2015 Sun Belt Conference Media Day

July 21, 2015 · By · Filed Under Football, NCAA, Sun Belt Conference 

7-21_Release_GraphicThe 2015 Sun Belt Conference Media Day was held on Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Head coach Joey Jones along with student-athletes Chris May and Roman Buchanan all spoke to the media.

Below are highlights from their time with the media.

Joey Jones

Opening statement:
“We had a good year last year, going to our first bowl game was a big deal for us. But our guys want to achieve more. They want to win a bowl game and a conference championship — those are our two goals. We have some great leadership on this football team, probably the best we’ve had. These guys are meeting once a week, talking to all the players and doing things behind the scenes that make a team great. Everybody knows we had 31 seniors last year who graduated, including 17 starters, and is concerned about that, and I am too. But if you could look in that locker room, be around the guys and be on the practice field with them, maybe we will surprise some people this fall.”

Jones spoke about the potential impact UAB transfers will have on the team this year:
“We’ve got several. I think Cameron Blankenship will start for us at right guard, he’s a tough, athletic football player. Cody Clements has a chance to be the starting quarterback, I feel real good about him, and D.J. Vinson is doing really well at the slot receiver. Gerald Everett is doing extremely well, he’s a lot like Wes Saxton in that he’s an athletic tight end. I could go on and on, but those are some of the guys who have shown that they can really play the game. The great thing is they have been able to take our system, which [assistant] coach [Bryant] Vincent brought from here to UAB last year, so there was no learning curve with terminology. From day one [of spring practice] they were able to play at a high level. With us losing so many seniors and starters, they have been able to fill some voids on offense that were highly needed.”

Jones spoke about the leadership he’s seen in this year’s senior class:
“I think they have stepped up well in that regard. I’ve been extremely impressed with their ability to lead. Talking about leading and leading is two different things, and I think these guys are truly leading every day. We’ve had some great leadership in the past and they have learned from those guys, just like you learn from your parents.”

Jones spoke about what Chris May means to the offense:
“He’s completely changed in that regard. Chris’ attitude is A-plus, his effort is A-plus, he’s a great athlete. I expect great things out of him not only on the field, protecting our quarterback and run blocking, but also as a guy who can lead, which is going to bring some of these young guys along. I’ve been real impressed with Chris May.”

Jones on the experience gained playing at the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl:
“Every time I think about coming on the field for that game, I think it’s one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever been involved in. To see our players who had fought to get there all those years, and to look up into the stands and see all of our fans who had come up from Mobile, all of our alumni who had come from across the Southeast yelling as loud as they could, it was a chilling moment. It was a moment that I and all of our players had dreamed about, so it’s exciting that we were able to do that in our second year as an NCAA Division I program.”

Chris May

May on his role of being a leader entering his senior year:
“Honestly, I just want to leave a legacy of building leaders, not just being a leader of our offense or our team. It’s more about putting time in with the younger guys and trying to develop them as well because when the older guys leave we have to have someone who will provide the foundation.”

May spoke about how the transfers from UAB have fit in:
“When they first got here it, even though they fit in, it was kind of awkward. What they went through was a traumatic situation. But this summer we’ve been able hang out — cooking out, going bowling, things like that — to build chemistry with them, which has been awesome.”

May on the goals of the offense in 2015:
Coach Vincent has been pounding into our heads that we want to be the best offense in our conference and one of the best, if not the best, in the country. We had the weapons last year to be a lot better than we were, and we have the weapons now to be a lot better than we were last year. A lot of people are pointing out that we lost a lot of people from our defense last year, but I think the finger should be pointed at us [the offense]. We need to learn how to develop better chemistry and instead of underachieving we need to overachieve.”

May on adjusting to [assistant] coach [Bryant] Vincent returning just before the bowl game last season:
“He did a very good job of using what we were already doing, but tweaking it to make it his own. He didn’t really change a lot of terminology, he didn’t change a lot of plays, he just tweaked some stuff to do what he wanted to do. We only had one game, and we couldn’t completely reinvent our offense in one week. We really haven’t changed a lot of stuff, we’re going to do things a lot faster and be a lot more aggressive, so it’s not a huge transition. It’s a different mentality but the same type of system.”

May on his experience taking the field at the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl last year:
“The process of getting to the bowl was really cool, and then running onto the field with the fireworks was a cool experience even if it caught me off guard. But once the game started the feeling was gone, it was just another game. It was a really cool experience.”

Roman Buchanan

Buchanan on how important is it for the program to take the next step:
“I feel that this year is the year for us to prove that we are a unit. Losing some players [from last season] on defense doesn’t mean anything. The way in which we do things [on the field] is why we win. What we are trying to implement in our program is that the way you watch film, the way you run, just everything you do every single day. Our ways is what makes us win.”

Buchanan on what he has seen in practice from the defensive unit and what he expects from them:
“I’m just ready for fall camp, because based off our 7-on-7s, workouts and everything we’ve been doing, the competition level is neck-and-neck. Right now, I feel we are two-deep at the corner. I feel like the battle at the corner position is going to be so steep that if you stub your toe, you may lose your starting job. It hasn’t always been that way for us. At linebacker, Demarius Rancifer had an extremely good spring and he’s still learning. On the defensive line, I really expect Tyree [Turner] and Roy [Albritton] to come in and make a splash. They’ve shown the will to learn the defense, the will to get better every single day. They came in this spring with the right attitude and I love it. As a whole though, I feel that we’ve taken what we did last year and shown that we believe we can be even better than that.”

Buchanan on how important he feels his role on the team will be this season:
“What Maleki [Harris] was last year and what Romelle [Jones] was the year before, I feel that that’s me now. Those guys helped me so much to get to where I am right now. I can’t remember exactly when it was last season, but Maleki came to me during a practice and told me that it was my turn. He told me that this was my defense now, that I had to take ownership of it and that I had to hold guys accountable. I think I’ve done that. I wasn’t a very vocal guy when I got here, but I’ve gotten better.”

Buchanan on how his versatility in high school has helped him at this level:
“I feel like from that experience that I understand the game so much better and deeper than your average defensive player. There are very few things that an offense can throw at me that confuses me or causes me to play slower. I think the triple-option offense, which you rarely see in college, is the only thing that I’ve had to get used to. Because of those experiences, I feel like I know what the offense is trying to do and I know what I would do if I was an offensive player, so there is very little that you can do to get me off my game. What I love about playing safety is that I have total control over the defense. I can make calls at all three levels. Because I know what the offense is trying to do, [assistant] coach [Travis] Pearson has a lot of confidence in me and gives me freedom back there. It’s kind of like being a quarterback back there.”


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