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April 21, 2012

Brian Kelly



COACH KELLY:  It's nice to finish up a spring game with a nice atmosphere.  There was a nice feel around campus today.  I think it really, for all of our players, you could sense an excitement around campus.
That's what makes Notre Dame unique in that the spring game you get that kind of energy.¬† You guys may poo‑poo that and not understand it, but when you play this game and you have that kind of loyalty and support from your fans, it's a really nice feeling.¬† So our guys got the opportunity to play before a nice crowd today, and I think it really excited them getting out there and seeing the support that we had out there.¬† So as it relates to the format of the game, I thought it allowed us to do a lot of things today.
I think there is no question in my mind that we've got enough players out there to compete.  I'm not worried about not having enough players.  We need to continue to build the players that we have, and we have a long way to go.  I was pleased with that.  I think if there is one thing that stands out from the game itself, it's the attention to detail.  The little things that we need to do better.
What I like positively is our team plays together.  They like playing with each other this is a group that's come a long way in a very short period of time, relative to understanding that it's a team sport.  I like that.  We've got a team, and you need a team to play the kind of schedule we play at Notre Dame.  So that's a real positive.
I saw that energy.  The guys liked to play.  There are enough pieces out there for us.  It's really the attention to detail.  The little things that matter the most.  Our guys are going to have to work at that over the summer.  If they do that, when we get into preseason camp, we should be in a pretty good position.  So that's what I saw today.  Open it up to questions.

Q.  Did you see anything in the quarterbacks today that you hadn't seen all spring, either plus or minuses?
COACH KELLY:  I think we saw some things that we haven't seen before in terms of ball placement.  Then we saw some errors that, unfortunately, are all too familiar.  So, I think there were some strides made, but clearly we're not there yet.  We've got a lot of work to do with all the quarterbacks to get them to the level that we want.  And we have a high bar set for them.
So, yeah, I saw some things out there that they hadn't done in the past.  But yet two interceptions in particular where we've seen that movie before.  So we've got to move past that.

Q.  What was your thinking in bringing Gunner in just for the second half?
COACH KELLY:  Well, we knew he was going to get all the reps in the second half.  We wanted to make sure that we got a good rotation.  Then, obviously, we can't run everything with Gunner at this point.  He just doesn't have the knowledge base.  So from that standpoint, we gave him all the reps in the second half, and got him an opportunity to really feel like he was part of the game.

Q.  Could you comment specifically on Golson's game?  He had two touchdowns, and I think the most yardage.  Was that something you expected or was it kind of a surprise for you?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, we come at it from different perspectives.  The stats really don't mean anything to me.  What I didn't like was that he's got to get the plays in quicker.  He's got to recognize the signaling.
If I'm not out there getting guys set and making sure he knows what to play, we're going to have flags thrown all over the place.  So those things don't mean as much to me as they do managing the offense.
We're making progress there, but we're nowhere where we need to be.

Q.  Coach, Tyler had a good game here today.  Could you talk about moving him around, not just in the tight end position, but it looks like he was out wide a couple times?
COACH KELLY:  He's a guy that has to replace the production loss of Michael Floyd.  To do that, we have to be able to get him into some favorable positions.  Obviously, he's not going to lock down just at the tight end position.  He's a guy that can play at both a wide receiver.  Heck, he could play running back if we need him to.  He's an incredible athlete and a versatile player, so we'll take advantage of that skill.

Q.¬† Getting back to Golson.¬† You've mentioned throughout the spring that up‑and‑down you're trying to string good days together.¬† Was today indicative of his spring performance?¬† Was it a little bit of a departure from what you've seen?
COACH KELLY:  The quarterback position, as I mentioned to you before, is the art and science.  In Putting both the art and the science together, he's very creative.  The art part he's got down.  It's the science and the consistency, all of those things to be a championship quarterback.
You can put him in the same category as George Atkinson.  Both of those guys are exciting, electric players, but they are a heart attack for me.
We've got to get them there, because I think we all see that they've got great skill.  But they are guys that are a work in progress.  You're seeing a work in progress.  You're seeing something very exciting, but I think we all could sit here and agree, we've got to get them to manage the game, take care of the football.  If they do that, they can really help our football team.

