Florida St. Football: Jimbo Fisher’s Press Conference Transcript

It wasn’t expected to be much of a battle. But Florida St. still had some questions answered in their 59-16 rout against Texas St. on Saturday. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher talked about what he learned from the game:

COACH FISHER: We officially got the first game in the books. Just trying to get some real nice things in the game and got a lot of things we’ve got to clean up at the same time, kind of where I thought we’d be. Very proud of a lot of youth, 23 redshirt freshmen played in the game. That’s a lot of youth. The way they handled the moment, the way they played, I was very proud.

I thought our team played with great effort in the game in all three phases, as far as their effort. They all played with good toughness in the game. Still got to get better in all those areas. There’s always room for improvement in that stuff. I like the demeanor and the way we’re going there, and young guys didn’t get caught up in the lights. Even if they made a mistake, they were going full speed, flying around and being physical in the football game, which I thought was very important.

In the game as far as defense, I was very proud the way we getting leverage on them. That’s a very difficult team to defend. What I mean, the multitude of things they did that can cause gap control, eye violations, leverage issues, and throwing the ball deep on you and things. Our guys did a tremendous job.

One time we had one little play and gap control was good, leverage, tackling in space was good, swarming to the football with good leverage, not letting cutbacks and things get out. Passes that were completed, I thought we contested pretty well and tackled well once we got there. Got good pressure on the quarterback. He didn’t hold the ball very long, but we still got pressure on him. Got a lot of different looks — quarterback run, option, inside run. Very pleased overall defensively with how we played in the football game.

Still if you look at it, there’s still so many little things that can really make a difference and really improve us. We’re going to have to continue to push on that and continue to build depth.

Offensively, we did a nice job of communicating. There were multiple looks and multiple blitzes. Guys not turning guys free, getting in and out of the right plays for the most part. Picked up the blitz on the run in, passed well, ran blocked downfield well. Our receivers and skill guys did a nice job of blocking, extending plays, making more big plays. Our backs ran pretty well.

Still probably missed some cuts. Could play a little cleaner, but very efficient. I thought Everett did a nice job with his first game. Some things he’s got to get cleaned up, made good decisions with the ball, pretty accurate for the most part. Some little things on the offense and the round of guys, and they’ll continue to really grow. All of our young players did a nice job there.

Special teams, I thought our return game was much better and the kickoff return. Thought we blocked well, put hats on hats, kicked the seams, and got our skill guys out in space and were able to run. If we missed one block, we were able to clean it up with another guy. Just played very efficient in that area.

And our punt game, the punt coverage was excellent. We just didn’t do a good job of kicking the football. Need to kick the football better and more consistently. What we did hadn’t been going all camp.

Kickoff coverage teams, when we did kick, we covered extremely well inside the 20. We had two errant kicks by Roberto, which is very rare. That happens. That’s very rare for him to do that. We’ve got to get that cleaned up. That shows everybody, you never know, take nothing for granted. That’ why as coaches, you wonder why we worry all the time? He’s one of the best kickers out there, and he even had a few sloppy kicks.

A PAT, our field goal teams looked good in that area. And our punt return game, Bobo did a really nice job stepping up in the game and taking that role over. I was very pleased with him. We need to work the other guys in that area. That was disappointing there. We live and learn, and we were able to overcome those mistakes, which can be critical. I thought that’s actually what gave the defense the points in which they got. I think defensively we could have possibly had a shutout with that first group for a while.

So a lot of areas we could clean up, a lot of areas we did well in. That’s why I said, we’re going to be a work in progress, and this team is hopefully going to continue to grow each week and learn from the mistakes and continue to do the things it does well.

Of course, we have a great opponent coming this week in South Florida. They played very well. Very physical on defense. Hardly didn’t give up a first down until the second quarter. Tackled well. You see them playing extremely hard, very good scheme in what they do.

Offensively, they switched out and went to more of a spread look, using the athletes more, the skill guys more, which they always have. Did a real nice job, scored 50 points in the game. The kicking game is very sound. They cover kicks.

This is going to be a very good football team. We’ll have to play very well, and we’ll have to prepare very well.

Q. How did you come out from a hold standpoint?
COACH FISHER: Good. We had no — a couple little bangs and bruises, but nothing that — guys will be at practice and be in the game. Everything’s fine.

Q. In an opener, I guess any year, but especially a team with so many new guys, were you even kind of anticipating like — were you even surprised maybe by some things you saw and just —
COACH FISHER: I don’t know if I would say surprised, but just I was very optimistic and wanted to think that but just wanted to see it in person before I confirmed it. I was very pleased with the communication — the checking, the getting in and out, the adjustments on the offensive front, communicating it to our backs and tight ends and all those things in that area.

On defense, I was very pleased with some of the youth we had and how we had to keep great gap control and leverage on that football. Going in, I was very concerned because they are a very difficult scheme to defend in those areas, and I was very pleased with those areas.

Q. Everett, it seems like even after one of the touchdown passes, he came over and you were still telling him maybe something he could have done differently.
COACH FISHER: Yeah, you look at it, and we get caught up in the results sometimes, but there’s a process you have to go through with the ball handling, the things, the eye control, where you’re looking at, maybe a blitz pickup here and there, and you do it when it’s fresh in their mind so it can click in their mind right then and they adjust.

When you’re a quarterback, there’s so many things that can happen. People don’t understand. You never stop coaching. And you can over coach a guy because you can have him worrying too much. But at the same time, there’s key areas you’ve got to make sure he’s aware of on little things. Like I say, things out there that really separate the average quarterbacks from those good ones and those good ones from those great ones, and he’s able to do that, I think, in time, and I just wanted to point those things out. I was very pleased overall with his performance.

Q. How long did it take him — and maybe wasn’t at all — to be comfortable with the pre-snap reads and the checking and stuff like that?
COACH FISHER: It’s still a lot of work in progress. Still a lot of work in progress going on with that as we expand and do different things and where we’re going. For right now, what we’ve got now, I think he’s doing a nice job.

Q. Strictly from a physical standpoint, it seemed like he made a lot of variable of throws from the far hash to the outside bounds.
COACH FISHER: His arm strength and ability to get the ball to all parts of the field, deep part of the field, underneath, field out throws, those kinds of things. He can make all those throws, there’s no doubt. And the key is he’s doing a great job with his footwork, balance and body control, because you do throw the ball with your feet. You’ve got to have your footwork and balance and body control in place.

Q. You spoke about what his mobility can do for the passing game, but for the run game, having the read option, just having the threat of a guy that can run, what does it do for Dalvin and —
COACH FISHER: It’s good, but we’ve always done that. We did it with E.J. and Jameis. It’s always an element of our game that we’re always going to have, but it’s good to have his ability to run. It helps.

Q. After watching the game, who was the best on the offensive line?
COACH FISHER: Rod. Rod plays well. I thought the two guards played really well too. And Martinez and Ruble, for young guys, freshmen in there, I thought they did a really nice job, but they’ve got a ways to go.

Q. Did Rod dominate his guy?
COACH FISHER: For the most part he did. I thought he had a good game. Our players of the game on offense were Dalvin Cook on offense, and then it was Jalen Ramsey and Giorgio Newberry on defense.

I’m going to tell you a guy that jumped out there, Jalen played super, did a tremendous job all over, physical, covering all those things. But Giorgio, you’ve got to watch that film now. Giorgio is playing football. That guy can change us. He’s 6’7″, 300 pounds that can run and play inside or outside. Did a really nice job in the game, really nice job.

DeMarcus Walker played well. Terrance Smith played well. Brutus did a real nice job of controlling everything and running things back there. Very pleased with a lot of guys on that defensive side of the ball.

Q. What changed for Giorgio? Something that Coach Lawing has done with him? A light bulb come on?
COACH FISHER: It’s called when you’re juniors and seniors. If you guys would just be patient. I try to tell you that all the time.

But you don’t ever know. Just when a guy decides. Sometimes there’s the urgency. You get to your junior and senior years and say I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to grow up. I’ve got to do those things. I’ve been on him at times and rode him extremely hard, but the guy is playing great football now, and he can be a huge difference in our football team.

It’s fun to watch guys do that, especially in today’s times where we want to kick them out by the sophomore year if they’re not great players, want to run them off their bus in the recruiting world. We forget that. That’s hopefully how things continue to grow.

Q. You changed positions, and sometimes it takes guys a little while to pick up a new position.
COACH FISHER: I don’t necessarily think that’s part of it. He could always do that. I think he just decided he wanted to be a football player. Sometimes you’ve got to — it’s like I say, you can coach your kids and teach your kids all you want, when they walk out the door of their house, they’ve got to decide what they want to be. You can coach a guy all you want. When he walks in between the white lines, he’s got to decide what he wants to be. Sometimes that just takes guys longer than others, and I’m very proud of what he’s doing right now.

Q. Sometimes it never happens?
COACH FISHER: Exactly. Sometimes it doesn’t. You don’t never know why. That’s the nights that I lay — that I don’t sleep. Why could I not reach him? Why could I not get to that guy? Why could I not make a difference in that guy? Why could I not hit the button that made it happen?

I’m not saying me, but as a head coach, that’s your responsibility. Coach Lawing had done a great job with him, our defense, but at the end of the day — everybody can do a great job with him. But at the end of the day, the actual person who does it has to make up his mind to do it.

Q. You said you didn’t want to watch any or too much film of Everett from his days at Notre Dame. With practices, scrimmages and now a game, what’s been the assessment of Everett?
COACH FISHER: He has a chance to be a very good quarterback. He’s doing a nice job, adapting well, working hard, and hopefully he’ll continue to play well. I like a lot of his attributes. He’s doing a good job of managing the game, interacting with his teammates, leading, doing those kinds of things, and learning our offense and doing a great job at decision making and accuracy.

He’s got a ways to go, but I’m very happy with where he’s at. I think he’s a very good player.

Q. What are your impressions of Corey Martinez and Brock Ruble?
COACH FISHER: Like I said, young guys that played well. Played well in their opening game, did a really nice job. Going to be really, really good players, but they’ve got to continue to grow in what they’re doing and where they’re at. I’m happy they’re with us. They’re going to be really good players.

Q. Will Bobo be the punt returner —
COACH FISHER: Yes. Right now, yes.

Q. You touched on it after the game. It seemed like your defense really rallied to the ball.
COACH FISHER: I thought we ran, pursued the ball, good pursuit angles, knew what was going on. I played very crisp, sharp, aggressive.

Q. Rest of it, though, is that something you noticed even on the sidelines —
COACH FISHER: No doubt. I thought we were swarming the football, tackling well, and getting to where we needed to get to. They got the message. That’s something we preached extremely hard in spring practice and fall camp.

Q. How much does that help too when your best player on defense is a cornerback who likes to body slam guys?
COACH FISHER: When your cornerback is a tough guy, when he’s a leader, when he’s that kind of guy, it’s hard not to. You see those skill guys play like that, it’s hard not to when you’re supposed to be the physical guys on the team.

Q. So Jalen helps in that respect?
COACH FISHER: Big time. And he’ll tell you if you don’t.

Q. Jalen said he felt a chemistry, a difference with this defense from spring now. Can you sense that?
COACH FISHER: Yes, I do. I sense they’re hungry, there’s a chip on their shoulder. A lot of guys want to prove a lot of things.

Q. Could you talk about that 17 jersey, kind of the process in getting it.
COACH FISHER: I think he was talking with Charlie, and Charlie kind of suggested to him, I think. He was talking about another number he could wear, and he was joking with numbers, and it came up. Charlie suggested that to him.

I think Charlie has great respect for him and the kind of young man he is, what he represents as a student-athlete and as a person. Jalen was very honored to be able to do that.

I wanted to make sure with Charlie there wasn’t something conceived with them to push — Charlie is a unique individual. Charlie is one of the most unique guys to be around. To be a guy of that magnitude and have that impact on the program and one of the true superstars that ever played here in college football history, but it’s never about Charlie.

