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    Fighting Irish
    Interview With Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Rogers

    FIGHTING IRISH
    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Dec. 8, 2000

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: In all honesty, you know legitimately we were worried about game to game. Each game after Arnaz was hurt was a monumental task. And you know you only thought it could end that way when we got to the USC game. That was the first time it was really on the line. In order to get into the position that we were in, we had to win those previous six games. We really never thought a whole hell of a lot about it. We really concentrated on each game and then came up.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: Well, obviously when you feel good that you can gain four yards a crack, it is a hell of a lot easier. But by the same token, the offense has gone through kind of an evolution since Arnaz went down. We are doing things a little bit differently than we had earlier. Because Matt was the quarterback, we scaled down a lot of things and consequently we got better in some things. We didn't run nearly as many plays, but the plays we ran we got better at.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: I'll tell you what, you watch Oregon State on defense, they're pretty darn good. They remind you very much of Coach Ericson's teams at Miami. They're a 4-3 scheme, they got the upper field rushmen on the edge. They run real well. They got two good cover corners. They legitimately have a very good defense. I think they are the No. 1 defense in the PAC-10. They play emotionally. They are a fired-up defense. They go after the ball. They are a quality defense.

    Q. (Inaudible)?

    KEVIN ROGERS: I was there. I was on the other end of couple of those Miami deals. They had some real guys, Warren Sapp, Kenny Holmes, Kenard Lang, Michael Barrow and Jessie Armstead, I was through all those guys.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: I've met him several times. I don't know him personally. When you do a job like he's done in a place like Oregon State who hasn't had very much success, hell, they never won ten games before. You look at the job he's done at Oregon State and what Cooke Snyder has done in Kansas State, two of the best jobs in college football in a long time as far as what they've done with those programs, especially in such a short amount of time. They probably had some good players in the program, but they augmented those programs and how they play, they play especially hard.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: There is no question. There is that Miami bravado, with the way they play.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: Well you had a feeling pretty early on in camp that he was a guy that was a little bit more mature. You know, I think the intangible qualities of a quarterback sometimes are more important than the physical qualities. You know, I've always maintained, you know, and not because I am at Notre Dame, but I always point to Joe Montana. He was a guy that didn't necessarily have the greatest arm or wasn't necessarily the biggest guy or the fastest guy, all he did was win. And so I think there are intangible qualities that go into the evaluation of a quarterback more so than any other position on the field. I felt that Matt LoVecchio was closer to being that way in this point in his career than the other two kids were. These other two kids were very, very talented guys physically. Matt was a little bit farther along in his demeanor and the way I thought he could handle the situation. I don't think Matt is the guy that gets underneath the center and thinks Joe Theisman played this position, Joe Montana played this position, I think he just goes out and plays. I don't think he thinks, this is the big USC rivalry, he just goes out and plays. He commands the respect of the older guys. He was one of those kids who would get in a huddle and say hey, listen up, or tell a guy to shut up, if a guy was talking in the huddle, which is pretty difficult for an 18 year old to do. I felt like he had that presence early, and that essentially was the reason that we went with him because of that presence.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: That Heisman Trophy stuff, that's kind of ridiculous right now. In fairness to Jared Clark and Carlyle Holiday, they have to be given an opportunity to compete for that position. That's what they were told when they got here and that's what is going to happen. Matt has a big edge with the eight games that he's played and he's done a great job. Legitimately those guys have to be given the opportunity. We have to find out who the best of those three are going to be. One of the tough things about having a great quarterback - a lot of places are just going to be happy having one of those guys. You take for example, the Jeff Smoker situation at Michigan State. Jeff Smoker was the decision because there was no other decision to be made. Because there were three guys, because we have three quality guys, it was tough. We don't want to lose those guys because where they feel that they are, we don't want them transferring, we want to give them an opportunity to play.