Jan. 28, 2017
Coach (Brian) Kelly had a good familiarity with our offense --we were at Arizona State and he knew us after after playing us twice while I was in Tempe. We added multiple personnel and formations in a pro-style scheme while still going at tempo. After the (Memphis) bowl game I had a chance to speak with Coach--we hit it off from the get-go and hit the ground running after that.
I’ve been following Coach Kelly since he was at Grand Valley State and I was a player at North Alabama. I got to watch his team practice at a very young age because they played the (NCAA Division II) championship game in Florence, Alabama, where I went to school at North Alabama. So I went to practice and saw him work and have always been a huge fan of his, from Cincinnati and then to here. It was a great opportunity and an opportunity to come to Notre Dame.
I’d never been to South Bend. I grew up watching Notre Dame like everybody else. My wife is from Chicago, so that’s an easy transition.
We’ve had a great reception on the road. Most of the offensive class had been committed and a lot of them are already here--but I’ve had an opportunity to meet all their families and they’re all great kids, so it’s been all good.
When I first got here I watched every single (Notre Dame) game from last year multiple times because I wanted to know the personnel, what the issues were and what happened. There were a couple of things here and there at unfortunate times, but the kids know how to play. We’ll build a little confidence and that’s going to come with kids getting older. You’re already seeing that in the weight room—there’s a good core of older guys, leadership guys, a lot of guys who can run, great length, great size, a lot of good things to work with. It’s exciting. We’ll finish up recruiting and then install the offense and get ‘em rolling.
We’re all going to work together on this, and we’ll take quite a bit from what Notre Dame did last year —things that they were good at that will fit well into the offense. It’s a quarterback-based offense, we’re going to do what he does well. We’re a run, play-action team. We’re probably going to go a lot faster than what they are accustomed to around here, which I think will help our guys up front especially running the ball, playing with more physicality. It’s all about getting our playmakers in a position to make plays. We have a good core of guys ready to step up. I’m really excited to get started.
Brandon (Wimbush) has been out there under those lights . And it’s great to have Tom Rees here working with the quarterbacks because he’s a guy only a few years removed form being in that chair. He (Wimbush) will have a lot of eyes on him, and our whole universe on offense revolves around him. We’re going to put him in a position to make plays and allow him to grow within this offense and kind of fit it to him and our personnel.
I was blessed with great college coaches , but as far as guys who had a big part in shaping my coaching—Bobby Petrino and Paul Petrino had a huge part in that. They kind of raised me in the profession. Ron Zook gave me my first job at Illinois at the age of 26. I learned a great deal from him. Then I had an opportunity to work under Coach (Todd) Graham at Arizona State and Mike (Norvell). It was a tremendous time offensively, shaping it with what I’d done with the Petrinos and then taking the up-tempo from Mike and kind of blending the offenses together. It’s been really successful for us the last few years and we’ve added to it throughout the years. I’ve been around some of the top offensive minds in the country for a long time—they know how to coach and demand detail.
Our offense is going to be very multiple—multiple personnel, multiple formations. It’s a pro-style offense that goes fast. We’re going to be a physical, run, play-action offense that is very aggressive.
It’s going to be an offense that really showcases our playmakers and puts them in a position to make plays and have the best chance to win those one-on-one battles. Put the quarterback in a position to succeed and add that to great tempo. We’re trying to get to 100 plays a game which is exciting to me because I haven’t been around this size and length before. The offense may cater a little more to that with the power, but it will be a fast offense.
The biggest challenge is building relationships with these kids —building confidence in the weight room, mental and physical toughness and just getting around them. That comes with time. I’ve seen the look in the guys’ eyes. That makes me excited and when we get out on the practice field we’ll see what our guys are good at and then take it from there. We have our base and our philosophy, but by being multiple we will be able to build our offense around our personnel. I can’t wait to get started.