Aug. 19, 2002

After the first scrimmage of the fall, caught up with Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham to get his thoughts on how the Irish are progressing.

Q. Was this afternoon a day to tackle?

A. Today was probably the first day to tackle and I think our guys got a little excited about that opportunity. It is always tough to do it when you get to this stage of camp and your legs are a little weary and you mind is weary as well. I saw some good things though. It was an exciting workout.

Q. Did today’s scrimmage start a little slower than you had hoped?

A. Things always starts off slower than you want. You would like to have a million scores right off the bat, but if you are on the defensive side of the ball you like what happened. It depends on who you talk to. I think some of the coaches are walking off the field saying that was a great start, while others are saying ‘We have to pick it up.’

Q. Did you see some of the flashes you hoped to see in the scrimmage today?

A. I have seen a lot of flashes. You saw some good plays. You saw a particular dropback pass that was well executed protection-wise, all of a sudden the receiver breaks open for a nice shot up the middle, run after the catch that was nice. But you also saw some breakdowns that you do not like to see in our system. You have seen some flashes, but the inconsistency is still dominated this fall.

Q. Is it safe to say at this point the defense is ahead of the offense?

A. Yes because there is so much learning that is still happening. One of the things I always say is protection is such a big thing in a passing offense. Breakdowns in protection produce pressure and pressure produces quick throws or no throws.

Q. How do you see the depth at quarterback developing?

A. I am not sure we have had a chance to see them in all situations as of yet to see where they fit. We had a chance today to see them in a live-action setting, but I am not sure there has been enough exposure to say we are set.

Q. Will that pecking order depend on the next scrimmage?

A. It will depend on all that we have done and also the work we have done day-to-day. We are constantly evaluating every day, but you always like to make it the real thing. There are people that even though their practice habits may be not where you want them, but when the game starts they are much better players.

Q. Do scrimmages count more than practices in your mind?

A. It is all part of the equation, but I will probably weigh the scrimmages just a hair heavier than you will an actual practice.