NAU Media Day Recap
NAU Football Media Day Quote Sheet
August 10, 2014
Zach McDonnell – Junior Defensive Lineman
Outlook on this year's defensive line: "I'm excited about our group. We have guys coming in and we have senior defensive tackle Junior Vicente coming back. All of our younger guys and transfers are all very strong and mature for their age and they came in ready to play. We're a relentless group and our physical mentality is what our pride for this season and that's what's going to make us a successful defensive line."
Taking on a leadership role: "I'm fairly comfortable with it because of the experience I gained from so many guys since I came in. I've had multiple senior groups that I've been able to learn from and hone my leadership skills. I want to be able to transfer that and help the new guys learn and get them on the field."
Joe Gurski – Junior Offensive Tackle
Outlook on this year's offensive line: "Roy Garcia is our center. He's our leader and gets us all together. Jacob Julian is a preseason All-American and he's a hardworking kid. He solidifies the right side of our line. We have a battle at right guard with Leroy Guenther and Tyler Shank. Both are great guys and bring a lot to the table. Leroy has been our sixth man coming in when one of us goes down and he's done a great job with that. Eric Rodriguez is at left guard and he's just been balling. He's a strong kid and a force and really good in the run game. (Eric and I) work well on the left side together and we all mesh well, but Roy is the one who brings us all together."
Outlook on the offense: "You can't replace a player like Zach Bauman but we have a lot of good running backs ready to step up. Casey Jahn has been here since day one and he's always done a great job. Casey and Corbin (Jountti) are going to be great this year. They're special players and they're going to pick up the slack. We have five running backs who are killing it so I'm not worried about that. Kyren (Poe) is settling in and it's always hard in the first year with jitters; I had them and it happens. Our line is better and we're improved and we're way ahead of where we've been in previous years. We're getting comfortable as an o-line and we're going to give him the time that he needs."
Kyren Poe – Junior Quarterback
What he learned from his first year as a starter: "With a year of experience under my belt, the game really slows down. I've got a better understanding of the offense and what decisions I'm supposed to make. Those are things that have helped me out a lot heading into this season and to build on last year."
His offensive weapons: "Casey is a great running back. It's going to be hard filling Zach's shoes but I have no doubt in my mind that Casey can step up and do the job that needs to be done. The guys on the perimeter are top-notch. They make every single play and they make me look good all the time. It's something that is exciting as a quarterback. The offensive line is solid up front and when you have time to throw to big-time receivers and you have good running backs, it's exciting for an offense in my opinion."
Ify Umodu – Senior Wide Receiver
How hungry he is this season after missing last year: "Missing last year is going to play a big role. I'm just trying to get back on track with what everyone has been doing and keep up with the success that we had last season and try to be even better this year. It's going to be a hard task because we lost so many seniors, but I've been working really hard. It pushed me to work really hard past my injury to help me get back on the field. I'm trying to perfect what I do as a receiver and as a teammate, so I'm really looking forward to this year."
Outlook on this year's receiving group: "We're very versatile and very diverse. We have a lot of different parts and everyone can play a big role. We have a large freshman class and the potential with them is astronomical. They can be as good as they want to be because I've never seen freshmen that have a refined skill set at this level coming in. They have technique to catch the ball, route running and blocking and they have the ability to learn the concepts and plays at a quick rate. We only have two or three returning receivers so we're going to be depending on the freshmen a lot this year and it's crazy to see how good they are already."
Marcus Alford – Junior Cornerback
Outlook on this year's secondary: "At cornerback along with myself we have Blake Bailey and Randy Hale who each have started many games for us in the past. They're both seniors so we're pretty experienced at the cornerback position. At safety we have five or six guys and in particular Rob Watson and Shawn Sharkey who are very hungry to show what they can do. They didn't get the spotlight a lot because they were behind Lucky (Dozier) and Blair (Wishom) but they'll impress."
Outlook on the defense: "We had such good players and depth last year to the point that our second string defense was also very good. A lot of those players will have to play bigger roles this year. We have so much competition during camp that it raises everyone's play. When the season comes and we have those younger guys like Shawn Sharkey or Delvin Batiste on the field, their play will be raised."
Casey Jahn – Junior Running Back
What he learned from Zach Bauman: "Zach taught me a lot. Being with him the last two years, he taught me how to prepare for a game from watching film and how to evaluate a defense. Another important thing he taught me was to be humble because he was a really humble guy and he was the star of our team. Those were two of the main things I learned from him and they were really important."
Stepping into a leadership role as the only upperclassman running back: "I've definitely taken on a leadership role because we have a ton of young guys. I'm trying to help these guys out, help integrate them into our system and learn the plays. They're all very talented and they all have a bright future at NAU. It's been going very well so far and I've really enjoyed it."
Austin Hasquet – Senior Linebacker
Outlook on this year's defense: "I definitely believe that we're going to be strong. A lot of people are thinking we won't be as strong as last year but in my opinion from what I've seen so far, we're a lot farther ahead than what I thought we'd be at this point. My expectations are very high for this defense and I fully expect us to be just as good as last year if not better."
Why they're farther ahead this year: "I honestly believe it's because guys are self-motivated during the offseason to improve their game. Getting in the playbooks, watching film and improving their techniques. Our safeties that haven't played as much in the past and now is their time to step up and they both have. We have junior college transfers coming in to play d-line who have been very physical and they're playing hard. One thing more than anything we're going to have to play hard because we have a lot of good offensive teams in this conference. We're going to have a good defense, a lot better than people think."
How much he wants to win a Big Sky Championship: "I want it more than anything. I want it more than any personal accolade I could receive. That's my ultimate goal here. We haven't won a Big Sky Championship since 2003 and I want to win it outright. We're going to have to beat some good teams and I believe this team has the ability to do that. We're going to play hard every week and see what happens."
Nick Butier – Junior Fullback
Outlook on this year's backfield: "I think we've seen a lot of talent in Casey since he got here. Now that he has the chance to take over the offense himself, you see a run like in the scrimmage yesterday where he broke it for 65 yards by himself by breaking three tackles. I'm excited to see what Casey will do this year and same with Corbin Jountti, he can hold his own just as well."
What has changed within the program the last two years: "Dr. Campos has brought a well-placed infrastructure that has helped bring money to the program. It's resulted in more fans in the stands. When I first got here, there was a sense of unknowingness and we wondered what we were going to do in the offseason. But now everything is in place and everyone knows what to expect. That makes us more comfortable. We feel much more support everywhere from the school and the community. That's helped us a lot knowing that people will be in the stands for our game. All the people that came to our games last year was wonderful."