Aug. 25, 2009
BY Eric Berry, For Sporting News Today
Fall camp has been very interesting the way the coaches have set it up. It's more like an NFL camp.
A lot of the things we do are reinforced by work in the classroom. I think a lot of that is from the NFL experience we have on our coaching staff. We've been meeting more than we ever have here, and doing a lot of walkthroughs. There's never a time where we aren't thinking football.
The goal is to make sure you know where you're supposed to be on the field at all times, and that you're comfortable with what you're doing. It's all about mental repetitions. We do a lot of board work in the classroom. We diagram the plays and go through them step by step until everyone knows his responsibility.
I'm a very visual person, and I feel like I can understand it if I actually see it and can walk through it. I like to see how it feels to go through a certain blitz or coverage instead of just seeing it on paper. You'd be surprised how many other guys are like that, too.
We're very comfortable with this staff; we have a very open staff that is up front with us. We can come to them about anything. We can talk about anything. It might have something to do with age, but it's just as easy to relate to Coach (Lane) Kiffin as it is to relate to (defensive coordinator) Monte (Kiffin).
I think our staff mixes well with different personalities because they have to. The way we are as a university and a program, we have to be more of a national recruiting team. So our staff has to feel comfortable recruiting guys from all parts of the nation. We have people from California, Texas, New Jersey, all over.
It takes a different kind of coach who can relate to a player from California as well as a player from Georgia. Maybe that's the NFL in this staff, too. In the NFL, players are from all over the country; it's not specific to one region.
If you're a player, you have to feel comfortable with your coaches. You have to feel like they're going to fight for you, and you're going fight for them. Camp has brought us closer together as a team. You get to know people from being around them all the time. We're building trust and confidence.
That means a lot when the season begins. You can play as hard as you want, but if you don't trust the guy next to you, if you don't have confidence that he will do his job, you're not going to win games.
-- As told to Matt Hayes