April 19, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. -- With the Spring Game in four days, NUsports.com sat down with offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar to get up to speed with how he feels the offense is looking this season.
NUsports.com: What have you been most pleased with the past three weeks and what were your primary concerns heading into the spring?
Dunbar: My main focus coming into the spring was to develop depth at running back and in the offensive line. So far, I am pleased with offensive line, and I think (Brandon) Roberson and the young running backs are improving and understanding what it takes to compete and play on Saturdays in this league. Due to injury, we can't see Terrell (Jordan) play, but I think overall, players are getting the idea of what it takes.
NUsports.com: How has the spring gone for Brett Basanez and C.J. Bachér?
Dunbar: It's gone well. Basanez has the experience; he just needs to grow. He is working on the timing and accuracy of passing, pressure situations and making decisions. Bachér needs to play and get an opportunity to scrimmage and get out there. He's done a good job adjusting and adapting.
NUsports.com: You've had to replace three starters up front. Talk a little about that group's progression and your expectations for them.
Dunbar: They have made good progress. They have a great work ethic, a great want-to attitude and desire. They have a window of opportunity, and they are making good progress. They just need reps and to get in there and perform and play.
NUsports.com: Some of your top receivers were unable to practice this spring, but it gave you an opportunity to see some of the younger players. How has this group played?
Dunbar: They have played well. They have certainly seized the opportunity. We are a four-wide out team, and sometimes we only have five guys in practice. So, needless to say, they have gotten a lot of reps. (Brandon) Horn and Herb (Shaun Herbert) are the only experienced players. The other guys have had reps, which will benefit them in the long run.
NUsports.com: What have you liked at the running back position?
Dunbar: Terrell (Jordan) has good experience. He has played a fair amount; he just needs some more opportunity to play. Roberson and Akeem (Hunter) have made tremendous progress. They are getting reps, learning reads, learning the running game, and protection and what it takes. They have taken about 90 percent of the reps which has enhanced their development.
NUsports.com: What needs to happen for this offense to take another step and improve upon last year's performance?
Dunbar: We need to continue to consistently work toward executing. That is something we have pushed at every practice -- consistent execution. We need to make plays at critical times, so we put the kids in those positions. We tell them, don't beat yourself. You can't expect to beat yourself and expect to beat the opponent on the same day. We just need to make the plays and continue to execute.
PRACTICE NOTES: Practice went 17 periods outside today in warm, sunny weather ... The Wildcats practice one more time -- Thursday -- before wrapping up with the spring game at noon on Saturday, April 23 ... Thursday's practice is closed ... Please refer to NUsports.com for festivities surrounding the game.