Is there a bet on the outcome of the game this year?"Last year's controversial ending caused a lot of havoc, so we'll see how it goes. Right now, it's steaks versus hot dogs, winners and losers, but we'll wait and see how it goes. It was a tough one. It was a tough one with that controversial toe touch in the end zone last year."
How is the return game coming?"The return games themselves have looked pretty solid. It's just that some of the guys that we are going to use to return, we have to decide how much we are going to use Golden (Tate); how much are we going to use Armando (Allen). Right now Armando is our starting halfback and Golden is our starting X. So you have to decide how much you are going to use them for. Are you going to use one for kick-off return and one for punt return? It isn't like the Hawaii game where it's the last game of the year and you just put everyone out there because that's it, the finality of the game. The key issue will be, as we went through our blocking schemes we were pretty pleased how the return game looked in both punt return and kick-off return. But the dynamic missing was the guy with the ball in his hands. In addition to a couple of these young guys coming in who we think are pretty dynamic returners and we want to give a good look at them as well. The return of Darrin Walls has given us another guy who has got some breakaway ability as a kick-off returner. But once again, there comes a guy, if he ends up becoming a front line corner and playing for you every down, that's the same type of decision you are making with Armando and with Golden as to who you are going to put out there and how many times."
How is Toryan Smith progressing this spring?"If we were playing a game this week, Toryan would be the Mike linebacker in the base defense. That's what he would be because you have different packages and Toryan isn't the best suited physically for the nickel package because, especially if a team is going to be throwing the ball all over the yard or spreading you out, that is not his game. If you're playing a game like with Nevada using 12 people or Michigan State using 21 or 12 people, your pounding them type of mentality, that's his game. Based off how he has played this spring, you'd have a tough time getting him off the field in that personnel grouping. Brian (Smith) gives you the flexibility and the versatility to decide who you are going to use in addition to him. The one thing you do know is you want him on the field. We will best place him based on who the guys are around him."
Has a third receiver stepped up?"Robby Parris has had a great spring. Duval (Kamara) has had a good spring when healthy but Duval has missed a whole bunch of meaningful reps with his hammie so it's tough to judge one against the other. I have liked both those guys but I have also been very pleased with the two younger guys, John Goodman is more of a slot guy than Deion Walker is and Goodman has looked very good in that position."
Is Goodman considered the number three quarterback after today‘s practice?"I like the way he was throwing it. Obviously, we didn't put him into too many situations right there. But just watching him from senior year, when he got moved junior year from wide receiver to quarterback because they needed him at quarterback, and watching him play, you had to anticipate that you could probably do this with him. Now he is definitely in the top six receivers, probably higher than that so first things first. How is he going to get on the field the quickest? Right now, he is going to get on the field quicker at wide receiver than he is at quarterback. But could we play him at quarterback? I think he answered some of our questions today."
Are you going to continue to rep him at quarterback in August?"We would rep him more as time went on, especially when we have more healthy bodies at wide receiver. That's one of the reasons why we haven't done this earlier because Goody has been running with the first group a good portion of the spring."
Is James Aldridge banged up?"His shoulder has been sore. I'll probably hold him from the spring game. It's something that, if we were playing a game and we weren't going to play again for a whole month, you would play him in a game. But right now, he's a guy I think I'll probably hold from the spring game."
Is he still considered the starting fullback?"If we were playing a game today, he would start for us as fullback. So if I put a depth chart out and I was putting two guys in the backfield, he would be listed as a starter at fullback. I could very easily see in our opener against Nevada him playing more halfback than fullback."
Back to Goodman, is he a situational quarterback?"To answer that without getting into too much particulars and not being too creative, there is a number of things that you could do with him. That's one way, then you have your trickery and deceit plays that you could use as well. He gives you the flexibility to be creative and to do some things but the springtime isn't the time where I'm trying to be creative. I'm trying to find out what we have. And what he has shown is that he can play wide receiver for us and what he has shown is that he can throw the football with the big boys. Now, it would be a little bit different with him in there running the offense and calling the plays. But he did it for a whole year so there isn't any reason for me to believe that he wouldn't be capable of doing that."
