Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly talks to quarterback Dayne Crist

Blue-Gold Spring Game Quotes

April 24, 2010

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.

Nate Montana

Q. It looked like you got comfortable as the game went on and you got more snaps under your belt?
Nate Montana: Yeah, always when I first go out there I’m always a little jittery, a little overexcited. But as time went on, I got more comfortable and settled in a little bit and just took time and the game slowed down for me.

Q. How much more comfortable are you than the first time you played?
Nate Montana: I don’t know, it’s hard to tell. Comparing to last year’s offense they’re two completely different offenses. It’s a whole different experience, but it’s fun at the same time to be able to just spread the field out and we’re going to throw a lot, so it’s going to be exciting.

Q. Do you feel like you established something this spring that you’ve got a spot on this spring and that you’re going to be in the mix as you go into the fall?
Nate Montana: I feel confident in what I’ve done during the spring. I’ve progressively gotten better, I feel at least, and hopefully that’s the way the coach will see it, too.

Q. What was your work ethic like getting ready for the season?
Nate Montana: Well, off season I train real hard, like out in LA I throw every day with my dad or some of his friends, and I’d lift almost every day and run, too. I don’t know, it’s just you’ve just got to stay dedicated, I guess, and put in the time.

Q. When did you start feeling comfortable this spring, because Coach has been hard on you at practice but you certainly looked as confident today as any time we’ve been able to see you this spring.
Nate Montana: I don’t know, today was just like a today was probably the best practice we’ve had, too. Today really cemented it, I guess. Today was like the first day I’ve relaxed and felt like the most comfortable out of all the practices. They threw a lot at us, but today was just nice and relaxing for me. So today would probably be the answer.

Q. Do you feel like you’re a million miles away from junior college now?
Nate Montana: Yeah, I’m real far from that, I think, and I think I’ve gotten a lot better since I came in here, especially with help from the coaches, like being coached and helping them them helping me understand the offense has really helped me progress.

Q. Even though there were some rough times there, do you feel like that was still the right move, to go there and get some snaps?
Nate Montana: Yeah, I do. I don’t think I would be as competitive or in the situation to be as competitive as if I didn’t get those game time snaps. So I think it was.

Dayne Crist

Dayne Crist: I thought it was great. I mean, I had a great time being out there just competing with my teammates and just being able to go out there and feel good, feel confident in the knee was great for me.

Q. To take every snap throughout that first half how did the knee hold up?
Dayne Crist: It feels great. We’ll obviously go in and continue to get treatment and do the things we need to do, but it felt great to be out there with my teammates.

Q. From the perspective of having to make the quick reads you need to make in this offense, how did you think it went today?
Dayne Crist: I thought it went pretty good. Definitely some things need to be corrected, forced a couple that I’d like to have back. But that’s football, and that’s us progressing as a team. I think we’ll do that, but I think over all we took a real good step in the right direction.

Q. How much farther ahead do you feel than a month ago?
Dayne Crist: A world ahead right now. It was a little overwhelming at first, but now everything has started to slow down a little bit, and everyone has been able to kind of settle in and just go out and play.

Q. In the first and second quarters, how did you hold up physically in terms of the demanding pace that you guys are running? How was the offense in general, sluggish in the second quarter?
Dayne Crist: You know, I’m not too sure. Obviously we’d like to operate at the fastest pace possible, but just going from practice and how fast we’ve been going in practice, I mean, it almost felt slow because you’re waiting for referees and everything to spot the ball and just kind of those aspects of the game slow it down a little bit. I’m sure fatigue set in with some guys, but we’ll work through that, and I think that we’re pretty happy with the pace that we went out on offense.

Q. It’s been so long since you played that much football. Did it feel good?
Dayne Crist: It felt great. Yeah, I was just very happy to be out there. Again, going out there and competing with my teammates is the greatest feeling in the world, so just being able to do that was pretty remarkable and something that we really enjoyed doing.

Q. You said you were going to get yourself where you wanted to be after spring maybe going into the summer. Are you there?
Dayne Crist: I don’t think it’s anything tangible. I just wanted to have a pretty good grasp of the offense. Obviously we’re going to go back and watch film and study film all summer, but it’s a process and I’ve understood that since Coach Kelly came with his staff and understood that we need to take some time to learn everything.
I understood it was a process, and I think that we’re just making steps in the right direction, and that’s the most important thing right now.

