Aug. 6, 2006

Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Mike Haywood
Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator Rob Ianello
Assistant Head Coach (Offense)/Offensive Line John Latina
Assistant Head Coach (Defense)/Defensive Backs Bill Lewis
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Rick Minter
Defensive Line Jappy Oliver
Tight Ends/Special Teams Assistant Bernie Parmalee
Head Special Teams Coach/Linebackers Assistant Brian Polian
Quarterbacks Peter Vaas

Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Mike Haywood

On how senior quarterback Brady Quinn and senior wide receive Jeff Samardzija are able to be on the same page …

“It comes from practice and the time they spend together during individual drills. Coach (Peter) Vaas and Coach (Rob) Ianello get together and work on the timing of the routes. At the same time, when you get to seven-on-seven and as a team, with the more opportunities you have to throw to a wide receiver, the more comfortable you become with him. You also develop a certain confidence in each player because each player does something better than the others. When the play is called, you can understand whose play it is because that is what he does best.”

On if there is an unspoken relationship between a quarterback and a wide receiver …

“I think there really is. In some certain situations during the week when we call a certain play, the quarterback will be told to throw it to a certain player because this is the reason why we are calling it. A lot of times it’s an unspoken confidence that they have in one another.”

On all of the returning guys already knowing the offensive system …

“It’s a luxury when you can have an experienced offense coming back. Guys are able to do a lot more things. We understand what they do best and we can build upon that.”

On the battle for the backup quarterback spot …

“It’s going to be an outstanding challenge for each individual that’s out there. We have some quality guys at that position to back up Brady (Quinn). There’s not a better guy in the country to learn from than Brady. It’s going to be a great challenge and one of the guys will step up.”

Wide Receivers Coach Rob Ianello

On the success seniors wide receivers Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija could have together …

“We have two really talented really guys to start out with. We expect Rhema to be everything that he was a year ago at this time. All indications are that he is there, which could make it really hard for defenses. (Rhema and Jeff) both have things that they need to improve on to be that kind of receiver that can be counted on. The kind of receiver that when one struggles, the other one picks up the slack.”

On the chemistry between McKnight and senior quarterback Brady Quinn … “Rhema went through spring practice here a year ago when (the coaching staff) got here. He went through all of fall camp and a little into last season. He’s received passes from Brady. He’s had plenty of passes in this offense. He’s been here all summer and has had the reps on the field, as has Jeff (Samardzija), as have some other guys.”

On McKnight’s comeback from injury in 2005 …

“Rhema has just got to get fundamentally better. As a receiver, you’re either going to get better every day or you’re going to get worse every day. You want to be the type that’s going to get better every day. As a receivers coach, I try to give them a bunch of tools that they can all use. As a player, they can pick the one that best fits what they need to do on that play. If one isn’t working on a certain day, they can pick the one they need. That’s what makes them a good receiver. That’s what Rhema needs to do.”

Assistant Head Coach (Offense)/Offensive Line Coach John Latina

On this year’s line …

“We have a good group of veteran guys. They were veterans last year in (class year) only. This year, all the linemen I have are all experienced in our system and I think that is going to be the biggest difference this season. The incoming class is a good mix of talented players that are eager to learn. The advantage with having so many seniors is the young kids won’t be forced to play right away; they can sit and observe. It’s a good mix to have on our team. Having gone through a couple camps already since the beginning of last year has allowed us to be in a better place overall than we were last year at this point.”

On the most difficult part about being a freshman offensive lineman …

“It’s the mental aspect of the game as much as the system. Technique at this level plays such an important part in success. The physical part of the game is always difficult, but getting ready mentally for the college game is the greatest challenge.”

On the biggest challenge with four returning starters on the offensive line …

“It’s finding ways to get the most out of your linemen on a given day. The four starters obviously know that competition with others on the squad isn’t a motivating factor since they are the best we have. So as a coach, I have to find other ways to get the most out of the linemen we are bringing back.”

Assistant Head Coach (Defense)/Defensive Backs Coach Bill Lewis

On his training camp philosophy …

“To me, (training camp) is all about individual players, groups of players, working on fundamentals and techniques. Our job as coaches is to teach the fundamentals and techniques. The other thing we have to do is evaluate them on a day-to-day, practice-to-practice situation, because you’ve got to give the players the opportunity to compete within your system.”

On Head Coach Charlie Weis’ influence …

“I came here for two reasons: because of Coach Weis, and because it’s Notre Dame. I had competed against Charlie for nine years, 20 games with the AFC schedule twice a year and a couple times in the playoffs, and I just felt that he was the best offensive football coach that I had ever competed against … the best.”

Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Rick Minter

On senior Travis Thomas’ move to linebacker …

“He’s excited, he’s big enough, he’s fast enough, he’s strong enough – let’s see what he can do. We just said `let’s go try to get our best 22 players on the field at one time.'”