I know why Charlie won a Championship now that I met him. It’s never about Charlie. It’s about whoever he can help, whatever he can do for his school, whatever he can do for somebody else. He’s one of the most unique individuals I’ve ever been around.

He thought that would be a great gesture, have Jalen do it. I wanted to make sure that was the thing, and we talked. It’s an honor for him. I think it’s tremendous he’s letting Jalen do that. I think Jalen will represent that number very well.

Q. Have you had players do that before? Not only reaching out to others to grab their number, but also changing it in the middle of the game?
COACH FISHER: I’ve had — change numbers, yes, I have. I’ve had that quite a few times. I’ve had linemen do it. I’ve had guys do it for certain situations, extra tight ends on the field, different things like that that you put in.

But retired numbers and things, most of them, that don’t ever happen. They’re retired for a reason. Charlie’s different.

Q. You’ve been demanding of the receivers back to spring and preseason camp, and it seemed like they caught a lot of balls and had good catches on the sidelines and things like that. Also the routes, Bobo’s route for the touchdown looked like a good one.
COACH FISHER: Really good route. That’s what they’ve got to understand. It’s not about ability. It’s about precision. It’s about detail. Everybody out there can run and jump. Hopefully, that will carry on. That’s something we’re not going to get off because, if you want to be a great passing football team, the precision and timing it takes to do that is relentless, and you have to be one of those guys who stays focused all the time.

When it does, you can see the results of what happens. When it’s not, it can be one step at a bad angle where you stepped across yourself and up — I mean, little things in the passing game. That’s why people — a lot of people say, well, in the old days — there’s so much to it. There’s a lot of teaching to it, but when it’s on and you can do things the right way, it’s really pretty.

Q. Jalen’s long kickoff return, is that exactly why it’s worth the risk of having him back there?
COACH FISHER: That’s something. When Deion Sanders was back there, Terrell Buckley was back there, when Rocket Ismail was back there, why would you not put one of your best players with the ball in his hand? How is that a risk? What are you risking? That your best player doesn’t touch the ball? I thought that was the object.

Everybody says it’s a risk. Deion Sanders was one of the best punt returners in the history of the game. Terrell Buckley, one of the best returners in the history of the game. When you put your best returners with the ball — Vanover was a receiver, right? You get open space and get a chance to put your best players with the ball in their hand, you’re going to do it? I don’t see it as a risk. I think it’s stupid if you don’t.

Q. How’s Lorenzo doing?
COACH FISHER: Well, he’s progressing. I don’t think he’ll be ready this week, but hopefully by the end of next week.

Q. Jimbo, you started Kermit Whitfield, and you said a lot of good things about him during camp. Did he earn that? Is that why he started?
COACH FISHER: It was the most consistent guys and the guys that play the best. There ain’t no age limit, and I don’t care who you are. You play the best, you play. You don’t, you don’t. Everybody else — I don’t decide who plays, they do by what they do daily.

That’s who we thought had the best camp and who we come through camp with.

Q. You thought he had the best camp among all receivers?
COACH FISHER: No, but deserved a start. I thought Bobo probably had the best camp of everybody.

Q. On the long pass, did he turn the wrong way? Did Everett throw it a little —
COACH FISHER: No, he turned right. He got tied up on the way and stopped running and had to accelerate back for the ball, which wasn’t there. He needed to run through and avoid the guy a little better, would have been a little cleaner and probably easier to read.

We could have pulled him over to the other side, but we couldn’t tell because of how they were related going down the field. Like I said, there’s a lot of little things we’ve got to get cleaned up.

Q. How is that relationship between Everett and all those guys? So many guys with so much depth there. What are you learning about those young receivers particularly?
COACH FISHER: Well, they have to understand precision and timing and the relentless pursuit of perfection on how you do things.

As a receiver, you have to be a technician. You go back and listen to all the great receivers — the Jerry Rices of the world, all those guys that talk about how they ran routes. The precision and timing and the discipline, everybody said — Michael Irvin was another one.

All summers they would go run routes in pads and go with their quarterbacks one-on-one, and how precise. Everybody thinks, you see the great athleticism, but the athleticism can never be used until the precision is there, and I think that’s the key these guys got to understand, and we’ve got to continue to push on.

Q. That’s got to take a lot of time for a freshman, right?
COACH FISHER: There is no doubt. So you’re learning how — the guys that are smart and can learn quickly progress faster.

Q. Jimbo, obviously, Quinton Flowers is the USF quarterback, a guy that can move around and is dangerous with his feet. What’s the key as a coach to kind of mitigating that run factor with a quarterback?
COACH FISHER: Hit him. Be physical with him. Keep great leverage on him. When they run it, you’ve got to make them feel it. You’ve got to hit him, and you got to make him understand. You’ve got to keep great gap control just like you do with a rack. You got to keep gap control inside when you rush him, but you can’t sit back and not pressure him and get after him and let him sit back there.

I think you’ve got to keep great leverage on the ball and understand it in second contain, when a guy moves and get second contain and get great pursuit angles.

Q. Coach Fisher, talk about Golson on Saturday. In the first half, it seemed like he was — was he nervous in the first half or just —
COACH FISHER: No, he went 7 for 9. He went 7 for 9 and played very well in the first half. I thought he played very well. We just were running the football, and that was kind of the game plan of things we were doing. He was very efficient in the first half. I thought he played very well.

Q. What do you see with South Florida this week? I know they’re a Florida school that play in the American Conference. What do you see getting ready for that game on Saturday?
COACH FISHER: You look on defense, guys on defense that really chase the football, physical on the front four. The one D-tackle was committed to us, No. 10 from Immokalee, he was committed to us. I mean, Deadrin, he was there. He was a good player, big guy inside.

James Hamilton, we recruited the heck out of him. The edge guys can run. They’re long. They’re big. The linebackers are very physical. Tajee Fullwood, we recruited the heck out of him. A lot of their guys we did. They can run. They’re very good on defense.

Backs are excellent, tailbacks, good skill receivers. We recruited a couple of those guys. Big physical guys up front. The quarterback Flowers, we recruited him. He’s athletic and can run. They’re a very good, athletic football team.

Q. What do you like having two running backs? Cook had a good game, plus you had the other guy. What’s it like having two running backs in the backfield?
COACH FISHER: Cook and Pender, those guys, I’ve been saying all camp, they’ve played extremely well and done a good job. Very happy with them and their progress. I thought you saw the two young backs. When they did get in there, you saw why I’ve been talking about those guys. They’re going to be good players too. Very happy with that group. At running back, you know you can never have enough of those guys.

Q. It seemed like Travis Rudolph and Eberle and Bobo as well, all the receivers really bought into blocking downfield. What’s it take for those guys to really buy into that?
COACH FISHER: Bench time. Don’t play. Don’t get no balls thrown to you. It’s like I tell them, you’re around here, you’re going to play on special teams. You’re going to block. And backs that don’t pick up blitzes don’t get runs. It’s that simple. You make them be complete and make them be selfless players and play for the guys beside them.

You want the back to pick up the blitz when you want a pass, you’ve got to block the safeties in the corners when they break contain. It’s got to be selfless. It’s got to be an education process. Why it’s important, how it’s important, what we’ve got to do. Our guys are doing a real good job. We emphasize it in practice and put a lot of time in the physicality of our receivers.

Q. A lot of those guys [indiscernible].
COACH FISHER: This team is a very close team. This is not — when you go see them, offense, defense, this group hangs together. They’re a family. They really are. They hang together and stay together a lot, and they care about each other.

Like I say, we have a saying, plays don’t care who makes them. Somebody is going to make them. My turn this time, your turn next time, whatever it is. Just play hard and do your job and do your job well, whatever it may be.

Q. Ryan Izzo got his first start against Texas. How did he do?
COACH FISHER: Excellent. One little holding call they called late, which he held a little bit, but it was out of great effort and tenacity. I was extremely pleased with how he blocked. And it was Kerr too. I thought Kerr did a really nice job of blocking in the game, and Mavin is going to do a nice job when he gets in there. I thought Izzo had a really, really good football game.

Q. Saw something out of practice making his first start, but you never know until you get a guy out there?
COACH FISHER: Exactly. That’s the nerves you put out there until the lights actually matter, the scoreboard is lit up. In practice, they’re not lit up where the numbers are, just the time or something like that. You always worry. But the way he’s worked in camp, and Coach Brewster has done a great job with them. Those guys are ready to play.

Q. Jimbo, when’s the last time you slept past 11:30? You remember the last time anybody slept that late?
COACH FISHER: Slept past 11:30?

Q. Say you’ve got an 11:30 kickoff, last time anybody slept in until 10:00, 11:00, 11:30?
COACH FISHER: I couldn’t tell you any time. Honestly, it’s been — I couldn’t tell you when. I don’t ever stay in bed that long, I promise you that. I can’t.

Q. Do the kids try?
COACH FISHER: The kids today? You’re daggum right they will. No doubt about that in a heartbeat. They grew up here. They didn’t grow up on a farm. On a farm, you got up when the chickens got up.

Q. Was part of the reason you have those early scrimmages because you —
COACH FISHER: I timed it right at 11:30. Everything we did was 11:30. Be up and have a pregame meal at 7:30 and everything else. That was part of it because I knew it would be something different.

Q. With the chunk plays early in the run game, how much did that build confidence for the offensive line?
COACH FISHER: Tremendous. Also with the receivers and tight ends and the fullbacks. Freddie Stevenson, you go back and look at Freddie was blocking downfield. He was flipping some guys now. Freddie can run the football, caught the football. Freddie’s a complete fullback and is very pivotal in what we do.

I always say the offensive line is responsible for the first five. After that, it’s the skill guys and the back’s individual ability. They got through there untouched, which allowed them to make the second level guys miss, and those guys are doing a good job blocking on the second level, which all goes hand in hand. It’s a huge confidence booster.

I say this all the time, turnovers influence the game more than anything, but chunk plays and big plays are next. You’ve got to make them, and you’ve got to eliminate them on the defensive side.

Q. Monty and Chad were both really good. Is Freddie at that level —
COACH FISHER: Freddie has a chance to be really special. Freddie is bigger. He’s more athletic. Freddie’s a big guy at 240 pounds. He can do some things. Freddie’s got a chance to be a really special fullback.

Q. On that return down the sideline, what was going through your mind when he made that back flip or flipped over like that?
COACH FISHER: That’s football. I don’t worry about those things. How many times that goes on in a football game? The guy’s getting cut, guy’s knee flopped out. That’s ball, man. You just play. That’s our world. That’s normal.

Q. What kind of weapon is it to have Dalvin and Pender in the same backfield together?
COACH FISHER: Tremendous. Because of the great — to have two guys that fast but also two guys that can catch the football and can block for each other, that’s the thing. They both can be like fullbacks if they have to be. Don’t matter which one leads, which one is running the ball, blocking, whatever it may be. To have two guys and you’ve got to account for them and they’re both great inside runners, you know what I’m saying?

That standpoint, you don’t mind calling anything when they’re in the football game.

Q. And Pender was really good in the Syracuse game last year before he got hurt.
COACH FISHER: I keep saying that.

Q. People forget this kid is a legit big time running back or can be.
COACH FISHER: And in the Clemson game, had some big runs in the Clemson game and had nice plays early in the season. He was really playing great football. Out of sight, out of mind, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Dalvin was so dynamic.

But this guy has a lot of juice for us too. He can be a really special player, and he’s worked really hard. He’s up to 245 pounds. These guys put the mass on. They’re strong.

Q. It wasn’t a touchdown, I guess the kid fell down at the 2 or 3 on that play.
COACH FISHER: It was a run/pass option, and that’s the one I said — the one play Jalen does make a mistake, and he was trying to be aggressive, thinking it was a true run. He read run, but it’s an option, and the linemen were not downfield. You’ve got to just lock on that guy. You know what I’m saying? He came off one play.

