Offensive Line Coach John Latina
Do you think offensive linemen like it when they can play hard-ball and just go out there and pop people?"I think all offensive linemen like to run the ball, and it's just like anything else when you set game plans up to do one thing and it's not working, you have to be flexible enough and have enough in your game plan to do other things. Anytime a team can go out and run the ball – and run the ball well – then usually you run the ball more. So it's based on how well you are doing it in that particular game."
Do you feel like your group is beginning to round into shape at this point of the season?"I think they're getting better, I do, and I think they are getting a little more consistent and you like to see that; especially when you have such a young guy in our starting five. We like to see that get better and better each week. I think the kid is doing a good job and he's getting better."
What has John Sullivan improved upon this year?"I think he is really a good player. And I think he is really smart. When you have a guy at center in our offense, you have to have a really smart player. He adjusts a lot of the blocking schemes and communicates with all the linemen and changes the blocking schemes and pre-snap recognition of stunts and things like that. A lot of times you can teach them that and put it on the board and they transfer it to the field. Usually he's pretty good at transferring those things to the field. He's a physical player and a smart player."
Is he sort of the leader of the line from his position?"I think center is because they have to communicate so much. That naturally nurtures leadership and brings leadership out in that position because they have to be the communicator amongst the group."
When did he grow into this role?"I saw sparks of that last year and in the spring. Of course he missed spring, but just being out there and making guys in the back pay attention and quizzing them and things like that. Sometimes when you take on that coach-type role, it makes you focus even harder and look at the little things. I think that helped him in the spring even though he didn't get reps. Physically, I thought it really helped him and he is progressing."
Where does he need to improve?"Well, you can never be physical enough. He's got to be more physical consistently and improve his strength levels. You can only be so physical depending on your strength levels. He's playing pretty well for us right now."
Can you get him to come back for a fifth year?"I'm worried about him against North Carolina. That's my concern. He's a good player, and anytime you can get a good player back, that's a good thing."
How hard is it to replace a skilled player and communicator like Sullivan?"Experience is important for every position, and I think it is really important for that position because he has to take on that role and adjust things on the run so quickly, so experience plays a key role and he does a good job with that."
The offensive line had a good performance against Navy, but where do you think they need to improve?"I thought it was the best, and to me if you don't give up a sack and you run the ball well, that's a good indication. But to do it on a consistent basis, I think it is really something that has to happen week-in and week-out, and that's where we have to see where we are. Hopefully that will be the same type of results this week. Being consistent, going out and playing well consistently is the key."
Will you be able to take the hard-ball approach against North Carolina this week?"I think every week we have to take the hard-ball approach. It goes back to what I said earlier, you go in thinking one thing, and it's not working, you'd better adjust quickly. We go into every game with multiple ways of attacking the defense because you never know the weather, and you never know different conditions that happen, and whether you can do this or do that. We go in with the approach that we want to be multiple but we would like to be hard-ball every week."
Receivers Coach Rob Ianello
How closely do you work with Dan Saracino in Admissions regarding recruits?"Dan has the final say. If Dan doesn't think a young man is a good academic fit here, we live with it. Dan understands his place and understands what it takes to be successful here. He understands he has a great job to do, and he understands we have a great job to do. Our relationship with admissions, coach Weis and Dan, and myself and Dan, and our staff and Dan, has been terrific. We feel we have a partnership with him, and we're all working for the same goal. We feel very good about our situation with admissions and Dan's support, and our support of him, and his support of Charlie and what we are doing here. We are very pleased with how things are going and appreciate all he has done for us."
How do you deal with a recruit who wants to enroll in January but it is suggested to him that he wait and come in the summer?"Every case is different. If a young man sees some redeeming qualities staying in high school and coming in essentially in June, he might feel that's the best thing for him. Some guys are set on it and if a guy is really prepared to come at semester and gets the green light, that's great. If a young man has done a good job in school, but hasn't quite prepared himself to come at semester, that's the way it is. We understand that and we support that and we just keep recruiting."
The receivers seem to have played very well against Navy. Are there still some things they need to improve on?"If you would have sat in on my film session Sunday, you would have seen a bunch of things to improve on. What I try to get our guys to understand is, you need to play every play like it might decide the game because it might and you don't know which one it is. If I told you this play, the fourth play of the game, is going to decide the game, you'd play your butt off on that play and execute on that play and finish on that play. Unfortunately, we don't know which play that is. So we are trying to develop that on every play. Attention to detail on every play. Attention to technique and fundamentals on every play. Physicalness on every play. A whole bunch of things on every play so we can be a complete receivers group. Complete receivers catch the ball. Complete receivers block. Complete receivers know what to do all the time. Complete receivers run with the ball after they catch it. Compete receivers do all of those things. We are just trying to develop complete receivers."
How tough is it to reach these goals?"It's hard, but you're striving for that. You have to strive for that, and you have to set the bar high. When you set the bar high, guys will respond."
