Defensive Coordinator Corwin Brown
What drives you and makes you happy as a coach?"I'm driven by one thing; when I look at that tape and our guys are playing well, we're happy and satisfied. If they're not playing well, we are not happy. That's what we're driven by."
Charlie told us that he tried to hire you when he first came here; but because of family matters, you didn't want to make the move. Can you elaborate on that?"It was different this time. There were a couple of situations since I was just moving and had family situations to take care of; and that was the biggest deal there."
Were you more intrigued the second time around?"No, it was just opportunity, timing, and circumstances."
What do you see as the big opportunity here as opposed to the Jets?"This is Notre Dame. I loved the Jets and had a good time there. I was working for another guy that I respected and admired a lot, Mr. Johnson is a tremendous guy, but there was just a couple of different things about this opportunity at this time that made it advantageous for me."
Is Coach Weis kind of persuasive?"Coach Weis didn't really have to sell me. He's like my mentor, so we've always had direct lines of communication. I wasn't even thinking about him; I didn't know anything. I was worrying about our season and then when Eric told me that Notre Dame had contacted him, it kind of perked my interest, so we ran from there."
So after a few conversations, you felt this was something you would like to do?"Yes, we thought about it for a second."
What is the strength of the 3-4?"Every defense has strengths and weaknesses, and it just gives us flexibility to do different things. No matter what you play, you have to tackle; you've got to run to the ball. You can't allow explosives and those are things we want to try and eliminate. There is a way I've been accustomed to doing things, and I've seen them done and that's what we're going to get done here."
What is your ideal rotation on the defensive line?"Just four - those guys that are out on the field to play hard, no matter who it is. When you can't do your job or there is someone else willing and able to do it better than you at that moment, then those guys go in and play. We don't care about how many guys we have playing or who plays where. You have to be flexible here because we have guys playing different positions and that's just how we do things."
So, we're going to see lots of changes between the ends and linebackers?"You've got to be flexible across the board here."
Corwin, what do you want your calling card to be here?"Not so much my calling card, but what we would like as a group across the board, coaching staff and players. We just would like to be known as a group that plays hard and competitively and doesn't give up big plays. That's what we want. We don't want anything else, but you earn everything that you get. Nothing is given to you. So you go out and earn it. We have goals and we're going to work to reach those."
Quarterback Coach Ron Powlus
What do you tell these young quarterbacks about the experience of being the quarterback at Notre Dame?"I have lived the experience of being the quarterback of Notre Dame; how exciting and fun and how proud you are of that role. So that's the manner in which I talk to these guys."
Is there one thing that you wish you would have known when you started at Notre Dame?"No, everything that I learned that was good, I learned here (laughing). I feel blessed in my time here - the support that I had from my coaches, from my teammates, from my friends, from my family; my experience looking back is a very positive one and it was because of those people around me. I didn't walk away from here saying, ‘Boy, I just realize that.' I didn't have that moment."
As a senior, did you know things that would have helped you when you were a freshman?"In that regard, I think it's position-specific and on-the-field-specific so I relate those things to these guys – absolutely."
With 25 days to go before the first game, you have three quarterbacks vying for the starting position. As the quarterbacks' coach, is this exciting and a challenge or would you rather have one guy that you know it is going to be?"It's exciting; it's really, really exciting. The Notre Dame nation, the University of Notre Dame, the Notre Dame family were very fortunate to have the quarterback that just left here, Brady Quinn. But Brady is not here and we have guys competing for this job and it is fun to watch them gain confidence and watch things click in their heads; and it's fun to watch them get it and it's fun to help them get there. I am really happy and excited about where we are right now."
What is the best advice you can give a heralded freshman quarterback at Notre Dame since you've been through that?"I talked to all these guys in the same light and I've been in all their shoes - trying to win the job; having the job; being the starter; being young and new and trying to get it. So all these guys I talk to very specifically about their situation and try to relate to them and understand where they are. And I try to relate to them about where they want to get to; but my conversations with those guys specifically don't need to be public. Those are things between me and them and I think they are productive and it helps."
Coach Weis said he was anxious to see Jimmy Clausen throw since he wasn't allowed to watch him throw during the summer. Can you relate your anxiousness about seeing Jimmy throw?"We're anxious to see all three of them throw. We're not allowed to watch any of them throw in the summer. So we didn't have the opportunity to see anybody throw and, gosh, it gives us a great chance with practice starting in a couple of hours. We are a couple of hours away from seeing everybody play the position and throw the ball around. We haven't seen any of them throw since the spring so it will be interesting to see where they all are at."
Is it a challenge to try and get these three guys equal reps so they can prove themselves?"No, I don't think so. That's the way Coach is setting it up. We're going to give guys reps to see who is going to be our quarterback. That's the game plan; easy, hard, that's what we're doing. That's what Coach wants and that's what we're going to get. We're going to create an environment where they can compete and we'll see who comes out."
