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April 24, 2010

Brian Kelly

COACH KELLY: Well, today for us was an opportunity to take all that work relative to the weight room and conditioning and apply it to the actual game itself, because as you know, you can look good, you can run fast, you can do all those things; can you play the game of football?
So today we intentionally -- obviously we wanted a competitive situation by balancing off the teams so we could let our guys compete out there today so we can find out who of those guys have that inmate ability to play the game. As you can tell, we're still in the evaluation process.
Today was a good evaluator for us relative to all our players and finding out more about them. It's the first coat of paint for us. This is a process that we're entered into, and we know that this is not a destination for us.
But we got a chance to see some things today obviously that we can build on, and I think those are pretty evident. You know, we tried to do a little bit more offensively today because I felt like we were behind. So we tried to do more offensively with formations and plays, and we really didn't want to do a whole lot defensively today. We kind of lined up in stack and played one coverage or two coverages.
So from that standpoint it was an intent, because I thought we needed to do more offensively in this evaluation process. With that I'll open it up to any questions.

Q. Was there anybody that pleasantly surprised you today that kind of jumped out at you that you hadn't seen this level of them all spring?
COACH KELLY: You know, I thought that we had some very good depth at the running back position, but I thought today Jonas Gray ran hard with low pad, played physical, ran through, showed very good speed; Cierre Wood; Armando Allen was electric early on. So I thought that that from my end, I wanted to see more of them, and we got a chance to run the ball quite a bit and get them in that position.
So I would say that the running back position is one that I feel really good after this game about the depth and the ability of that position.

Q. What do you take from the quarterback play today?
COACH KELLY: You know, again, I think the process is what I took from it. Dayne Crist took a ton of snaps in live situations. That's more snaps in a live game than he's experienced in his entire career. Even though he was protected, there was some action in there. So I thought he did some good things, threw the ball in the seam, the vertical, push throws that we've tried to get into our offense quite a bit. He was able to hook up with Michael Floyd. As you know, we've had 48 hours to work with Michael Floyd at a brand-new position. He worked in the inside slot receiver position where he worked the entire spring on the perimeter. So I thought that those guys connected well.
But Dayne did some very good things today. As he feels more comfortable, he'll be able to slide and extend plays longer. That's what we'll look for in the development of him, extending plays. Today balls batted down is because he's really staying in the pocket. But I thought he did some good things.

Q. Nate Montana, can you evaluate first blush what you thought of him out there?
COACH KELLY: I thought he was pretty good. He did some good things. Nate does some things really well, and then I'll lose him for a couple of plays. It's more about him playing. He hasn't played a lot of college football, obviously, and consistency is the one area that he has to show, and that is he can't -- he can't have two or three really good plays and then I lose him and he makes some major mistakes.
But he's made progress and we'll continue to work with him. But I've got to tell you, at the end of the day, he wasn't even here when I first got here. He was at a junior college, and he comes in and took a lot of snaps and did some pretty good things.

Q. That Floyd move, is that significant, or is it just, again, evaluating another guy at another spot?
COACH KELLY: Evaluating. I wanted to go through the spring and kind of find out the best rotation. We moved Duval Kamara to the backside receiver position, so we're still trying to find out what that best rotation is.

Q. What you're experiencing today just coming out of the tunnel and not to mention the crowd around you, how much does this stir up your anticipation even more for the regular season that starts here against Purdue on September 4th?
COACH KELLY: Well, I will not understate the "wow" factor of coming into this incredible stadium. Having said that, I've waited my entire life for this opportunity. So I'm going to be pretty excited every game we play. It was just, I think, for me getting in this stadium and being in this environment, I could tell why it's exciting.
Now, we've got to win some games. That makes it really exciting, and that's what we'll be looking forward to doing.

Q. Now that your first spring is done, are you happy with where you're at overall?
COACH KELLY: I mean, if we're grading out, we are moving through a process that really has a number of stages, and this is just another stage. We have a huge couple of stages in front of us. First is this May time, where it is our discretionary time where our players get away from campus for a while. They come back in June, and we begin our summer workouts, which lead into our preseason camp. So there's a lot of stages.
We're moving forward, but we're early. And that's why I opened up with my remarks being the first coat of paint. This is the first series of tests for our team, and they did a very good job. Nobody got injured today. We went through the entire spring, Theo Riddick played, Dayne Crist played, we had a number of players that were questionable in terms of injuries go through the entire spring. So we're developing a mental and physical toughness and shoring up some of the areas that I think we needed to shore up.