That’s a lot of that spread football. That’s why I say the discipline, you know what I mean, and also keeping great leverage on the ball. That’s why that offense is such a pain in the tail. There’s a lot of — and eye control.

Q. And sometimes with quarterbacks, you talked about wanting to see how they come off the field, do they know — you know, if they made a mistake, do they know what’s going on? How did you feel?
COACH FISHER: Very good. Communication was very good. Soft coverages, what do you see? Yeah, that’s what we’re getting to. Didn’t see this on the run check, pass check, the fronts, what they’re doing — his communication for the most part, what came off to me, was really much right on what we were seeing too.

Q. You had 13 guys caught passes. How does that rotation work? Is there a set number of plays?
COACH FISHER: Best players play. There’s certainly things we like to do, but, hey, best guys play. We’ll keep it up until we get what we need to get point-wise, and then other guys get to play. You want to play in that rotation, play at their level. If you can raise your game to that level, you’ll be in that rotation. If you don’t, you won’t.

Q. You played a lot of young guys. Any that you’re still hoping to get in?
COACH FISHER: I’m trying to think who we didn’t get in.

Q. You got a lot in.
COACH FISHER: We got a lot in. Off the top of my head, there’s none I can think of — I lot of those guys early, from Derwin and Josh Sweat, all those guys getting in the game really early, even Tarvarus McFadden, all those guys got in there. There was a — I’m trying to think off the top of my head. Not really.

Q. You mentioned Sweat. The versatility you have on defensive line, like the fact [indiscernible]?
COACH FISHER: The ends have enough girth inside to play the run. Giorgio is still 300, and DeMarcus is still 285. Having those guys in there and the versatility and the push and the quickness makes a big difference and using our personnel. That’s very critical. I think that’s how we’ve got to do on offense-defense. We’ve got these guys. We’ve got to create packages for them and create problems for the other team.

Q. That the most depth on the defensive line?
COACH FISHER: A couple years, we had a couple when we got Jacoby and them back that year, with Goldman and those guys, there was quite a few. But maybe numbers, but that year we had quite a few of those guys too.

Q. With all these numbers, is that something you expect to play a lot of players every week?
COACH FISHER: Yes, you’ve got to do. I think the wear and tear of the season, that’s part of our whole GPS process too. The wear and tear of the body, being fresh. Teams now go no huddle. So you know what, you say, okay, it’s a 12-game season. Not really. It’s a 15, 18-game season. That team averages 20 more plays a game, 25 plays a game, after three or four games, it’s a whole game. So you’re averaging more snaps, which equates to more games. The more bodies you have, keep your guys fresh, they can play great football, all that matters. All that matters.

Q. Is that part of your philosophy to recruit more of those defensive linemen?
COACH FISHER: You’ve got to. And be able to have different packages on the field, rush the passer, play the run, play the spread team, play the physical team. Those guys — there’s very few times you can find one guy fits all needs.

Q. Josh Sweat, was he your best freshman?
COACH FISHER: I thought a lot of them were outstanding. I couldn’t say that.

Q. How did he play?
COACH FISHER: Played well. At the end, had a couple of little plays at the end, I wish he played a little harder in the fourth quarter, but early in that game when he arm bars you, he can hold the point. When he transitions from speed to power, can rush a passer, plays relentless, long armed. He can do a lot of things. He’s got a chance to be a really, really good football player.

Q. How do you think Derwin played?
COACH FISHER: I thought he covered. That’s the thing about Derwin. Everybody loves how physical and strong he is, but Derwin is really a back end player that can come up and tackle because he’s so skilled and fluid. You wouldn’t think a guy that big and strong would have the fluidity to come in and cover, but he does. He has tremendous ball skills. He played a great football game.

Q. With the time that Dalvin missed this summer, were you shocked at the way he fell into the group?
COACH FISHER: I didn’t know football-wise in practice if he would adjust to blocking and all that to get back into the football part of it, but Dalvin is such a workaholic. His body and his workouts, he’s just a guy — I never doubted would not come back in physical condition and shape and all those things. You just want him to get hit a few times and run between the tackles, but it’s been natural.

Q. [Indiscernible] Dalvin?
COACH FISHER: Exactly. I think he’s even much more mature. He’s really emerging into a leader. Doing a really nice job of leading and influencing guys on the team.

Q. Dalvin and Pender obviously both very talented. They have somewhat different styles. Does it challenge the defense when there are multiple talented backs?
COACH FISHER: It does because of how you’ve got to play. Everybody says they’re different. I don’t know. I think they’re probably more similar than they are different. I really do. Both tremendous. Dalvin is — I mean, Dalvin is more boom, boom, boom, and burst really quick, but when Pender sticks that foot in the ground and goes, he may be even more sudden than Dalvin is in that regard. They’re different, but they’re similar too.

But the thing I like, the versatility. They can catch the ball. They can run inside runs. They can run outside runs. You can spread them out in the passing game if you want to and throwing passes, you know what I mean? That whole part of it makes them easy to give them the ball.

Q. Pender had a few plays like that where he stuck his foot in the ground and made the guys —
COACH FISHER: Check downs on flats out there. Second and ten, all of a sudden third and three. Third and ten one time, he makes the guy miss, and all of a sudden we get a first down. Covered the first two reads. Everett checked it down real nice. Going to get a little closer field goal. All of a sudden, with those guys, you don’t know. Make one guy miss and break a tackle, and all of a sudden, it’s a first down.

That versatility, that puts pressure on the defense. Now they say, wait a minute, I can’t give him that much space. Guess what? Throw the ball down the field and hit the open guy more. They create great pressure. When there’s great skill guys with the ball, it puts pressure on defense.

Q. Is that something in camp you let Everett know, don’t try to force it?
COACH FISHER: Exactly right. Let him use your personnel. That’s playing quarterback. People think that quarterback is throwing the ball down the field. No, it’s not. It’s making the right decision to move the football. However you’re going to move the football and make points and take care of it, that’s playing quarterback. There’s a lot of different ways, and everybody has their own opinion. You have to be a great decision-maker and be accurate and let those guys work for you.

Q. Did you pay attention at all to what Jameis did?
COACH FISHER: I saw the results, and I’m extremely happy for him. I’m glad it’s working out, all his hard work. Very happy for him. He’s a great young man.

Wisconsin Football: Head Coach Paul Chryst’s Press Conference

A season opener against Alabama is never an easy task. Wisconsin learned that lesson on Saturday, losing to the SEC power 35-17. Coach Paul Chryst talked about the game yesterday in his press conference:

COACH CHRYST: Well, kind of watching the tape yesterday, it confirmed a lot of what I felt Saturday night in that there was — I thought our players played with great effort and there was some things that we can build on, I think really in all three phases, offensively, defensively and special teams. And clearly there’s some areas we need to clean up and improve upon.

One thing as I continue to get to know this group, I was — I liked the response after the game. There was disappointment. Some guys were angry. It was all the emotions that you want with guys that put it out there. And this group, has guys that have won a lot of games. When they go out and play, they expect to win. And certainly we played a good Alabama team. But I think there’s — we had a chance to be a good team ourselves, if we build on and improve in certain areas.

I thought that defensively, you know, Joe Schobert stood out to me, and made a lot of plays. I thought Vince impacted the game and created some problems. I was glad to see Sojourn was tested and I thought did a nice job responding.

You know, T.J. Edwards made a lot of plays, and I think you look at the tape and he’ll be able to see areas that he can get better at, and D’Cota Dixon jumped in and played a lot of snaps and can get better and learn from that.

I think offensively, I thought as a unit, I thought they handled the — there was enough crowd noise, and what they were doing, I think they handled the noise. We didn’t have any pre-snap penalties and I thought the communication was good that way. I thought Joel did some good things, and you had some areas where he can build on. We’ve got the ball to a number of different guys.

Obviously we did not run the ball very well. The good thing is I think every guy on offense can take part of making that better and then that needs to be corrected. I think there’s things in the passing game that the details of it, we’ve got to fix and clean up for us to be as good as we can be there.

Defensively, we’ve got to do a better job of leveraging the football. Some of the big plays are guys getting out of a gap and just got to be able to feel comfortable and confident in doing their job and that others will do theirs, as well. You know, special teams, I thought some guys stood out in the coverage units, but we’ve got areas that we’ve got to clean up and to be more opportunistic.

So looking forward to this week, I really am, and I think the guys have a good mind-set about them and so today we’ll start preparing for Miami of Ohio. Yesterday the coaches did, and excited to get going this week.

Q. I know it’s early in the week but do you have an idea what you can get this week out of Clement, whether Michael Caputo will play and is Ray Ball close to being able to come back and practice?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, we’ll find out. Mike is going through the protocol. And Corey, I think he could have gone a little bit more possibly, but wasn’t sure of it. I think I was surprised to look and see, Taiwan had the exact same number of snaps, or maybe one off from Corey.

And Dare I thought stepped in, and we were expecting to play Dare in a lot of different — thought he would play certainly but maybe not quite as much as he did. Ray, we don’t know on yet. We’ll find out during the week I think.

Q. You mentioned there are areas you wanted to see cleaned up. What areas would you like to see cleaned up with the offensive line and in some respects, was it tough having three new starters against Alabama?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, I think that, you know, with all — I think everyone in the run game, quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, fullbacks, the line, we’ve got to be on target more. The footwork, the pad level, I thought Michael Deiter did some good things in his first start, and I think that certainly there’s some areas that we’ve got to be a little bit better at.

I think it goes back to the — the great thing about the game I think is it goes back to the basics, and we’ve got to play with better pad level and we’ve got to get more movement. And in pass protection, I thought there was times where we were real good in it, but we’ve got to know where our help is; and if we are giving help and just playing together better.

I think it’s a group that takes pride in what they do, so I feel good about that. But we’ve got areas where we’ve got to get better and they need to do that this week.

Q. How is Tanner doing health wise and does the uncertainty with Caputo affect how you use him this week, McVoy.
COACH CHRYST: I think they are two separate. Tanner said he felt pretty good after the game. We tried to get him going on a few things that didn’t go his way. Would like to have him certainly get more touches; he didn’t get any. We targeted a couple times and tried to call a couple others, and I think Joel was right in some of the times not going to him.

But he’s feeling better and so I think we’ll be able to — but I think Tanner’s situation is not connected with necessarily Mike or Moose or Rob or anything like that.

Q. What do you think the biggest problem or problems were on defense?
COACH CHRYST: I think the obvious is at the end of it, we gave up too many big plays. That would be one of the starting points. And when you look at the situations, that’s what makes it even a little bit more frustrating in situations where you think you’ve got the upper hand.

There was a couple — that’s one of the first things you look at. There’s a couple times where we didn’t leverage the football so we didn’t contain it. There was a couple times where we’ve got a guy in the gap and then he thinks it’s going back out, so he slides out of it and now you’re short a gap. And any time we had a number of missed tackles — I think we were at 17 missed tackles, and be it missed tackles or gaps, you have to give the opponent some credit, as well.

But I think you look at that film and you say, this is where we can get better. If you’ve got to contain the ball, you’ve got to contain the ball. If you’ve got to be in the A gap, the B gap, the C gap, you’ve got to be in that gap. And teams and offenses are going to make some plays; you’ve got to tackle it. That was one, the leveraging the football, the gap control I think we can get better at. It shows up on film. Need to get better at it.

You know, the tackling, that’s — never been around a game where there’s been no missed tackles, but, we certainly had too many of those. And so I think those are the starting points that we’ve got.

A couple things were communication that we’ve got to make sure we address and clean up. We’ve got some — you could say, you know, Mike wasn’t in there for, but you know what, that can’t be an acceptable excuse for us.

