Under ideal weather conditions of a bright, blue sky, a negligible breeze and a temperature in the high 60's, San Jose State University began its 2015 spring practice session.
Head coach Ron Caragher had more than 80 players on the practice for the first of 15 practices scheduled through Wednesday, April 8. The annual Spring Game is Saturday, March 21, 3:00 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.
Following the two-hour practice, Coach Caragher and seniors Jimmy Pruitt and Tyler Ervin shared their thoughts about returning to the field. Pruitt has starting experience at cornerback and safety. Ervin was San Jose State's "Most Valuable Player" and leading rusher last year.
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Head Coach Ron Caragher
Q: Your impressions on the first day.
RC: "I saw some real good things. I'm very encouraged. They came out with a good foundation under their belts. The team is well conditioned and in good shape. I like that we pushed it (the start of spring practice) back two weeks this spring, because we got an extra few weeks of work.
"They cam out today and there was some energy and snap in their step. Considering there are some new schemes being implemented, the guys picked up pretty good. I liked what I saw all in all."
Q. Are there new schemes on both sides of the ball or on one side of the ball?
RC: "More so, the offensive side. The defense had a few new wrinkles they threw in there. When you have new coaches and new terminology, the guys did a pretty solid job picking it up. There were mistakes made, but that is my point to the team. We're going to make mistakes on the practice field, but we're going to learn from those things. That is the most important thing. All in all, it was very encouraging."
Q: Can somebody make a move up or down the depth chart at the start of spring practice or is the goal to get in good work?
RC: "The first couple of days, we will distribute the reps pretty evenly. We want to see everyone and everyone to get the opportunity. Then, at some point after the first few days, we'll have to trim some of it down.
For example, the quarterback situation, we have four quarterbacks and they are taking 25 percent of the reps. Everyone (Joe Gray, Malik Watson, Ian Fieber and Kenny Potter) is getting work with each unit. After Day 2 or Day 3, we'll probably have to shrink it down, hone in on a few guys and go from there all the while never giving up.
I told the story to the team about Jarrod Lawson last night (Thursday). He came out of spring (2013) the sixth-string tailback, but he kept his head in the game and, lo and behold, he led the team in rushing.
All in all, it's trying to evaluate our football players without the pressures of the game on Saturday so we can assess them and find out who our first and second team guys and who are reserves are."
Cornerback Jimmy Pruitt
Q: Tell us what it was like for the defense the first day of spring practice.
JP: "I felt there was a lot of energy. You could tell the chemistry has built over the last few months. We stay together on and off the field. A lot of guys had energy. We had turnovers. Just competing.
Q: Do view spring practice the same or differently now that you are a senior?
JP: "I definitely look at it differently. When I first came in, it was me learning and not seeing it as anything like camp. Now that I am older, every day is a day to get better. It is a day to compete, because tomorrow is promised. I definitely think, now that I'm older and more mature, I'm on the younger guys to make sure their head is focused and make sure they are on the right track.
Q: How do you communicate these traits to the younger players?
JP: "Most of the time, I try to do it just by example, because you can say only so much to people. If I see them making a mistake, I'll pull them to the side or stay with them after practice and correct it."
Running back Tyler Ervin
Q: What are your impressions of the first day of spring practice:
TE: "It felt pretty comfortable. As an offense, I think we looked pretty cohesive. Some of the things are a little different from last year. All in all, I think the guys were pretty happy to be back out here. We had a lot of fun today."
Q: Can you describe what some of the differences were?
TE: "There were a variety of different things. I think we adjusted well as a unit. Ultimately, we had a lot of fun and that's really important coming out of the first day."
Q: You went through practice with familiar teammates and some new players. What was that like?
TE: "It was a good mix. Some guys had a chance to show what they can do. That's what spring is all about - refining what you need to do."
Q: Do you have any personal goals that you are willing to share with people at this time?
TE: "I'm just here working like everybody else - trying to get better each day."