5 Minutes With: Mike Denbrock

Passing game coordinator Mike Denbrock discussed a variety of topics at yesterday's extended Media Day session in the Stadium press box. Included in our conversation was the assimilation of two perimeter freshmen, his methodology for scouting speed on the outside, and divergent opinions of 5th-year senior John Goodman.

Notre Dame receivers coach and passing game coordinator Mike Denbrock enters his second three-year stint with the program this decade. Denbrock, who's chief recruiting area of responsibility is the west coast and Hawaii, spoke with the media yesterday for the first time during training camp.

Scouting Recruits

"I don't feel as comfortable doing any of that off tape," said Denbrock in respect to potential playmakers. "I like to get out and have at least one of the coaches see him in person, or know someone I trust who's seen him in person that can say, 'That guy can go get it.'

"Sometimes there's highlight tapes out there where it looks like he's running 1,000-miles an hour then you go see him in person and you think, 'That's not the same guy.' If he's the fastest guy on the field (on film), he's probably fast enough, but I like to see him live."

Freshmen Fighting for time on the Perimeter

"I don't know that they've surprised me but its always nice when the freshmen come in with the maturity level that they could handle the bright lights and contribute early in their careers," said Denbrock when asked about Chris Brown and Justin Ferguson.

"You never really know what you're going to get, they could be all-everything or king of their school in high school, but sometimes when they get into a situation as freshman in a new place or being on their own, sometimes the burden can be too much to bear and they can't quite be themselves until they get some traction.

"Sometimes it happens as sophomores, sometimes as juniors, you just really never know. Those two guys in particular came in with a maturity level about them, they haven't flinched or backed down from any challenge we put in front of them and its nice to be in a position to contribute."

Regarding the "concepts" of the passing game: "I think everything is tough for (freshmen) down to what time they're supposed to get taped. More than anything for the younger guys, if you line up a base defense in front of them and say 'Hey, here's what you do on this route,' its all good. They're flying and doing what they're supposed to do. Well then all of a sudden a corner rolls up and gets in his face and they're rolling a safety over the top and he's like, 'Now what?'

"So getting used to those things that can happen to you and reacting to them (is the first step on game day). Every practice when our defense mixes up its reps and coverages and stuff is an adventure."

On 5th-year senior John Goodman

"I think we've seen those things from John since the spring," said Denbrock of the potential for a breakout final season. "Since he was granted his fifth year he's done nothing but step to the front of the line, taking leadership of his position group in particular, and just work his tail off every day on the practice field as an example to the younger guys about how you should go about your business.

"(I know) the outside perception. Within the program, John Goodman has unbelievable respect among his teammates in how he works every day. I'd love to see 75 receptions and 15 touchdowns, and for him to quiet his critics. He's a quality young man, a good football player, and he can help this team win.

Can Goodman avoid fan criticism?: "I hope he does. The coaching staff certainly doesn't listen to those (outside influences). It's as hard here as it is anywhere because its all around you. I hope he knows that the people within the program, his teammates, his coaches have all the confidence in him in the world."

Denbrock also touched on motivating factors for his veterans with an influx of talent in the freshmen ranks:

"I think they're motivated by several factors, that could contribute as well. More so they see the need on our team for playmakers and there's opportunities for anyone of them to step into that role and be the one we lean on when the bright lights are shining and make a play. I think what they're doing is seizing opportunities we're putting in front of them."


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