"Well, I think we like to get our freshmen in on special teams early on and get them acclimated, especially those guys that we plan on or have a vision towards playing. So I think you could probably get an eye towards what our intentions are based upon those guys you see on special teams on Saturday.
"You know, if you see a lot of guys that are freshmen on special teams, you could probably take a pretty good insight into that we have an eye towards playing them. The running back situation, though, might be a little bit different. We think that that's a position that you can impact the game in week six at that position. That might be a little bit different. Whereas the defensive players, if we're going to play those guys, I like to get them on special teams right away."
Q. I think it breaks down you play six games and then you have your first bye week. I think in the past you've used the mid season as kind of a cutoff. "Yeah, I would generally speaking say that that's a pretty good assessment as to where we would be."
Q. If I could jump back to playing the freshmen, do you consult with them if you reach a certain point in the season, or even if you see a kid that isn't making great progress and you want to sit on-- maybe he wants to go ahead and play and graduate in four years, how do you communicate that with the freshmen?
"I communicate before the fact. We have conversations before, and we let them know what our intentions are. I will tell you this: That the group of freshmen that I've had conversations with, they all want to play. It's a group that they really-- they want to get on the field right now.
"But I do like to have that conversation so we're not on a different page. All the freshmen that we've had conversations with, they generally don't come to my office unless there's a disconnect with their position coach and coordinator relative to do you want to play. We've already had those conversations, so we're in pretty good shape."
Q. This is something that I think (Zack) Martin and (Chris) Watt talked about at media day, that what impressed them about their group was their willingness to get in line, despite whether they were five-star, four-star, whatever. Has that impressed you or something that you take for granted or something that's a little bit different about this group, the way they're wired?
"We saw it in the recruiting process. This is a group that has shown us from day one that they will play hard. They have a great respect for the game and a great respect for their teammates. No trash talking. It's not about themselves, it's about their team. There's no sense in feeling of a class system in the room. It's a very unique group, that they have never once said, hey, we're the group, we're this freshman group that has made this a better football team. They have blended in so well to an established identity within this football team, and it takes a humble group of guys, and that's why it's a pretty good dynamic."
Q. You've been able to find like a happy balance and medium of getting starters on special teams but also being able to get freshmen on there at the same time. How do you balance that?
"Yeah, I think I have. I work at it hard. It's not easy. We try to make certain, as I said earlier, that if we're going to play freshmen, I want to get them on the running teams. I want to get them out there, get them acclimated to the game situations because if they're going to play I think it's a great entry into playing on the field, as well as guys that we believe can impact those special teams without taking a position player and wearing him out.
"So I think it's a balance that myself and Scott Booker, we spend a lot of time talking about personnel and getting the right personnel on that team."
Q. Are you able to share some of the freshmen that will be on special teams on Saturday? "I think we'll leave that for Saturday. I think you'll see-- here's what I'll tell you: You'll see a number of true freshmen playing on ST."
Q. I think I counted three early enrollees on the two deep. Was spring more beneficial this year than normal?
"No, I think it's beneficial every year. That's an extraordinary thing that you're asked to do, to come in early. Obviously Steve Elmer and James Onwualu in particular, those two guys are great beneficiaries of the early enrollment process for us, and they're going to take full advantage of it. Both of them will play for us on Saturday. And of course Corey Robinson. Yeah, so you'll see all three of those early enrollees play for us on Saturday."
Q. Normally there are two full weeks of classes. Does having one week hurt the freshmen's acclimation?
"No, they have got their full fill of college life, trust me. Our summer bridge program does a great job. Kevin Rooney does a great job of putting our program together. They went for six weeks of school, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., so they are acclimated to the academic rigors of Notre Dame. I'm not worried about that. They're going to be a little bit taxed, right, because their schedule now is a combination of both the next couple of days, but certainly they handled themselves very well this summer with a very demanding schedule.
"In a strange way, it's a great advantage at Notre Dame because of our summer program that they're not going to be overwhelmed on the first day of classes. As a matter of fact, they're going to be acclimated quite well compared to other universities, where they're going to lay it on and it's going to be a bit overwhelming based upon what these kids are asked to do in the summer. I'll bet you've never heard that before. I mean, it's true."