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    2009 Notre Dame Football Media Day - Assistant Coaches Quotes

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    Aug. 7, 2009

    Corwin Brown - Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach

    Talk a little about the benefits of having so much experience back for this year...
    "I think the guys have played a lot and been in a lot of different situations and it will help them in future situations. They will have something to go back to and play off of."

    Since you and Coach Weis have been here, this is the deepest depth chart you have had going into a fall season. How does that help competition in practice and how does that help in the games?
    "It makes it fun because everybody knows they have to push themselves. They know that the guy beside them or behind them will be pushing for playing time. They have been really good this summer just working really hard. What happens is you kind of rely on these guys and they can tell the other guys, 'hey, watch out for this, watch out for that' so it's a good thing."

    With such a deep secondary, how does that improve the play of the whole unit?
    "They can rely on each other and we would like to think that there is not a true weak link. Everyone can hold their own weight and make plays when they get the opportunity."

    What is the next step for the defense this season?
    "We just want to eliminate points, get off the field on third down and make some plays. We would like to make a statement when we go out and play."

    Talk about the guys you have around [on the coaching staff] that allow for Coach Weis to focus more on offense and call plays...
    "Everyone has their role, JT [Jon Tenuta] takes care of the linebackers, Randy [Hart] handles the defensive line and BY [Bryant Young] and Kinnon [Tatum] are there to help, so we feel good about the coaches we have here. Things will get coached well and that makes it fun."

    What does Randy Hart bring to the coaching staff?
    "He brings a ton of energy, a lot of passion and a wealth of experience and knowledge. That's the most important thing, the experience and knowledge he brings. I have played against a lot of guys he has coached, so I know he's an excellent coach."


     

     

    How has the transition to coaching gone for Bryant Young?
    "BY is bright and articulate and as a player he was a true professional and his professionalism has carried over to coaching. He does things the right way, works hard and sees things from a great perspective. He understands the game and he is working with Randy [Hart] so that helps. It's just a matter of time - he's got it."

    On the return of Darrin Walls...
    "He knows what he's supposed to be doing. He's going to be playing with a lot of good guys so he will be pushed. He has to compete and do what we ask him to do. He has been around here so he knows what we want."

    On the defensive backs' depth chart...
    "You have a depth chart, but every position is open right now. They all know they have to compete or somebody will pass them up. They understand that, but it's a good problem to have."

    Do you talk to the defensive backs about being considered by many to be the strength of the defensive?
    "We don't really talk about that. You work hard so the whole unit functions and works. If you don't do your part and your role, there will be a breakdown, so we have to do our role so the whole will look better."

    Do you like being in the position where you are being counted on to provide a lot for the players?
    "I would like to feel that I am pretty decent at what I do because I work hard and have no ego. But the thing that is most important is that we get better. I have been around enough guys who work until you get it done; you do what you have to do."

    Do you feel like you can now hone in on coaching the defensive backs versus last season when you had to see it all?
    "Yes, now it is easier for me to say specific things like, 'make sure you don't show this look too early, make sure we are getting this done.' Plus, the guys are older and they can coach themselves a little more now, so that combination will hopefully put a better product on the field."

    What is the next notch for your group?
    "I think it is really meeting the challenges week in and week out. I think it is having the confidence and the ability to say 'we are not going to give up explosives or have anyone throw the ball up and down the field.'''

    Where does forcing turnovers fit in after focusing on not giving up big plays?
    "That [forcing turnovers] is the next step but it's a given we want to do that. Kyle [McCarthy] is probably now thinking 'hey instead of breaking up some of those passes, I want to intercept a few more.' And Raeshon [McNeil] is thinking, 'I want to return these all the way.'"

    How many difference makers on defense do you think you have this year?
    "Honestly, I have always thought it really doesn't matter who we put in there. We have expectations and if you do what you are supposed to do, you will be in a position to make plays. To say how many we have is hard, but we would like to think we have some pretty decent players around here."

    How good is it for your secondary to get to go up against Golden Tate and Michael Floyd every day in camp?
    "It's the best. They offer a different skill set and the things they do on Saturday will help us. We have to go out and work hard to get better with them and then they have to work hard to get better against us so it is a complementary relationship."

    Jon Tenuta - Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach

    On once again assuming the role of play calling on the defensive side of the ball...
    "I've done it all my life so it's nothing new to me."

    On the evolution of offenses in recent years and how it affects Notre Dame's aggressive defensive approach...
    "You have to understand what the offense is trying to do. You're not going to see 'three yards and a cloud of dust' anymore. You have to be able to defend the entire field. To defend the whole field, you still need to put pressure on the front five, and you can't let the quarterback sit and eat a sandwich while he's waiting to throw the football. So by being more aggressive, we hope to take away the aggressiveness of the offense. You have to make it tough on them before and after the snap.

