Q&A With Coach Morris

With pre-season workouts on the horizon, E-T Sports Editor Brad Keith asks Stephenville Head Football Coach Chad Morris 13 questions to shed some light on the upcoming 2007 gridiron season.

Read below, as Keith asks and Morris answers:

Keith: How many student-athletes do you expect to report when workouts begin?

Morris: Anywhere from 170-200

Keith: How do you feel spring ball helped in preparing the Jackets for the 2007 season?

Morris: It helped tremendously. Spring ball was a win-win situation, and a big-time hit. Weíre a better football team going into the fall because of spring ball.

Keith: What will the primary focus be during the first few practices?

Morris: Because of the short time we have, we have to be in shape, so conditioning will be a big factor. When we start, weíre within 14 days of game on. But, weíre not starting practice weíre resuming practice. We had a great spring and great summer with guys working out. The main thing is retention.

Keith: How do you replace players such as Eric Edwards, Brent McElfresh and Hunter Hendershot?

Morris: Those are great players who left a great mark on our program. I donít think you ever really replace them, but one thing Iíve learned in my time here is there is always another group waiting in line to play their roles and do their share. Thatís where the program comes into play.

Keith: What must the 2007 Jackets improve on to advance further in the playoffs than the 2006 squad?

Morris: We have to continue getting better each week. Last year, I felt like we peaked at halftime against Aledo, and never reached that level of play again. A lot of that had to do with having young kids.

Keith: With nine starters coming back on offense, how will the experience on that side help the team?

Morris: Weíll be further ahead early in the year. (The returning regulars) were in 12 games and 2 scrimmages last year. Thatís a season and a half basically that they have under their belts.

Keith: What kind of added dimensions does a player like Cody Davis bring to the defense?

Morris: He is a great player who is very valuable to our success. Cody is an extremely intelligent young man. He allows us to do things and make adjustments we could not otherwise do. I like to tell our players the value they bring to our defense is a direct reflection of how close they are to the football every snap. Cody is right there every time.

Keith: Who do you foresee becoming QB Kody Spanoís favorite target this fall?

Morris: We lost (McElfresh and Hunter), and they were two big-time targets. After watching 7-on-7 play this summer, I donít think thereís really a favorite. I feel like weíre pretty consistent all the way across the board, with each package of players bringing something different to the field.

Keith: T.R. Varnado saw playing time as a freshman in 2006, and returns to anchor the defensive line. What do you expect from him?

Morris: As the year went on, and even more so in the playoffs, he got some valuable reps. I felt like he was a difference maker in our two playoff games. We expect him to be a big time threat on the defensive line the next three years. Heís up to 6-2, 295, and he can really run. T.R. has the potential for an outstanding high school career.

Keith: Who are the players the fans and media donít know much about now, but will know very well by the end of the season?

Morris: Thereís so many. Josh Graves and Dakota Mathis, for sure. A defensive end, Josh Emmons, is about 6-2, 230, and he had a great spring. Chris Featherstone will be a good CB for us. Alex Bracy, at LB, is a good football player. One with a lot of physical talent who we hope to use at FB and on special teams is Hayden Whiteley. Offensive lineman Josh Grantham is a good one, too. Heís a 6-2, 270-pound junior.

Keith: What do you feel will prove to be the teamís strongest and deepest position this fall?

Morris: Our offensive skills players. Our RBs and WRs, and of course QBs definitely one, too. Our offensive line also has a lot of strength and depth.

Keith: What position concerns you the most entering the pre-season?

Morris: I donít know if thereís one position that really concerns me. Our new inside LBs just need to play, and both of our DEs need varsity reps, but theyíll be fine.

Keith: How do you prepare the team for having that bullís eye on their chest every week?

Morris: Thatís just part of being a great program. Weíre going to get everybodyís best every Friday night. A lot of people outside Stephenville donít like the Yellow Jackets, and thatís good. If they all liked us it would mean they were kicking our tails.