Aug. 15, 2004
After a spirited two-a-day practice on Saturday, Aug. 14, Notre Dame returned to the practice field on Sunday, Aug. 15, in `shells' (shoulder pads and shorts) before facing another two practices on Monday. While the team might not have been in full pads, the spirit and work rate did not drop for the Irish on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Northern Indiana.
The theme touched on by both head coach Tyrone Willingham and starting quarterback sophomore Brady Quinn was consistency. Talking after practice to the media on Sunday, both Willingham and Quinn, in separate interviews, pointed out one of the main goals of the 2004 Fighting Irish - consistency.
Quinn also answered questions about the offensive line, his familiarity with the offensive system and the freshmen quarterbacks who are going through the exact same challenges he faced as a true freshman last season.
Q: Although there is a considerable change in your position on the depth chart in camp this season, compare your comfort level in the offense right now to this time last year.
Quinn: "The biggest difference is the familiarity. For the most part, we have the same people (on offense) and anytime you are working with the same group of guys, off the bat you have an advantage. I feel we are working together really well making adjustments. Our non-verbal communication is a huge key on the football field because you are not always going to be able to talk or give someone a signal."
Q: Compare the leadership element on this team to the previous season.
Quinn: "We have more leaders (on the team) than last year. That is a big thing. Anytime you have more people who want to step up and do the right thing at all times and be a leader on this team, that is going to put you in the right position. We have a great group of seniors and fifth years that have been leading been the way for us."
Q: What is your impression of the freshmen quarterbacks?
Quinn: "They are doing well and getting a lot better. It is a big learning curve, but they are doing a good job by working hard."
Q: What has been your advice to them?
Quinn: "I told them to keep their head in the playbook. That was one thing I did off the field (last season), I was always drawing up plays and going through the playbook. I knew once I got out there, physical mistakes were going to happen but I wanted to cut out the mental mistakes."
Q: If you had to come up with one thing the offense needs to do the most to be successful, what would that be?
Quinn: "Execute with consistency. We need to be more consistent across the board in both our running and passing game. (We need to) make sure we are doing what needs to be done, making blocks, throwing the correct pass or making a hot read. For me personally, I need to make the throw every time."
Q: What is your impression of the offensive line's development so far?
Quinn: "It is great to see a group like that who has been together for a year and has the potential to be together for another year next season. They work well with one another and they have made a lot of adjustments. Blitzes we may not have been able to pick up last year we are picking up this year because they see it, anticipate and know what each other is going to do."
Head Coach Tyrone Willingham
Coach Willingham speaks to the media after each preseason practice. Here are some of his comments on Sunday, Aug. 15:
On the relative inexperience in the defensive backfield...
"It is going to be an inexperienced group, but as we know you have to start somewhere. Quentin (Burrell) has not been in the line up yet, and we anticipate him being in there soon. When he returns that will give us more experience back there. I am pleased with what Tommy Zbikowski, Freddie Parrish and Chinedum Ndukwe have done. They have given us some energy and made plays. What we need now is consistency."
On who is in the mix at starting cornerback, focused on senior Preston Jackson...
"It gives Preston an opportunity to change his role. The good news is that our coaches do not view him as just a nickel. In his case, there is an opportunity. We just are trying to work this thing through in the next two weeks to see who emerges. I think all of our players have done some good things, but we need them to keep making plays day after day.
On what he has seen from the freshmen cornerbacks...
"We have seen some athleticism and confusion. We call it the freshman swim. They are just spinning with information coming at them. They have been good and we know there is a bright future for them. There is probably not a guy out there that has not done something to get you excited. They have so much to learn you just have to be patient and help them through it. "