Yesterday afternoon Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly held his first press conference of the spring in anticipation of team practices that are currently under way in South Bend.
Here’s what he had to say:
* The system is now in place, and the staff is much more comfortable with the players on the roster and knowing what each of them can do and where they should play.
The focus has now turned to skill development for the players and consistency within the units for all 11 players, including special teams. Kelly mentioned this on a few separate occasions as the team’s goals right now.
* Kerry Cooks will coach the cornerbacks, Chuck Martin the safeties, while Ed Warriner is now the running game coordinator.
* Position switches include Bennett Jackson to corner, Austin Collinsworth to safety and freshman Brad Carrico to offensive line.
* Nose tackle Sean Cwynar is in a boot recovering from foot surgery and will not participate in the spring. He also had back surgery and has almost fully recovered from that injury.
* Middle linebacker Manti Te’o had his knee scoped but should be fine. The team will be cautious with him, as Kelly stated they already know what he brings to the table.
* Quarterback Dayne Crist will be limited; he will participate in most drill work but is not live. Kelly hopes his situation will be similar to last year, and that includes playing in the spring game.
* Kelly expects a competitive situation at quarterback that will include Crist, but there is no pecking order as of right now. He said it would be nice to have a 1-2-3 option coming out of spring, but they’ll just have to wait and see.
* Quarterbacks Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson will be involved and will be tackled. Both have the ability to run the ball, and there will be more spread, more option read and more play from the quarterback position with these two, whereas Kelly pointed out that is not the case with Crist and Tommy Rees.
* The team will practice in the mornings during the spring. The schedule is 8 AM to 10:15 AM on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday leading up to the Blue-Gold game next month.
* The coach’s clinic begins Thursday and will include Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and former Florida head coach Urban Meyer as guest speakers. There will also be two other notable high school coaches as speakers and nearly 1,000 coaches from across the country attending.
* On the Michael Floyd suspension: Kelly did not answer whether he was still a captain or if another captain will be named. He said, “Our focus is on developing the guys that are here right now.”
* Kendall Moore, Justin Utupo, David Posluszny and Anthony McDonald will all get a strong look at middle linebacker.
* Steve Filer, Prince Shembo, Danny Spond and Dan Fox will all get a strong look at outside linebacker, although Kelly stated some of these players may play at both the Dog and Cat position or may be moved around quite a bit during the spring.
* Freshman Aaron Lynch is as physically developed as some junior and seniors, and now the test will be getting him to understand the system and role they want him to play.
* Freshman Ishaq Williams improves the depth immediately, is physically gifted and will play with his hand on the ground because of his size and speed. Kelly stated that having both Lynch and Williams in for spring greatly improves their chances to see the field.
* John Goodman and Daniel Smith will get a strong look at the outside receiver position (presumably to fill Floyd’s shoes), although one or both may be moved to the X position depending on how things go.
* T.J. Jones is at the X spot, while Theo Riddick and Robby Toma will get a ton of work in the slot.
* Kelly spoke about receiver Deion Walker (thought to be left for dead) quite a bit and said he was a changed person with a totally different mindset. He said now is the time for Walker to step up and make his mark.
* The big question with nose tackle Louis Nix is work volume. Kelly said he knows what the other older players at this position can offer in terms of reps but needs to see if Nix can handle 20 or more reps himself.
* Kelly stated that this is an important spring for running back Jonas Gray, saying the team needs two backs and it’s time for him to step up.
* Theo Riddick and Bennett Jackson will be the main guys right now in the return game, but Kelly made a point to say that the young guys (inferring some incoming freshmen) will get a strong look here because special teams needs to be more dynamic.
That was it for the press conference...what do you think?
Not a whole lot of information, but there was enough stuff to get the conversations rolling for spring ball. The team should be wrapping up its first practice of 2011 right now, and there should be some more information coming up later in the week.
From the FanTake blog: One Foot Down
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