T.J. Weist held his first teleconference with the media Friday morning, and it was pretty lively.
More important, the Huskies' practices have been lively since Weist, named interim coach Monday after Paul Pasqualoni was fired, walked on the field in his new role.
"I sat down with some of the seniors and captains and I wanted to get their input on what changes they think can help us in this transition and can help us to win games," Weist said. "One of the things they said was they'd like to have some music [at practice]. ... They see other teams with music and they all watch the videos, there are videos everywhere of teams practicing ... and they get excited about it. We added some music at the beginning of practice, during stretch and some other things just to get the practice started out right. ... It's my music."
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That means there's some rock 'n' roll, such as "Enter Sandman." The Gap Band has been kickin' up out there, too, Weist said. He hasn't broken out the country yet, but he will. Players are encouraged to bring their own.
The point is, the program needs to be rejuvenated. Weist said practices have been spirited. And after an 0-4 start, the program needs on-field changes, too. Weist said fans will see some of that. He named Tim Boyle (Xavier-Middletown) starting quarterback Tuesday, with former starter Chandler Whitmer now in the backup role. Casey Cochran (Masuk-Monroe) is third on the depth chart.
"You don't go 0-4 and make some of the mistakes we made and not change," Weist said. "We're not going to wholesale change everything. I'm not going to sit here and announce we're going to be something different. I don't want anybody we're playing to go, 'They're going to do this, they're going to do that.' You're going to see some changes. I want to see some changes in execution. I want to see changes in energy and effort.
"We've got new energy with a new quarterback. I think we'll get some guys back from injuries. I'm sure we'll have a game plan ready to oppose South Florida (0-4) on offense, defense and special teams, but I don't want to sit here and say we're going to run double reverses and blitz every snap. Hopefully you guys know I'm smarter than that."
Weist didn't get too far into personnel changes as much as additions, such as the return of sophomore receiver Kamal Abrams (knee), and playing freshmen slotbacks Brian Lemelle and Dhameer Bradley more. This one is more of an eyebrow raiser: Freshman fullback Jazzmar Clax (5 feet 11, 239 pounds) could get carries at tailback in a rushing offense that is the worst in the country at 46 yards a game.
"We've got two-back sets, but not many," Weist said. "I'd like to get him on the field, and I'm not going to wait just to play him at fullback. I think he does a good job carrying the ball and in protection."
Weist said he doesn't expect changes on the offensive line but did say being without backup center Tyler Bullock, arrested on a DUI charge early Thursday, is going to hurt the depth. He said he is hopeful senior right tackle Kevin Friend (ankle) will be back. He is hoping freshman guard Kyle Schafenacker can step up now that Bullock is gone.
Weist said there would be growing pains with Boyle.
"We'll be patient with him," Weist said. "Are we married to him? I treat him really like most of the players. [He must] go out there and perform. Our goal is to win and you need to do things to help us win. I don't say that if he goes out and doesn't perform the way we want that we're going to keep him in the game and stick with him no matter what. We have to do what's best for the team at any position and he is just like everybody else. ... With him as the quarterback, we're going to give him time. But this is a time to win in this program."
Odds And Ends
Weist said he has confidence in defensive coordinator Hanks Hughes, so he has not concentrated much on defense. ... There is a staff opening because associate head coach/offensive line coach George DeLeone was fired. "I'm still making decisions about bringing in other coaches," Weist said. "One thing I don't want to do is I don't want to take a coach from another staff. I'd never want a coach to leave me in the middle of the season; my pool is guys that are here or guys that are out of work." ... On recruiting: "Our staff has talked to all of our commits. I have talked to the majority of them and reassured them the athletic department is behind them; that their scholarships are still good with us and we want them. Those guys have been very responsive to us."