April 20, 2013

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Q. Inaudible.
COACH KELLY: He surprised me, and so I paid up, and he said I said, what do you want, I figured he would want something he came up, I want to score a touchdown in the spring game.
As you know, we had a hard time scoring touchdowns in the spring game and I didn’t think that was going to come to reality. We tried a couple of times, right before the half to get the opportunity and we couldn’t get the ball close enough. We had to settle for some field goals.
So when Malik hit it, we changed the play to a two point play, and we were able to get that one off.

Q. You would have wanted to bet…
COACH KELLY: I would have got Louis Nix to play for 67 plays, at minimum, every game. He’s just a great personality and the guys got a kick out of it. I thought it was a great way to finish up the spring.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH KELLY: I like the way he competed. I’ll have to, again, make certain that I don’t say too much about it. But what I did like is going in at guard and having that flexibility, he just played tackle most of the time, so the guard/tackle combination has been good for us and I think he competed pretty well.

Q. At first glance, offensive contact, scored a touchdown at the end, can you give us thoughts on what you saw at the end?
COACH KELLY: I know, really you’re not game planning, you’re trying to stay away from doing some things. So it’s not really an indication.
I think if there’s any concern not concerns; if there’s anything that I would like to do better, is to make certain that we don’t fall back into some of the mistakes we made last year. And I thought we, at times, we fell back into some of the mistakes we made last year offensively.
Look, I think today, spring game, I don’t know if we went 13 games and had third and longs like we did today. I mean, we had some third and 20s and 30s; that, can’t happen. So I’m not happy about that. But by and large, you know, a lot of them are correctible.

Q. You lost two running backs to graduation, can you talk about how Atkinson and McDaniel played?
COACH KELLY: I thought they played and competed. George, you can see, is a big, physical kid. I mean, he ran hard, he’s got obviously some speed; we have seen that. We’ve just got to get his pads down a little bit. Carlo reminded him he should run a little bit lower at times and I thought that was a great teaching point for him.
Cam made a great catch coming out of the backfield on a third down situation and I thought he ran the ball effectively. Those are two really good backs for us and I think Will made a nice catch on a seam throw that he’s got to make. I thought that was a positive for him and just got to continue to develop.

Q. Can you talk about not regressing in terms of mistakes, we obviously don’t see nearly as much as you do but your impressions on the spring Everett had.
COACH KELLY: He had a good spring overall. Really liked his development in the spring. And you know, one practice or one game format is not going to take away from the kind of spring he had, but I think it’s a good reminder for him. He’s still learning and he’ll get better because of it.

Q. I know you were only outside a few times… what you saw during the spring, was it…
COACH KELLY: Well, you know, Kyle’s moving into that position. The reality of it is, we have to continue to work with him. I think the wind, obviously and being out doors is going to be part of our consideration but we’ve got to get better there, there’s no question. T.J. lost the ball, as well. I’d like to leave the spring feeling a little bit better about it but we’ve got a lot of work to do there.

Q. With so many options at linebacker inside and outside, what’s going to separate guys between now and August?
COACH KELLY: I don’t know that there’s going to be a separation. I think they are all going to play. I think they are all going to play significant roles. I thought Jared did a nice job today. Carlo and then when Danny Fox is in there; those are the three guys that obviously you’re going to get a lot of the work inside. Joe had a nice interception. Kendall is running around out there and he’s very active. But those three guys are going to get a lot of the work.

Q. Inaudible.
COACH KELLY: I think they will all fit in. There’s not going to be enough reps for everybody but we’ll have very good depth at that position; if we lose a guy, they are going to step in and do a nice job for us. You go through 13 games, you never really have them all 100 percent, you’re going to lose a guy here or there. We were fortunate last year, we didn’t lose Manti for any games but all of those guys will be prepared and play championship football.

