What are your realistic expectations for this season?
Billy Joe: Our goal for this season is to play as well as we have the ability to play college football. I know that most prognosticators do not project that we will do that well.What is you overall opinion of the strength of the schedule, one that the Sporting Network has labeled the toughest in the history of Division 1-AA?
BJ: My opinion of the schedule is that we are very happy and very fortunate to have a schedule. I thought Dr. Ramsey did an excellent job in putting 11 games together. It took a lot of skill, a lot of perseverance on Dr. Ramsey’s part to get 11 games. When he was given the directive to put the schedule together it was late in the year. Most teams had already had their schedules full. So, he had a yeoman’s job of trying to put together those games. I was just hopeful that we wouldn’t end up with three, four or five games. He did a great job of putting together the schedule. All be it extremely difficult, but I’d rather have a difficult schedule than to have three or four games.
Having four Division 1-A schools on the schedule, how have you remained optimistic and how have you gotten your players to look at every game as an opportunity to win and not just an opportunity to get better?
BJ: No, it hasn’t been difficult because number one, we’re football coaches and we’re football players. We want to coach as coaches and the players, they want to play. That’s the fundamental understanding of a coach and a football player. You want to coach and you want to play. OK, now of course when you play, you want a challenge to be there. You don’t want an entire schedule of division two and division three teams. You want a challenge in there somewhere, but of course you don’t want four challenges. You don’t want six. You know, we play four division one single A programs and two division one single A provisional programs. So we’re playing six total. Be it as it may, the schedule is there in front of us and we’re going to play this schedule to the best of our ability and we’re going to play better than a lot of people think we will.
What changes have you made from a philosophical standpoint with the loss of four of your top players in the beginning of the season when you want your team to gel? I know you are hoping these things don’t snowball. How difficult has that been to deal with so far?
BJ: It’s been very difficult, very frustrating and very disappointing, but that’s life. We have to continue to move forward, make the adjustments and treat those four players as if they got hurt the first day of summer camp. If that had happened you still would have to move on. It’s unfortunate for them because they had nothing to do with their ineligibility. It’s very unfortunate. It’s like driving down the street in your car and getting hit minding your own business. It’s part of life, so we’ll make the adjustments and we’ll move forward.
With the loss of four senior leaders, who are the team’s leaders on the field right now? Has anyone new stepped up and taken a leadership position?
BJ: Well, this scenario just took place. So, we haven’t had enough time for any one single person to rise in place of those guys. But we have other leaders on the team. They were, of course, four of our best football players. They all were seniors. They all were starters. They were all outstanding football players. We are fortunate enough, just to look on the good side, is that they’re not gone for the whole year. It could have been worse. They could’ve been worse. They could’ve been deemed ineligible for the entire season. I’m sure that we’ll have some leaders rise to the occasion in their place. Right now, we’re just trying to get some polish, some refinement, get a little timing and rhythm with the new guys who are replacing them so that we can be competitive this weekend.
What positions have been the most heavily competed for this pre-season camp?
BJ: I would say probably snapper, our long and short snappers. If course the incumbent was Mike Bode, but he’s got intense competition from Douglass Peeler and also Jonathon Miller. I would say that would be the most competitive area. There were others areas as well. But that was probably the most intense.
Are there any major injuries going into the first game?
BJ: We always have players who have small hurts, you know, strains and sprains, bumps and bruises, scratches and scrapes. But broken bones and torn ligaments we don’t have any of that right now. We’ve had some earlier, but we know those guys are out