On the expectations for the veteran defensive line this season …

“We want our defensive linemen to be the best they can possibly be. For a team to be successful, your seniors have to play great football. With success comes expectations, and with Notre Dame comes expectations. We know that and we buy into it. If any of our players or our coaches didn’t want to live up to that, they wouldn’t be here. Excitement is, more than anything, the opportunity to get back on the field.”

On the importance of having nine returning starters on defense …

“You like to think about continuity and returning experience — those things alone. Those two factors would be positive points to thinking we can be better. We’re trying to take our game to another level mentally, technically, and fundamentally.”

Defensive Line Coach Jappy Oliver

On the performance of the defensive line in the spring …

“The one thing about spring (practice) is that in drills, you’re always containing the quarterback. Now and then, we have them doing some things that aren’t containing the quarterback. As long as we are able to contain the quarterback and condense the pocket, we can disrupt the flow of any kind of play the offense runs.”

On the expectations of senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri …

“I never put (statistical) expectations on players. Sometimes players put (statistical) expectations on themselves. They want to get this many sacks, this many tackles, but I don’t do that. (Victor) knows that as we went back and looked at last year, there were many plays that he could have made that he didn’t make. (Some of it is) being consistent in terms of just keeping leverage on the quarterback. There’s times when we’re going to have good coverage and the quarterback is going to be pressed. As long as we keep the quarterback pressed and (Victor) keeps getting after him, he’s going to make a lot of those plays that he didn’t make last year.”

Tight Ends Coach/Special Teams Assistant Bernie Parmalee

On the potential for freshmen to contribute on special teams …

“Everyone is going to get a chance to contribute. We’re just going to go out there and get better. Starting (Monday), we’re going to go out there, work hard, and see what guys can do.”

On the tight end position and the competition for the starting job …

“They are all going to have a good opportunity to show what they can do. We have a good group of guys. We have two young guys that are going to help us also. We’re just going to go out there and work hard. They’re going to give it their all and we’ll see what happens. Everyone who lines up out there is going to have an opportunity to contribute.”

Head Special Teams Coach/Defensive Backs Assistant Brian Polian

On this year’s kickers …

“In an ideal situation, you would have your kicker handling both your field goal attempts and kickoffs, and your punter handling your punting duties. But, I think we proved last year with D.J. Fitzpatrick that we will go with whoever is the best at all three things regardless. The same will go at the end of this training camp — whoever is the best player to be our field goal kicker, kickoff person and punter will be the one we will put out there. Whether it’s three different people, two people or one person, that’s who we will go with.”

On the philosophy behind the return game …

“To get a kickoff return for a touchdown is not as common as people think. You can do everything perfectly and block everyone and the kicker can still pull your returner down at the 50-yard line. To return one for a touchdown takes some magic and Tommy Zbikowski had some magic last season. We are not concerned with having everything returned for touchdown. Instead, we are focused on getting our offense better average field position overall. If we can hit a homerun every once in a while, that’s fantastic, but we would like to just improve the average drive start for our offense this season. It is something that we addressed in the off-season and we will continue to address in fall camp.”

On the kick return personnel situation …

“It is really one of the few open competitions we have on our team. We will look at anybody and everybody that wants to get a rep back there this fall. We just need to find the best two or four that are going to give us the best chance this season.”

On senior special teams captain Travis Thomas …

“Travis’ role on special teams hasn’t changed one bit for me. He will still be one of my special teams standouts. I expect Travis to approach his change of position change the same way he has always approached everything else — full tilt with a big smile on his face.”

Quarterbacks Coach Peter Vaas

On senior Brady Quinn …

“He has the total package. He has a good arm, good feet, he can run, he’s strong, he has good size. When you talk about specifics, I don’t know if one outweighs the other. It would probably depend on which individual you were talking to and the things they like to see in a quarterback. Brady is smart, he has a good feel for the game and he sees what’s happening on the field. He understands the offense and he has a tremendous relationship with Coach Weis. He has an awful lot of things going for him. On top of all that, he has a great ability to focus, work hard and push himself, and that can’t be over emphasized.”

On the backup quarterback position …

“The thing we are most excited about going into training camp is that there is going to be a tremendous amount of good competition at that position. The thing I would like to think is that when we open up the season, we’ll have confidence in the quarterback position. That’s really what you want to get out of it by the time training camp is over.”

On Brady Quinn being able to handle all of the hype surrounding him …

“He will absolutely be able to handle all of it. He will take everything in stride. Brady realizes that he’s gotten to this point of his career through hard work and he needs to continue to work hard. He’s exhibited that all summer long and since I’ve known him. I’m sure he’ll continue to do that and let everything else brush off of his shoulders.”

On Brady Quinn being a good mentor to the younger quarterbacks …

“I thought the relationship that we had in the meeting room last year at the quarterback position was fabulous. Obviously, it starts with Brady and him being a team captain and being the leader at his position. All of those things play into it and yes, he is a tremendous mentor to those other quarterbacks.”