Aug. 12, 2008
In Attendance: Bill Wagner (Annapolis Capital), Camille Powell (Washington Post)
Wagner: I noticed a couple of changes on the depth chart I wanted to ask you about. Jeff Battipaglia was third on the depth chart to start the fall and now he is listed as a starter at the one tackle spot.
Niumatalolo: He has done a nice job. He had a great off-season. Some guys struggle when they go from the classroom to the grass, they have a hard time transferring the information, but he has done a great job of doing that. He is one young guy we are excited about.
Wagner: Has he been more physical since the spring? How does a guy jump from three to one that fast?
Niumatalolo: Well, Matt Molloy got hurt and he started taking some of his reps and he is doing a good job. I am very encouraged about him because he can pick things up in the classroom and then carry it over to the field. With some guys there is no carry over.
Wagner: What about Cory Finnerty at slot back? He came out of nowhere.
Niumatalolo: He is having a solid camp and he had a really good spring. Any time you start out with a new coach (Joe DuPaix) everybody starts at ground zero. Coach DuPaix had no preconceived notions of who were the better players and Cory has proven to him that he can play. He has taken advantage of an opportunity. Andre Byrd and Greg Shinego got hurt and he’s made the most out of that opportunity.
Wagner: When is Andre Byrd coming back? Niumatalolo: He is supposed to be back this week, hopefully the next couple of days. Wagner: Shinego is out for a while, right?
Wagner: That opens up some opportunities at slot.
Niumatalolo: It has and it has also given some of our young guys a shot. We really like our young slot backs. They have been fed to the wolves and have handled it pretty well. The young slot backs are very athletic.
Wagner: And Jarod is number one at one slot back?
Niumatalolo: He is, but right now he is playing quarterback.
Wagner: I noticed that Kaipo isn’t even here today, where is he?
Niumatalolo: Working on his hamstring.
Wagner: Is he going to be OK?
Niumatalolo: With hamstrings you never know. Hamstrings can take a while to heal. We will have to see.
Wagner: He didn’t seem too concerned about it on Saturday at the scrimmage. He was laughing and smiling on the bench, he didn’t seem that hurt.
Niumatalolo: That’s just Kaipo’s personality. Hamstrings are very delicate. Some guys can come back quick and with some guys it can linger. We just want to make sure he doesn’t come back too quick.
Wagner: So are you going to hold him out for a while?
Niumatalolo: Until he’s healthy.
Wagner: Which is indefinite.
Wagner: So Bryant won’t be taking any snaps at slot back for now.
Niumatalolo: No, he will play all quarterback for now.
Wagner: So does that mean Finnerty is a starter at slot opposite Shun?
Niumatalolo: Finnerty, Cory James, Aaron Santiago, all those young guys will have a chance. We mix and match at that position so just because you start doesn’t mean you will play 90 plays. We will play a lot of guys there.
Wagner: Why did you decide to move Lark to guard?
Niumatalolo: We wanted to take the ball out of his hands. He has small hands. He had a ton of problems with the center/QB exchange and we felt like if we could take the ball out of his hands and just let him come off the ball and not worry about snapping it he would be better off and he is doing a good job at guard.
Wagner: Do you think he can help you at guard?
Niumatalolo: There is no doubt. He can definitely help us there. I just wanted to take the stress of snapping the ball off him. Just let him come off the ball and knock the other guy out.
Wagner: That means the young kid Patrick Snow is now the number two center.
Niumatalolo: He is similar to Cory Finnerty, a solid guy that knows what he’s doing. He’s very similar to Cole Smith. I am very comfortable with Patrick Snow. For what we do you need somebody smart at that position. Osei Asante has moved over to center as well. We try and cross train people and make sure that everybody knows every position so we can play our best five guys. We do the same thing over and over again. What we are doing now is the same thing we will do against Army. Guys get better at what they are doing the more they do it.
Wagner: Can you talk about Jabaree Tuanee? I noticed he is on the depth chart this week.
Niumatalolo: He really caught our eye on Saturday. Sometimes the freshmen can get lost early on, but he is a guy that has stood out. He is very athletic and very strong. He was a wrestler in high school as well. He has a bright future here.