Q. What did you like did T.J.’s spring…?
COACH KELLY: You know, very athletic kid. He didn’t fight the ball. Seemed to come very natural. But he’s very raw. He’s got a lot of work to do. But we feel very confident that if we stick with him and continue to work with him that we can see a finished product as we move through the season.
I don’t think it’s going to be the tempo is where we want him to be, but he’s got a lot of really high end traits in terms of speed and size, and you know, he’s got to run better routes. He’s got to track the ball consistently.
But I’d rather work with a guy like that that has those traits and just know that he’s a work in progress.

Q. The red zone offense today; have you seen the progression that you want in the spring in that area?
COACH KELLY: Well, we really didn’t have a red zone offense today. We just ran plays. So there was nothing that we said, okay, when we get into this area. We were just running plays. Sometimes we were just trying to get that clock running.
I would not evaluate this game and look at issues in the red zone. We spent a lot of time in situational red zone during the spring practices, and didn’t call any of those plays today.

Q. In the big picture with Everett this spring… and big picture, what do you need
COACH KELLY: Well, Everett’s knowledge base of the offense and the things that he needs to use to run the offense efficiently, he’s got all that down.
He probably has a little bit too much knowledge and would he have got to pull back some of those things. In other words, he’s got so much going on in his head, he wants to do too much. It took him away from some progression reads today; that he didn’t make those mistakes last year as a freshman.
It’s great, we’ve got a lot to teach off and it’s going to be very positive for Everett.
And the second question was yeah, and it’s interesting, I brought that up to the team, is that we’ll meet with the team Monday night. We turn them over to Coach Longo, and he’ll go and take the team over the next two weeks to a segment that we use.
Now that we have got our base down, we go to speed school, so our kids will focus on some speed development for two weeks. That will take us through exams and an active rest period, and then we work hard at that coat of armor, that strength that prevents injury.
And the middle of June we’ll begin sevens on sevens and one on ones, and those guys are going to have to take a jump. That’s when you develop your leaders. That’s when those guys take over. Last year the guys did a great job over the summer, and they will be challenged to do the same.

Q. A follow up on the quarterback situation. Between now and August 31, could there be something that would change the pecking order, if you will, of what we saw today, one through four, or do you feel pretty solid with it?
COACH KELLY: No, there won’t be any changes until we get to camp if there is any changes at all. It would have to be coaches eyes on them if there were going to be any changes.

Q. At the end of last spring, you’ve mentioned that it felt good going into the season because your strength was on both sides of the line. Do you feel the same way this year?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I feel pretty good about that, yeah, no question. I think if Chris Watt wasn’t in there today, I think we would get a little bit more of a sense, but I think up front, we are pretty good on both sides of the ball. So, yes, I feel pretty good about that.

Q. At the beginning of spring you talked about developing on identity; did you see anything developing out of the spring so far?
COACH KELLY: I think it’s a very confident group of guys. They have got a lot of confidence in themselves. They believe that they are going to be successful.
So I would say that the identity of this group right now is that they are a confident group. Now, we are going to have some tough times and we’ll see how we bounce back from those. That’s really the measure, right? Everybody is good when they are 0 0.
But I like their confidence and with that, it’s important to know that they have not slacked off from the little things and so they have combined both those things, which gives me a comfort level that they understand what it takes to be successful.

Louis Nix: Just had to keep a few things in order at quarterback I was supposed to throw the ball but we haven’t actually positioned me to read defenses yet so I just ran. Got me a quick two and I was happy.

Q. Inaudible.
Louis Nix: Yeah, I really am I told you guys it would happen and it did.

Q. Inaudible.
Louis Nix: Me, my intentions were just to be honest, I didn’t care about the down too much, I just wanted to run somebody over and show Coach I could do it and hopefully we establish an Irish tempo (ph) package for the future.

Q. Now you’re at the podium.
Louis Nix: Yeah, official quarterback spot, I made it. I’m making strides to push Everett, the rest of the guys and get the starting spot and hopefully Coach has enough trust in me to put me there one game.

