Tuesday Transcript

Offensive Line Coach John Latina met with the media following Tuesday's practice as the Irish prepare for Southern Cal.

Can you talk about the continued development of the line and what you expect this week?

"What you are hoping for this week is improvement. I think we have seen a little improvement but, obviously, not nearly enough because we haven't won many games. We're playing against a defense that is very, very good and we'll see how the kids go out and respond and compete and see how much they have improved. The best way to see if you have improved is to go against a really good defense or a really good opponent and we all know they are a good opponent."

When you change quarterbacks, is there a concern for the line because of a different cadence?

"I don't know if it's going to be a big adjustment because we have been working with both guys and our whole team has been in the huddle with both guys. Both teams have practiced with both guys and when either one of them have been in, we have not had a problem with cadence. I don't expect that to be a problem, especially at home where there's not a whole lot of distraction noise and stuff when our offense is out there. So I don't see that being a problem."

How do you think Eric Olsen played in his first start?

"I think like most guys in their first opportunity, he did some things pretty well, and I think he's coming along good. He still has to improve what you would expect to see for a guy's first start."

Another week, another stout defense; do you sometimes wish you would be playing a team in the bottom tier?

"You can't control that so you don't worry about that. You just worry about trying to get better and improve your kids individually so, hopefully, collectively we can show improvement. The schedule has been made so that's who we've got and that's who we're going to go out and play."

Are you still okay will your depth right now with Matt Carufel leaving?

"I've never felt comfortable with our depth since I've been here. Anytime you have somebody leave, that maybe just compounds the problems. So I don't feel great about our depth right now."

How is Chris Stewart doing at right tackle?

"Good, actually we worked him there last week. We didn't put him in because that was the first week at that position. If you go from one side of the ball to the other side of the ball in the same position, that's an easier transition than going from guard to tackle or tackle to guard or any position to a center. He seems to be learning it pretty quickly and we'll see."

Is he a guy who has the physical attributes and talent that just needs to find the right spot to utilize all of that?

"Yeah, there's no doubt about that. He's still a young lineman and you have to remember we didn't have him in the spring; he was on defense. So he went through his first season here on offense and guys who don't play in the fall in their first year, their first real opportunity to learn is in spring and we didn't have him. So I think all of that pushed him back a little bit, but it was something we had to do because it was best for our team. So I think that pushed him back a little bit and, hopefully, he's making some headway."

With about a month into it, how would you evaluate the Sam Young and Paul Duncan switch?

"I think that has helped us a little bit; I think it has. Anytime you flip a guy from one side to the other, especially from right to left as opposed to left to right, you have great concerns as a line coach because it is different. Try to go eat left-handed and play left-handed. So let's go and try to eat dinner tonight left-handed, that's an awkward situation. So anytime you do that, you have concerns about that. But I think it was the right thing to do and I think it still is the right thing to do."

Evan Sharpley has a little bit more mobility than Jimmy Clausen. Does that change things for the guys? Do you have to tell the guys to stay with the play a little bit more?

"Hopefully they are staying with the play all of the time. We still have a protection point that you try to protect and when the quarterback leaves that - you never know when that is going to take place - you want your guys to react to whatever the defense is reacting to. Obviously, if they are changing directions and doing some things differently than normal, then you have to be able to react to that and to assume that the quarterback maybe got flushed out or nothing was open and had to pull the ball down and try to make a play."

Continuity is important to an offensive line. Has that been a big challenge to you with position changes and guys leaving? Have you gone through a situation like this before?

"Actually, I haven't, to be honest with you, in the twenty-eight/nine years I've been doing this. So this has been the most that has had to take place but that's not an excuse. The bottom line is; it is what it is. So you have to make the best out of that situation. And the biggest thing I think our guys have done is to go out and continue to get better. And that's the greatest attribute our team has had is to go out to the practice field and the willingness to get better. They continue to do that even with the year that we are having. So that's what gives you hope that you have good character kids and that things are going to get turned."

How do you think they held up against Boston College as they are one of the more physical teams that you will play?

"Not nearly as good as we needed to. We didn't run the ball as well as we needed to in that game. And I think BC was ranked third in the country in rush defense. They are a good run defense, obviously, that's why they're in the top three in the country. We are not nearly where we need to be. We are not close to being where we need to be in that department."

Talking to the players, they seem to have some steadiness and confidence about them. Do you see that too?

"Yeah, I do. I think it's because they have been together now a little bit and have been doing similar things week-in and week-out. And the spotlight has been on them and they are starting to get it. We have to continue to get better though because we are not where we need to be."

There's a pretty big spotlight on Mike Turkovich because of that holding call. What do you say to him to keep his confidence up or do you say anything at all?

"Basically, what I tell any lineman that has something bad happen to him, it's usually something that you did. It's not necessarily something the defense created to make you do that. It's something that you did. It goes back to the fundamentals and working your fundamentals. Anytime you get a holding call, it's because of something you did. I think when guys have that happen, they want to focus on the referee or what the defense did in front of them instead of focusing on what they did. I always try to relate to them to focus on what you did to create that to happen; to allow that to happen."

Can confidence ever get eroded because of plays like that because there's so much attention paid to that?

"I think it can if it's something that happens over and over again. He hadn't had many. He had two in the game but hadn't had many this year. So, hopefully, it's not a repeated thing that happens every game."

Charlie said a couple weeks ago that the offense had to go back and find a core. Was there a similar process with you and the offensive line?

"You just go back to basics; even stances and first steps and take-offs; and hand placements; and all the basic things. Because if you're not playing well, it's because of something you are doing. When you are not playing well, you have to go back to basics and fundamentals. It always starts with fundamentals and that's what you do. When you are playing with a bunch of guys that have a lot of inexperience, you can never do that enough. You can never work on that enough."

What kind of progress have you seen from that point to now? What do you feel like you are doing well at this point?

"I think we are getting better. But the thing about offensive line play is, you have to have five guys working as a unit. The thing about an offense, you have to have eleven guys and it takes one guy to break down and ten guys can do it fairly well and it can be a very bad play. But we are still in the process of trying to get as many guys to do things well on a particular play; one play at a time, and then worry about the next play. Hopefully, we are going to make strides on that."

How often does that happen or can you put a percentage or a number where everything goes right?

"What you can't have is major problems or penalties or missed assignments or things like that. You can't have anything bad happen to you. Sometimes four guys can win and one guy can stalemate and you can get by with that, but you can't have a guy just get beat. And it will usually show up in a bad play."

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