No spot is guaranteed.
It's refreshing, and admittedly could equate to pre-season coach-speak, but to a man, each of Charlie Weis' assistants are looking forward to the next three weeks of fall camp.
Below is our first round of Friday's media day interviews and an extended session with Corwin Brown.
Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs
On the depth of the defensive backfield: "More is always better; more (game experience) is helpful because now they have some recall. They can think ‘last time I was in that situation this happened.'
Brown continued, "Now I can say ‘hey Kyle (McCarthy), remember when this happened and we can (attack) with this (coverage). Or I can tell guys like Sergio (Brown) or Raeshon (McNeil) that they've been in this situation before, and here's what we should do vs. what we did…so ‘more' is always better.""It's huge because you know personnel – you have recall and you know ‘hey, this guy's (opponent) better than that guy, or this guy likes to do this.'"
Responding to a question regarding the defensive group ranking among the best in the nation: "I feel good abou the guys and what we teach them…what we do. So we walk (carrying) with a pretty big stick out here. But it's proven when you get out on the field. I tell guys all the time: ‘I don't care what people say about you or what people think – what matters is what you do when you get out there on the field.'
"So you'll know (if the lofty expectations) are accurate when we play Nevada and everyone else after that."
On 5th year senior Kyle McCarthy: "I've been around…coaching and playing both in the league (NFL) and in college and see guys come and go…what makes guys good are the plays they make and he's definitely one of those guys where he has a chance to be good.
"You know, I saw the Thorp List (Watch List for the nation's top defensive back) and he wasn't on it…(shaking his head) but he's got a chance to be pretty good and maybe it's a good thing because he gets the chance to fly under the radar a bit (again). He does a lot of things well – a lot of things that some people may not notice.
"He's definitely a gym rat; he knows football. He has some intangibles you can't put on paper and he's got a competitive side to him where if you tell him he's not goinig to be able to do something you know he's going to work hard to do it."
On DB Competition: "Oh there's a ton of (competition) back there at all positions. Kyle and Harrison (Smith) have Sergio breathing down their necks and Raeshon and Darrin (Walls) have RJ (Robert Blanton)…and (heck) Jamoris, they're all battling too.
"I saw Gary (Gray) in the spring in South Carolin and he told me he's coming back to play (emphasis on the last word). But I told him don't tell me about it just show me.
"That's what you live for, seeing guys compete – it's always settled on the field."
On returning senior CB Darrin Walls: He had a pretty (decent) spring. He's a guy with a really good skill set – he's talented, but when he was gone he kind of put some of the other pieces together so we're really expecting some good things out of him…he makes the group better.
"But again, the best player plays – its not who talks the best game or looks the best back there – it's the best player and Darrin brings a good skill set…we have a good mix back there (in the defensive backfield)."
On Quarterback Jimmy Clausen: He's matured. Mentally more than anything else. It's fun because I talked to him this summer and from being around Chad (presumably Chad Pennington – with the New York Jets) and Drew (Bledsoe) even Elvis (Grbac – Coach Brown's college teammate) when I was in school….sometimes you see when a guy really turns the corner.
"In Jimmy's case he knows how to lead the team; he knows what he's looking at (coverage). He throws a good ball, but he knows sometimes its justn knowing (when) to throw it away and let us punt; or instead of going for this shot (downfield) that he'll go here (alternate receiver); or that he's going to stick the ball in this (tight) spot because he's done it before.
"He's got that same recall we talked about with the defense (DBs). He's been around and that's a good thing, that's a good thing, trust me.
Brown continued to praise the Irish junior quarterback.
"Some guys never get it – some guys get it as freshman, it's hard to say. I think whenever it happens is (due to) the experiences and the people around you (the player) and more importantly, how you accept it and how you embrace it and how you use it to help you.
"If Jimmy (wasn't such a good) kid, he'd have never come into my office and asked ‘Coach, what do you guys look at here (pre-snap read) or why should I do this or that?'"
On my question regarding Sergio Brown's competition for the nickel role: "That spot, like all the spots, are up for competition. Sergio played it pretty well so in order for somebody to beat him out they gotta bring it. If you have a bunch of guys playing at a high level then you just find them (all) roles. Find them some time on the field, but this (choices he has) is an easy deal. You just let the players go out and do it."
On my follow-up question regarding the (presumably high) number of cornerbacks he's comfortable with entering a game: "It depends on the system and the offensive scheme we're playing against or what we want to do (against them) whether we play this many (the question was 4 or more) or that many guys, but our kids know that if they're ready, they're going to play."
On my follow-up regarding the team's dime package and his use of four cornerbacks with two safeties: "That's also totally dependent on personnel and exactly what we want do to, what we want to show (which coverage). There are (several) different thing that dictate (personnel) so we go from there.
Coach Brown enters his third season with the Irish and his defensive back group ranks among the deepest at the school in the program's last 30 seasons.
As Brown would say, "That's a good thing."