And the great thing, I love the group, the players, they own it. They are not trying to duck from it. They want to get better. They see it and like I said, they were disappointed after the game. So I think it’s a group that wants to take advantage of this opportunity to get better this week.

Q. Do you see getting Tanner the ball on Saturday being one of the priorities this week knowing that he didn’t get any touches, and just how good this offense could potentially be with the ball in his hands?
COACH CHRYST: I think we want to get all our guys the ball. I like that we spread it out. I don’t think that you ever should go into the next game because you didn’t do something the week before. Because I think the quarterback can’t think that way, and certain teams will give you some plays and take away others.

We obviously think that Tanner is a good player and can help us in a lot of ways. Therefore, we want him to have those opportunities to impact the game. But I don’t think it’s just because he didn’t get something one week. You’ve got to make up for it. I think they are their own weeks or their own entity.

Q. Can you give us an update on Leon and his chances of being 100 percent on Saturday?
COACH CHRYST: I think he obviously was hobbling around a little bit. It wasn’t what kept him out in fall camp, and talking to him after the game; and then yesterday, it’s certainly getting better, and he told me he feels good. He said, I’ll be practicing all week. And talking to Mike and our training staff, I think it’s one of those things that he takes care of and we anticipate him being able to go.

Q. Did you like what you got out of throwing the ball to your backs, because I know that was a major point of emphasis this spring in camp.
COACH CHRYST: I thought we had — it helped us at times. I thought we missed on a couple other opportunities. But I think that we need — I think for us to be the best throwing team that we can be, we’ve got to use all the position groups, and I think we — Derrick was involved.

I’ve liked being around Derrick and I think he’s got a good feel for the game. I think all three of the backs had a catch, and you know, tight ends, Austin I think had a couple catches. Fuma I think we only threw to once. He played kind of limited. But I think we’ve got to be able to use everyone, and obviously the receivers.

Q. It’s great to play at home but are there advantages to playing home in a number of consecutive weeks, not just for game days, but for the whole week, to have a home stand?
COACH CHRYST: I know you feel really lucky when you can call Camp Randall home. I know just in talking to a couple of the players, Joel yesterday, it kind of dawned on me, he’s only got seven more of those opportunities. And our players really do get excited playing here and it’s a special place to play at.

I don’t know, you know, I think you just take one week at. Because it’s on our schedule, yeah, it’s great that way. But if you went home, away, home, you just find a way to make it be that it’s the best ever.

We love playing here. I can say that because I’ve been around games here. It is a special place and our kids know that. I think it also puts — when you play at home, it puts a little bit of kind of a welcome pressure on you, because you want to play well in front of what had we, biased opinion think, are great fans. I’m excited we get that opportunity this week and what we do with those opportunities at home, that’s on us.

Q. Do you know Chuck Martin well at all, and what do you see, challenges that Miami of Ohio will present this week?
COACH CHRYST: I really don’t — I know of him, and he’s certainly a really well-respected coach in our profession. As we are starting to study him right now, defensively, it presents some — any time you spread it out, you’ve got to be great on communication and you’ve got to be great in open space, tackling, some of those same things we talked about, really, in recapping the Alabama game. Right now we’ve got to clean those up. We’ll be tested on it.

Defensively, I think they do a good job of kind of changing up what they do and they will be able to have the ability to load up the box. And so, you know, if we are going to run the football, we’ve got — everyone’s going to be involved in the run game. Quarterbacks, receivers, everyone there. And so it’s good, you see them on tape and it’s a team that our guys got to study and learn.

And yet I think just about every game, you have to know your opponent and the challenges they can present to you. But really it’s about every game is what we do and how we approach the things that we can control.

Q. How important is it for both you and for the guys to be able to have the chance to bounce back this week and really work on those positive things from the weekend?
COACH CHRYST: I think it’s the essence of a season; that you always — whether it went your way or didn’t go your way, it’s what you learned from it and how do you move on and hope that we are always a team that’s growing and a team that’s getting better.

There’s the old adage that you get better from your first game to your second game. I hope that that’s true in a big way this week but I hope we are always getting better. I think it’s for everyone involved in the program, from the coaches to the players, yesterday we talked about things we can do on the road for the trip around it, how can we get better. If we are going to ask our players to get better every day, every week, we’d better expect the same of ourselves.

Q. This injury that Corey has, is there fear that it could linger for a while, or is it something that you think he can get taken care of?
COACH CHRYST: I think he can get it taken care of.

Q. What do you envision this first home game for you as head coach is going to be like for you, that first time out of the tunnel for you as a head coach here?
COACH CHRYST: Every day I walk on to this field for practice, and when I’m around this group, I feel appreciative of it. I don’t know. I’ve been lucky to be at games here. And so that part is not I don’t think going to be any different, because I’ve always appreciated what I’ve been — the opportunities that I’ve had here.

Q. You guys had nine months to look forward to the game against Alabama and now it’s, what, five, six days before Miami of Ohio. Is there any concern of any letdown knowing that the team was disappointed, having so much time to look forward to that one game?
COACH CHRYST: I think that we had nine months to look forward to this season. And we knew who we were opening up with and who we were going to play for our last game and we knew everyone in between.

Rightfully so, there was a lot of build up to our first game, but guys have been pointing to a lot more than just that game. And I’m glad; it stung me; it stung the players. Any time you go out there and put yourself out there and compete, it’s going to — but also, our kids didn’t just point to one game and that was going to be it.

That’s what I like about this group. There’s a ton of substance in this group, and now we’re into where this is the routine of the season and we’re into that. Our guys will be excited to play, I know that.

Q. You mentioned the first game, the second game adage before —
COACH CHRYST: I just came up with that one myself. (Laughter).

Q. Has it been your experience that there’s some truth in that?
COACH CHRYST: I hope so. Yeah, you look at Michael Deiter, D’Cota Dixon, T.J. Edwards, Jazz — Alex came to me on the sideline and goes, “That was Jazz’s first catch.” Glad I knew after than before. All those guys hadn’t played. So now they know what it’s like to be out there in those situations.

So I think that group can get better. I think there’s a chance for — Joel’s played in a lot of games. First time that we were really interacting and doing what we did, and his week of preparation with us and how we do it, even all the players, this is how Monday practice goes. We did it in camp and tried to show up.

There are a lot of things that I think — you can build and draw on what you did, and I don’t — I agree with that. Like I said, I hope you’re always getting better. It’s not just limited to — if not, we’d better have a great week this week, but you hope you’re always getting better.

Q. How did you manage to keep Caputo on the sideline during that game?
COACH CHRYST: It was interesting, and it just shows you, you talk about a guy that truly cares about this team, and the players on the team. And it didn’t matter what — I noticed him during special teams; I him noticed in offensive series; I noticed him on defense; he had the grease board out. I mean, he will do anything for this team.

And the thing I feel, as much as I would have loved to had him play, and Corey, and then we had others that didn’t really play because — you feel bad for those kids that miss that opportunity. I mean, if there’s a football game, Mike Caputo wants to be in it. It could be down at Wingra (ph), it could be anywhere. He wants to be a part of that game, and then his teammates you put in — that’s when you feel bad. These guys only have so many opportunities and they want to be able to take advantage of them. That’s what was hard for me to see more than anything. But he has got a lot of character and depth to him. It’s pretty cool.

Q. If he’s cleared to play, he’s going to go; you’re not going to hold him out if he’s been cleared?
COACH CHRYST: That’s what I like about the policies and the protocol. As a coach, you don’t have to worry about making a decision that puts someone at risk because you’ve got guys, a ton of people, that know a lot more than I do. So when Mike is cleared, really when any of our guys are cleared, as long as they are ready to go — and each position is a little bit different or their experience level is different.

But Mike’s a guy that I think when he’s cleared, kind of what Tom alluded to, I’m not going to get in the way of putting him in. He’s going to go on the field. So we don’t want 12 on there so we’re going to make sure we’ve got an open spot for him.

Ohio St. Football: Urban Meyer’s Press Conference Transcript

Ohio St. opens the season as the unanimous #1 ranked team in college football. Coach Urban Meyer talks about what he expects when the Buckeyes open the season next week:

Meyer: Hi, guys. Thanks for coming. Obviously, we are preparing for game week. Mock game today, we’re one week out, so we’re going to go at night and try to give our guys a pre-game experience. One of the big emphases that we’ve always had is making sure, especially with two new coaches, is making sure players are not concerned about routine once they prepare to play, and we probably give an inordinate amount of effort and thought to making sure that when the foot hits the ball our guys are ready to go and not worried about silly things about tickets, what you wear, how you get dressed, how you get taped, what you eat. So we’re going to do the best we can to eliminate all of that.

The good thing is they’re a mature team coming back, it is what it is. The young guys we just want to make sure they’re right. The quarterback situation we’ll announce the starter when the first guy takes the snap. It’s still very close. Both guys are performing very well.

Braxton has really the last two days has been outstanding. He’s the whole idea of his body getting used to basically a track practice every day is taking root, so he had a really good two days. I’ll answer any questions for you.

Q. I’m sorry that I’ve asked this question for nine months about the quarterbacks, but at what point do you need to know to start committing a game plan, even if you don’t plan to announce it until Monday?
Meyer: If it was different skill sets probably, but they’re not. If you look at J.T.’s game plan when he was our quarterback and Cardale, it’s very similar. There is a chance they’ll both play as well, so that hasn’t really — in our mindset we’re game planning our offense and they’re both executing very well.

Q. Do you think there is value to keeping that information in house just from Virginia Tech’s perspective to have them prepare for both of them?
Meyer: Not really because, once again, I think they’re very similar. I’ve heard people say, oh, he’s a much better down- field thrower, and he is pretty — if you’re talking about Cardale, he’s a very good down-field thrower, but I don’t know. I imagined if one of them was way ahead I probably would announce it, but they’re not, and it’s more for our team than who we’re playing.

Q. You touched a little bit on Braxton. What were your expectations when he made the transition? Has he exceeded expectations up to this point? I know it’s early. Is he not quite where you want him to be?
Meyer: Early on I don’t want to say exceeded because I knew there would be growing pains. It’s rather comical when I heard just play him at receiver or go put him at corner. It usually takes a year-and-a-half to play receiver to do it correctly.

Now the one thing Braxton can do, you snap him the ball and he’s done that enough to go and there is potential of that as well. So he’s, as of the last three days, he’s, I don’t want to say exceeded my expectation, but he’s darn near ready to go.

Q. You’ve obviously had a lot of championship teams, et cetera. I’m just wondering, everybody always talks about all of the accolades this team is getting and all of that ever since the beginning of last season. How have they handled kind of the trappings of success compared to other teams you’ve had? Have you seen anything?
Meyer: I think really well. I made this comment probably a month ago or maybe two months ago that there are indicators. The first indicator is your academics, and our guys have done well. There is no ineligibility issues. Our graduation rate I was told is the highest it’s ever been at Ohio State, so those indicators have been fine. We had a couple other indicators where we did take a speed bump where four guys won’t play. That set up the red flag to what’s going on here, but we found out they’re very isolated.

Work ethic in the weight room and on the field, and that’s not touchable. Those guys have done great. So-so far, so good.

Q. That’s obviously something that you monitor really closely, I assume with everything.
Meyer: Yeah, probably more so because I experienced it and witnessed it and it’s real, and not just — how many Super Bowl teams have a great year after they win the Super Bowl? How many national champions have a great year after a National Championship year? And it’s tough because there are so many outside influences that can get in and saturate your program and cause damage. But we’ve watched it very closely, and to answer your question, I don’t feel it at all.

Q. In your mind when do you think you’ll decide who the quarterback will be, and if you don’t share that with everyone?
Meyer: We start practice game week, tomorrow they’re off, and all I know is it’s a Monday. It’s not really a Monday, but it’s whatever day of the week it is, and in the coaches’ minds it’s Monday, and I’ll have a good idea.