Q. How do you hold up to the scrutiny Coach Kelly i9s under this spring?
Dayne Crist: I mean, you have to embrace it. It’s one of those situations where that’s your coach and that’s your leader, and you have to respect him and take to heart everything that he’s saying, and he’s got his way of coaching and as a player it’s my job to respond to what he’s asking me to do and what he’s challenging me to do.
I love Coach Kelly and everything that he’s about, and I think that just his competitive nature is definitely going to drive a lot of guys.

Q. What are your thoughts on how Nate played today?
Dayne Crist: Nate played great. You know, he came in and executed real well. Obviously we’d both like to have some throws back out there, but it was nice seeing him out there, and it seemed like he was having a lot of fun, and that’s what it’s all about.

Q. From a quarterback’s perspective, what has T.J. Jones done to put himself in a position to be maybe a starter?
Dayne Crist: T.J. has shown such a maturity out of a guy that is coming in here, and you forget that he’s a mid year guy out of high school. But he’s definitely working incredibly hard off the field. As a quarterback you know you can trust him because from an assignment standpoint he’s doing what he needs to do, and you just feel comfortable with him out there.

Q. Is there anything in particular about him? Is it his speed?
Dayne Crist: I think he’s a pretty complete receiver. He’s got the speed, he’s got the hands. He’s got very he’s very fluid. I think he has all the tools, it’s just about cultivating those tools and putting them together on the field and playing assignment smart football.

Q. What were your expectations heading into the spring, and did you meet them by the end of it?
Dayne Crist: I think that the biggest thing for us is we just had to learn it. We had to get everything in and just get quality reps out of what we were being asked to do. I think that it wasn’t so much anything tangible that we wanted to meet, it was more so about having an overall good feel of the offense and just feel comfortable repping it.
Obviously we’ll continue to work through the summer and get a lot of reps out of that, which will be real good, but we’re just real happy to make the steps we’ve been making.

Q. Were you surprised with how clean everything worked today?
Dayne Crist: I think we’re pretty happy with where we’re at. As a quarterback, personally, and I’m always looking for thing to correct and I’m kind of cynical by nature, but overall I think that we’re all pretty happy with where we’re at and the steps that we made.

Q. Of course your former teammate and friend Jimmy Clausen was drafted yesterday by Carolina. What did Jimmy teach you that you believe was going to transfer into being a successful quarterback here?
Dayne Crist: There’s so many things that I’ve learned from Jimmy and picked up from Jimmy. He was just such a great mentor to me. He was always looking out for me and kind of giving me insight on everything. Just being around him and seeing how he operated often a daily basis and just his preparation and what he did to try and be the best, it was great to have someone like that around.

Q. A lot of short passes today. Was that by design?
Dayne Crist: You’re really just kind of going out there and making reads by coverage, but with the defense that we kind of knew going in was going to be a little vanilla, that would mean there was going to be more coverage and they can’t bring as many guys, so they have more guys to drop underneath. That’s just by coverage, and you’re taking what the defense is giving you. There were some times there were some definite examples out there where I forced a couple of things and got a little impatient and I paid for it. But we’re continuing to learn and we’ll study film and get after it throughout the rest of the summer.

Q. Talking to Manti about him covering Kyle Rudolph
Dayne Crist: I mean, Kyle is a freak athlete. He’s a great player, he’s a great teammate, and you know, it’s definitely one of those guys that we have such a relationship not only on the field but off the field, that I think our chemistry has made it very comfortable for the both of us being out there and just spending the time working away from practice on timing and things like that have all paid off in the off season, and it’s definitely turned out well for both Kyle and I.

Q. What’s next for you? What’s the next step for you in terms of your preparation?
Dayne Crist: Well, we’ll continue the year with some lifting and some throwing and stuff like that. In the summer it’s all business. We’ve got that month stretch where we’re home for a little bit. It’s going to be a very serious time for me training and watching as much film as possible, throwing to guys, trying to get together with a bunch of guys and doing that whole deal and just getting my mind right to come back in the summer and just pick up where we left off. We can’t have any time, any stagnant time. We need to make sure that we’re moving forward and continuing to progress. We can’t be happy with where we’re at today if we want to be successful in the fall.

Q. Does Shaq go home, Cierre? Are there guys by you?
Dayne Crist: Yeah, we’ll work those guys, and then we’re also working out the details right now and trying to get some guys out for the summer just to continue with timing and repping all that out. Our time in the summer is a little shorter this year, so we’ll be back here for the bulk of it but just in that time home trying to get guys out there to throw to.

