suggest a culture change in Flowery Branch, as he highlighted the importance of developing a close relationship with the players as well as the coaches.
Quinn discussed practicing on the dreaded third downs, trying to put the players in "as many competitive two minute and end-of-half and end-of-game situations as we can."
Asked who made plays, Quinn specifically mentioned being impressed with Robert Alford's speed. This is interesting as Alford will have plenty of competition to start opposite of Desmond Trufant, but sounds as if he has a commanding lead.
The Tight Ends
Quinn said he has been continually impressed with Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki. There was no mention of Levine Toilolo. It is unlikely the team will have a top 10 tight end this year, but they should not be in the bottom 10, either.
The Offensive Line
On new guard Chris Chester, Quinn was impressed with his movement, and said he loves the competition at tackle, guard, and center. Quinn said that he is looking for the best group of players to start on the offensive line.