So two days from now whatever day that is, in my mind it’s Monday. Does that make sense? Because Mondays is a Tuesday is a Wednesday, if you’re playing on Thursday, it’s a Monday.

Q. How have those guys continued to handle it? You said they’ve handled it very well?
Meyer: The quarterbacks?

Q. Yes.
Meyer: Great, great. They’re pros, man. I thought J.T. has always been a pro. I’m amazed at Cardale’s maturity, the way he’s handling his business. It’s really good to see a young guy grow up. I saw it last year and that’s continued.

Q. (Indiscernible) a guy that’s not starting, now starting?
Meyer: I don’t think it’s going to be hard because they handle it. I’ve had a couple conversations with them already. I think it’s going to be a matter of fact. If you’re not going to play early, get ready because I’d like to see both guys involved.

Q. Just wondering, depth-wise at receiver going into the first game with injury and the situation that you’re at, how do you feel? How many you have in that rotation, how do you feel?
Meyer: Yeah, Noah’s, by the way, he’s doing fine. I think he’s still in the hospital; is that right? As of last night he was. So maybe today or tomorrow we’re hoping to get him out. Surgery was successful. We’re expecting a full recovery.

Depth at receiver is a concern for this game. Talent isn’t. Depth is a concern. Mike Thomas, you have Curtis Samuel, you have Braxton Miller, you have Johnnie Dixon, you have Parris Campbell, you have Terry McLaurin, I might be forgetting one. Those are all guys that can play at this level and potentially some of them at the next level, so those are good.

Then I think Nick Vannett and obviously Zeke is a big part of this game plan as well.

Q. Johnnie Dixon health-wise good?
Meyer: Yeah, we’ve just got to monitor him. He’s got those darn knee issues. They’re not major, it’s just tendonitis, and I expect him to be full-speed today. He’s had a very good camp.

Q. In that regard what are you looking for from those receivers? What are you looking for this week in terms of what would impress you about stepping up and being that guy or those guys?
Meyer: Great question. Attention to detail and taking care of themselves. We really watch closely their body weights, their hydration, how you handle yourself as a pro and how Parris Campbell handles himself. Right now I have Parris and Terry starting at special teams, and obviously you know how we feel at those positions. How they handle themselves in practice and Coach Mick, he’s in charge of all of these sports performance. Are they at the body weights? Are they fully hydrated? Are they maximizing their time?

Those kind of kids are great kids, so I think they’re going to be ready to go.

Q. Another thing with Braxton, you talked last week or so about the routine of playing back or going to a place other than behind the guy that has the ball for the snap and stuff. Do you see a more fluid guy now when he takes the field? What just jumps out at you about him?
Meyer: The last three days have been really fluid, and I think a lot of it is just his body’s feeling good again after going through the “what the heck is this,” and that is the constant running that his body wasn’t used to. So he looks like an H-back now.

Q. Is it fair to say that this might be the only game where your team would definitely have the motivational edge having this is the only team you’ve lost to. And how much of an advantage would that be referring to the days when you had the SEC grind and you’d play somebody who had beaten you?
Meyer: Well, I think there is some truth to that. That there is a little nudge around here because they beat us, and really the way they beat us. Offensively right now there is a lot of distaste for the way that thing happened, and that’s not taking away from their personnel, because I think they have excellent personnel, especially on defense. But the way that happened, it was not — a lot of it was lack of preparation. Good players that are doing a scheme that our guys were not prepared for, so there is a big edge around here.

Q. In the SEC days you had a meat grinder every week. Was it a big edge to have the team that you had beaten the year before, especially coming into your place maybe?
Meyer: I can’t remember. Those brain cells have been chewed up and spit out a long time ago. It’s a meat grinder — don’t fool yourself. It’s a meat grinder every week.

Q. When you do go into a game and use two quarterbacks, how much of that do you hope to be scripted, and how much of that is done by feel on game day?
Meyer: I don’t know yet. We did it in 2006 is the only time we’ve really done it, and it was both. We had scripted plays, but they were two different skill sets, so we say we get to this part of the field, and we need this kind of momentum push.

And Tim Tebow had the personality that everything got picked up. When you were kind of stagnant, he had the personality. I don’t see that this way at all. So to answer your question, I don’t know yet. We’ve still got time to decide. I think a lot of it is going to be in-game, how’s it going, and do we need a change.

Q. You talk about Tim Tebow’s leadership. J.T. was voted captain by his peers. What does that say about the quarterback competition, if anything?
Meyer: The actual quarterback, it’s a factor, but it’s not thee factor. The guy that’s going to give us the best chance to move down the field is going to be the guy taking the snap. I’m not surprised. Josh Perry, I think, got the most votes, Taylor Decker got the second, and J.T. got the third. Braxton got the fourth, and it was either Tyvis or — who was the other one I’m missing? Jacoby.

So the thing is Joel Hale had a bunch of votes, and Adolphus Washington. It’s the most I’ve ever seen as far as spread out on votes. That’s how many good kids we have.

But J.T., I got asked that question by some friends. That means he’s a captain. Not necessarily going to take the first snap.

Q. Are you open to the idea of playing two quarterbacks more than you were a couple months ago?
Meyer: I’m not sure yet. We’re still debating that.

Q. Is the only thing what gives this team the best chance to win or is there something in there of guys deserving a chance to play, earning a chance to play even if, you know —
Meyer: No, at this point it’s at that moment who can — because they both won. I don’t know J.T.’s record, but it’s pretty good. Cardale, I believe, is 3-0. So who gives us at that moment a chance to win.

Q. If the skill sets are similar, right, what would it be about giving both a chance?
Meyer: Performance at practice, accuracy, leadership, toughness, all the things that you look for in the quarterback.

Q. Would that change within a game though?
Meyer: Sure, absolutely.

Q. A guy’s not looking so sharp, let’s put somebody else in?
Meyer: Absolutely, it could be weekly too. If he had a bad Tuesday practice and Tuesday’s our first of normal, and third down is on Wednesday, and they have a bad Wednesday, absolutely. That’s not uncommon. That is the same with the other positions as well. You have to show up every day and compete.

Q. Is there any part of that, doing that at quarterback that could be not a great thing for the team? Or do you think that would just push it?
Meyer: Oh you mean about naming the quarterback?

Q. Do you want — people talk about if someone’s looking over their shoulder and they have a bad start to a game or a tough day at practice?
Meyer: Those are all things that we have to hit on the road. I’m not very experienced in this. If you look, check the annals of college football history, I’m not sure that’s happened. So I think I have to do what’s best for the team at that moment. That is you have two very good players that are very invested. What is the best chance of moving this team down the field and putting them in the end zone? That is kind of the mindset I’ve had right now.

But I think those things I’m constantly thinking about because I don’t want players — and we try not to do that here. That’s why we talk about 4 to 6, A to B, don’t worry about mistakes, go as hard as you can, and we’ll fix it. Mistakes are fixed by great effort.

Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly’s Pregame Press Conference Transcript

Notre Dame, heavily hyped coming into the season, is a 10 point favorite against Texas. Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly doesn’t buy that number, however, and expects a very tight game against Charlie Strong’s Big 12 team. He discussed the season opener in his press conference yesterday:

Kelly: All right. We’re in game week. Certainly longly anticipating this match-up against a great and historic program in the University of Texas. You know, Coach Strong is going into his second year here, is certainly a coach that I have a lot of respect for, know what he’s done, a long career as an assistant coach, obviously coaching here at Notre Dame.

But more importantly in what he’s done in program building, I think we saw that last year with what he did at Louisville. Brought a very good Louisville team in here last year under Coach Petrino but we know a lot of that was his work. His fingerprint was on that team. Great program builder. He’ll do the same thing at Texas. You can already see that taking shape. In particular in the recruitment of very good, young football team, again.

They play hard, defensively, I think last year they really kept their team in a number of games and certainly as they were trying to find themselves on offense. I think they are a lot further along now this year in year two. I think you start with the quarterback, Tyrone now is much more comfortable at the position. He can throw the ball.

In particular, I think he does a great job pushing the ball down the field. He’s got a strong arm and you know, again, I think the offense suits him very well. I think they are in the kind of offense that takes advantage of his skill set.

So I think Swoopes has some great weapons, both the Johnson receivers have great speed, are weapons in the Big 12 that you become accustomed to see whether they are at Oklahoma or Texas, TCU. These are very talented wide receivers. A young kid that looks really good, the Burt kid, he was impressive on film. But I think they have got great balance with Johnathan Gray. He was out with the Achilles, but you could see him coming into his own later in the year as you watched film, and I think he’s going to be at the top of his game.

So great speed at the wide receiver position. I think a quarterback who feels really comfortable in the offense that they are running and an outstanding running back in Gray. So I think you are going to see an offense that really is going to be a challenge for us.

Defensively, as I mentioned, they lost some talented players but they bring back some very good ones. I think Ridgeway is a guy that’s difficult to deal with on the inside. You know, I think Davis on the outside — and then I really like Hughes, number 40. Very athletic, can run. I think he’s going to be a nice edge player for them.

So they have some really nice athletes on defense. Jefferson, the freshman, can run. It’s what you would expect from a Texas defense: Big and physical, nose, some edge players that can run. On the back end, Duke Thomas has 20-something starts, a veteran corner. Really like the Bonney kid who is playing nickel for them, very versatile.

And the safeties and returners, played a lot of football. So veteran, back-end presence, physical guys that can run on defense, got a very good system, well coached on the defensive front side. Coach Bedford does a great job of putting them in the right position. They keep the points down. They did that last year. You have to earn everything you get against Texas. They are not going to give you anything defensively. You’ve got to earn everything that you get offensively.

Should be a great test for us in an opener. These are the kind of openers that really test you in everything that you do. You have to be fundamentally sound. You’ve got to take care of the football. And you’re playing against quality, quality athletes that are well-coached. So this will be one heck of an opener for us that we’ll be challenged. Looking forward to it and should be exciting between two great programs in Texas and Notre Dame.

So with that, open it up to questioning.

Q. With Malik, how does maybe he compare mentally, emotionally, going into this opener than he was the LSU game, which was his first collegiate start?
Kelly: Yeah, it’s a totally different Malik Zaire. A lot of it was first start, not sure what to expect from him. We knew that he was a young man that had the ability to do some things in the run game. Weren’t sure what he could do in the passing game. We saw that certainly he was capable.

But his development has been so much more since that game through the spring, through the summer and now in pregame, he’s much more developed in all phases of the game, a lot more confident and certainly a lot more in tune with all of the receivers and the offensive line and just much more comfortable.

Q. I know with a lot of quarterbacks, as they go through the season, especially as a first-year starter, defensive front coordinators like to test them, can they handle eight in a box, can they handle rush three, drop eight, things like that. Can you simulate that as a coach? Do you feel like he’s seen all that as he goes into the season, or does that evolution have to play out in the season during games?
Kelly: Well, I think that’s a good question. I think as coaches, we certainly present all of those challenges to him in practice: Drop eight, overload pressures, and we present all that to him. But those are just quizzes. The test is when it happens in realtime. I don’t know that you really know for sure until you get the test. We think we have given him many opportunities to react and he’s reacted very well to all of those kinds of scenarios that you mentioned. But I don’t think you really feel confident until you get those opportunities.

We know that he’s going to go in there and be poised and has seen all the looks that he could get. But there’s going to be a time or two where, you know, he’s going to see something that he’s not sure of, and we hope that Eddie faults back to the foundation that we’ve given him. And if he does that and defaults back to the foundation, he’ll get through those moments.

Q. I know we’ve kind of bugged you about the offensive play-calling, and you mentioned Mike Sanford is going to be upstairs, but who exactly is calling the plays and how is that going to work?
Kelly: Yeah, you know, we are going to collaborate. There will be collaboration. Mike Sanford, myself, Coach Denbrock, there will be collaboration on Saturday.