    "You fit the pieces in the puzzle and make things happen. The more athletic we are, the more things we can do. Certain people can do things very well, so we have to use their strengths to help the defense make plays. They (the defensive players) like to be aggressive and they like to be in 'attack mode'."

    On the role the defense will play in determining the success of Notre Dame's season...
    "The bottom line is production. We have to produce. Am I excited about the personnel we have? Yes. Am I excited about coaching? Yes, I'm always excited about coaching."

    On how experience will play a role on the defensive side of the ball...
    "Anyone that has played the game, played in combat, and has game experience still needs to know how to play up front and fight blocks. For linebackers, it's how to play certain schemes, and for the secondary, it's adjusting to coverages. Anyone with experience is going to better. The scheme itself will take care of the aggressive aspect of the defense.

    On his thoughts while calling each individual defense play on gameday...
    "We try to match up our defensive personnel to their offensive personnel. Down-and-distance comes into play, where the ball is on the field and what we want to do in the situation."

    On his philosophy in calling a defensive game...
    "I don't think it's gambling. People who say that don't know that we're automatically going to be aggressive and we're putting players in situations to make plays."

    On the addition of sophomore defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore to the depth chart...
    "There's no question that he has tremendous athletic ability and he's got the size now. He has tremendous explosion and he can really move and battle with anybody. There is so much upside to him - he's ready to rock and roll."

    On developing younger players and incorporating them into the lineup...
    "When you come into preseason camp, the sooner the younger men catch up, the faster they'll be on the field. I think the older guys have done a great job this summer with our younger players, getting them squared away and letting them know how I coach things. Obviously, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's practice. The guys around here that know how we like things have been doing a fine job of leading this defense."

    On the addition of freshman linebacker Manti Te'o...
    "He's a great kid and he's excited to be here. He's done well in summer school and the workouts. Being around the older guys in film sessions and so forth, I'm sure he's excited to begin practice, as are the rest of the players.

    "I haven't slated him at any position yet. I'm going to play him where it's easiest for him. He has to learn the system first. Where he plays best is where we'll play him.

    "He's a football player. He's a lot more mature than a lot of guys that come out of high school at 17 or 18 years old. He has a very confident demeanor and he knows the game from both sides of the football. He's a special type of guy."

    On senior cornerback Darrin Walls' return to the Irish roster...
    "He's a tremendous cover corner, so that aspect first and foremost sets him apart from a lot of people in college football. I've seen a lot of film on him and watched him in the spring. I've coached some very talented secondary players and it excites me to see what he will do this season."

    Running Backs Coach Tony Alford

    On whether or not the competition between running backs is improving the group dynamic...
    "No question. I've talked about that with the guys. They all champion each other's efforts, which is good because they are competing every day with one another. They also have to understand that they are each other's best benefit and they can help one another out. We keep guys fresh and they can play off one another's weaknesses or strengths so those guys are all really close. They are a close-knit group of guys which makes it fun to go to work with every day."

    On freshmen Cierre Wood or Theo Riddick cracking the depth chart...
    "We'll find out. We will find out real quick and like I said, it's how quickly they can learn the nuances of the offense because it's very different to what they have been accustomed to at their high schools and a lot of it will come down to if they can figure out where to go and how to get there. The thing is, if they can figure that out quickly then they can cut their body loose and just go out and play and there is not so much thinking involved so it's how quickly we can get that learning curve matched up and go from there. I think we will know pretty quickly."

    On what excites him about the freshmen (Cierre) Wood and (Theo) Riddick...
    "Are you kidding me? Where do you want me to start? Both of the guys are really good athletic guys. Theo brings a lot of speed and changing of direction and Cierre has gotten big. He is a big kid, a big strong kid. The things we saw coming out of recruiting time is that they are very well-rounded players and it seems like they are complete running backs as far as catching the ball, blocking, physicality, the run inside and outside so now we just see how they can do on the college level. Like I said, we will know very quickly."

    On Jonas Gray being able to take the next step...
    "I hope so. Again, that is part of the maturation process. There are a lot of things you have to understand. Jonas is a young guy and his name has been talked about for a long time, but really he is just going into his second year as well so there is still that maturation process going on with him too and he is a good football player and he has a lot of respect for his teammates especially within that room, within that running back room. He has a lot of respect from his coaches so he will have the opportunities, just like everybody else, to show what he can do and compete everyday."