The receivers played well against Navy. Were you happy with their results?"I don't think my guys ever think I'm happy, so they probably think I'm grouchy. Coaching is, you're just trying to push your guys and trying to get perfection out of them as best you can. We certainly have been finishing plays better the last few weeks, and we just have to continue that as a group – finish plays and keep working. At the end of the year, we'll take stock of how we did and where we ended up."
Senior Offensive Lineman Dan Santucci
What does the term, playing hard-ball, mean to you?"Hard-ball is just plays that we run that are downhill plays, just straightforward plays instead of soft-ball which are more like draws and sitting back. With defenses that move a lot, we do more soft-ball plays so you can read what they are doing. So hard-ball is just more of getting at it and using your technique and aggressiveness and going right at them."
Is hard-ball more fun for you guys?"Definitely, it takes some of the mental part out of it as you just go out there and play physical and play hard and just think of driving the guy off the ball."
What is John Sullivan like in the huddle?"Sullivan is a great kid to play with. He is a confident player, and he has aggressiveness and a mean streak in him, and you can just see it when you are out there. He is definitely a guy you want next to you in the huddle."
Has he sort of emerged as a leader of the line?"Center is a very important part of your line. Brady calls out the defenses, but Sullivan is there communicating everything. So, besides Brady, he knows the offense probably best."
It seemed like you played hard-ball the whole game against Navy. Is that right?"We tried to mix it up in our game plan with hard-ball and soft-ball plays, but we thought we could just go out there and out-physical them, and just go out there and run at them straight like downhill plays."
What do you think of the North Carolina defense?"I haven't really had much chance to watch film today, but we did get our CD's today so I'll be watching more as the week goes on. They have a great front and really good linebackers. They have a good team, and we are just going to go out there practicing hard this week."
Has coach Weis warned you guys that North Carolina is a very dangerous team?"Definitely, North Carolina is a team that has nothing to lose. So they are going to come in here and give it their all. We know by watching some of the Wake Forest game they have talent, a good front, and good players. So they are going to come in here and play their best."
How are those CD's set up and what day do you get them?"We get them on offense on Tuesdays with our game plan books. We watch film from Tuesday on. Sometimes we come in on Monday, if we have free time, to watch on our own. Tuesday we get the CD's and game plan with the defenses on it and their look."
Do you take these CD's home with you?"Yes, we watch them on our laptops or DVD machines. They're organized by fronts, looks, and a couple of games on there for you to watch too. Me personally, I like to watch them here because you have the clicker and the big screen and stuff like that. It's kind of hard at home, but if you're laying around, you can just pop it in because you can never watch enough film on your opponent."
Did you happen to watch Sunday's 60 Minutes at all, and if so do you think it was pretty accurate?"I watched it laughing, but I still don't know what they were trying to get across with the whole episode. But I thought it was interesting, and Brady did a good job of imitating Coach Weis."
Junior Running Back Darius Walker
From your standpoint, and what you see, do you think the offensive line has improved the last couple of games?"I think they improve every game, which is encouraging for a running back to see the offensive line gelling and the chemistry between them grow from game to game. They are very physical up front and they open up the holes. And I'm just the guy who runs through the holes. That's pretty much all that I do."
HascCoach Weis talked with you guys about North Carolina being a dangerous team?"It can be scary at times because they are really coming out with no fear. There's no fear coming out playing a team like us because another loss is another loss. If they come in ready to play and win, it makes their season. So it is really dangerous playing against an opponent like that, and we really understand that we are going to have to bring our A game to get a win."
Do you expect more blitzing and things like that from their defense?"All of that comes into play when you don't have anything to lose. You can try anything, gimmicks, extra blitzes and new things that you haven't tried before to throw offenses and defenses off. We just have to be ready for everything."
It was mentioned that you guys receive CD's or DVD's. How do you use them?"What basically is on them is the last four games, and if we played the team last year, we have the tape. So basically, what I like to do is take the film home and watch it in my spare time. Pop the DVD in and watch it play a little bit to see if I can find some tendencies or things like that. Film is really big for me in that aspect because you get a chance to see the players and how they react in certain situations, and how they play from down to down."
Did you watch 60 Minutes?"I actually did not get a chance to see 60 Minutes. I wanted to but I definitely heard about it. So I basically watched it, in other words."
Could anyone else besides Brady get away with calling the coach a jerk on national television?"That's one of those things you just have to try and see (laughing). Let somebody else say it and see what happens (laughing)."
Would it be worth the risk?"That depends on who you are looking at. It really depends upon who it is. For me, no way. There's no way I'd jump out there like that. I might be able to get away with it, but I just wouldn't do it. But I would encourage someone else to do it. When you go over there and talk to Ryan Harris, see if he'll do it. He could get away with it, Ryan would."
Why can Brady get away with it?"He and Coach Weis have that relationship where they can joke and laugh around with each other. They know when each other is being serious and when they need to pick it up. They just have that kind of relationship where they can goof around like that and interact with each other."