Have you talked with Brady (Quinn) since Saturday night?"I talked with him before and after which was a good thing. To be honest with you, he didn't know if he was going to get in or not get in. I said if you get in, it will probably be toward the end of the game and you'll have the backups and they'll have the backups and you just have to play better with your backups than they play with their backups. And he didn't disappoint."
Have you talked with Romeo (Crennel)?"No, I won't call Romeo at this time because I don't want to be involved in anything that's going on with the quarterback situation. The timing isn't right. That should wait until after the season is going because right now, even though we are very close friends, that conversation could go someplace I don't want it to go. So I just try to stay out of that one."
How much should people read into a performance when it is backups to backups?"All you can do is excel with what you have out there versus what they have out there. That's all you can do. I think if you look at every preseason game, there are always a few guys that are just better than everyone else that's out there when they're playing. And he was one of them. So that's all you can ask for. Where it goes from there, I couldn't tell you, but he was clearly the best guy on the field at that time."
Is this the quarterback reapportionment day?"We have three guys and that will be the case until Georgia Tech."
Are you on schedule with the way things are developing?"I think we are right on track. We had a pretty tough practice last night in the stadium. I had officials in, and I wanted to get some practice in some weather because every time it has rained, we have gone inside into Loftus. Anticipating that today was going to be a really bad day and tomorrow the fields could be a quagmire based on today's rains, I wanted to get out there and get a little bit of everything; every special team, offense and defense, and everything. Realistically, that ended the true offense versus defense part of training camp. We're still going to use the first half of every practice this week to practice individuals and go good guys against good guys. But about midway through practice when we have a break, we will start using show teams to simulate Georgia Tech's offense and defense. Of course, we will do that on special teams as well."
Was it a scrimmage on Sunday?"Yes, it was a controlled scrimmage, but we practiced every phase of special teams up-tempo; then we went offense against defense for about 60 or 70 plays, offense against defense."
Have the tight ends, Yeatman (Will) and Reuland (Konrad), begun to separate themselves?"I feel a lot more confident at this time about our backup tight end situation than I felt last year at this time. Because you had two young pups at this time last year; now they are a lot more seasoned and they know what to do. They both have different strengths and weaknesses and both have shown they can play on the field. Now you're not as worried, knock on wood, if anything happens to John. But at least you would feel confident you would have a reasonable adequate backup that you could put in if something happened to John."
Are those two similar?"Will is a lot bigger; he's a big muchacho now. John is really big and Konrad is pretty big and you look at Will; he's ten pounds bigger than both of them. They're different in their body types and how they play, but they are both capable of playing any of the tight end spots we put out there. They are smart and that is the one thing they have going for them, which gives you the chance to have some more complex type of schemes with utilization of tight ends."
How many wide receivers will be in the rotation?"It depends upon whether you are practicing multiple wide receiver sets or not. Today we're not practicing multiple wide receiver sets, so we'll probably practice five or six. When you go to multiple wide receiver sets, you would probably practice six or seven. But now you are at the stage where you are going to try to practice the guys that will play in the game. The good thing at the skilled positions, wide receiver and running backs and at the tight end, we have more players than we've had before. You have to keep them involved in the game plan because if you don't have them - it's not that you lose their interest - their psyche drops some because they don't think they're involved in the mix."
As you step on the field for the first time, do you have a feel for how your team is going to do?"I think this year is going to be a little different from the first two years because so many inexperienced players will be playing and some fifth-year guys who haven't had a lot of playing time. Even though you are really confident in the team - which I am, I'm really confident in the team - the jury is still out. You have to go by what you see. Playing in practice is a lot different than when there's 80,000+ out there screaming and hollering and ranting and raving. Your expectations are very high, but you still have to go by what you see when you get out there. Another thing is, you have to be ready to adjust accordingly because the last thing you want to do as a coach is go in with one thing in mind, and if it's not working, you decide you're going to do that no matter what. You have to be ready, especially in the early part of the year; there is a lot of pressure on coaches to make sure they have answers in case those types of things start to happen."
