Tuesday Transcript

Offensive Line Coach John Latina met with the media following Tuesday's practice as the Irish prepare for their final home game against the Duke Blue Devils.

There's a couple guys banged up. How does that affect the line for this week's game?

"We have seven guys who we are working and that means a couple guys will have to play multiple positions which I think is good. I've always thought that and I've always believed that the more kids are forced to learn, the better in the long run they are going to be by learning the big picture as opposed to their little world."

No one likes to see a player like John Sullivan get hurt, but are you excited to see what Dan Wenger can do?

"Oh yeah, when Sullivan's not there, there's nothing you can do. That's part of the game and you've just got to go on. I'm excited about Danny playing his natural position. He was a center in high school and we recruited him as a guy who could replace John. Therefore, I'm excited about getting him some quality time at a position that is going to be his position."

Will you be taking a long look and playing some of the younger guys over the next two weeks with the idea of building some continuity going into spring?

"Well, that's kind of a little bit of a theme that I have about – we don't have our guy who has been our stable guy who has been here a long time and started a lot of games, and we don't have him after two weeks anyhow so what you want to do is start putting some guys in leadership roles and ask them to be the guy that John was in terms of, ‘hey make sure we are doing this,' and ‘hey, make sure our group is on time.' So you are just trying to move forward with that process."

Have you seen glimpses of that from anybody?

"Anytime you lose the one guy that has been the real starter for four years, everybody is kind of looking at each other a little bit. So as a coach, you have to nurture that. You've got to put them in positions to do things to see if they're capable of being leaders and things of that nature. As a coach, you have to be the leader when you lose the one leader that you have; the one guy that has been the rock of the offensive line really since we've been here; the guy who has been the most consistent. Then as a coach, you have to take that on, but you want to nurture younger guys into those positions."

Are you looking at Sam Young and Dan Wenger to be leaders; especially Wenger since the center is often the leader of the offensive line?

"I don't know if it has to be any one position. Some of my best players have been centers and some of my better players have been guards. Really, it's who's willing to accept that responsibility and take that role. It really doesn't matter who. You'd like to have them all; you have to nurture all of them and, hopefully, a couple of them will stand up and take on that responsibility."

With the growth that Wenger has been able to make this year, has he closed the gap between him and Sullivan?

"Game time tells you that. It's going to be good to see him in the game as center. We have had Sullivan take almost one-hundred percent of the center snaps for the last couple of years. So it's going to be really good to get him in at his natural position and being able to do things that he is most accustomed to doing."

Coach Weis said that Wenger and Clausen would make the Mike calls, how did that go today?

"I thought it went very well; I thought it went really, really well. Even though Danny hasn't played center, he's been practicing at center, but not fulltime because he's been working the guard position. So he's been doing that this year as well as (Thomas) Bemenderfer; he's been doing it too. So I think they will be very capable of doing that."

Charlie said that Sam Young sort of took off when he was switched over to left tackle. Do you wish you would have started the year with him at that position?

"No, I don't look back and worry about that. He was a freshman last year and almost all freshman linemen struggle. Now that he's had twelve games of experience, you expect him in the second year to start to show improvement. I'm starting to see that and, really, in past experience, it has been the third year. A lineman usually doesn't play much the first year, if at all, and the second year they get their feet wet. Then the third year, they really start to grow as an offensive lineman. So I think last year, was just a guy getting his eyes open as far as they could open and tried to take it all in. I'm starting to see some better things from Sam."

What is Chris Stewart showing you?

"Chris is an interesting guy. He wasn't with us on the varsity last year and he wasn't with us in spring ball, so he was well behind early and I see him getting better. I have always felt like he was going to be a good player for us and I'm starting to see him progress. Now he's starting to play multiple positions again because we are down to about seven linemen. But, again, I think that's good. I think he's going to be okay."

Do you think his future is at tackle?

"I think it can be and I think it can be at guard too. He's a big athlete and a guy that can play both positions."

When he came back to school, did you notice a difference in him on the practice field?

"Yes, I think anytime a kid goes through a little bit of a situation like that and basically comes back and he becomes recommitted. I see him working hard and I've never been displeased. I just know he was behind because he wasn't on the varsity last year and he didn't go through spring ball and he was behind. He was like a true freshman again, and I was never disappointed in him and I always felt like he had a chance."

Charlie mentioned how domineering Sullivan's personality can be. Is there a second in command on the offensive line?

"I think you expect a guy – I don't know how many games he's started here – and a guy who has played as well as he has played; I think he is a really good player and he's a fiery guy and you expect that kind of demeanor about him. I've had great leaders who have been like that and I've had guys who've been leaders and led by example and by work ethics and were just as good as leaders. What you don't want is anybody to be out of their character. You want someone to come in and be a leader in their own way of being a leader. Hopefully, we can have more than one guy. However that develops, it develops."

What do you think Sam Young's personality and leadership traits will be next year, being the most experienced guy on the offensive line?

"I think he has capabilities of being a fine leader; I think somewhat different than Sully because Sully was boisterous. He would voice his opinion which I wanted because all you have to do is sit and watch his work ethic and how he prepares for games to understand that you want guys to learn to do it that way. I think Sam will develop into one of those guys but in his own way."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories