Irish Eyes Video: John Latina

O-line coach John Latina talks about the upcoming home-opener against Michigan State.

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We've included the transcript of Coach Latina for those who can't view the video.

Coach John Latina Transcript

On what Michigan State brings to the table:

Good defense - a lot of guys they use interchangeably. They've got a lot of big guys, some 300 lb. guys at the defensive end position and the defensive tackle position. Its been hard for people to push them around. They've got good sized linebackers in the 240 range. So athletic and big, thick strong guys.

On what they need to emphasize to get 60 minutes of solid football coming off of Michigan:

That's what we strive to do and we strive to do that. There's no better time than the present to play a complete game on offense. We need to do that and hopefully this week we'll have a great week of preparation that will allow us to do that and that's going to be important to this game.

On what might cause a game which isn't completely solid on offense:

Well, first of all you've got a pretty solid defense on the other side trying to do their best to stop you so right off the bat there's a conflict. We had some things that we didn't execute as well as we needed to and we have to put our kids in a position more and in practice - a combination of all of those things.

On how you coach against over-confidence:

Be very demanding. When you win a game its the best time to be able to get on your players because they feel good about themselves and its a good time to be more demanding and more strict and every little thing gets blown into a big thing so you just have to be that much more demanding as a coach and I think your players will respond and so far, they have.

On how much he is using the fact that they are playing Michigan State to battle over-confidence:

You've gotta utilize all of those things that are the knowns - that they've won 4 times in a row here at Notre Dame Stadium. Our kids are well aware of all of that stuff. The biggest thing is that you have to focus on your opponents because obviously they're a good football team. But you've really got to focus on the things that you can improve upon. Things you have total control over, you want to do those things well - in terms of assignments, in terms of technique - so you really want to focus on your own kids equally as much to improve your team. In this case, the offensive line, when we make a mistake, we do wrong to allow that to happen and we put the onus back on our shoulders to keep a complete focus about what we have to do. If we're right then they have to be wrong. Too many times you always worry about your opponents, and you have to, but I think you have to worry about your own guys and improving the little things that they do at practice.

On what has surprised him:

Not really much. I think our kids are playing hard and when I say that I'm talking about my linemen. I think there's still a lot of room for improvement. To be able to get good you have to be able to play hard. Its a physical game and a tough game for tough-minded people and you want your kids to go out there and play like that. Hopefully we'll continue to get better fundamentally, and some assignment things, but I think they're playing hard which is a good starting point. Now its just continue to get better each and every week with fundamentals and techniques and execution of particular plays you put in each and every week. So I don't know if anything has really surprised me, so to speak.

On how the rotation is going for the interior 3 spots and if there has been consistent adjustment from series to series:

That's always a concern when you do that. There's pros and cons to everything, but if you're going to do that like we're doing it then you have to practice it that way and we go into practice each and every day with a rotation. They're playing with one another, aside one another and playing multiple positions for those who have to play multiple positions. I don't think you can just let that happen on Saturdays. I think it has to be a habit. I've done it before - just did it on Saturdays - and it backfired. So if you're gonna live in that world, then that's what you have to do on a day to day basis. That's been good - I think its been productive.

On what didn't happen on the line vs. Michigan and how does he go about correcting it this week:

You have just got to present it to them on the field. Obviously I had a couple where I just didn't teach it as well and I think unfortunately those things happen. Hopefully you can get a win and then learn from them. Hopefully it doesn't cost you the game and we're very fortunate that we won the game and we're still able to learn those valuable lessons both as a coach and as a player. We have some things that we did not so well and it hurt, but fortunately we won the game and we come back and we be demanding on them and keep their focus and then they'll understand the ramifications if you don't do certain things.

On whether he is seeing the effects of the physicality of Michigan's style of play in his players now:

Well our players have Monday off. Its a big preparation day for us as a staff and formulating game plans and all of those things and studying opponents. Really Sunday they don't have much and Monday they don't have anything so it really gives them two complete days to really recuperate, recover and that has really worked well. I think sometimes when you go out and practice right away Sunday or Monday that becomes an effect to them so I think it has been a good way of doing things for us.

On Bob Morten's transformation from good guy off the field to nasty football player on the field:

Its creatures of habit on the practice field. If you demand that style of play from them on the practice field then its going to become second nature to them. Obviously we have a lot of really great kids who are great human beings and great people. Like I said before I think we're playing hard. I don't think we're playing great yet, but we're playing hard. That's something we don't take for granted. We talk about effort. We talk about physical play. We talk about playing harder than your opponent and we try to work like that in practice. So hopefully its a second nature thing for them come Saturday. He is a great young man and he has done a good job with the physical part.

On the physical things he is looking for when he recruits offensive linemen:

There's so much that goes into that. I like to be able to turn the film off and say, "This kid loves to play the game." Obviously you like to have some ability - a lot of ability - the more ability the better. The bigger, faster, stronger the better, but really when you turn the film off you like to have a smile on your face and say, "He loves to play the game." And those are really coachable kids who play that physical and that hard. I like to see evidence of that on film.

On whether the preferred qualities of an O-Line recruit varies from staff to staff:

I think a lot goes into style of offense you're going into. I never really put a lot of stock into "you have to have them all so big and so heavy". You want to have a lot of tough kids. Kids that are coachable. Kids that learn well and kids that football means an awful lot to them. You have a good football player right there. You can have a great football player if he has all those other intangibles, and all those other assets we talked about - size and speed. There's a lot of good football players out there that are so called "undersized" but they're still good football players.

On what he has seen from the freshmen tackles:

Like normal, its an ongoing process. You know that when you bring in each kid there's a process that has to take place. A lot of high school linemen aren't taught techniques that are used at this level, not because they can't teach them, but because of time. A lot of those kids have to play both ways where we just have them one way and you just have so much more time with them, meeting-wise, on-the-field-wise, fundamentally. So you expect to see a great deal of progress, but there also is a time process for that to take place. But they get better each and every week. They understand more each and every week so I think they're coming along - never quick enough - but I think they're coming along.

On how comfortable he would be if they had to go into the game for an extended period:

Sometimes as a coach, you always worry about that over the years, and all of a sudden you've got a kid in the game and they play very well. Those isolated situations, you never know how they're going to react their first time into a crucial situation and a lot of times they react very well. Sometimes they don't. Those are wait and see type things. I would expect them to go in and play well. You prepare them to do that and as if that's going to take place, and if it does then hopefully they've been prepared well enough and play well enough to win.


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