Are you getting closer to the answer about your place kickers?"We are coming closer, and the thing is, it looks to me like there's a possibility that you may have a different place kicker than you might have a field goal kicker. Just like in every other position, if they're too close to call, you try to give them one job instead of two. I think it's a possibility that that might play out like that as well."
Can you talk about Justin Brown's development? It seems like the light has come on with him."I would like to take credit, but he probably is, of the entire team, the most pleasant surprise during this training camp. It hasn't been just his strength game, it's been his motor. That's what's really impressed me the most. He always showed flashes since I've been here, but I've never seen him play with the motor he is playing with now, and it is very encouraging."
Did you ask him where this change came from?"I just stay away from him; it's working. So you know the old phrase, if it ain't broke…. And we needed him, that's the other thing; not only has his motor been up, but we needed it to be turned on, and it has been turned on."
Did he play much football in high school?"Let's just talk about here. He's gone back and forth between injuries and non-injuries and playing and not-playing; playing one position and then playing another position. So I think he has been a little bit unsettled in the last few years. But now he is settled in and knows what to do, and he is playing with a high motor. A lot of times with a defensive lineman, effort can overcome a lot of other things when you are playing hard on every single play. Looking at it from the offensive standpoint, he has been a pain in the butt to block all training camp, and I consider that a good thing."
Has the change of schemes been beneficial to him?"It's easy for me to sit here and say yes. I think schemes has nothing to do with motor. Motor is in here (heart), not up here (head). His motor has been running and it has been running at a high throttle."
Has there been anybody besides Justin Brown that has jumped out at you that you weren't anticipating?"I'm going to give you an obvious one. One of the positions, where we lost a player last year, is free safety; Ndukwe (Chinedum) had been playing for awhile. We put David Bruton with the first group, but you still don't know what's going to happen when he's out there. He looks like a man amongst boys out there. It's nice to see that tall, rangy kid that is now close to 210 that can run like a deer and hitting people and covering ground. Even though everybody knows he has been penciled in as a so-called starter the whole time, just the fact that he has elevated his play to that type of caliber, I wouldn't say it was a surprise, but it was what you were hoping for."
You mentioned that you needed Justin Brown to step up. Is that the same with Bruton?"That's not the only two. There are a few other guys that better be on my same program (laughing)."
Can you talk about Luke Schmidt's development?"Luke was banged up a little bit, and we rested him some. He gives us some versatility because, not only can he play fullback from the backfield, he can play fullback close to the line of scrimmage as well. We talk about 21 and 12 which are personnel groupings where you have two backs in the backfield versus one back and two tight ends. When he's playing, you can play either one of those packages because he is adept at playing both in the backfield position and the guy close to the line of scrimmage as well."
How do you see the transformation of a guy like John Carlson who last year was trying to be a starter and now he is a leader/captain on this team?"Not only is he a leader by example because it was clear in the winter and in the spring - you could include Sully (John Sullivan) in there as well - the three guys who stood out in everything we did was Travis (Thomas), John, and Sully. It was no surprise that they were picked either as captains or on the leadership committee. In John's case, probably the most pleasant surprise has been how he has become so much more vocal. You know he is a quiet kid by nature. I have said jokingly, you haven't seen the fire when he drops a pass in practice. And that hasn't changed, but the fact is that he has taken on more of a vocal leadership role. When you had Brady here, you had a security blanket on the field. That was the guy everyone turned to as the leader. Now with him gone, I think those three guys have picked up a lot of the slack."
As a coach, is it gratifying to see a kid evolve like that?"It's really interesting to watch when they are put into that position. Because of their example on the field, their personality comes out a little bit more. He's a lot more vocal and enjoyable to watch."
Have you had to change your coaching style this year from last year?"I think that's a fair question, and I agree where you are going with this one. I probably easily have had to show more patience than I've had to show since I've been here. Because you are playing with so many guys that are stepping on the field for the first time in a true meaningful role, you want to say something but you find yourself biting your lip. You pick and choose when to ride them, and it's not as often as you normally do. You have to figure out how the psyche of the team and players are intertwined and try to find out how to push those guys to a higher level so they can meet what you feel are their expectations which are usually much higher than what they feel are their expectations."