Q. And when you addressed the crowd, you said, as fast as it was today, you expect it to be that much faster in September. Can you elaborate on that and tell us what you expect it will look like in September?
COACH KELLY: We'll be more meltable in terms of formations. We stayed in about for or five formation looks today. We'll be about 20 or 25 different looks. We'll move the ball a little bit faster, a little bit more versatile. But again, it's a process. It took us a while to get there. Where we are right now, it's going to take us all through the summer to get to that next level.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw out of the offensive line today and how close you guys are to coming up with a set five?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think we're pleased with the progress that we've made. We've got to be able to run the football. If you've got three backs like we have, you've got to put the best five guys out there that can run the football for you, too. We'll evaluate this.
I thought we made some good progress this past week on the offensive line. We're still moving guys around. Andrew Nuss played a lot at right tackle today. We want to get him in a competitive situation. Chris Watt took a little bit at center. So again, we're not there yet, but we're moving in a position where we think we've got eight to ten guys that we know can play winning football. What we want is five guys that can play championship football.

Q. Now that the spring is over, would you be able to say is this the most talented team you've ever coached from a talent standpoint?
COACH KELLY: No. I mean, that's such a -- for me to answer a question in terms of talent, I've had 14, 15 days with them. I like to coach the best teams, and I don't know that the best teams that I've coached always had the best talent.

Q. With Kyle a little bit restricted, just talk about the job that Ragone did not only today but throughout the spring.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, let's underline he was restricted. He caught, I think, eight or nine passes today, so pretty good restriction. Ragone is important. Eifert is important. The tight end position, as you know, we don't take them off the field. So we need that kind of depth. Ragone is a tough kid. He's going to help us, he's going to move the chains for us and do some things that allow us to get into two tight ends, as well. He's very important in terms of what we're going to be doing in the fall.

Q. In terms of the defense being maybe a little more vanilla --
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it was.

Q. How much do you get out of today when evaluating the defense?
COACH KELLY: Again, going back to the most important principles for me were the one-on-one match ups, the competitiveness, the game itself, the execution. It wasn't a sloppy, you know, a ton of whistles and the ball on the ground, and yeah, there were some deflected balls and a couple of interceptions. But by and large, it was their best practice. Believe me, if you saw some of the practice we had leading up to this, you'd be writing about this thing is a disaster. So today was a lot cleaner than we had been up to this point.

Q. Anyone in particular on defense that stood out?
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, again, and the way we structured some things we wanted to see a little bit more work from the corners. I thought we ran downhill from the safety position. They were around the ball all day, Harrison and Jamoris Slaughter. I just think, again, from my standpoint, we'll look at the film today, but it'll be more about the individual match-ups, how they did getting off blocks and things of that nature. We didn't set it up so anybody would have a banner today day.

Q. Any thoughts on Manti?
COACH KELLY: Well, he was aggressive again. He shows up. The thing I like about him the most is he's a Mike linebacker that can stay on the field. He's not a guy you take off the field on 3rd down. He's really good in space. Add that to Brian Smith in space, and Brian is very, very good out at that drop position. We've really helped our pass defense. Both those kids are really good in 3rd down situations where you don't have to take them off the field.

Q. In this process you keep talking about, can you speak to month the May, sending your staff out and how crucial this is, any marching orders for them as they go out and try to --
COACH KELLY: Yeah, again, and we look at this thing in a 365-day cycle, the May recruiting is absolutely crucial to us. That's where you get those relationships and find out more about the character of the kids. You get to evaluate his transcripts and learn more about him from teachers and the people inside. So this is a huge month for us in terms of that recruiting process.
So we're doing pretty well in it right now. I'm very, very encouraged. But our guys know May is very, very important, not from the Xs and the Os and the players from this fall, but as we move this program forward.

Q. How far did T.J. come in 15 practices and coming in early, and where is he at in terms of potential, what he could do?
COACH KELLY: Right now he's in a starting role. I mean, he can play for us right now. I think he showed that on the first quick hitch he took and ran over a pretty good corner. He's physical, he plays fast, he's smart, he's a true freshman. He hasn't even graduated from high school, and in a sense his whole class doesn't graduate until May. He's a young man that will factor in prominently what we do on offense in the fall.

End of FastScripts

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