When will the starting quarterback be told that he's the one?"I don't know; I don't know what the future holds. There are certainly different thoughts about when we might know something, but I don't know that right now. I don't know when the starter will know; let alone me know. We don't know until we see."
Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator Rob Ianello
How comfortable are you with the receiving corps heading into 2007?"With the class that we have right now and with our head coach's direction and leadership, we certainly feel comfortable where we are right now before two-a-days start."
How do you feel about the rule change concerning text messaging?"I'm a strong proponent in text messaging. I've been quoted on that as head of our assistant coaches for the AFCA. I believe we took great advantage of it, and a lot of other people took advantage of it, and I believe it's the technology of the day. I do hope the NCAA will look at it – and they are – because there has been an override vote requested. And I'm hoping they will look back at it and if we can get a compromise proposal somewhere along the line that will make everybody happy, we can get it back in some shape or form. Because we recruit throughout the country, it was certainly something that was very helpful to us."
You are on the committee looking at early signing dates, what kind of progress has been made regarding this?"We are at a stage right now where all the schools' assistant coaches have been surveyed. We are tabulating the results of that survey and they will be forwarded to the AFCA which will be given to the head coaches and they too will be surveyed, and at the convention we hope to come together and see where it is; the pulse of it first and if there is a pulse to do it, the next step will be when. It is being looked at now more seriously than it had been in the past. Ultimately, the head coaches will decide if something is going to be done with this. The assistants are just giving their opinions; and some are for it and some are not. In my opinion, the date that would change the recruiting calendar in the least, would be to do it after the three-week contact period in December when we go to a dead period. That will change the recruiting calendar the least, but I'm not sure if that's the one that will work."
After losing a couple of top-flight receivers from last year's team, what do you expect from this year's group of receivers?"We're going to improve every day. We're going to be highly competitive. We're going to become a group that can be counted on by our offense. We can't worry about who's not here, and the guys that are here have to develop and the guys that are here have to come to work every day. That's what I expect and that's what I told them last night. We're not worried about who's not here; you can't coach guys who aren't here. I'm excited about the group that we have and they should be excited about the opportunity they have and we've got to move forward. We don't talk in terms of who's not here; we talk in terms of who is here. We're looking for guys to establish their roles for our team."
Do you see a change in the way routes are run or the way receivers play based on their physical size?"No, we're going to run our curl route the way we've always run our curl route; we're going to run our out route the way we've always run our out route. I think as you go through and your team develops through training camp, you get a sense for some guy who maybe runs something better than maybe somebody else; or maybe something fits somebody better than it does somebody else. As far as what we do or run our routes or what our installation is going into the first couple days of training camp, there is no difference."
Offensive Line Coach John Latina
When you have guys that practice both on offense and defense, do you consider those guys yours until you are told otherwise?"I go into that room and whoever is in that room, I am going to coach to the best of my ability. Coach Weis is going to do whatever is best for our football team and as an assistant, I've always believed in the (?) run-up-the-hill theory and when I go in that room, whoever is in there, that's who I am going to coach. If you worry about a lot of other things, you're wasting precious moments."
Would you battle to keep guys?"You always do that, but that's why you have to have a head coach who makes the decisions for the team. Everybody wants to make sure that they have their own position taken care of and that's why the head coach has to sit back and take a look at the big picture instead of the individual pictures; and that is what Coach does."
How far does this line have to go from now to September?"I think a long way, I do. I think we have a lot of ability and I think we have a bunch of guys and more numbers and more capable guys, but we haven't been out there as a unit in games. So this is a new line with three new starters whoever they end up being. So that's the challenge – how are they going to play together? How are they going to play in big games? How are they going to play on game day? All you can do is work hard and scrimmage them and put them in as close to that environment as you can and hopefully you have prepared them all enough. But I think we have a long ways to go."
Do you feel inexperience can be a good thing as well as a bad thing?"It comes with enthusiasm, excitement, and that's the good part of it. You have young guys who are excited about their opportunity to get to play. And they are really pressing. But experience is a good thing and that's why I am thankful we have our center back and he is a veteran player, a very smart player, and who hopefully can settle the people around him in a good way."
How quickly do you want to decide the undecided positions?"At the beginning of camp, that is not a big concern of mine because you are always trying to build depth and keep everybody hungry. Keeping everybody competing for a starting job is a healthy thing. I think it is a healthy thing for the team and the coaching staff. The players like to have their jobs solidified, but that's part of the game."
Is having the line get more physical a continuing goal?"That's football. Every offensive line coach in America, maybe not everyone but 90 percent of them will say that. That is certainly the case here. That was the theme in the spring for us and you just don't get it done in the spring because you have just about 10 days in pads. You don't get it done in 10 days; so that's our process."
Do you feel the competition for starting spots is a healthy thing for the team?"That really makes it a healthy environment. It makes it a highly competitive environment and that's healthy for the team."