Were you surprised that he wasn't a little bit rusty?"He did about what I thought he would do. He has been geeked up for this a little time now. He has been waiting to get out there, and he is the only guy in warm-up throwing pellets. Most people are just tossing the ball out there. He wanted to get out there and throw the high hard one right off the bat. There was no touch coming out of that arm during warm-ups (laughing). He was slinging it."
How much time will the one-on-ones go against each other on Saturday?"The majority."
How are the early enrollees progressing?"E.J. (Banks) is coming off the knee so he has really just been recuperating and getting ready to go. That's gone very well. Tyler (Stockton) has worked his way into shape; has shown what we thought he would be, a really quick guy at the line of scrimmage who's a pain in the butt and can penetrate and some of those things right there. We're very encouraged by his play on the defensive line because he did not look out of place. Zeke (Motta) has probably been one of the best conditioned guys on our team. He can run fast and all over the place, but now we have to get him to run to the right spot. I think a guy like that, who is 217 or 220, whatever he is, right now the one thing you do know you can see him playing on all four special teams right off the bat in the opener based off what you have seen him do this spring. How much he plays on defense, that's to be determined."
How can you explain the difference and progress of Paul Duncan this spring?"I think sometimes guys, especially last year when he was going through a medical year, have a chance to reflect when they're not playing about what they want to do with their lives and whether or not they want to try and play football at the highest level. Where he aspired to have an opportunity to play on Sundays, as I told him where he was at this spot last year, I go, ‘There isn't anybody in the league who would touch you with a 10 foot pole.' It's not that he hasn't had the athletic ability to play, it's feeling you have something to prove. It's almost like you have a chip on your shoulder. Sometimes playing with a chip on your shoulder is a good thing. I think that's what we have gotten out of him in the spring."
Has there been much competition at this position?"I've been very pleased. You know, Matt (Romine) got sick and missed some time by being in the health center and things like that. The competition between those guys never had a chance to get off the ground during this camp because Matt was sick a whole bunch. If Paul hadn't of stepped up, we would have had a lot more questions to answer than we do right now."
How did it work this spring when you put the one offense versus the one defense?"When we put in a second offensive line, we had 10 guys to put out there. But a couple of those guys that you would have put in that second offensive line, it would have been a fire drill. It isn't just Jimmy (Clausen) that you are trying to get ready to play, you are trying to get Dayne (Crist) ready to play too. What are you going to do? Put Dayne out there and every time he goes to pass the ball, he's getting hit in the face by somebody right there. So we just didn't think that made a lot of sense. So actually the way we will end up doing it, we won't rotate in the beginning 10 offensive linemen. You'll probably see two full defenses go through there and you'll see different running backs and different tight ends and different receivers. You'll see the first couple quarterbacks early in the game playing. But at the offensive line, you'll probably see seven or eight guys rotating through to try to give both those quarterbacks an opportunity to go ahead and run the offense."
Saturday's game is considered another practice but how does having fans and a crowd there factor into it?"It's a practice, but it's not a practice. Because now there's 20,000 people out there and it's a beautiful day and you're in the stadium and the media's around and your families are all coming to town. So therefore, it no longer feels like a practice so the level rises. Anytime there is more people around and there's more obvious competition around, things kind of rise up a little bit."
Can you talk a little bit about your honorary coaches?"We were really happy at how this all played out. We had asked Justin Tuck last year after the Giants won the Super Bowl if he would come but he was getting married and the timing really didn't work out. And Bertrand Berry, being in the Super Bowl this year, getting him to come that was a good thing too. Reggie Brooks is sometimes a very under-looked guy because he is right here. So because he is right here, sometimes we take him for granted. This guy was a top-line player for us. And Jeff Faine was almost like icing on the cake. I am really looking forward Friday at 2:30 when we come in for our team meeting. The team meeting is going to be those four guys talking to the team. I'm just looking forward to just sitting back and listening to their experiences and telling these guys, not only about Notre Dame but what experiences they have had in life and giving them some advice. I'm looking forward to it."