Q. What about this offense didn’t we see today? What things did we not see?
Dayne Crist: I’m not too sure. I think we called a pretty realistic game. I think there was definitely some things that we were still working on that we just hadn’t repped out as much. What you saw today was the stuff that we were very comfortable with, things that we had shown consistently that we repped well in practice.
But Coach Kelly, I mean, he was calling it as he saw it. I think that that’s pretty realistic, and everyone got a pretty good look at what it’s going to be like in the fall.

Q. Was the running game this good this spring?
Dayne Crist: It was very good today. I mean, it was one of their best days by far. You know, I think that it was any time you can simulate a game type feel in like the spring game or anything like that, guys are going to turn it up a little bit. Naturally guys executed a little bit better today.

Q. Why do you think T.J. has been able to go from high school to potential starter at Notre Dame in a month?
Dayne Crist: He’s mature. He is a very mature kid. I forget sometimes that he’s only been here for a semester. He’s done a great job of coming in and just competing every day. You know, he’s working as hard as he can daily, and he’s doing things off the field in his preparation that just show the maturity beyond his years. But I think that he is very assignment smart, which makes it very comfortable for me to have a guy like that out here.

Q. What does having Floyd in the slot do to maybe enhance him a little bit?
Dayne Crist: It makes it tough for teams to roll over Floyd, from a if you have him in the slot, it’s a little bit harder for teams to really roll their defense and kind of get extra guys on him, and we can move him around a little bit. Schematically I’m sure Coach Kelly has got a thousand things he can do with Floyd, but just speaking generally, that’s one of the positives that we get from having Floyd in the slot.

Q. Talk about Ragone a little bit. Not that Kyle was all that limited, but Mike kind of took advantage of some opportunities today.
Dayne Crist: Yeah, Mike has been executing all through spring camp. He’s one of those guys that at any moment he can step in and fill a void and compete, and I feel very comfortable throwing the ball to Mike. I know that any time he’s out there he’s going to compete until he can’t anymore.

Q. Did you talk to Coach Kelly about he felt like today may have been the best spring practice.
Dayne Crist: I would agree. I think that there’s definite balls I wish I had back, sure. But I think that it was great seeing us do it the right way and having a lot of film to go look back on and work with, and just operating at a tempo and pace that we’ve been practicing for so long, to see it actually run live in a game was kind of cool.

Q. Are you 0 and 1 as a starter now?
Dayne Crist: I guess so. I guess that would now make me 0 and 1 as a starter. I’m a little bitter about that.

Q. (Inaudible.)
Dayne Crist: Making sure that guys stay in it mentally and not relapse in their preparation and what they’re doing to get better. I think it’s important for everyone to stay mentally focused and do all the little things to make sure that we don’t take any steps backward when we get on the field in the summer.

Q. You have a break coming up after exams. What happens then?
Dayne Crist: Continue to train when we go home for the summer, for that month, continue to work hard, keep a very businesslike attitude with everything and try to get guys out to throw to and continue to work on timing and just rep out everything that we’ve done so far in the spring.

Q. When are you going to relax?
Dayne Crist: I don’t really have time for that.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

#5 Manti Te’o – ILB – Sophomore

On making strides:
“I think that we have made great strides. As a team, we went out there to show the fans what we could do. It was just a great experience being back in the stadium. It’s been a great experience for all of us, for the coaches and players. We grew a lot from it.”

On being comfortable with the team:
“Personally I’ve been getting more comfortable as the days go by. I still have a lot more to work on, of course, but I have been getting more comfortable making plays in the defensive scheme.”

On Brian Kelly describing the defense as ‘vanilla’:
“Coach has always told us that the outcome doesn’t always depend on the call. No matter what the call is, you just go out there and get the ball. And when we get to the ball, everyone has to rally, and that’s what makes a great defense. So it didn’t really matter to us.”

On the process of making a better team:
“I’m not sure, but I’m pretty positive through summer training that process will come full circle. You can’t really put a time limit on it.”

On what is expected of himself:
“I’m not sure what’s expected, but I expect a lot from myself, to be a leader on my team, to help motivate my team, and just be the best team that we can be.”

On handling Kyle Rudolph:
“I mean, everyone knows about Kyle (Rudolph). Kyle (Rudolph) is a great athlete. He’s the best at tight end, if not only in his class but in the country. It’s a great opportunity for me to get to go up against the best, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like to go up against Kyle (Rudolph) because he prepares me the most for game situations. He gets frustrated when people go up against him, so you just have to bring you’re A-game to compete with him. That’s the best part of our team; that we compete. We’re always competing against each other.”

#20 Cierre Wood – TB – Sophomore

On gaining confidence from the off-season:
“We’re just trying to work on being cooperative as a team. If everybody does their part, then we should be successful.”