    On whether or not it is difficult to find all of the running backs opportunities, even in camp...
    "It can be, but like I've always said, the best way to get another opportunity is to do great with the one you just had. That is the easiest way to continue to get reps is to do well with the reps that you get at that particular time. That is all anybody can want to do is go out and compete the best that you can, and when your time is called, when your number is called, make sure you show up."

    On the difficulties of bringing in recruits with the current amount of running backs...
    "We haven't seen any problems as of yet as far as talking to guys, people are receptive because it is Notre Dame and you are on the national scene and that excites a lot of guys. If it is an issue, it has not been said to me from any of the running backs we have gone out and talked to. That has not been one of the issues that we have discussed."

    On his personal excitement of being a part of the Notre Dame program...
    "I am very excited just as I said before. I am thrilled to be here. Every single day I have to pinch myself. This is a great place and I am deeply indebted to Coach (Charlie) Weis for bringing me in here and giving me this opportunity so you know I am looking forward to it. I am thrilled to be here and finally this day has come so let's get ready to go."

    Defensive Line Coach Randy Hart

    On the transition to being at Notre Dame...
    "I am excited, I can guarantee you that. The transition has gone tremendously. It has been everything I thought it would be and more. I think it comes back to your mental attitude when you make a transition. I am excited to be here, certainly, and very proud. I'm ready to jump in here and get things going."

    On your energy level as a coach...
    "I think I have always had this much energy. I hope I have always had this much energy when it comes to coaching. I would not be doing what I do if I did not have a high level of energy about it. I think everyone should have a high level of energy when they are doing something they love to do. I enjoy coaching and I think that is a necessity to having a passion for something you do."

    On what you expect from the defensive line this year...
    "I'm looking to get maximum effort. We do not do anything too complicated and if you go out and play hard, compete, improve each week and study the opponent, then you have a tremendous chance at being successful. Obviously, in defensive football, it is critical to be good up front, in my opinion. So as a result, we have to improve and uphold our part of the defense."

    On having Bryant Young on the defensive staff...
    "I'm not sure he is learning under me, I think I'm learning under him. He is a fantastic resource to have on the staff. He is a guy that has done it on all levels and is a tremendous asset not just for the veteran guys but also for the young guys because whenever we are in the meeting rooms and anyone has a question he can answer it because he has done it. I feel he will be a great coach but that starts with him being an even better person. Everyone that I have had contact with that has either played with or coached Bryant comes back with the same response about him and that is he is a better person than he is a player and that is so exciting. I am proud to be working with him and to have him on our staff."

    On the rotation of the defensive line...
    "It starts with ability and then who your leaders are because you do not want too many young guys out there at one time. A good rotation will be key to keep conditioning up and most importantly keep the level of effort up. Also, depending on what defenses we are playing, there will be more rotating up front. So knowing the game plan for a given week will factor into the rotations we use, but it is mostly about keeping the level of conditioning as well as the level of effort."

    On the transition from the spring to the fall...
    "The key will be to start up from where we left off from the spring. It is important to remember that these guys are young and have not reached their maximum potential yet. It will be fun to watch the guys over the next couple of weeks because we will be able to see who has put in the work over the summer and who will be ready to go this season."

    Tight Ends Coach Bernie Parmalee

    On getting excited to start the season...
    "It has been a while since our last game and we are looking forward to this year. The guys have been working hard, and the coaches got a chance to refuel our tanks and are back in the offices ready to go."

    On the theme about not talking about it but showing it on the field...
    "That is what it is about. You can sit there and talk about it, but you have to produce on the field. The players and the coaches know that and coming in for day one when we get on the field that is our motto. They've got to show me what they can do."

    On how exciting the passing game can be...
    "It is there for us and we have the pieces in place. We have some playmakers at the key positions and we have guys that are hungry and want to go out there and compete."

    On assessing the depth at the tight end position...
    "We are great. We have some guys that are in position to make plays and had a good spring so we are ready to go."

    On the importance of Mike Ragone's health...
    "It has always been important even if Joseph (Fauria) was here. You want to have all your guys healthy because they all bring something to the table. We feel good about the group we have. Anytime you come off an injury you are a little hesitant coming back out and not turning it loose, but you have to have the right psyche knowing that it is fixed. Towards the last two weeks of the spring last year, he really felt comfortable and confident."

    On Kyle Rudolph's next level...
    "Just to be the best and try and be the best in the country. I tell all my guys you don't just want to be good you want to be the best. Those are the goals you should have. If you don't want to be the best then why do you play the game? Don't limit yourself to expectations; if you have talent see how far you can take it and see how good you can really be."