Can you speak about the Jimmy Clausen situation?"Here's my answer on this one. I followed it and it's like this. Did he have bad judgment being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Absolutely. You can't sit there and say when something happens, that nothing happened. As I tell you every time that an issue comes up, I try to look at it as a Dad. If you tell me that in the state of Indiana that my son is old enough to drive, and he takes me to Martin's and I walk out of there with a six-pack and he's not twenty-one and he's going to get arrested? Oh, parent. Let's say it's one of Charlie's friends then. They're going to get a ticket and I'm going to get a ticket. So I plead ignorance on that one, I would plead that I would not know the law on that one. Was he in the wrong place at the wrong time? Absolutely, but I think it's out of ignorance – and by ignorance I mean lack of knowledge. I don't think he defiantly was trying to get himself in trouble with the law. There really isn't anything more to say on that one."
Do you think that Jimmy gets a lot more scrutiny than others?"He's not asking for that. When you guys get to know this kid, you will get to talk with him Friday, he's just like every other kid here. That's what he is and the problem sometimes in life, whether it's fair or not, that's just the way it is in life. I have a lot of lessons that I have been speaking with Charlie this week over similar situations. I said, ‘Charlie, this is the way your life is going to be. Just like that, this is the way your life is going to be. Anytime something happens, you are going to be scrutinized and that is just the way it is.' The quarterbacks, any of the quarterbacks, but we are talking about Jimmy now - another time we will talk about Demetrius (Jones) and another time we will talk about Evan (Sharpley) - it's the quarterback position at Notre Dame; it's not just Jimmy. I'd like not to single out Jimmy or anybody else but I'm saying it comes with the territory, and fair or not, that's the way it goes."
Is that the way you walk a guy through a situation?"That's exactly my message. That's it. I almost always try to make it personal where I try to bring my family into play and say, ‘Hey, this is how I've handled the same situation. You have to roll with the punches; you are not going to like everything.' The problem is, when you are in a position like a quarterback at Notre Dame, or the head coach at Notre Dame, when things go good, you get more credit than you deserve, and when things go bad, you get more blame than you deserve. And it's no different with the quarterback position; that's just the way it goes. Like it or not, that's the way football is; that's just the way it is."
Is that situation all over with Jimmy?"That's history."
What is the status of Derrell Hand?"He is going through some things here soon in the next couple of days that will help clarify his status. Once that happens, I'll have a better idea of where we are going, because I said at the time, there were two things and he took care of one part of it and now he is dealing with the other part of it. Once that is cleared up, I can act accordingly."
Do you still check in with Coach Parcels and Coach Belichick?"Every week; I talk to Bill Belichick every week. Coach Parcels, he's at Saratoga right now; so don't bother him during the meet at Saratoga. As a matter of fact, I called him last week, and I didn't get a return phone call. I talk with Andy Reid and John Fox. The thing with these guys, they will give you a different idea; they are not all going to give you the same response. Some might be dealing with a problem; some might be dealing with X's and O's. They are very good resources and very good friends. The only person I'm staying away from right now is Romeo and even though we are very close friends, it is not time for me to be making that phone call."
Did Parcels check in with people like this?"He had his own set of people that he would talk to. I know he was very close to Ron Wolfe when he was running the Packers. I know they both had houses down in Jupiter where they would spend a lot of time together. He had confidantes and I watched that and Belichick had guys that he talked to, and they all had guys they would talk to and feel comfortable talking to those people. I think the problem is when you get into a position like this; you are kind of on an island. It isn't like you have a lot of places you can go so you have to go off the island to try and get some aid. If you think you have all the answers, you usually are going to end up on the short side of the stick."
Do you have people in the college ranks that you talk with?"There are a few guys in college that I will talk to. But fortunately/unfortunately they are from the same group of people. I'll talk to Al Groh but then that comes from the same group of guys. That's why some of our guys went to Virginia because of the logical tree that you deal with. I think we all feel that you kind of stay in the family and you don't take your business outside of the family, so to speak."