Tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee talks about the progress of his tight ends and the rest of the season in this Irish Eyes Video
Parmalee Looking For Progress
Irish tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee is in his first year coaching college football after spending his first three coaching seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. The Irish tight ends have flourished under Parmalee's tutelage, and Parmalee says he settling in nicely at Notre Dame.
Bernie Parmalee was pretty sure he knew what he was getting into when he accepted a position to coach tight ends and special teams at Notre Dame. Parmalee played for Irish head coach Charlie Weis during his NFL career, and he said not much has changed with Weis since then.
"Just the hours, contact periods," said Parmalee when asked what he thought the difference would be between coaching in college and the NFL. "You can't have as much time in college as you can in the pros. Also, you have to deal with a lot of the rules and regulations as far as the NCAA. I figured that would be the difference.
"You've just got to make sure you don't break any rules, stay on top of all the rules, and you've got to be able to manage your time more wisely. You've got to understand that the kids have other things are far as school so you don't have as much time."
Parmalee said Weis hasn't changed much, but he's certainly enjoyed learning from a guy that many think is one of the top offensive minds in all of football.
"I played for him so I knew pretty much what his mindset was," Parmalee said. "Anytime you have a guy like that you can learn from, you try to gain as much knowledge as you can. You try to get into his head as much as you can because that helps you.
"You try to pick his brain a little bit, where as when he calls certain plays in certain situations. It's just good to sit back and watch him call plays and you try to decipher everything and understand why he called that play."
One of the most impressive facets of Weis' offense is the simplicity and approach Weis takes to the game. Formations replace plays and Parmalee says the formations and what you can do from them are what makes the Weis offense so hard to defend.
"We're a formation team," he said. "To a defense it's different. We can do the same thing out of five different formations, but to a defense that's five different plays. That's a good way of keeping the defense off balance, and it's a good way to put people in position to make plays. You can put anyone pretty much where you want to put them and run the same exact play.
"We just want to keep them off balance," Parmalee said of the opposing defense. "We can run and pass out of any formation we want to. Anytime you play different teams you try to give them a little something different so they don't try to key in on you."
So far Parmalee's unit has impressed in 2005. Starter Anthony Fasano has already surpassed his career high in receptions (32) and the Irish tight ends have also played a big role in other ways in the offense.
"I think they've done everything we've asked them to do," Parmalee said of his tight end group. "We're just going to continue to get better. We have a new season now and we're just going to move forward and try to do bigger and better things."
One area of noticeable improvement for the Irish tight ends this season has been blocking. Irish tight ends are asked to block often in the Weis offense, and sometimes they're left out on an island without help against some of the better pass rushers in college football.
"Our guys understand that we work on fundamentals and basic techniques," Parmalee said of his unit's blocking so far this season. "A lot of guys get beat because of poor technique. We work on technique every day. They feel confident in what we're teaching and they take it out on the field."
Surprisingly Fasano hasn't caught a touchdown this season after catching four last season, but the first-year Irish coach said the junior tight end couldn't care less about not finding the end zone yet this season.
"Some games you may be asked to block more, some games you may be asked to catch more passes," said Parmalee. "I think everyone understands that it's a team sport and you have to do what you have to do to win on Saturday.
"Fasano's a team player. He understands what the team concept is. He had six or seven catches one game, then he had four, he may have two, he may not have any. But at sometime during the second half of the season he may catch three touchdown passes. The main thing is just to be ready when the opportunity presents itself and then make the best of the opportunity."
Weis has called Fasano a complete player and Parmalee says that's because he's always paying attention to the little things in practice.
"Anytime you have a guy that can catch, run, block, stretch the field, that's an asset to your ball club. I think all the tight ends, including Fasano, understand that you have to come out every day and work on the little things to be a complete tight end," he said.
Sophomore John Carlson has also taken on an expanded role this season in the offense including registering his first touchdown of his career early in the season.
"John is a talented guy," Parmalee said of Carlson. "We have good tight ends that can do all three things we ask them to do. He's just going to get better like the rest of the guys as long as he keeps working hard and approaching these practices as a day to get better."
Irish fans haven't heard much from freshman tight end Joey Hiben yet, but Parmalee says Hiben has continued to improve this fall as well.
"Joey's doing a great job of learning and grasping everything," he said. "He's learning from some veteran guys ahead of him and he's making progress. He works on the same thing those other guys work on, fundamentals and techniques. He'll continue to get better."
What does Parmalee want to see his unit improve on the rest of the season?
"Just do the basic stuff," he said. "Go out there and do what we ask them to do and be a part of being successful on the field. If that means blocking, make sure you take care of your block. If it means, catching, make sure you catch the ball. Do whatever it takes to be successful on Saturday."
The Irish have been successful so far this season exceeding many expectations. Parmalee says the player's attitudes have been one of the main factors for the early success this season.
"I think the players have done a tremendous job, especially with how it all went down, the coaching change and everything," Parmalee said. "They've bought into what we were saying. They believe in what we're saying, and more importantly they believe in themselves. We as coaches don't play the game. All we can do is try to put them into a position to be successful. They took it from there and they believed that they could do something special."