    On what Rudolph has to improve to be the best...
    "I say all around because you can never say you have arrived. Every good player always tries to get better at what they do and there is always something they can get better at."

    Special Teams Coordinator Brian Polian

    On the idea of using different kickers in distinctive situations...
    "I couldn't answer that yes or no. Ideally you would like to have just one guy kicking the field goals. You could separate the field goal and the kickoff job, but that's two different stories. Ultimately you'd like to have the same guy kicking field goals, but in the end, we're going to do what's best for the football team."

    On the progression of kicker Brandon Walker...
    "I think there is a maturity level that goes on with anybody that is going into their third year of college football. He has been out there in front of the crowds and he understands the game now and the pressure that's involved here. So I think his experience that has been added here is going to serve him well."

    On Armando Allen's kickoff return for a touchdown in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl...
    "I was getting tired of everybody busting my chops about the lack of a kickoff return. We have a lot of possibilities for (return) guys, both veterans on the team and freshmen incoming. We have had a couple situations the past couple years where we are having guys getting tackled by the kicker. I mean, ultimately we have to make one guy miss and all that conversation would have ended a long time ago. I think we got a little bit better last year. Coach Weis and I want to see that unit take the next step forward and consistently be a weapon. I think we have done a good job here in the offseason studying and deciding what it was we did best and move forward from there."

    On the battle for the punting job between Eric Maust and Ben Turk...
    "The specialists are here to compete. We brought the freshmen in here to come and compete, so like I said before, we are going to take the first 7-10 days and evaluate all of them. We are not cheering for anybody. We are cheering for the guy that's going to give us the best chance to win. If it's a freshman, great. If it's the veteran, great. We did not bring the freshmen in here to sit around. We brought them in here to compete. We are excited about this training camp and watching that competition unfold."

    On the abilities of freshmen punter Ben Turk...
    "He punts the ball really, really well. Ben's got a strong leg. I like the lineage he comes from. He has studied under his uncle (NFL punter Matt Turk) and really takes pride in the intricacies of the job he does. He takes a lot of pride being a punter and he's pretty good at it, so I'm excited to see what's going to happen."

    On leading the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in kickoff coverage last year...
    "We set a very high standard on those teams. We haven't been too bad on punt coverage; we've been pretty good historically. Last year that was exciting to be a part of that with the kickoff coverage unit, but again that's last year. We have set a standard for us now, and we need to live up to that standard. We need to keep going and hopefully we will kick the ball better and give that unit a little bit of help. But that was exciting to be a part of that and I know our kids and our staff took a lot of pride in finishing first in the country in kickoff but well see. Again, that's last year and we need to move forward. We will talk about it once in the first meeting. We will put up who the national leaders were in all the (statistical) categories last year and one of them happens to be us. That's the last time you'll hear about it, we're moving forward."

    On the health of senior gunner Mike Anello...
    "He's all good, he is healthy. He will be out there practicing, ready to roll."

    On beating expectations...
    "For us, we are going to look real hard the first 7-10 days and the bottom line is that we need to go show it out on the field. The next 7-10 days here is about evaluating who is going to give us the best chance to win."

    Quarterbacks Coach Ron Powlus

    On Jimmy Clausen's experience in the system entering his third year at quarterback...
    "Experience is a huge factor in any football player and when it's a quarterback and a guy triggering the offense, it is a big factor for him as well. There's no doubt there's been a progression of Jimmy coming in and trying to figure out how to make improvements last year and now being in the position to excel."

    On Jimmy Clausen's understanding of the playbook...
    "There's no doubt (he grasps the playbook). Coach's playbook is a big playbook, so there's always room for growth within it. As far as what we do on offense, there's no doubt Jimmy is in a position to know what we are doing and be able to move forward and expanding what he is able to do with the rest of the playbook and applying it to defenses. It's when you get from knowing what you are doing to applying it to what the defense is doing that makes him a better quarterback."

    On Jimmy's leadership entering his junior campaign...
    "He's made a concerted effort to put himself in the leadership role. By title the quarterback is in the leadership role, and when you couple that with a kid who wants to be the leader, who is trying to be the leader, who wants to direct the team and do it in the right way, then you get something special. That's the path that Jimmy has been on since the spring. He has done a lot of talking with guys, working with some of the receivers, doing a lot in the summer with the guys, his workout habits are improved and excellent, his study habits are improved and excellent. The nice thing is he is not limiting it to himself, because as I've said it's not just him figuring out what he's doing but it's watching film with other positions and that's the way leaders develop and he has put himself in that position now."

