Five good minutes with - Mike Denbrock

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock discusses his personal road to recovery, the meaning of a spread offense, his three solutions to red zone woes, and Everett Golson's role as conductor of the offense.

Opening statement:

“I’m doing great. Let me start by saying I didn’t want to spend any part of today talking about myself, but I’ll at least address it with everybody so everybody kind of has an idea of what’s going on.

Late in June, my wife and I were applying for some extra life insurance for my wife, my son and myself. So, I took a blood test and went through some testing that you have to do for those types of things. I had a very elevated PSA level. I had to go to a specialist to get some more testing done. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The medical staff here at Notre Dame was incredible in helping me make the arrangements I needed to make as quickly as I could. We found a surgeon and I had prostate cancer surgery. They believe we got it all. We’re very hopeful that they did. Things went according to plan with the operation. Afterwards, all of the tests all come back positively. We’re hopeful we knocked this thing out.

As you guys know, it’s an awful business, cancer of any kind, and my heart goes out of course to our GA Kyle McCarthy as he battles what he’s battling through. The coaches on the staff, Coach Kelly in particular, all the way to Jack Swarbrick to Father John, to everybody in the Notre Dame community who has graciously reached out to me, the fans and people that follow Notre Dame football… the messages and encouragement they’ve sent me has done nothing but help me get back moving on my feet again. I’d also like to make a special mention of my wife, Dianne, what a soldier she is. What a great partner she is and the things she’s helped me with during this battle. A battle that’s maybe over, maybe it’s not. We will continue to pray about it and do the right things to make sure it’s the end of it.

“I think it will be a little while before (I’m all the way back). I’m not going to say how much I’ve been involved because my wife and my doctor will probably hunt me down. I’ve been able to do more than I think I anticipated up to this point. I haven’t tried to stress it or push it. Kelly has obviously been great about it, Jack Swarbrick and everybody here about letting me heal and get what I needed. My wife, obviously, isn’t very happy I’ve been in the office a lot and on the field, but I feel like I’m gaining strength every day. I don’t think we’re all the way back yet, but we’re getting closer.”

On Everett Golson’s development and contribution to the offense:

I think he’s the cornerstone of the whole deal. He has the keys to the offense. He’s the guy that’s the puppet master pulling the strings. Even though Coach Kelly is calling the plays, he’s got some adjustments he can make. He’s done a great job. The last three or four days in particular, in my opinion, he’s seen some things, rotation of safeties, blitzes and different things form our defense, that never saw in 2012. He is just remarkable in the way he’s developing in my opinion.”

On the offense operating at a faster tempo this year than in years' past:

“I think in their (players) minds, the faster the better. I think they like the potential of the explosiveness of keeping the defense on their heals… Dictating the tempo of play to the defense instead of being so reactionary, (which) is the best way to describe the way we’ve played offense the past couple of years. At times, maybe we were too analytical and precise about being in the exact play at the exact time. I think we’ve got playmakers in place that once they get the ball in space they’re going to be able to do some exciting things with it.

On solving the red zone issues:

“For me, it always starts with scheme issues first. I think we’ve got to, and we have, really study what’s being done down there and how we’ve done it. I think you’ve really got to be able to run the football down there and stick with it, if you know what I mean. Not necessarily try to throw it over the goal line every time, but impose your will on the defensive line in such confined spaces. And, then I think we have some the guy in spaces that can make some of the places that maybe we’ve missed on the last couple of years. All those three things combined… First, analyzing the scheme and making sure we’re doing the right thing… Secondly, making sure we are being patient with the run and really grinding on people because we have the ability to do that…

On implementing the spread offense and reminding Coach Kelly pass first mentality isn’t always best option:

“I think people confuse spread offense with soft offense. I think you can be physical, I think you can beat on people with the spread offense. Just because there’s not two tight ends and three backs on the field doesn’t meant you’re not playing physical football. It’s my job to frustrate the play caller as much as I can (laughing) and remind him of those things.”

On being able to do more things on offense due to depth at the offensive line and running back positions:

“It certainly makes it a lot easier. The backs have done an ubelievable job. We are getting closer and closer to a set group on the offensive line. I think there’s still some tweaking that’s going to go on. You know Coach Hiestand likes to keep those guys engaged and interested. Moving them here and and there and making sure right we have the combo. The progress from here to Culver those guys have made has been pretty remarkable.”

On knowing when and how to push the right buttons to ignite offense:

“One of the things I really respect about Coach Kelly is he is able to set down and analyze where are we as a football program and what are our strengths and weaknesses are and talk about what do we have to do to put ourselves in best position to be successful.

“We feel like we’re at place offensively where we can take more control of the game and control more of the tempo, if you will. As opposed to just leaning on our defense and saying let’s just score one more than they do.”

On the wide outs’ experience of having Brian Kelly has their position coach during Denbrock’s absence:

“They probably had the brightest smiles on their faces of anybody when I showed up back in the building (Laughing). I think it was a great experience for the wide receivers, and I think it helped their learning curve, believe it or not, to really have the guy that’s going to call the plays in the room to explain his vision, and it’s one thing for me to try to translate his wishes to them, but for them to first-hand hear from him and learn from him every day, I think it’s been a great benefit for those guys.” Top Stories