How does the offensive line now compare to where it was last year?"First of all, we're light years ahead of where we were. I would like to have had Taylor Dever out there the whole spring. I would like to have had Trevor Robinson out there the whole spring. They're recovering from a shoulder and a knee and I would have liked Matt not to have gotten sick. Those are three more guys that I am counting on in my mind to be involved in the mix. That being said, the work that we got out of the first five or six guys and all the guys got plenty of reps. We got to answer a lot of questions. We learned more about Andrew Nuss, about Mike Golic, Braxston Cave, and Lane Clelland. We learned a lot more about them, because those guys not getting out there and hitting in full pads, we got to learn more about them as well. The number one thing is, the guys that were getting the most reps with the first group, we have made some significant progress. Hey, the jury is still out but we have made some significant progress."
How would you compare the level of competition with the young guys?"Because we went so much in the spring, good guys against good guys, it has raised everyone's level of competition this spring. The offense has had to deal with a fast defense bringing the heat all the time and the defense has had to deal with a much more aggressive physical mentality inside, and that number seven has really had a heckuva camp on top of it now. He's pretty good. He is, he's pretty good."
How would you evaluate the three new coaches and Bryant Young this spring?"The first thing, and most obvious thing, you always have to say that being careful not to be disrespectful to anyone who is not here. They have a lot of gas in their tank. They all have a lot of juice. You watch those guys and probably the most is the oldest guy (laughing). I mean, he is just wired for sound. All three of them are good teachers and they go, go, go, go, go. I appreciate good teachers first, but I especially appreciate good teachers with high levels of energy. And that has been infectious at their positions as well. There definitely has been a trickle-down effect when that ends up happening. I think Bryant, as much as he loves football and is learning how to coach, I think Randy might be wearing him out a little bit as time goes on (laughing). I bet he never thought that would happen. But I tell you what, you need to keep going to stay up with that guy (laughing)."
How would you describe Tyler Stockton's progress from earlier in the spring till now?"He's much more competitive; not that he wasn't competitive. He didn't understand that it's okay to fight back. He didn't understand that. So some of that is trying to find out what you can do and what you can't do. Not everybody comes in like R.J. (Blanton). Not everybody comes in that cocky guy (laughing) that goes ahead and does it first and deals with the consequences later. Tyler was more kind of come as you go. But we have been very pleased with his progress."
With all the options you have at linebacker, how many guys can you realistically play and have continuity?"You like to feel that you could at least rotate two groups through, at least be able to do that. As some guys have missed time, and I just had this conversation with Anthony McDonald today because he's missed a bunch of time, and I said, ‘Anthony,' - We have been very happy with what we have seen from Anthony in the minimal time we have had him out there. We have been very pleased with what we have seen from Anthony - ‘it's a whole new ballgame now because there's a lot more competition in these positions than there has been before. That's a good thing, but at the same time, it means you don't have a lot of time to waste around right now because there's somebody breathing down your neck.'"
Has Mike Anello participated at all this spring?"He has been out there almost like a coach. Even though you miss some of the stuff he is doing, it's good to watch him take some of that leadership role, especially on the special teams level, talking and talking all the time. Because he is very well respected by the younger guys, especially on special teams, and he has been very active even though he hasn't been active physically; he has been very active."
Have top-gunners been determined yet?"Anello will be one of them; I can tell you (laughing). Right now, if we were playing today, it would probably be Anello on one side and Sergio Brown on the other side. But we have worked Darrin Walls; we have worked Raeshon McNeil. Jamoris Slaughter has had a great camp for us, not a big name but he has been good at corner and on special teams as well. It isn't like we have a shortage of candidates. When David Bruton leaves, you have a big void to fill. I think we'll not have any shortage of candidates."
Being the offensive coordinator, will you root for the offense on Saturday?"Hell, yeah, (laughing). You say, when I'm the offensive coordinator, you betcha I do. When I'm the head coach, I cheer for everybody; not when I'm calling plays. I'm a sore loser. You guys don't see that very often, but I am. I am a sore loser. I don't want to eat hot dogs, okay (laughing)."