Q. But you have the final veto?
Kelly: I do. I do.

Q. Max Redfield, I know the one day you were upset because there was a couple orange cones playing safety that day. But overall, what have you seen from him?
Kelly: Very, very solid play in all facets: Leadership, communication, tackling, playing the ball in the air. He’s had a really good camp. He’s a different player than last year, a much more mature player. He’s much more mature in everything that he does on a day-to-day basis. That just has carried on to what he does on the football field. Feel really good about Max Redfield as one of our safeties, no question.

Q. Folston seems like his first couple years here, he’s been slow out of the gate and you’ve wanted him to show more of being a No. 1 back or whatever. Are you seeing any more of that this year, that he might get off to a stronger start?
Kelly: I’m cautiously optimistic that we are going to see a little bit more than maybe we saw at times last year, and don’t get me wrong, we were pleased with a lot of the things that he did last year for us.

I’m a big fan of Tarean Folston. I have higher — maybe I have a higher expectation of him at times than he does of himself and that’s where we continue to communicate on a day-to-day basis that I think there’s so much more out there for him. I’ve seen that kind of manifest itself in practice.

He’s had a really good couple of weeks in practice, and I hope to see that come out on Saturday, because I think he’s a terrific back, and I think there’s much more for him to achieve.

Q. Equanimeous, such a fascinating family. I wonder what that home visit was like with the former Mr. Universe and the whole family. And has he given you less peeks and valleys — you had mentioned there were days where he would rise up. Are you seeing a more steady, consistent performance?
Kelly: It was an interesting home visit. I was greeted at the door by his dad with a GoPro on his head. It was the first time that I was taped going into a home visit, so I was kind of a little nervous at first.

It’s a wonderful family. As you know, they speak German in the home itself. They are also fluent in French. It was good, because I was totally confused most of the night, which I think that’s why we got him, because I couldn’t talk. It was perfect.

But he’s a wonderful kid, a wonderful family. But I think that that’s probably right, the way you put it, is that he has not been one that has had the high peaks and the low valleys. I think what I was most impressed with him was that when he had a pretty good ankle sprain, he came back in less than two days. And that said a lot about his maturity. That said a lot about probably how he was brought up in that home.

As you know, the dad is a former Mr. Universe, and I’m sure there’s not a lot of slacking in the home. And you could see that in Equanimeous. He was right back out there competing, and I think a lot of that is to his upbringing.

Q. When you have nine months to prepare for an opponent, and you’ve talked before about guys on the offensive line, some of the younger guys playing, how do you keep that emotion from spilling over into the game? How do you keep the younger guys especially level?
Kelly: Well, truth be told, it was probably eight and a half months preparing ourselves as a football team, really. Texas was always on the schedule. Texas was always in their mind. They know about Texas and the history and the tradition of their program and what a great opponent they are.

But we were preparing ourselves, our football team, mentally and physically, for the season, and not just this opponent. We really didn’t dial in on Texas in particular, where the emotions start to pick up, until probably the last ten days. And that’s when I start to really focus in on, you know, staying within yourself and staying focused on the task at hand and not getting outside of the things that are most important, and that is the next play.

So as a head coach, you’re really working, you know, on the whole team over eight and a half, eight and — three and a half weeks, and then the last ten days, you’re really, really focusing on Texas.

Q. Can you explain the decision process behind C.J. at punt returner and is it you were afraid of maybe putting Will back there, considering his status as the wide receiver?
Kelly: No, not afraid at all. I think we have two real good ones, two really good options. We are splitting hairs probably with both of them. And I could see us going back and forth with both of them playing. But not hesitant and not afraid to play him for fear of injury at any time.

I just think C.J. just has kind of a unique knack of breaking some tackles and hard to find sometimes and kind of comes out of there and pops out of there. That’s why we went with him.

Q. You talked in the spring about this team needing to establish a DNA. What are you expecting the DNA of this team to be?
Kelly: Well, I think first of all, a confidence that they have been there before, and in particular, we have a number of players, as you know, that have played a lot of football, and that they go out there and display that kind of experience that they do, in fact, have. We are not playing with a bunch of inexperienced guys. We have got some guys with a lot of experience. Now, the quarterback is not seasoned in any shape or fashion, but he’s surrounded with a lot of guys.

So the DNA is in I think that they all know what is expected of them every single day to be successful on the playing field. But I would probably go back to, you know, they know they are only as good as the last play. And I think that that’s how this team will play. They work very hard and they work with a purpose, and I think that that’s how they will play.

Q. And you’ve talked about this team probably has the opportunity to run more than previous teams have. Is any of that hoping that maybe that will take a little pressure off the defense by being a better running team?
Kelly: Well, I think just naturally, controlling the line of scrimmage takes pressure off of all facets of the game: Field position, kicking game, snaps per for your defense. You know, how do you play the game? If you’re run-and-shoot and you’re playing fast, you’re looking to score more points and you really don’t care about all those other stats.

If you’re running the football, you care about some of those other things as they relate to kicking game, field position and things of that nature. So running the football definitely gives you some of those things in your favor. They don’t always equal to winning, but they certainly can help in a lot of areas.

So that’s what we feel like, you know, if we can run the ball effectively, and again, sometimes we are not the controller of all those factors. A defense may say, look, we are going to put more guys in here and make it virtually impossible for you to run. If we can control it and be efficient, I think it opens up all those things.

Q. The Texas offense, how tough is it to prepare for a team when you don’t have a lot of film on them?
Kelly: We have the spring game but that’s about it. Unless we miss our mark, we are going to certainly see some things that we haven’t seen before. But we are preparing for the Swoopes kid that is certainly a kid that throws it. We are preparing for a spread offense that has skill.

So it becomes something that we are very familiar with in playing a number of spread teams. So we are going into the game preparing against the spread and tempo, for that matter. So both of those things, I think first and foremost.

And then another quarterback, the Heard kid who can run the football so you have to prepare for both of them. Certainly it’s a challenge. We are preparing for a spread offense where tempo is part of it and having two quarterbacks and one that can run the ball effectively.

Q. And you and some of the coaches talked about how Torii has looked really good. What exactly does he bring that maybe the other — what skills does he have that other receivers don’t have?
Kelly: Well, working inside out, from that position that he plays, he’s got size and great hands. I mean, he just, being he can use his hands and size against generally players that he matches up quite well with. He’s not matched up very much at all with a corner, right. He’s always working off of backers and safeties, and that’s a formidable match-up. That’s a positive one for us. Very rarely has he got to beat a corner, so he becomes a very, very good match up for us.

Q. I want to talk about your tight end rotation a little bit. You’re fairly young right there and you’ve got some guys with nice pedigree but is that a job that’s going to be won on the field on Saturdays, do you think?
Kelly: It is. I think that’s a very good way to put it. I think you’re going to see them all play. I think they will all get an opportunity to contribute in some fashion and some may play a little bit more than others but they are all going to get a chance to be in the rotation and play, and I think Saturdays will largely determine how that is dolled out relative to the reps.

Q. There’s always a litany of things you want to accomplish in camp before you get to your first game and I don’t know if there’s ever enough time to get ready for an opener, but where do you feel the team is in terms of overall preparedness in being ready to play this Saturday?
Kelly: I’m very confident that we’ve prepared our football team to play on Saturday. I think we need to, you know, like anybody else, we would like some Texas time, a little bit more focus on some of the exotic things that they do with some short yardage and special circumstances.

But I feel really good. This is 25 years, I think we’ve looked at virtually every situation and scenario. Yesterday was a wet ball drill day, and who knows, we may get weather. Just trying to prepare for everything. It’s almost like, all right, we’re making stuff up here.

Keep your guys fresh; I think that’s the most important thing. Keep them sharp. Make sure the practices are focused and purposeful. And you know, I think that we’ve handled all of the situations leading into the game.

Q. We’ll get a chance to talk to the guys but do you sense a change in them with when game week rolls around, and do you get a sense that there’s — not anxiety, but they are maybe anxious to play?
Kelly: Absolutely. Today was a Monday and normally on a Monday, it’s pretty lethargic coming off the weekend. It was a very good practice. It was focused. There was an intent to really work on getting better in all phases. Great communication. High energy. Very good Monday. So you know that they are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Q. With KeiVarae playing some nickel, would you have been able to do that if Cole Luck had not had the kind of development he had over the last year or so?
Kelly: I think Devin Butler made that possible. We are happy that co Luke certainly has developed, as well and is playing at a higher level, but I think Devin Butler made that much more of a reality for us. We didn’t have the same evaluation of did he have incoming out of the spring that we would be able to do it. He has really developed himself to the point where we feel like we can put him out there and feel like we’ve got a strong unit. I would place most of that on did he have in.

Q. With Cole, though, in terms of the season he had last year, he was able to guard a guy like Parker, in terms of his development, where has he taken his game from last year to now heading into this season?
Kelly: I think Coach Lyght has done a great job with demanding more of a sense of urgency and more of a sense of purpose in everything that he does. Demanding just that I think a higher level of competitiveness in everything that he does; that where he sees he was competitive, and he was giving us everything that he had, there was more to give. And so you’ve got to get that out of somebody. And I think Coach Lyght has done a great job of really tapping into that next level for Cole.

Q. Is that something that happens between a sophomore and junior year somewhat frequently with a player?
Kelly: Yes, I think it does in terms of their own identifying — they identify their own weaknesses, but I think it also happens with good communication, and I think there’s a real good connection between him and Coach Lyght, and I think there’s a lot of different things that make that happen.

Q. With Jerry and Daniel at nose guard, what’s sort of the peak volume for each player?
Kelly: Well, we have some numbers that we think are what they are. I don’t want to publically give them ought. But we certainly have numbers that we believe they should be able to hit based upon what we’ve done.

But Daniel has really come on and we think he can give us solid play there. But Jerry is certainly there and it’s a three-man rotation with Sheldon. So those are the guys that we’ll be relying on.

Q. With the multiple tight ends that you have at your disposal and Coach Sanford’s background at Stanford where they utilize the tight ends well, are there any applicable concepts that could be infused that he might have brought over from Stanford?
Kelly: Well, you know, there’s certainly always a sharing of ideas as it relates to how we can utilize those tight ends.

You know, clearly, we think we have more than one of them in terms of a tight end. And I think without giving away any trade secrets here, you know, Stanford was a power team. That was — that’s what they did. We would like to run power but we like to do some other things.

So I think we were able to share some common philosophy with some formations. But I think more than anything else, what you’ll see from Coach Sanford and what we’re doing with the tight ends is being able to utilize them whether we go fast, we go slow, whether we tempo or not.

I think that’s a little bit different than what Stanford has done. They were huddling. So I think that that’s where it will be a little bit different.

Q. You mentioned a couple weeks ago, one of the things that you and Coach Sanford had in common, the term you used were movement keys and progressive reads. Could you explain that a little bit further?
Kelly: Yeah, so if you’re simply throwing the ball to the flat, your movement key is the flat defender, whoever is the flat defender. So it starts with identifying who that flat defender is.

And then your routes generally put that flat defender in a bind. Maybe a short route and a deep route. That starts your progression off the movement key. If the movement key doesn’t sink out of the flat, then you flow the ball over the top of the corner, and that then begins your progression read after you find who the flat defender is.

So movement key to progression, and you can’t start your progression until you find out who your movement key is.

Q. With regard to beyond play calling, game day information coming from Coach Sanford in the press box and Coach Denbrock from the field, what specifically will those two individuals, what information will they be providing you during the game?
Kelly: Well, as I’ve said, and I know you guys want more, I’m just not going to give you much more than, you know, all three of us are collaborating. How it comes out to the signaller, you know, we’re all in unison as to how we want the game to unfold.

So we are all going to be working off the same play sheet. We are going to all be working off the same openers. We are going to all be working off the same down and distance sheet.