Q. Any word in the huddle?
Louis Nix: No, I just told them, I made a few checks or whatever, you couldn’t hear them, they were silent checks. I just told them where to line up and told them just give me a nice pass my whole line did a nice job and that’s why I was successful.

Q. Your receivers
Louis Nix: They were fine, distracting everybody. I was good.

Q. All that planning and dreaming and no touchdown?
Louis Nix: I mean, I didn’t think I need one I fell on the ground, I think that was enough. I flopped a little bit on the ground and everybody surrounded me. I was just happy I had the moment.

Q. Inaudible.
Louis Nix: I saw fear in his eyes. I would have moved out of my way, too.

Q. Inaudible.
Louis Nix: You know, it’s a dream of mine for it to happen and hopefully it did. Hopefully Coach thinks I can handle the ball. Maybe if I’m 305 right now, gain a few pounds and maybe we’ll just hand me the ball off.

Q. Getting a shotgun snap…
Louis Nix: I have a lot of appreciation for quarterbacks. It was hard to read, the defense. It was just a wide open field. I was stunned by the moment, as soon as I got the moment, I was like, wow, a lot to figure out right now. When it doubt, just run the ball and that’s what I did and everybody moved.

Q. Inaudible.
Louis Nix: I mean, I want to learn how to read defenses and pass the ball and let everybody go crazy, but you know, whatever gets me points.
Hopefully Coach says: Louis, we want to try something new one day and hopefully I’ll get the ball and a nice shotgun package with my boys Tyler Stockton and two other backs in there with me.

Q. Pregame, you were warming up the quarterbacks; was that part of the plan?
Louis Nix: No. I just wanted to warm up with the quarterbacks. I knew I wasn’t going as many plays as the other guys so I just said, hey, warm up with the quarterbacks, maybe it will happen. Coach called me up and I did think thing.

Q. What was the other indicate of the bargain with Coach?
Louis Nix: Nothing much. I love when Coach involves me to push myself to do something, whether it’s on the field or in the classroom. I guess would I have to run or something like that. I didn’t really listen to that side because I knew I would win the best. Other than that I’m just happy I got the ball.

Q. Were you nervous you weren’t going to get the ball?
Louis Nix: I went up to Malik, I said, “Bro, get me to the promised land, man,” because we was doing that at first “just get me to the promised land” and that’s what he did inaudible Coach called me up.

Q. Were you hoping to get a touchdown?
Louis Nix: I didn’t care. He said: “I get one play, man, you take advantage of that one play.”

Q. What was the reaction?
Louis Nix: Guys were happy for me. A lot of people were shocked that it actually happened but we called make a difference, maybe something happen.

Q. Testimony know something teams need to be scared of?
Louis Nix: That’s something all teams need to be scared of, everybody, including you. (Laughter).

Q. What are your thoughts on the D line in general? You gives looked good today, obviously coming off a good year.
Louis Nix: At the D Line with the losses we have to establish our brotherhood again and we had to pick up guys like Tyler Stockton, you don’t hear his name much but he’s the guy, he’s the heartbeat of our D Line, you hear a lot about me making plays.
But he’s the one that keeps us together, we hang out a lot, he’s the guy that we look up to a lot, because he has a lot of stress off the field, he’s trying to get his MBA and stuff like that. He shows us how much he works off the field and he did all he could to get us here and he got it and he’s worked all spring and he’s actually been doing a great job.
Today he had like two sacks and I think that was a good push. I think we’ll be better if we just keep doing what we do and just keep playing Notre Dame football. If we don’t, won’t be as good as last year.

Q. From a year ago…
Louis Nix: I do, just based off leadership, like Everett (ph) is talking off, he’s trying to get the offense better. This game might not have been his best game but this is only a spring game. I don’t think that defines him as a player or a leader.
We’ll go back, look at the film and we’ll get better. I bet that he’s probably going over film right now, guys like that and on defense, you see guys like Matthias and Bennett Jackson, those guys stepping up to the plate and taking leadership roles, we look up to those guys.