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: Sure, I mean, obviously, you know, but right now that's hypothetical. I think that right now their mentality is very healthy, at least I perceive it to be. I think they understand the reasons that the decision was made. I think they're on board with it. I think I know exactly where they stand. At the same token, I think they believe they can play here, I do too. I think right now, today we are in pretty good shape with those guys.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: He's better right now. He's better in the cerebral part of the game. Now Don didn't play until he was a red-shirt freshman, so he had a whole season to soak, where as Matt, two weeks before he started, he was on the scout team. We had a chance with Don to have him travel, have him be in meetings, go through a summer football, take third string quarterback snaps, then go through an entire spring before he actually had to play and he needed that. Now Matt, behind the eight ball, really didn't have that luxury. We had a guy in Arnaz and Gary Godsey who really needed every snap he could get in preseason. So the snaps were really limited. You take that into consideration and what the kid ended up doing for us was really amazing.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: I have done that before, though we have done that with him. We did it. We had a kid named Doug Wolmack and Marvin Graves -- (Inaudible) -- just a change of pace. I notice with Arnaz Battle on the field, there is a tempo change. That is at your disposal. That's not something we researched yet, but it's something that we will.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: Yeah, you know, but I'll tell you what, in all honesty, I don't want to get caught in a situation again where we have so many eggs in one basket where we're not going to be able to maintain continuity in our offense where we have to change things. It was so drastic to change things between Gary and Arnaz, it was a tough situation, really tough.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: I don't think so.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: Terrific. It used to be the Jones factor upfront last year. He is a guy that played noseguard and really was new to the position, and consequently there were a lot of mental errors. Jim Jones turned into a hell of a football player. I believe that he and his runningmate Gandy are two of the better offensive guards in the country at this point in time. He looks like he's 5'11'' because he's so thick, he is a 500-pound bench presser, he's runs 4.9., and now he's able to use those tools, because he can play aggressively, because he knows what he's doing.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: We had a lot of Jones factors out there. There were a lot of guys that struggled with the new system. I think right now everybody knows what they're doing. Early on in the season we had the fame factor. The center is the quarterback of the offensive unit, and they really put the chain in motion. If you make the wrong call at the center position, you tend to miss assignments. Jeff seems to be on it pretty good right now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: You look at it. We didn't have very many experienced guys. So I mean, Michael Gandy was probably the most experienced guy we had up front, he and Mirandi. And Jim had never played. It was really his first year playing. We had Teasdale, we had Black, you had Gandy, who had limited experience, but Mirandi who was a one-year starter. In fairness to Jim, the toughest position to play on the team is offensive lineman in terms of the intricacies of the game and he's really come a long way. He is an NFL prospect right now.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: He got better as the season progressed last year. I thought the work he put in last summer and his ability to hit the ground, running, when we came back from summer football, it was a stark difference from last year.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: Well, you know he makes mistakes on a different level now. Earlier on the things that you did were basic things just trying to keep him out of trouble, now if he makes a mistake, there is a little bit more intricacy to the mistakes he made because we are trying to do a few more things with him. Again, sometimes you don't realize it, but he's fumbled the ball once, he's thrown one interception, I believe we had one fumbled snap because we snapped the ball early. He gets us into the right play. More than anything else, he doesn't get us beat. And now he's starting to make some plays at the same time. If you look -- the other day I pulled off every play that we ran for over 20 yards. There is a ton of them that are passes or quarterback runs. So he's getting better. We got to get him in that weight room and put some weight on him, he looks a little frail to me.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: I think it's big. It's something that we don't have to deal with. Yet, the whole move was stimulated by Arnaz. It wasn't a matter of us trying to convince Arnaz to play another position. It is what Arnaz Battle wanted to do.

    Q. (Inaudible).

    KEVIN ROGERS: You know, it's hard to put into words. We knew we had to run the ball downhill. And quarterback draws, option were out of the question, but we were still limited to the throwing game at the same time, it was tough. So all the pressure was on the defense -- (Inaudible).

     

     

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