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Steve Ortmayer Live Chat Transcript

  • FRANK from Oak Ridge,TN : Where do u think we rank in special teams in the sec
    Steve Ortmayer : In my opinion, we were close to being outstanding in the kicking game last year. We anticipate being better in our coverage games this year. Several teams in the SEC place emphasis on the kicking game. We are one of them and we will be one of the better SEC kicking teams.

    Kelin Peercy : On kick/punt returns, are you going to use starters like Burton or Little to return kicks/punts or use back ups to protect starters from injury?
    Steve Ortmayer : We believe that every time one of the four special teams goes on the field (not field goal or field goal block), one of two things happens - there is an exchange of possession, and that exchange occurs over a significant amount of yardage (40 or more yards). Consequently, the kicking game plays are so heavily weighted in terms of momentum and opportunity, that we will always utilize our best players. Injury would not be the major consideration as all football plays are very similar. Fatigue would be the major consideration and as I have said, we are getting better and better with our depth so we can perhaps utilize our starters even more.

    FRANK : Do we have what it takes for a breakthrough year and win the SEC East?
    Steve Ortmayer : As Coach Brooks has said repeatedly this spring, this Wildcat team will be much improved, particularly in one area - depth. We will be a better team in the fourth quarter than we have the last three years. And we are about a year away from being a team that contends at the top. That doesn't mean we won't this year, but we are still very very young, with most of this team that will be playing on Saturday being freshmen, sophomores and redshirt freshmen and redshirt sophomores.

    Gus : Coach, with the departure of Draak Davis, who do you envision returning kickoffs this year
    Steve Ortmayer : I personally will feel the loss of Draak Davis in our entire kicking game as much as any player on our team last year. I always thought during his senior season, he could be the best kickoff returner in the SEC. And if we didn't have one called back against Georgia, he might very well have been statistically. We should be entering an exciting era in kickoff return. We will have Keenan Burton and David Jones back but we will have returners you have not seen in Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith, John Logan, plus the return of Dicky Lyons. Of course, we always have that silent ace-in-the-hole, Rafael Little.

    Brian from Owensboro : Hi coach. How is Tamme doing? Will he be 100% by the time fall practice starts? Do you think we will have more depth at the TE position this year and will we see more 2 TE offensive formations this fall? Thanks and GO BIG BLUE!!!
    Steve Ortmayer : We expect Jacob to be back at 100% at some point in the next month or so. As I stated earlier, we have more depth at tight end and will probably utilize two tight end situations a bit more.

    Tom Reed : will we get to see more of Daivd Jones back on kickoff return?
    Steve Ortmayer : We will see more of David Jones on kickoff returns if he learns how to catch it. We are very averse to returning kicks or punts if there is a doubt in our mind about tough balls being caught. We are very high on David as a returner and it is our job to get him fielding balls the way we know he can and to get him to be a top returner in the SEC.

    Matt : Coach, of the three freshmen, who is standing out the most as a complete tight end currently. Also, who shows the most potential for the future.
    Steve Ortmayer : In actuality, we are working four freshman tight ends this spring. You are perhaps overlooking Tyler Sexton. We discuss in our meetings each day that they all appear to have a future as potential players here. Probably the player that has advanced the most to this point is Ross Bogue from Atlanta. But we also feel very good about Zipp Duncan and T.C. Drake. Sexton has competed really well this spring and is also in the mix.

    Patrick : I understand that punter Tim Masthay was also a very good placement kicker in highschool. How come hes not doing any PK?
    Steve Ortmayer : Tim in fact was a very good placekicker and had an opportunity to develop that aspect of his game much more than the punting because he played on a very good team that seldom punted. We signed Tim as an athlete who we see in the mold of a Ray Guy type player and the punting game is so important to the football game and field position, that we have chosen to allow him to develop in this area first. Of course, we have had solid kickoff ability with Taylor Begley and Taylor is an outstanding placekicker. We will see during the course of our summer work how this group of kickers projects and make a decision whether we need to work Masthay there. We would prefer him to be the best punter in the SEC.