Q. Inaudible.
Everett Golson: And I think I do a great job of that now and just understanding the defense. Just another year under my belt.

Q. Inaudible.
Everett Golson: Yeah, yeah, I think so. But I think one thing that the redshirt (ph) does is helped me out with going through my progressions, and having that ability to escape the run. One thing that stands out is McDaniel, he does a great job, he runs very, very hard and he does a great job and you also have George. But inaudible but Amir does a great job.

Q. Inaudible.
Everett Golson: The interception from George, a little bit of miscommunication. You go back to all of our spring practices, I think just for us, it’s that consistency level, keep doing it over and over again.

Q. What did you think of the offensive mix today?
Everett Golson: It was fun to watch him get out there. They were kind of talking about it in the quarterback room a little bit. I don’t think he knew about it that he would actually get that chance. I was kind of talking him through the checks before the game actually but when he got in there he was in the end zone, he wasn’t even passing it or anything like that. It was good to see him in there.

Q. Tackling him…
Everett Golson: No, those D Linemen inaudible.

Q. What improvements do you need at the quarterback today going forward?
Everett Golson: Definitely a lot of improvement but like I said before, today was just kind of an off day. If you go back to our spring practices, we have been doing a great job all around the board, having new guys on different positions such as wide receiver with T.J. and other positions, O line is doing great, and just a lot of that stuff.
So I’m kind of disappointed that we had an off day but our spring has been very, very good for us.

Q. What do you need…
Everett Golson: Just keep working really, keep gaining confidence. Still working on my footwork and that type of thing and really just trying to bring the team together and really lead this team, especially this offense to where I want it to be and where the coaches want it to be.

Q. Inaudible.
Everett Golson: Couldn’t get my hand on it, what it was… but always came up… inaudible.

Q. Inaudible.
Everett Golson: Yeah, what happened was I was talking to Tuitt, and I think before two weeks ago, I told him I was going to beat him in the spring game. I thought he completely forgot about it but obviously he didn’t. He kept like harassing me about it, ‘we beat you,’ all this type of stuff and I ended up leaving my helmet just trying to get away from those guys.

Q. You got a quick second with Joe Theismann, did they throw you any tips?
Everett Golson: Mr. Theismann, he asked me he criticized me a little bit which was neat. I think we were coming inside and he asked me, what did you see, that type of thing and so I told him, you know, he was like, I’m glad you have an explanation. Great words of wisdom from him.

Q. Inaudible.
Everett Golson: The whole play, I saw a corner blitz and they ended up checking out of it and going straight to the cover two and I was looking for George on the inside but like he said he got rerouted and had to turn and throw… I was trying to get there on time but like I said it was just a little bit of miscommunication.

Tyler Stockton – Sr. – Defensive Lineman

On his opportunity to play for a fifth year…
“I didn’t even know. I thought I was done at the [national championship] game. Coach just called me in and said they wanted to get me in for a fifth year. It wasn’t even final until closer to spring ball. Once I got it, I was really relieved. At first when I came into the semester, I was like, `Oh, I’m done with football, I have to find a job.’ Now I’ve got a fifth year, I just want to be out with my teammates for another year, and I’m really happy about it.”

On his fifth spring game…
“It felt good. I’ve just been working hard. Things are starting to click. From all the teaching Coach [Mike] Elston has been doing, he’s been doing a great job with me. I’ve just got to keep working hard.”

On improving to get more playing time this year…
“Not a jump yet. I feel like my game is coming along better. The game is coming slower to me. I mean, it took five years, but it’s never too late. I just want to be out here playing football for Notre Dame. I’ve got a chance to play more than I have, so I just have to keep working hard.”

George Atkinson III – Jr. – Running Back

On preparing to step into the starting role…
“I definitely still have a lot of work to do. I think as a whole, I have gained a lot of experience this spring. I think I have gained a greater knowledge of our offense. I am hoping to build off of that this summer.”

