Head Coach Dennis Allen. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: Just talk about the overall practice today.
Coach Allen: “I thought it was a good practice. I was really pleased, again, with the way the guys were working. Today was the last day in pads for them until the game, so I thought they got after it really well. You could really see some of the improvement as you go from Monday’s initial practice through yesterday and then today. You can really see the improvement in some of the things these guys are picking up, the things we’re asking them to do.”
Q: Talk about your secret weapon in Jeff Locke (UCLA), punter, kickoff, holder, fake field goal; he’s pretty versatile.
Coach Allen: “He’s a pretty good athlete and he’s got an exceptionally strong leg. And I think any time you get a guy that can do both kicking off and punting, I think that’s something that teams are going to look at because, really, in anything you do, the more versatile you are, the more options teams have with you.”
Q: As you’re evaluating these players, what part of the Senior Bowl week is this experience most important to you? The one-on-one interviews?
Coach Allen: “The thing that we get out of coaching the game is that we get to see all the behind-the-scenes things. That’s really what the important part is about coaching the game and being able to evaluate these players. We all can look at the tape of these players and see what they can do, from an athletic standpoint. Obviously, we get a little bit of a leg up because we’re right there on top of them, but really it’s all the behind-the-scenes things, whether it be their demeanor on the practice field, the way they carry themselves on the practice field, their demeanor during the meetings, their focus, their drive, things you’re looking for in seeing, ‘Is this a guy that really loves football?’. Those are the kinds of things that we can see, being able to be with them for this whole week.”
Q: Do you want to see something different out of the quarterbacks behind the scenes, and have you seen that this week?
Coach Allen: “I don’t know if we’re looking to see something different from the quarterbacks but we want to be able to evaluate the quarterbacks and see what they can do on the field and then, again, just like everybody else, how do they carry themselves behind the scenes? We’re looking for leadership qualities. Who can carry themselves? Because let’s face it, the quarterback position, that’s the leader of the football team. When you look at the teams in the National Football League that can do it on a consistent basis, and have done it on a consistent basis, a lot of times they have a quarterback there in place, and that quarterback’s usually the figurehead of the team. Those are some of the things we’re looking for as we work with these guys throughout the week.”
Q: What have you seen in the Alex Okafor (Texas) – Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) matchups?
Coach Allen: “I’ve seen that it’s been a good battle. I think both of those guys are very good football players. They both have their strengths and things they do really well. I’ve really enjoyed watching the one-on-one pass rush when those guys go up against each other because I think it’s a really good matchup.”
Q: What have you seen from cornerbacks Blidi Wreh-Wilson from UConn and Will Davis from Utah State?
Coach Allen: “Well, I think both of them are good football players. Davis is probably not quite as big but a little bit quicker. Wilson, when you look at him, his size and his length are things that really stand out to me, initially. They’ve both gone out there and competed. One of the things I really enjoy watching is the one-on-one competition between the wide receivers and corners, because at the end of the day, to play corner in the National Football League, the first thing you want to know is, can the guy cover? So, those have been some good matchups out there.”
Q: Denard Robinson (Michigan) was out of the no-contact jersey today. How did he look?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I saw him a little bit more, probably not nearly enough to get a really good evaluation on where he is. Obviously, it’s going to be a learning experience for him, because there’s going to be a position switch there, but the one thing you do see, what stands out, is the guy is explosive. He’s really good with the ball in his hands. I’m looking forward to seeing when we get into the game what he can do.”
Q: What have you seen from a comfort standpoint, regarding Denard?
Coach Allen: “He’s a very confident player. He has a lot of confidence in his ability, but at the same time he understands he doesn’t know everything he needs to know about playing the wide-receiver position. But he’s very willing to learn. That’s the biggest thing in these guys, being able to put forth the effort in learning the position.”
Q: In regard to demeanor on and off the field, is there anyone that sticks out as the alpha dog, a guy people just gravitate toward?
Coach Allen: “There’s several guys that I think have kind of demonstrated that ability, so it’s hard for me to single out one guy in particular. I think there’s a handful of them that we’ve identified that possess those qualities. That’s one of the things we’re looking for. That’s one of the good things about us being the coaches in the game; we get that information and not everybody else does.”
Q: What have you seen from Jordan Poyer (Oregon State) and Jamar Taylor (Boise State)?
Coach Allen: “Well, Poyer’s one of those guys that really understands football. He’s got good quickness. I think he’s exceptional as far as his football knowledge is concerned. Taylor, again, he’s an athletic type of corner, kind of in the same way, he’s got some of those quickness, change-of-direction qualities, maybe a little bit better in the long speed.”
Q: Is there one or two qualities in a player you say, ‘That’s a Raider,’ that you need to check off before you draft them?
Coach Allen: “We’ve said this the whole year. The guys we’re looking for with the Oakland Raiders, we’re looking for guys that love football, that are willing to work, and guys who put the team first. Those are the qualities we’re looking for in football players. We’re looking for guys to demonstrate those qualities to us, and those are the type of people we want. We want football players first. Guys that love football, they generally find a way to get it done on Saturdays in the college schedule, or on Sundays in the National Football League.
Q: How is Brian Winters (Kent State) transitioning to guard?
Coach Allen: “I think he’s made a nice transition. Obviously, there’s still a little bit of a learning curve for him, inside at the guard, but he’s a big, powerful guy, and I think he’s done a nice job of transitioning inside.”
Q: Coach, how do you decide in an all-star game who starts and…
Coach Allen: “We just flip a coin.”
Q: Do you have a schedule of who plays when?
Coach Allen: “We don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the depth chart per se because in this type of game, we want to make sure everybody plays equally, so we’ll have a rotation in place where we can try to, as much as possible, we can’t always dictate how the game’s going to play out, but as much as possible we want these guys to be able to play evenly, showcase their ability to everyone in the National Football League. That’s really the primary objective, as far as playing time is concerned.”
Q: Kyle Long (Oregon) still sick?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, he’s still sick. He had flu-like symptoms that kept him up all night last night. This is a situation where you want to be able to put your best foot forward, so we held him out today. He should be fine the rest of the week, or at least that’s what we’re anticipating.”