So whether it’s coming out of Mike or Mike or Brian’s lips, is really immaterial as far as I’m concerned. All I know is that we’ve got great collaboration between the three of us.

Q. I guess I’m not looking for that as much as like Coach Sanford up in the booth, he’s telling you the defense is doing this, we’re doing that —
Kelly: Absolutely. His focus is really looking at the overall structure of the defense. When you’re on the field, you’re much more — you’re zeroed much more in on specifics. So that’s more of a bigger picture look when you’re up in the box.

Q. Going on with the coaching thing, as far as the defensive front coaches up in the box there, who will you have? And if you can also expand on the roles of Jeff Quinn, Bob Elliot and on special teams, too, and their roles as special assistants for the game?
Kelly: Yeah, so Mike Elston will be up in the box for defense and he will be providing that perspective. Bob Elliot and Coach Quinn will be up in the box. Again, they are allowed to work as analysts, so they will be doing statistical analytical work. They will be making sure that tendencies, numbers, they will be checking personnel groupings, things of that nature.

Coach Elliot will keep track of game management types of situations, video replay, things of that nature. He’ll have more of a game management role where Coach Quinn will have more of an analytical and statistical role in the box, as well as some over sight as it relates to special teams.

Q. And they are allowed to communicate with you during the game and at half-time?
Kelly: Yes.

Q. But just not with the players?
Kelly: That’s correct. They can’t be coaching the players.

Q. You have everybody on defense other than Daniel Cage with at least eight career starts. What’s enabled Daniel to kind of take it to where he’s now really heavily into the mix there, because stamina was kind of an issue last year.
Kelly: Well, I would credit that being one of them, physical condition; the ability to be able to play at the level necessary.

Last year he would give us a couple of plays and then fatigue would lock up his brain. You know, he would be in the wrong gap. He would release a gap, and we’re trying to work five-man spacing, versus a spread offense, and you know, they are going to run the ball up through that gap because he’s in the wrong gap. And a lot of that had to do with the inability to maintain the mental awareness of what he was doing because he was fatigued. He’s in much better condition. He’s so much more mature. Understands our defense so much better. He was always off the charts in terms of his strength and foot quickness. Now he’s bringing a lot of that for much more of the game in terms of number of plays.

Q. Jerry Tillery had such a good spring that it was automatically assumed he was going to replace Jarron in a major role. Is there maybe just hesitation to start a freshman right away in the opener, or is it more of what Daniel Cage was able to do?
Kelly: Oh, I think this is more Daniel Cage. We wouldn’t be hesitant — if Jerry was the best player, Jerry would play. He’s a really good player and he’s going to play a lot, and we need him to be in there for us. But Daniel has definitely shown that he should be listed ahead of Jerry right now.

But keep in mind, jersey playing two positions for us, so we have asked him to do a lot more than we are asking Daniel to do. Jersey also playing not only the shade, but he’s playing the three technique, too. So we’ve asked Jerry to do a lot more and that’s not necessarily an easy thing to do as a true freshman but he’s pretty unique. But we needed that.

Did that hurt him a little bit maybe, possibly; because we asked him to do two things and play two different positions. I think you will not know, as you watch the game, you won’t be able to count up, well, Cage played more than Tillery. It’s going to be pretty seamless.

Q. Your first game here on the opening kickoff, you had five true freshmen, the kickoff coverage teams. Seems this year there’s a lot more veteran look there, especially potentially guys like Farley, Avery Sebastian, and I think Jarrett Grace.
Kelly: He’s on kickoff.

Q. You have three fifth-year seniors alone there possibly. Is there a year that you anticipate with the veterans and the depth that you have, that special teams can be taken to the level you want it to be?
Kelly: Yeah, you know, I really am excited about what we’ve done in our special teams units and the work we’ve put in. I think we have a lot of veteran players on all of our running teams. Regardless of the fact that we have two rookie kickers, I think both of them are immensely talented and have the right demeanor to be very good kickers for us, as first-year players.

I think we’ve got very good personnel there and there’s no reason why we can’t dictate terms in special teams and be very solid in special teams.

Q. You said you brought in Mike Sanford and one of the things you wanted him to do was sort of turn the room upside down and challenge you guys in a way. Thus far, how has he been able to do that?
Kelly: I think more than anything else, just the constant questioning of how we do things and why we do things. I think it’s just natural that sometimes you run a system of offense like I have for over 25 years, that you become accustomed to doing things a certain way.

When you get the question of why do you do it that way, then you have to answer the question honestly, that kind of turns it upside down a little bit. And so it’s been good. It’s been refreshing, and we’ve been able to look at everything that we do through what’s the best way to get this done. And so I think that’s been a good piece.

And then Mike Denbrock has taken it and has made the adjustments and strengthened the system that is still our original system through that collaboration, and that’s why it’s been pretty exciting for me to see it happen.

Q. What was it about him that helped you feel comfortable and to trust him to have that will to second guess what you’ve done for a long time?
Kelly: I think you know, when you sit down and interview somebody, you get a sense right away that you’re going to enjoy working with this person. You know, you put in 80 hours a week, you get a sense that this is somebody that you’re going to enjoy working with.

So I think it’s who he is, his personality, his background, knew Notre Dame, obviously his dad working here; all those things were positive, but it was still about who he was as a coach. And then when we started talking football, in particular, how to score points, we were on the same page.

Q. I was curious, what you’ve seen from Yoon, the last couple weeks, high end at the midway point of campus. Has he carried that on, or have you seen freshman ups and downs? What have the last couple weeks been like?
Kelly: Haven’t seen a drop-off for him at all. It’s been extremely consistent in the 40 to 49-yard range, which is — last year, we dipped into the 60. I think we were like 62 percent. We dipped low into that range. He’s been high 70s, in that range, so in that deep range between 40, 49, he’s been really good.

I was thinking that as camp wore on with the tired leg, we would see a drop in that area, but he’s been solid. We’ve hit him with a lot of different situations. He’s responded quite well to all of them.

I think the thing that stands out with me as it relates to him is he is so focused on just doing his job. There’s not a lot of things that kind of distract him. He’s extremely focused. And as I said to — I think we talked about this before. He’s a very unique kicker in that he has very little spin on his ball, very little.

So you’re not dealing with adjustments. All right, you’ve got to adjust for this, you’ve got to make this; he doesn’t have to make a lot of adjustments. So his accuracy is pretty darned good. We’ve had to work on some of his operation times, but those are normal for a freshman.

Q. Kind of getting back to Tillery a little bit. When you had to start KeiVarae in 2012, you could play coverages a certain way to help him out or mask him a little bit. Is there anything that you can do with a freshman to help him out —
Kelly: No. No, there’s nothing. Look, if you’re not physically strong enough to hold the point, we saw what happened at USC. When we weren’t physically able to hold up inside, you’re in trouble.

So if you’re not physically able to do that job, you’re asking for trouble. So those guys are physically able to do the job. If you’re not, you’re in trouble.

Q. I was just curious about the nickel, you had Crawford and then KeiVarae which are different kinds of athletes from Matthias. What did you need to change about the defense that you threw a did I know kind of athlete in that position?
Kelly: Man. Man-to-man. So the ability to play man-to-man out of that position, Matthias is very smart, but we didn’t want to put him on an island and have to have him play man-to-man coverage out of that position.

Q. What do you expect the atmosphere to be like Saturday, and do you think it’s going to be that much bigger than previous openers because it’s Texas and because it’s also at night?
Kelly: You know, I’ve come to — really, I think I’ve come to be accustomed to the atmosphere at night being so different than any day game. It’s just electric. Whether it’s Texas or USC or Michigan, the ones that I’ve experienced, it’s just a different atmosphere.

So I expect it to be an electric atmosphere, one that it will be memorable for everybody.

Q. And any players unavailable this weekend for any disciplinary reasons or anything like that?
Kelly: No.

Q. Even though it’s a night game, it’s going to be hot. What precautions are you taking with your team going into the game?
Kelly: Well, we’re glad that we finally had the return of summer here in South Bend. We’ve had a couple of really warm days and we’ll continue to have that. But you know, for us, we’ve been conditioning all summer. We’ll rely on that conditioning base that we have had. We’ll hydrate appropriately. And our medical team and trainers will be prepared.

You know, we’ve got very good depth, and we’ve kept the tempo high in our practice, so we feel pretty good that regardless of what the conditions will be, we’ll be able to handle any heat. I don’t believe that that’s a concern that we have going into the game.

Q. You’ve had some success with first-year starting quarterbacks over your career. What’s kind of been the message or focus from like going into this week, and is there ever any frustrations as far as having a new guy each year and kind of trying to build an identity around him?
Kelly: No. No, I’m not frustrated about that. I mean, I think as it relates to Malik, I think the question was asked by Eric, you know, he’s going to see some things that he has not seen before.

So default back to the foundation and the base that you have and that we have given you. And if he does the ordinary things extraordinarily well, he’s going to succeed at a high, high level. It’s when you go outside that and start to do things on your own and kind of, well, I’ll use this for that, and it’s taking kind of the round peg and putting it in the square hole, is where we have issues. So as I’ve said before, if he does exactly what I tell him to do, we should be in really good shape.

Michigan St. Football: Coach Dantonio’s Press Conference Transcript

Michigan St., sleepers for many to take out Ohio St. for the Big 10 title and compete in the college football’s Final Four, gets the season started on the road against Western Michigan on Friday. The Spartans, historically very strong against the spread as road chalk, are 19 point favorites on the road. Coach Mark Dantonio talks about the upcoming game and what he expects from his team:

Dantonio: First game, new beginnings, I think, for every program in America right now. It’s very exciting for us to have the opportunity to play in our first game. I think most people are tired of practicing against themselves right now and ready to get on with it.

To me it’s about new beginnings. There’s no guarantees in any season. You get evaluated at the end of the season and we have our first challenge as we go over to Western Michigan.

We’ll come ready to play and we’ll come fresh. That’s our thought process.

We have three honorary captains, Little John Flowers. Tico Duckett and T.J. Duckett will be our honorary captains. All three are from Kalamazoo. We’re very excited to have them be part of our program in this first game of 2015.

Coach Fleck as he goes into his third year, 8-5 last year, after being 1-10, one of the biggest turnarounds in the country, outstanding job there. They’re returning eight offensive starters, seven defensive starters, along with a kicker, punter and snapper. They’ve got great experience on their football team.

Top guys on the offense, No. 84, Corey Davis, Braverman, No. 8, Franklin their tailback, freshman of the year last year, big runningback. Hand him the ball 25, 30 times. He’s going to have touches. And Zach Terrell, their quarterback. Offensive line returns three starters as well.

Their expectations are very high as we move into 2015.

Defensively on that side of the ball, No. 7 returns, No. 1, two guys in the secondary which have a great deal of experience. They played against us in 2013. Atkins and Zamort. Good linebacking group. Three starters return also on the defensive line.

Very well-functioning defensive unit. I think very sound in what they do. They look extremely well-coached on the defensive side of the ball as well.

So with that I’ll just take some questions and we’ll sort of go from there.

Q. Arjen Colquhoun, No. 1 at cornerback, has he earned that spot or is that Calhoun being hurt? And is Calhoun available for this game?
Dantonio: I’m not going to talk about injuries. But all the guys are available to play that you know about, so…

Vayante has had a great summer camp. Very balanced. Great tackler. Great ball skills. He’s a redshirt freshman. He’s been working with the ones periodically throughout the entire camp. The decision was made that he would start this football game.

But we expect to play pretty much all of our guys. Darian Hicks has been activated, he’s able to practice now. Along with Arjen and Vayante, Jermaine Edmondson, and obviously Demetrious Cox can go out there and play as well.

We’ve got five guys in there and feel very comfortable with a couple freshmen that we’ve got. We’re working a lot of players at corner, which we just need to and should. If they have the ability, we’re going to work with them.

