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Checking In With Stefan McClure

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In which he discusses losing Avery Sebastian, what he learned from last year's starters, and his knee.

Yesterday, we heard from Andy Buh about Saturday's scrimmage, in which the offense methodically rolled to nearly 500 yards - now let's hear from cornerback Stefan McClure, who played in it.

"I did alright," McClure said. "A couple of bad plays that led to big plays for the offense, a couple of assignment errors, and little technique things. If I could get those squared away, I feel like it woulda been a better day."

"Overall, we had too many ups and downs. We just kind of got stuck down, and we didn't have our energy up today. Guys flying around, we just got down and getting on each other too much, instead of rallying together as a unit. It's a good learning experience for us to get that out of the way, having to face a little adversity. The offense was moving pretty good, and we were struggling, so I think it's going to make us better in the long run."

Part of what made the offense move so effectively was the new Bear Raid Commander, Jared Goff, who many people came out to see for the first time at the scrimmage. "We found out [about the decision] a day or two days ago, something like that," McClure said.

"It's not really a surprise - they're all working hard, and we knew a decision had to be made sooner or later. I guess he won, and we're rallying behind him. We know Coach Franklin, he knows what he's doing. He and Coach Dykes, they've both been doing this a long time. We know he's going to be ready, that he's going to be the guy, and we're going to push him and encourage him."

Saturday also marked the defense's first time really playing without Avery Sebastian - the first time in which there were full pads, and the first time the offense was pushing its full tempo, both of which were happening without #4 patrolling the defensive backfield.

"It's going to impact us a lot, just not having his presence back there," McClure said. "He's a tackling machine - he flies, he comes down hill, he knows the defense well."

"I think it's a huge loss, but it's also a great opportunity for Damariay Drew to step up and take some leadership and go out there and make some plays. I think he did good today - he got an interception that would have been a pick-six, so he's been pretty solid."

As he and Kam Jackson prepare to take over for long-time starters Steve Williams and Marc Anthony, McClure said that the biggest thing he learned from them is that "you gotta practice well. You gotta go hard to make the game easier, so you gotta take practice serious and get out there and compete and tackle."

"I just want to go out there and work everyday and just compete and get better. I've got my own goals and team goals, but [to get] all of that, I've just have to work. Practice hard and get better."

Practice, of course, involves lining up against first string wide receiver - and Biletnikoff Watch List candidate - Chris Harper. Matchups between the two of them have been a sight to watch all camp.

"It's pretty exciting, because he's an elite receiver in this conference and in the country," McClure said of his in-state teammate. "It's great to just battle with him. I know I've got to bring my A-game. If I'm not ready, and I'm not going hard, then he's going to embarrass me - and vice versa. We just try to push each other, and make each other better."

At this point, though, McClure is just looking forward to August 31st, now free from any lingering worries about his knee. You can thank Damon Harrington for that.

"With the conditioning we were doing, a lot of cutting, change of direction, I really felt like it helped get my knee strong. We were squatting and power cleaning, and also this training staff, with Robbie and Justin and all those guys, just helping me out in the High Performance Center. All of it played a key role in me getting better."

"I feel all healthy - 100%, ready to go. I'm just excited to get it started."

Bonus Question:

Who do you think is going to be a breakout player this season, besides yourself?

"I don't consider myself to be a breakout player, but we've got some linebackers out there that are really going to do some damage this year. We've got Hardy and Mike Barton, and I wouldn't be surprised with some of the guys we have up front - Jalil is going to have a big year for us, and Brennan Scarlett."