March 2, 2015

On the coaching environment…
“The biggest thing in terms of the time I’ve spent here thus far with Coach (Mike) Denbrock, with Harry Hiestand and (Scott) Booker and Autry Denson, the biggest thing I’ve taken away from it is that I’ve always wanted to be in an environment where there are multiple people in the room that are finding the best way to do things: the best techniques, the best footwork, the best schemes that ultimately put our players in position to be successful. That’s really what we’ve been doing, going through everything that’s been done offensively here at Notre Dame, with last season being the year that we studied the most in-depth because it’s the most fresh and recent in our players’ minds. It could be coming from me, it could be coming from Coach Denbrock or Coach Kelly, whoever it may be, but let’s examine it and have real dialogue that’s rooted in the best interests of our players being successful.”

On his offensive influencers…
“I think the biggest one, first and foremost, was my dad, just from a standpoint of growing up around the game of football and the way that you relate to players. I think that was always one of the strengths and I noticed that as a coach’s kid, he really believed in building relationships with the players first and foremost and caring about his players.

“Obviously it’s a lot deeper than that in terms of philosophically talking about offense, but I think the biggest thing is I’ve had a pretty diverse background offensively. I’ve been around some spread offenses. In fact, my dad coming off the coordinator job that he had at the University of Utah with Urban Meyer, that was, at the time, revolutionary football — triple option offense from the shotgun hadn’t been done a ton back in the early 2000s. So, I had a chance to GA in that offense and then ended up going from there to Stanford.

“The biggest thing that I’ve found is that championship football a lot of time comes down to who runs the football the best and then who makes the explosive plays down the field in the throwing game. I think the Stanford background combined with being in the spread offense and the ability to run the quarterback and what that does in terms of man-to-man coverage defense teams, a lot of them don’t account for the quarterback.

“That’s had a big imprint on me and then this past year at Boise State, having a chance to be a part of a championship football team that ran the football well, had good balance. I think the hallmark of Boise State offenses has been running the football and having explosive, creative offensive schemes. That’s what I think we were able to get done this year.”

On his conversations with Coach Kelly re: running game…
“I think the biggest thing is that there is a mutual agreement amongst our entire staff that to be effective offensively, you’ve got to run the football. Notre Dame’s run the football well. I played against them and had a chance to see their backs do a whole bunch of stuff against Stanford’s defense in some big games and it’s certainly not a foreign concept of Notre Dame running the football well in the past few years.

“I think it’s just finding the schemes that we can hang our hat on and bettering those schemes, the techniques, the footwork, all that stuff from the quarterback standpoint and the running back standpoint and how they all marry together in our overall scheme. I think we’re all in agreement that it’s got to be a humongous part of what we do, but it’s not the only thing we do. We’re going to throw the football well, too. We’re going to create explosive plays and that’s what we’ve got to get accomplished.”

On impressions of the quarterback group…
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the quarterback group and that’s one thing I take a lot of pride in. Coach Kelly mentioned in his press conference that my No. 1 job is to develop the quarterback. That’s one thing I really did take away this past year at Boise State is that sometimes if you get too big picture in your thinking, a lot of times you forget about the most important thing and that’s the premier position in all of sport is the quarterback. You’ve got to develop that position first and foremost. I think that was something I realized is that I first and foremost want to be known as a good position coach, no matter what the other title is associated with your name, that you’re developing that position.

“That group in particular, I think there’s a ton of potential. There’s great personalities in that room and I’ve already had really meaningful one-on-one conversations with each one of the quarterbacks from Everett Golson all the way to Montgomery VanGorder and the two in between. I’ve had the chance to talk with Brandon Wimbush, the incoming freshman quarterback, and I’m really excited about the potential that’s there. But we have a lot of work ahead of us. My goal is that when April 18 comes around and spring concludes, we are a whole heck of a lot better and more knowledgeable in our system, that we’re better playing without the football and carrying out our fakes and that we’re running the offense at a very efficient level. Not just Everett, but Malik Zaire, DeShone Kizer, VanGorder, and then have a chance to throw Wimbush in here in the summer.”

On Golson throwing without the laces…
“If I could have thrown without the laces effectively, I would have done it. I just couldn’t. I think that’s a tremendous trait if you can throw accurately without the laces, you’ll get the ball out a whole heck of a lot faster. I think the big thing for us is we’ve got to be better in our footwork as a unit. What we’ve been working on already is playing with a better base, maintaining a throwing position while we’re in the pocket and just overall improving our pocket presence.”

On the fit at Notre Dame…
“I think, first off, there was a comfort level with this area, this community and with this program. I had a chance to live here and some of my fondest memories of my insane childhood that consisted of about 11 moves, some of my best memories were here in the Michiana region. I really enjoyed every aspect of living here.

“I enjoyed the heck out of Notre Dame football and there’s just something that’s different about this program, about Notre Dame, than any other place that I’ve been a part of. I absolutely loved it as a high school student. I also had a chance to see it first-hand five times in the Notre Dame-Stanford rivalry and each time we played against Notre Dame when the band would come down and you hear the Victory March, I get goose bumps even as an opposing coach.

“I love this place. I love the types of scholar-athletes you have a chance to recruit. When you’re sitting in a living room, you can offer a young man a chance to be a part of the best tradition and best football program in college football, but also a top 15 education and you’re going to leave with a great degree. I think that’s a powerful thing when you’re sitting in a living room in the recruiting process.”