    Patrick : I understand that punter Tim Masthay was also a very good placement kicker in highschool. How come hes not doing any PK?
    Steve Ortmayer : Tim in fact was a very good placekicker and had an opportunity to develop that aspect of his game much more than the punting because he played on a very good team that seldom punted. We signed Tim as an athlete who we see in the mold of a Ray Guy type player and the punting game is so important to the football game and field position, that we have chosen to allow him to develop in this area first. Of course, we have had solid kickoff ability with Taylor Begley and Taylor is an outstanding placekicker. We will see during the course of our summer work how this group of kickers projects and make a decision whether we need to work Masthay there. We would prefer him to be the best punter in the SEC. Masthay has gained consistency this spring in his punting and looks as though he is on the way to becoming what we hoped he would be when we signed him.

    Lee from Marion, KY : Coach, A young man from Marion is on the squad as a long Snapper... His name is Brad hart. How is he progressing this spring. Good luck and Go cats!
    Steve Ortmayer : Brad has worked very hard this spring to get himself into the mix as a long snapper. We return our starting snapper, Jason Dickerson, and Brad and Derek Leistner are battling for the backup position. Both are progressing.

    Billy Holt : hey steve. do u think yall will have a good kicking game this year.
    Steve Ortmayer : Our kicking game was effected by graduation more than any other aspect of our team, as we played a large number of seniors and they played very well. Guys like Draak Davis, Alexis Bwenge, Jeff Archer, Taylor Begley, B. Jay Parsons performed well for us and to this point in the spring, we really have two teams that are definitely improved over last fall. We have emphasized those two teams - the punt team and punt-return team - in our spring work. To answer your question more pointedly, we expect our kicking game to take up where last year's left off as our young players have more experience with what we want to accomplish. We were third in the country in punt returns, fourth in kickoff returns, leading the country in combined returns. That will be difficult to match, but we feel we will be every bit as strong in '06.

    Jamin in Modesto CA : With Coach Phillips saying in his live chat that the strength of the teams offense being the running game this year. How effective do you expect Tamme to be, knowing his strength is in catching passes as opposed to run blocking.
    Steve Ortmayer : We will utilize Tamme in the manner I just discussed. Though he will be a factor in the run game, we will not ask him to do the heavy things we ask of our other tight ends. We can utilize some two tight end offense to help Jacob out, as well as some two-back three-receiver offense which has the ability to run weak side more effectively.

    Jamin in Modesto CA : Coach, how do you get Tamme more involved in the offense this year. With such a huge amount of talent, and the injury bug plaguing the receivers last year, it seemed like he just wasn't involved as much as he should have been.
    Steve Ortmayer : Jacob, playing the role of a pure tight end, was injured most of the season last year. He had some congenital shoulder problems which he tried his best to play through. People were not unaware of his season-ending game against Tennessee in 2004. Most teams decided he was a major factor in our passing game and they decided to defend him that way. We believe that when he comes back this year totally healthy, as he has had both shoulders surgically repaired, he can become a key in our throwing game. And we will intend to move him around to put him in a position to be more of a passing game player than a running game player.

    Mike Taylor : Do you think that Dewalt is on pass to join the team in fall. If so, do you anticipate he will return to kick blocking role he had two years ago?
    Steve Ortmayer : Dewalt has indicated that he is on track to be ablt to join us this summer. Should he do so, you should absolutely assume that we would put him back in his kick-blocking role. He was a rare talent in that and will be again.

    Mike Taylor : Coach, one item that stood out about much of our SEC competition was the ability to field at least one tight end of good size with good hands. Pope from UGA last year seemed to be best of the lot. In your opinion, do we have anyone on the teamwith that kind of ability (size, blocking ability, and pass catching ability)?
    Steve Ortmayer : We have four young tight end prospects, all of whom are in the mode of the player you are suggesting here. We have a gray-shirt freshman named T.C. Drake who looks to be in a pure tight end mode. He is 6-5, not very heavy yet (235), but he runs very well and has excellent hands. But I certainly wouldn't discount Ross Bogue and Zipp Duncan in that role also. I did notice that Jacob Tamme has been selected by one prominent publication as the preseason All-SEC tight end.

    ukathletics.com : We'd like to thank Coach Ortmayer for his time in answering questions. Please join us next week as our guest will be defensive coordinator Mike Archer.
    Steve Ortmayer : I want to thank you guys for your questions and your interest in our kicking game. Let me say this in closing. Our tight ends are a really fine young group who will get better with every practice. Our kicking game has been established as solid and with the emergence of Masthay and a young kicker, we believe it can be significant in our performance. We'll see you all at the Blue/White game this Saturday, April 22 at 1:00 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium.

     

     

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