On how comfortable he feels getting more playing time…
“I am tremendously comfortable. This is what I have always wanted to do. I want to be that guy. I am going to gain a little more weight. I want to learn the offense a little better. I feel very comfortable.”

On his performance today…
“As a whole, we could see some good things with our offense and some bad things. We have a lot of work to do. Overall, I think my day was pretty good, but still a lot of work to do.”

On what the team needs to do this summer…
“We need to come together as a team. We are going to have to work very hard. We know what it takes to get back to a championship level. We are going to be striving for that.”

On what he has progressed in this year…
“I think last year I was more anxious about things. I think this year I am a lot more confident about the things that I am doing. I am very comfortable in this offense. The game has slowed down for me.”

TJ Jones – Sr. – Wide Receiver

On speaking at the Monogram Club dinner…
“Last night I just spoke on my experience at Notre Dame. I spoke on the progression, how I went to high school to now, what it means and how it’s unique to myself because everyone’s experience at Notre Dame is unique and different to that individual.”

On the offense’s performance today…
“I think it was all right. It wasn’t great. There were a lot of mistakes and definitely a lot of good film to watch to see where we need to go for next year and what errors we need to correct to be as good as we were last year.”

On whether today’s game was indicative of what the offense has done so far this spring…
“I don’t think it is. I think up to this point we’ve executed a lot better than we did today. I’m not sure what the difference was. Whether it was the atmosphere or us just having an off day on offense, but we definitely didn’t execute how we have this spring.”

Jarrett Grace – Jr. – Linebacker

On his goals for this spring…
“Really just improving upon my skills and confidence out there on the field. I feel like I made some progress there, and it’s the spring so it’s the perfect time to get that done.”

On his performance in today’s game…
“I felt good. For me, personally, I felt like I put a lot together during the other practices, but this brought the game atmosphere to it. For me, it was just carrying over the bodywork that I’d already done and implementing that out on the field today.”

On stepping into Manti Teo’s role…
“Those are big shoes to fill, but not one guy has to fill those shoes. The defense has 11 guys out on the field and it takes every guy doing their job. It’s still the spring. We don’t know who’s going to be out on the field come fall. We’re just going to keep competing and the best man and men are going to be out there.”

Zach Martin – GS – Offensive Tackle

On the offense…
“We didn’t finish well in the red zone which is something we’ve worked on all last year and this year. We moved the ball decent–we just didn’t finish in the red zone. The defense made some nice plays in the red zone and stopped us. We’ve just got to realize that when we’re down in those kind of situations it’s either do or die.”

On how much of the offense was shown this game…
“I mean, spring games are always pretty vanilla. Defensively too, they ran pretty much base. They pressure a little bit on third down but on the most part it was pretty much vanilla game. But that’s what spring games are pretty much like.”

On the focus of the spring season for his position…
“We lost two guys, and I think we just kept growing as a group. Our biggest thing we stress on is being a unit as an offensive line, being together. I think that’s the biggest stride we’ve made.”

Mathias Farley – Jr. – Safety

On this spring game compared to last game…
“It’s a lot different. The games slowed down for me a lot now that I have some experience under my belt. Last year, everything was new and it was my first time really getting out there. The game has definitely slowed down, and it’s exciting for myself because I can see things a lot quicker and understand things a lot better. At the same time, I know there’s a lot of things I need to work on, so getting good competition from the offense was definitely encouraging in a lot of ways but also showed me what I need to work on.”

On how he would grade his performance today…
“I felt like I did a pretty good job with my communication and making sure everything’s lined up. At the same time, there are things that I saw–just little small things here and there–that I need to work on. Maybe a check here and there. But I think I passed but there’s definitely more I need to work on.”

On whether he feels comfortable helping his younger teammates in the defense…
“Absolutely. That just comes with having some experience and now being in the position to help other guys line up. I know what I am doing now so I can help out on a play–if someone’s not lined up I can see it now.”