Q. At runningback, obviously No. 1, you’ve talked about the other guys playing. Is this a situation where you go in wanting to find that one guy or are you open to having several guys ready?
Dantonio: I think it’s a luxury when you have a number of guys playing. It was a luxury when we had Le’Veon playing, Edwin Baker playing, Caper playing. That was a luxury for us. There were a couple years when we had to go with Jeremy or just Le’Veon Bell. They had 300 plus carries, 380, 390.

I’m sort of seeing it being the two or three prong type thing. We’ll see how injuries occur during the year or don’t occur hopefully. But I see using our guys. Want to keep them fresh. We want them playing hard. They’ve all demonstrated they can run the football.

Q. What do you say or do to keep your players focused on Western and not looking ahead to Oregon?
Dantonio: Our football team has always done a great job in terms of focusing on the present, focusing on the moment. But especially in your first game, I don’t think people look too far in advance. Pretty much everybody concentrates on that first game. Our focus is entirely on Western. It has been here since probably late last week. We’re looking forward to the moment.

But I’m not concerned about that at all. We have a pretty mature football team in terms of a lot of fifth-year seniors, things of that nature. We also have a short memory, or a long memory. I guess it would be a long memory.

Q. Is Delton possibly redshirting going to be more determined depending by how Gerald and Madre play? Is that going to be more determined by those two?
Dantonio: We’re not going to put a guy in the game and burn a redshirt with anybody. So you really don’t know how things are going. But at this point in time, we’ll just use them as they come. If we need to use them, we’re going to use them.

He is going to come to the football game. We’re going to prepare to play him. He’s going to be prepared to play. Whether we use him or not, it will depend on how the situation occurs in the game. Whether we have to, should, need to, those type of things.

Q. When you look at the ‘next man up’ that you guys have had for the past five or six years, it seems like the guys who have come in, whether it’s graduation or injury, have done a good job. What exactly is that? Is it coaching, talent, depth? What makes that possible?
Dantonio: I think it’s all of those things. I don’t think you can pinpoint it to one particular thing. It’s guys waiting their turn, understanding the situation, our system. We talk in terms of, Is that guy functional? Can he play and function within a system? Then he has to raise his level of play.

A lot of times guys wait their time. We continue to coach everybody. I just talked about all the corners. We are actively coaching those guys. So it’s not just two or three guys that we’re coaching at every position, it’s a number of players.

I think we’ve got talent here. We’ve got good players. We recruited good players. When they have an opportunity to show those talents, they’ve done a great job.

A lot of it to me is timing, as well, and opportunity.

Q. When you look at these two areas that we’re commonly drawn to 50 years ago, ’55 and ’56 teams were exceptional. These teams are exceptional. There are resources you were drawn to when you took this job, resources that have always been existing here. Can you talk a little bit to that point.
Dantonio: Yeah, I can.

The three things that really made this job attractive to me were, number one, I’d been here before, so I knew the landscape. That’s number one. I’ve always believed it’s about people. I knew there were great, outstanding people here that I would be working with, not only within the football department but the athletic department, Mark Hollis, Ron Mason at that time. I knew our president, I knew people on the board. Tom Izzo certainly very impactful. So all those people, you know, had a part in that.

That’s number two.

The third thing was really everywhere I’d gone when I was an assistant here, I could walk in the door and sell Michigan State. You can sell Michigan State because Michigan State had been on top before. It might have been awhile since they were No. 1 or 2 in the country, but they had good teams under Coach Perles. When you walked in, you were immediately recognized. People knew who the Spartans were. I felt like you could have good recruiting here. The facilities needed to be upgraded, but there was a plan in place.

The Big Ten Conference speaks to itself in terms of the type of conference this conference is, the people we play against, and outside the conference.

Then finally, you know, I feel like my family has a built-in support system. When they came back, they were coming back to friends. That’s basically what it was all about.

Q. On linebackers, you have Reschke or Frey. Is that an ongoing competition? Also no T.J. Harrell on Shane Jones on the depth chart. Why is that?
Dantonio: First of all, they’ll split time. They’ll both play. We’ll see who gets the nod based on practices this week. But both guys have done a great job with it. John Reschke can also play Mike linebacker as well. Chris can also balance out the star, he has played star before. He can play other positions.

As far as T.J. I think we just listed the two deep. Shane is in there, he’s working as a two and a half probably. Whether he goes in, whether he’s a two or two and a half, he’ll show up on the special teams. T.J. Harrell will show up on the special teams as well. They were in the mix, just not on the two deep. Both guys will travel and play.

Q. You mentioned Western Michigan’s receivers, their ability to go deep. Last time you played them, they went deep. Do you anticipate having to back off a little bit on defense?
Dantonio: We’re going to do our deal, play our plan. I think that’s who we are, that’s what we do. So it’s all predicated defensively. Better stop the run. Better defend against the pass. Better pressure the quarterback.

But there’s small windows at times, so we’ve just got to do what we do. But obviously we have a plan in place.

Q. You don’t do the scheduling, I don’t think.
Dantonio: No.

Q. But do you embrace these games with the Westerns, Centrals, Easterns? You make a bigger headline if you lose than if you win. Everything to lose and nothing to win kind of game?
Dantonio: I don’t look at it like that. They all count one. As Coach Perles used to say, they all count one.

But when we made the decision to do this and make it three for one, with one at a time going away to play, it was because we wanted to create a community in the state of Michigan. It was because the economy in the state of Michigan being what it was, we could help the economy in the state of Michigan. That’s why we did it.

We wanted to create a community event in Kalamazoo, we wanted to fill the hotels in that area. We wanted to bring commerce to the city of Kalamazoo rather than take this down to Florida and play somewhere else, someplace. I think we were slated to play Florida Atlantic in their new stadium at one point in time when we made this decision.

With that in mind, we’re up. This is the time we’re up. We did it against Central a few years back. I think it did the same thing for Central. It was a community event. I think it’s good for the state of Michigan. I think that’s why we’ve done it. It was a one-time deal. So it’s three for one. Consequently they come here three different times. The payout is what it is. But it’s beneficial to us. So it’s a business deal as well.

We’re going to line up and play wherever they tell us to go.

Q. Zach Terrill is one of the most efficient passers in Division I football. What type of pressure does that put on this young secondary?
Dantonio: He’s a great quarterback. He’s going to put a lot of pressure on us in terms of what he does. Their passing game, they cover all bases. They go deep, intermediate, short. There’s bubble screens, et cetera. They hit all the different gamuts out there that’s being done in football today, in offensive football today. They’re diverse. We have to be able to play.

They’re a no-huddle offense, all that kind of stuff. We have to be able to play at our best. Those are the expectations that are here defensively, and those are the challenges we’re faced with.

Q. Have you coached at Waldo Stadium?
Dantonio: Have I?

Q. Yes.
Dantonio: No.

Q. What do you feel about going to a smaller atmosphere, what that will be like for your guys?
Dantonio: To me, as long as it’s packed, it’s all the same. No difference to me. If it’s packed, it’s all the same. I’m sure it will be packed and there will be a lot of green there. Be exciting.

Q. Your thoughts on when Kirk Cousins is getting another shot at the starting quarterback position for Washington.
Dantonio: Big day today in the NFL for a lot of our guys. It’s cut day, so a lot of things are happening for our guys individually. Want to wish them the best.

Kirk getting the starting nod from the Redskins I think is phenomenal. I think he’s probably earned that position. They don’t hand those things out. We’re very, very excited for him and Spartan Nation because they all follow Kirk and wish him the best.

I was texting him the other night, congratulating him. We’ve got a lot of guys. Brian Hoyer with the Texans got the starting nod. I’m not sure where Drew Stanton is at. A lot of guys performing in the NFL. Exciting time for those guys.

Also the first day you can call recruits, the 2016 recruits. Give a shout out to all our committed guys out there, the people we’ll be calling. First day we’re allowed to direct message the juniors. Shout out to all those guys. Got to take a minute to recruit.

Q. (No microphone.)
Dantonio: No, not too many. I only started doing that with one guy because he’d send them to me. I like the guy crying, laughing.

Q. You have Riley Bullough as a kick returner. Talk about that decision there.
Dantonio: We have a number of guys that can do that. He’s shown the ability. If you go back, he was our starting tailback in 2013 against Western. He’s got running ability, can catch the ball very fluidly. He is a guy that can get something on a defending player coming down to spring R.J. Shelton. R.J. is hopefully going to be the guy that is going to catch it. We’ll see if Riley catches it. We have big expectations there. He’s shown he can do those things. Versatility.

Q. Connor Cook and a couple of other guys have both said Trevon is one of the best players on this team that doesn’t get recognition. He has earned the respect of his teammates, quite frankly those type of comments from them, what is it about him?
Dantonio: Trevon Pendleton?

Q. Yes.
Dantonio: I’m glad you mispronounced his name because I’ve mispronounced for it years.

He played fullback for us, but plays on a lot of special teams, et cetera. Very good football player. Has a knack for good plays throughout his time here. He’s been a three, four-year starter. He’s played a lot of football for us.

He’ll be an exciting guy to watch. Always making them play. I don’t think there’s any game he doesn’t make a play, a great block, a tackle on a special teams unit, or a big play, whether it’s catching a pass or at times running with the football.

But, you know, he’s done a great job for us. I think he does go unrecognized ’cause the fullback position is a little bit of a lost art really for a lot of offenses right now. But we use him. He’s very important to our offense.

Q. There’s a lot of excitement going into the opener. Would you say there’s maybe even a little more anticipation given the off-season you just went through? In other words, has this off-season been more annoying than your typical off-season?
Dantonio: More annoying than my typical? No. It’s been good. I think our off-season has been great. Usually when you win your last football game, you have a tendency for things to go well for you during the off-season. That’s what’s happened the last four years.

As far as the expectations, the most important expectations are the expectations we have as a program on the inside. There’s a lot of talk because of our record, things of that nature the last couple years, but we will get as our works deserve. We’ll have to move the rock, as I call it, forward on our own. It all starts with the first game.

I think, as I said when I opened up the press conference, I think everybody at any program anywhere in this country, whether it’s high school, whether it’s college, at any level, whether it’s the NFL, I think there’s a lot of excitement about the first game.

Everybody has a shot. You start defining yourself. As you play in that first game you start defining yourself. Our thought process is to do a good job here this first one.

I think it’s just exciting for everybody involved.

Q. What about outside noise?
Dantonio: Outside noise? Can’t listen to it. Have to shut it out. I think it’s tough these days because we’re a socially media-driven world. There’s so much out there. You have to be able to shut it out, get with yourself, get ready to play.

I’ve said this before. Games are won and lost on the field, what you do on the field, what you do on the sidelines, adjustments and decisions made there. They’re not going to be won or lost in the press.

There’s a lot of anticipation, like I said, a lot of excitement, or criticism. But I think you’ve got to win it on the field. You’ve got to be prepared to do that. It starts with this game. Everywhere it starts across the country.

Q. A lot of attention in the off-season on Connor. Both of you have talked a lot about if he plays as well as he should, this team will be where it needs to be. Has he done everything you’ve needed? What do you see from him that maybe points to him having that?
Dantonio: He’s had an outstanding summer camp. Like I said before, he drives the car, the truck, the train, pilots the plane, however you want to term it. I think he has experience, game experience. Quarterback coach has been with him. He has a head coach that has been with him. An offensive coordinator that’s been with him. He’s been in the same system.

Receivers believe in him. Offensive line believes in him. He’s got a knack for being able to put things behind him when there’s a bad play. He’s had an outstanding summer camp. He’s really picked up where he left off.

The impressive thing about Connor Cook really to me is he wants to be better. He wants to be a perfectionist. He works on his game. He’s trying to elevate. He always looks for the things he didn’t do as opposed to the things he did do. He tries to improve on those things.

Thanks, guys. Go Green.