    On what pressures quarterbacks face at Notre Dame...
    "It's part of the position and that is something we have talked about since (Jimmy) got here. When you sign on to be the quarterback at Notre Dame, you're signing on for a lot of attention. Everything gets magnified and that's just part of the place and part of the attention, but it's also part of the fun and part of the opportunity. Jimmy has come to terms where I think he's grasping that opportunity, grasping the chance to be in a position to lead our team and do something special with this football team."

    On how Jimmy's receiving corps will aid him this season...
    "There's no doubt that you feel really good about our personnel. Guys have experience. Guys have been on the field and are working hard, so you really like our personnel. Our receivers are a great group. There's no doubt they are a great group. It certainly puts a lot of pressure on defenses to figure who to cover and how to cover them and that opens up a lot of holes for other people."

    On what was the most difficult thing about being a quarterback at Notre Dame...
    "The most difficult part of it is that you are always on. There is no down time, or time when nobody is looking and there is nothing wrong with that. I think too often it is looked at as a negative - 'how am I going to say this and how is going to come out' - but you have to live your life in the spotlight. I've heard Coach (Weis) talk about it. It's obviously that way for him and, in a lot of those ways, it is that way for the team. As the quarterback you are always on. You have to make decisions on and off the field. Your actions and your presentation has to reflect that every second of every day."

    On how a quarterback begins understanding the playbook...
    "You come in and you are trying to catch up and figure out what in the heck certain things mean. Once you figure out what it means, then you start to understand why you are doing the things you are doing. When you can understand why you are doing the things you are doing, or why Coach (Weis) is calling the play he is calling, or why we are getting into this formation that is really when all of the lights come on and you really start to get it. That is the point Jimmy is at and the point where all the quarterbacks are at. Jimmy has done a great job of now knowing why we are doing things and how to apply it. He can make suggestions now that are meaningful because that is part of the evolution."

    Offensive Line Coach/Running Game Coordinator Frank Verducci

    On sophomore offensive guard Trevor Robinson ...
    "I saw him as just an extremely athletic, tough, aggressive guy. He's got all the traits, tangible and intangible, that you would look for in a kid. I can understand why he was so highly recruited. A young kid like that who hurts his shoulder and continues to play - you just don't see that. He's a guy that we really missed having in the spring. It kept us from doing some of the things we wanted to do, but now we look forward to having a chance to do that."

    On Robinson at right guard ...
    "One of the things, when I came in here, that Coach (Weis) asked me to evaluate was the personnel and the structure of it. We sat down over the course of a few days and discussed what specifically fits our offense and where do we place guys. We felt like we could do a better job of at least taking a look at guys in other positions where they might have a chance to be more productive, might have a chance to accentuate their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. That position (right guard) is pretty unforgiving, because, based on the defenses that you see currently in football, that guy has as many one-on-one battles as any of the five positions. You need a guy who's pretty much got everything you're looking for - the size, the strength, the quickness, the toughness - and Trevor, we're banking on him being that guy to start with, but I anticipate a pretty good battle with some of the other guys in the mix, based on my experience with them."

    On sophomore offensive guard Braxston Cave ...
    "He's always been a hard-working guy and if he has a love and passion, other than football, it's probably in the weight room. He's always excelled in that. He came in here as a strong kid for a true freshman, and he's continued to build on that. He's done a great job there, but like Coach (Weis) said, how you translate it onto the field is the biggest thing. We're looking forward to seeing an upgrade there from him."

    On senior Eric Olsen's move to center ...
    "We always had him in center-quarterback exchange. That's the very first thing that we do. He was always in center-quarterback exchange, but really based on Trevor's injuries and Danny's (Wenger) injuries, we forced ourselves, the last week of practice, to get him practice reps at center, because it wouldn't facilitate itself and force the issue at that point. We knew we wanted to at least take a look at it before spring ended."

    On moving Olsen from guard to center ...
    "We would think it's not dramatic based on what we've seen in the spring. He was eye-opening in the shots we got of him in the spring, which gave us the impetus to move forward with the plan going into two-a-days. Now as Charlie (Weis) said, it's still fluid. He's going to have to come and make the steps we anticipate him making over the next three weeks and to solidify it. We can always go back. That would be the easiest thing, but where we're starting today, we'd like to think we've got guys in positions that are accentuating their strengths and minimizing their deficiencies."

    On the offensive line's belief in Weis' theme of the Irish proving themselves on the field ...
    "My whole deal when I came here was I demanded from them from day one that they put aside everything that happened up until the point where I walked in the door. We never revisit what's happened here in the past. They have their own expectations. I have my own expectations for them, and I've tried to get them to be self-defining. I don't want myself to define them. I don't want the coach to define them. I don't want the media to define them. I want them to define themselves based on what they do day in and day out."

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