On going through the faster-paced offense:
“I’m already used to it. Therefore it really wasn’t a factor to me. You just know how to find a hole in the offense. When you see it, you see it. I see everything, so it really doesn’t matter. If a hole opens up this way or hole opens up that way, I’ll see it. It’s about who you are and how you look at the field.”

On being in front of a crowd and really excelling:
“It felt really good to be in front of a crowd. This is my first spring, and I think I did pretty decent. I’m pleased, so I think it was pretty good.”

On scoring:
“My philosophy is that I’m trying to score on every play. I was trying to score, so basically whatever happened, I was just playing off of that. I make my rules according to what they gave me.”

#7 TJ Jones – WR – Freshman

On how spring practice has gone for him…
“It’s definitely not easy, and as of right now, I haven’t earned anything. Right now I’m just pushing myself, I’m just trying to work hard but maybe secure that sport later down close to the front.”

On his touchdown catch…
“It was great. Definitely one of the best feelings I’ve had thus far in my life. We are in our tight formation and I was looking for a corner route to split the corner and the safety, and we have a route coming under me that’s supposed to be the cornerback, and it left me wide open in the window.”

On his spring season expectations…
“I think the way I’ve matured, and kind of how I’ve stepped up to the pass and the way I can push myself now compared to what I could do in high school, I’ve surprised myself. But at the same time, I know I’ve come out here to compete and to show myself.”

On the play of the quarterbacks…
“Definitely when you know you want a ball to be put in a certain spot they can put it there. They can throw the deep ball and the short ball, and any other route and they’ll find you if you’re open”

On how far he has come…
“Really I just came here in the mindset that I’m an incoming Freshman, and I’m going to have to stay focused. I really put football and academics first.”

#52 Braxton Cave – C – Junior

On how well the team executed today…
“I think a lot of guys they think its nice having the crowd there it’s easy to get up and get going. We came together as a team.”

On how the offensive line is coming together and his personal level of play…
“It’s still trying to pick up the pace that he (Kelly) wants. You know as the season goes on you can only improve more and more. The offensive line came together, and at halftime, we had some things we needed to look at and make some changes on, we got together in there and you know we came out at the half and did it.”

#70 Zack Martin – OT – Sophomore

On the change in the offense…
“It’s a lot different than the old offense. It’s a lot faster, but we have gotten used to it during the spring. We still need time to get used to the tempo though. I think I’ve progressed pretty well throughout the spring though.”

On what the offensive line must do differently…
“There is no huddle, so we have to listen to the quarterback when he shouts out the call when we’re on the line. Technique wise, you’re in a two-point stance on every play instead of a three-point stance.”

On what players must do during the offseason…
“Conditioning is a big thing. We’re going to be running up and down the field with the no-huddle offense, so we have to be ready.”

On the coaching switch…
“I was only here one year under Charlie Weis, so the switch wasn’t that hard. Coach Kelly has come in here with a new philosophy, and I think everyone is buying into that new philosophy. He’s a very intense coach and demands 100% effort every day. That’s the biggest thing that we’re trying to do at practice, go at 100% for the two hours that we’re out there.”

On earning a starting role…
“That’s my goal. I know I’ll have to work really hard in the offseason and in preseason camp.”

#83 Mike Ragone – TE – Senior

On being a featured receiver in a passing offense…
“It’s been a long journey. It’s taken a lot of battling and just moving forward. My confidence has always been high in such a position, but catching the ball today really helped me improve. If they throw the ball, I’m going to catch it. I’m just going to keep working hard and doing what Coach Kelly asks.”

On his first thoughts on the spread offense…
“I was excited for the opportunity to catch more balls. I can show my speed a little more. A month ago I didn’t know the offense that well, but after grinding it out every day at practice, studying the playbook and spending time in the weight room, it’s all really paid off.”

On the teams position going into the offseason…
“We have a lot of work to do. We are just going to keep moving forward and working as a team to improve.”

#91 Emeka Nwankwo – DE – Senior

On his improvement this spring…
“I just feel like the light is coming on, and I am adjusting well to the new system. I think I had a really strong spring; it was probably my best spring. I’ve just been playing harder. I think I’ve come a long way. I just feel like everything is coming together right now.”

On the difference between the old and new defense…
“In the 4-3, the defense is just always going, going, going. In the 3-4, you get to sit back and read the keys. I feel like the 3-4 fits me better.”

On the team’s attitude…
“It’s a little different attitude right now, but I’ve just been buying into it. I’m happy with everything the coaches have brought to the table, and I’m trying to match it with more intensity, more effort, and more hard work.”