Q.  A position is more consistent at the offensive line could you just talk about that group overall this spring, and in particular, the influence of Coach Hiestand on that group?
COACH KELLY:  Well, I think it's the cohesion.  It's the group that really, if you look at all the details, they probably have that down as well as any unit.  They do the little things right.  It's a very solid unit.  It's a cohesive unit.
Coach Hiestand demands that kind of unit cohesiveness.  It's starting to show iself in the running game and pass protection.  When you go into a game and you know you've got all the answers up front on the offensive and defensive line, it gives you a pretty good feeling as a coach.

Q.¬† You've said a couple of times you're nowhere close to where you need to be with the quarterback situation.¬† If you continue with a three or four‑man rotation when we get to the fall, is there enough time for them to be ready by September 1st?
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, I mean, we're hoping that this summer is an opportunity for them to move past some of the areas of concern and now come into camp where we really can start to narrow down who those guys are going to be competing for the starting position.
No, I don't think he can share reps right up until the first game.  There will be a time and a place for that.  But it's still a ways away.

Q.  You mentioned a movie you've seen before.  Tommy's interception on his first possession.  What are things you want to see from him now that he's more of an experienced guy on the roster?  What do you want to see more from him?
COACH KELLY:  Zero is okay on first down.  We'll punt the ball.  It's a drop eight situation, and he's trying to fit his seam route in.  We've got a drive coming in underneath.  Drop the ball down, move, punt the ball.  Stay out of 3rd and 15.  You can't make those mistakes.
You saw Hendrix can't make that mistake  trying to throw an overroute with a level one ball.  That's just the thing that I'm talking about.  They can't make those mistakes and be the starter.  They just can't.
Eifert can't not manage the game in the manner that he needs to.  Gunner's got to be up on the game more.  So you can see, all of them need work, and we're excited to keep bringing them on.
Now this summer, they've got to help themselves.  The guy that really commits to the details this summer is probably one of the guys that's going to start it.  So if you can go to any of those voluntary workouts, then let me know.  I'd be happy to field that when I'm on the golf course.  Just text me if you have that opportunity.
The point is all of them have a lot of work to do.  We'll see who does a great job this summer.

Q.  Wood had a lot of tackles today.  Tell me about his development, Brian?
COACH KELLY:  Did you say Lo Wood?

Q.  Yeah.
COACH KELLY:¬† We want the ball.¬† If the ball gets funneled out to him, we feel like we've got a really good tackler out there.¬† He tackles very well.¬† He's an aggressive kid, and he's not afraid to put his helmet on.¬† You know, he's not a four‑three.¬† He's not blazing speed.¬† We don't need him to do that.
We need him to defend the post, stay above the cut and be a good tackler.  He showed a lot of that today.

Q.¬† I'm sure you weren't thrilled with the six turnovers, but was that something that you kind of‑‑ I mean, how do you handle six turnovers?
COACH KELLY:  Well, again, it's all part of what we're talking about.  I think Gunner had a couple of turnovers, inexperience in throwing the football.  That's the learning curve for him.
But if you're turning the football over, it's going to be hard for to you get on the field.  The fumbles, obviously, George is sloppy with the ball.  Those are the things that we got through.  You saw what I saw.  There is nothing different.  Those are the kids we've got, can't trade them, but we've got to get them better.  So they know that, we know that, and it's a matter of attention to detail for all of those kids.
There are enough players.  There are enough good things out there as a team.  I love the way our team has come together.  That's probably, more than anything, we've moved the team forward, now attention to detail.

Q.  Not a lot of Kap or Tuitt or Manti out there, but what were you able to glean from what you saw in your defense today?
COACH KELLY:  Couple guys that stood out, Anthony Rabasa, he plays really strong at the point of attack and did a really nice job.  Jarrett Grace is all over the field.  So I think we saw Ishaq Williams and his ability to drop in coverage.  He's athletic.  He's really come on for us.
So even with those guys that you mentioned not in the game, we saw a lot of nice things out there.  I'd add Kona Schwenke to the mix as well.  Kona took the coin toss, our game day cap where Kona Schwenke and John Goodman because our staff voted both of those players the most improved players in the spring.  So that's why they're out there.  Cone as well.

Q.  Golson got 31 snaps today, Rees got 26, Hendrix gets only 15.  Did that affect his evaluation?
COACH KELLY:¬† No, I don't think so.¬† I think it's just the way the game went.¬† It wasn't‑‑ nothing was prescribed.¬† We stayed in rotation, as you know.¬† If you followed it, we just stayed in the seniority rotation through.¬† Just the luck of the draw.
It won't affect him, because, again, it's not about the number of reps, it's about the quality reps.  He'll be evaluated as such.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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