Five good minutes with -- Tony Alford

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame's running backs corp in 2014 may be the deepest and most talented that Tony Alford has coached in his tenure at Notre Dame.

Does Alford expect Greg Bryant to get the majority of carries by October, November:

"I don’t know that. I agree 1000 percent with Coach Kelly (in regards to Kelly's comment about naming a starting running back not being important to him). Whatever we have to do win football games. And in this juncture, all three of them have had good camps. We think all three can play winning football for us. And that’s the key, playing winning football. Hopefully, come October and November, we still feel like they can.

So to be able to try to put a crystal ball on it: 1.) I couldn’t do it. 2.) I have no interest in doing it. My thing is I want them to be better each day. And, when we come out every Sunday after games, hopefully we’re all growing and maturing and getting better.

On the running backs being more involved in blitz pickup this year, and if that’s more about facing a player of Jaylon Smith’s caliber or learning blitz pickup in general:

(Alford cracked a joke here about Jaylon Smith "ripping Folston's face off" on Saturday)

"Good Lord, Jaylon is a special player in of himself. He’s a matchup problem. Not just for our running backs, but I would assume for anybody’s running backs. Again, you talk about pass protection for running backs. Part of the contract in high school was not to block. Part of the contract was to flip the ball and let me run as fast as I can and we’ll count them up at the end up the game. But, now when you’re asking a young man to come in and pass protect, not only is it the dymamics of figuring out where you fit in pass protection but actually blocking the guy forty, fifty pounds heavier than you. That’s a learned trait. You don’t come out of the womb doing that one. That’s something that you have to practice and it’s a technique."

On not wanting to take Greg Bryant's confidence away from him:

"I will never take that. You don’t… what’s the word I’m looking for… I guess I can look at my own children in some regards and say they’ve got a little fire in them, and you don’t want to break it. Because that’s who they are. And, that’s what’s made Greg, Greg. But, you do have to temper it and allow him to still be that guy.

One thing you don’t want to ever do is steal a man of his confidence, or his swagger, if you will, because that’s what makes him him. And, that’s what we recruited him (Bryant) for, because that came out all of the time. The college game is vastly different than the high school game and with that there were some learning curves that had to take place with him, and he is still in the midst of the curve. But, he’s really done a really good job.

The good thing is when you talk to him he knows… he can see his improvement as a football player, versus me saying it to him. He can watch the film and he can see… and we’ve been able to go back and show him one clip from last spring and then one two weeks ago down at Culver and say same play, same situation and look at the difference... because you’re slowing down and taking coaches' instruction. When a young man can see that, it clicks and he starts buying in and he says I’m going to really listen to what they’re saying because I can see it working and I can see the transformation."

You’re not going to have a finished product in that (blitz pickup) department?

“There’s never a finished product.”

On what makes a running back good in the zone read:

"Slow down. Slow down. Which is kind of an oxymoron because you’re taught from little league that you just scorch it and run as fast as you can and as hard as you can all the time. Then all of a sudden, you get into these inside zone and zone read concepts, and you’re going to have to understand not only where these blocking combinations are taking place, but actually slow down and allow those blocks and double-teams to take place... Understanding how your track will start pulling linebackers and how to keep the ball a little to the right because (you) have a free-hitter coming from the left. And just to slow down. Slow down and let this thing develop... and not always be a race horse, if you will."

On if any the running backs ran the zone read in high school:

"Cam did. I guess Tarean did to a degree. Greg did not. The one thing about Greg, it is 100 miles per hour all of the time. It’s kind of like alright man, hold your horses here. And,that’s been a learning curve for him. But, he’s getting it."

On speaking to Kelly’s mention on Saturday that Notre Dame is hard for a variety of reasons:

"This place isn’t for everybody. Everybody can’t come to Notre Dame. I would just say that it’s not for everybody, and that’s okay. That’s not to say for the person that doesn’t come here they’re a lesser person or a bad person. But, for the guys that it is for, they know, and we know. That’s why we have to be on the national scene because we are unique and we do have our uniqueness about this institution. We have to be able to go and find those guys that fit not just this football program, but this school and the infrastructure of this University.

I’m also a firm believer that if we didn’t think these guys could make it, we wouldn’t recruit them. There are no short cuts, but we don’t hide from that, and we tell them that in recruiting. You’re going to have to do your work and be diligent every day, and if that’s not what you’re looking for, then let's stop the conversation now and move on and save everybody the time. In the end, that hard work will pay off now and for the rest of your life."

On what he's told the current players he's recruiting about the ongoing investigation:

"We are who we are. Adversity is everywhere. None of them are affected by it or concerned about it."

On if this is his most versatile corp of running backs as a combined group:

"That’s probably safe to say. We try not to be in a situation where this guy can only do this, so we’ve got to get him out because then you’re mixing and matching… And, for Coach Kelly that would probably be hard to call plays. So, we are trying our best to get them to be complete guys. They will continue to complement each other, obviously. But, we want to feel confident to put any of them in any situation. Guys are going to be better than other guys in certain skill sets, and that’s just natural."

On if all three backs will ever be on the field at the same time:

“Right now we haven’t talked about that, but you never know. I think right now and we have our offense in, and we are just fine-tuning certain things but you never know.” Top Stories