* Fitzgerald also said this on Tuesday: "I fully expect him (Persa) to start the opener. We'll see how things go over the next week-and-a-half."
* The 'Cats' Sept. 3 opener at Boston College is just 11 days away now and, still, Persa has not been hit. That is why there is yet some uncertainty about his status, and also why Tuesday morning featured a little game of cat-and-mouse with Fitzgerald on side and prying reporters on the other. The latter, of course, want to know all. The former, just as naturally, wants to hide his hand. Both, blessedly, know how this familiar game goes and so it all played out in good humor.
Will Persa be a game-time decision or will you settle on a plan by the time you start game preparation on Monday, Fitzgerald was asked.
"You mean, tell you? I'm not going to tell you anything," he said, smiling broadly. "You can ask me all you want, but I'm not going to tell you anything."
Where's (backup quarterback Kain) Colter right now?
"One-B. He's doing great. He's had a great camp. Great spring. He's progressed the right way through the summer, came back in great shape. It was unfortunate for Kain a year ago at this time, he was coming off (arm) surgery. He rehabbed diligently throughout last year, put himself in a position to help us at the end (in the bowl game), was unselfish and giving, giving up his redshirt (year) to help the team. Now he's put himself in a position to help our team in a lot of ways."
Will you internally decide on your plan by Monday?
"Rewind. Hit play on my last answer to the question," was Fitzgerald's answer this time, and now he was laughing openly. "I don't blame ya (for asking). I can lie to ya if you want. But I'm not going to do that. No. I'm not going to do that."
* Minutes later we corralled offensive coordinator Mick McCall, who offered, "The decision is who's going to run our offense the best. That's what the decision is going to be based on. But we've got some time. We're not into game prep yet. So we got time to get ready to go."
By our offense, do you mean that offense where there are designed runs for the quarterback?
"Could be, could be. But then there's been times when (former 'Cat quarterback) Mike Kafka played, nobody knew it but he had a pulled hammy and he wasn't running. So. Within our system, we have concepts that can deal with that. But we need a quarterback who can run our system."
When do you have to decide who that quarterback is?
"Game preparation week. But here again, I don't know when. But Mick and I are talking daily on it. And we're talking to Danny and we're talking to Kain on it all the time. So it's an on-going process."
Is there an optimum time when you'd like to see it made?
"It's a work in progress and I don't know if there is a (drop dead date for making the decision). We've got to get it pretty settled before we go into next week, I think. But we'll see. We'll make the decision when we make the decision."
* Later, while discussing the 'Cat offense as a whole, McCall also offered this little nugget: "We're going to roll a lot of receivers still. We're going to roll running backs. We're going to play a couple different tight ends in a game at certain times, in different spots. It is what it is. And we may play a couple different quarterbacks. We may play two quarterbacks at a time. Who knows? Just like we did in the bowl game. That can happen."
* The 'Cat offense, on Tuesday, was still in camp mode, which meant running backs and receivers were rolling through with the insistency of a hurricane. There was Mike Trumpy lined up as a lone back. There were Trumpy and Jacob Schmidt together in a two-back formation. There was even Adonis Smith grinding out some tough yards. ("He's an explosive guy and we got to get him in the game," McCall would say of the last. "We've got to get the ball in his hands a couple times here and there. He's going to make some runs.")
But the real activity took place on the edges, where old familiars like Jeremy Ebert and Drake Dunsmore and Demetrius Fields shared time with relative neophytes like Venric Mark and Tony Jones, Rashad Lawrence and Charles Brown, Mike Jensen and true freshman Christian Jones. "They all," said McCall, "give us some things that we need. And as fast as we play, we need to have a full two groups to be able to roll through there."
Then came the scouting report, beginning with the 6-foot-2 Lawrence. "He played a lot last year, he played a ton. He gives us knowledge of the system. He's more explosive than you think he is. He made some plays on people when they played press coverage on him."
Since he's a tall guy who's faster than he looks?
"Exactly. He kind of catches you. And so is (6-foot-3) Christian (Jones). Christian's a little bit that way too. Tony Jones can run, he's very, very fast. Charles Brown's a great route runner, very diligent, catches everything. You know where he's going to be all the time. Venric's got great speed. MIke Jensen is just a worker, he's a worker bee. He'll go in there and take somebody out on a block, he'll crack back and block somebody if he needs to. He does a great job that way. So there's a lot of different ways we can go with those guys."
* It appears now that, when it comes to the Sam (strong side) linebacker, the 'Cats are prepared to go with either Chi Chi Ariguzo or Collin Ellis, a pair of redshirt freshmen. That was made clear when, when asked about that position, defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz said, "We've got some athleticism out there. We've got two eager guys who want to play and like the game. They're making plays. And Ben (Johnson, a fifth-year senior) can play out there, has played out there. The way I look at it, they (the freshmen) may make a mistake here and there. But they're going to make plays too. If they can do that, we can live with it."
*One more redshirt freshman to look for is safety Ibraheim Campbell, who has been working with the first unit in the stead of injured David Arnold. "With David out, Ibraheim's stepped up and taken the challenge," Hankwitz said of him. "We were really pleased with his progress in the spring and this has given him more opportunity to grow, working with the ones and getting challenged by the one offense. So he figures to play a lot of football."
And what's he bring to the table?
"He's very athletic. But he's also physical. He was a running back (in high school), so he has good cover skills. A good all-around athlete. And we've been impressed by his intelligence, his growth as a young player. He's a redshirt freshman, but he's done a great job with checks and adjustments and being able to handle things."
*Also look for Campbell's athleticism to be used as a kick returner.
*And finally, McCall on all the 'Cats: "They're lickin' their chops to get in game preparation, no doubt. But it's good. It's all good. There's a lot of great competition out here."