And finally, Coach Jon Embree had some time for me. I like his answers to the questions about recruiting and I'm excited for when this staff can finally get to "recruiting normally." The day had been going on for a while and the heat was getting to us, but again, I asked some questions that you folks wanted to know about. I hope you enjoy!
For your reference, I am DG and he is JE:
DG - How do you feel more prepared going into year 2?
JE - There's a lot of things in place that you had to get in place in the first year. Like I said, when you're trying to create an environment or trying to change the mentality of a program you have to do a lot of things from: how we go to class, what we're wearing in the weight room, what on-time means, how you practice, all that. With all that being in place it just frees me up to do more football now.
DG - How does it help that your whole staff returned?
Follow the jump to see Coach Embree's best attempt at Impressionist sculpting!
JE - That helps a lot because it's a language you're speaking when you start talking about systems and all of that, so as a coach, you don't have to re-teach the new coach what you're calling plays and why you do things a certain way and you don't have to worry about players hearing it a different way than what you've been telling them for the past year. Any time you can have continuity it helps.
DG - Besides getting healthier, what strides has the secondary made?
JE - Healthier and getting new players in. Infuse some talent, these young kids, when you start talking about playing early, the skill positions, usually WR, DB, RB, those are easier to play early, to make that transition from high school to college. What those kids have done, getting them in here gives us depth, gives us competition and it's made some other guys raise their game, so it'll be fun.
DG - Can you pick out a group on each side of the ball you've seen the most improvement from?
JE - I'm excited about how our offensive line has done, from offseason conditioning up through summer. I think they've really become a good, tight-knit group. I think they are leading and that's what you'd want out of that group, so that's one. On the other side of the ball, we're going to be young at so many places, you know the veteran group is the linebackers but they've been dinged and nicked up. But individually guys like Chidera (Uzo-Diribe), (Will) Pericak, Ray Polk and those guys have all stepped up and done a lot of good things.
DG - Have you seen benefits from the basketball program's recent success?
JE - Yeah. It keeps Colorado, especially with the tournament being here, it kept Colorado in front of athletes in the state of California. The excitement and the buzz, our athletes do a lot of stuff around each other, hanging out with each other, they're pulling for each other, so it's been great.
DG - What kind of relationships have you developed with the coaches of the other programs?
JE - You know what, we do run at each other a lot and we do a lot of stuff together. Actually, Tad and I were trying this year to get a dinner with both staffs, but we couldn't get it done in time, so we'll do that next year. But I've done a lot of stuff with Tad, and stuff with (Jean) Prioleau, with Rodney (Billups), so I think we're both big fans of each others programs.
DG - Are you excited about having an off-week this season (I meant to say bye-week...)?
JE - What's an off-week? Yeah, I can't WAIT. You know, looking back, that was hard, that was hard on the players, they wore down. And we didn't have a lot of depth to begin with and you get a couple of key injuries, and you do need a week to rest and get them back. Like before we played Washington I was talking to (Coach) Sark and if they wouldn't have had a bye week before they played us, then it would've been iffy if Keith Price would've played against us, that helped (them), you know? We played 4 teams I think last year coming off byes before us and that didn't do us any favors, but it was what it was and I'm looking forward to having that bye and getting the guys healthy. Plus it allows you to do more with your younger players, the kids that are red-shirting and all that. It gives you more opportunity to do stuff with them when you have a bye.
DG - What's it like having to get all the new coaches and new schools in year 1, and then having a bunch of schools turn over and get new coaches again in Year 2?
JE - Yeah. Well the reality of it is, except for UCLA they're all offensive guys so that's Brownie's (Coach Greg Brown) problem. You know, I think it just continues to add to the uniqueness of our conference from an offensive standpoint. Jim (Mora Jr.) will bring a great defensive mind to that UCLA program and they're going to do it by winning on defense. But ultimately, all these teams that have won the Pac 12 have had something going on defensively. But it'll be fun and I think it'll be great for our fans.
DG - How has the NFL experience of your coaching staff helped in recruiting?
JE - It has. Winning helps more. And opportunity helps, I think that's one of the reasons we had success last year is because kids see opportunities. They know what we do is going to help prepare them for Sundays. It's more about opportunity and wanting to be around your players that you have, being a part of your program, that's ultimately what you have to do to have success recruiting.
DG - With another offseason, have you been able to get where you'd like in recruiting?
JE - We're almost recruiting normally. I say that in that, this year we're going heavy on the offensive line and at linebacker and after this year, we can recruit normal: A couple of o-linemen, a couple of d-linemen, a linebacker, a safety, etc, you know, we can recruit normal in that sense. And we're almost at the point where you can kind of start getting ahead. It's important we start identifying juniors, because as a Head Coach, I can't go out on the road in the spring, so I'd like to use the winter evaluation period and all that as my time to go see and go into the schools of juniors. So that they know that, 'hey, the head coach was in here.' But until you can get ahead, you can't go to those schools. So we're almost at that point, we're about a year away from recruiting normally.
DG - Thanks for answering the questions!