"You're gonna see No. 93 out there"
This from Pat Narduzzi on Thursday about defensive tackle Blake Treadwell, who has missed the first two games with a lower leg injury. Narduzzi also said Dan France -- out last week for an undisclosed reason -- is "ready to go" for Saturday's Notre Dame game.
What concerns you about the Notre Dame offense?
“First of all, they are a run and pass team. Some people think they’re just a pass team, they like to run it. They’ve got a great tailback – actually, they’ve got three really good tailbacks that are talented. The challenge is to stop the run, and at the same time, don’t put too many guys in the box because they can throw it. They’ve got a good scheme, they’re gonna spread the field. I mean they’ll spread it from one number to the other number. So they do a great job. Very well-coached and it’s as good an offense as you’re gonna see.”
Can you sub at all in a series against the no-huddle?
“We think so. Especially when it comes to your sideline, we’ve got to be able to sub. Can’t keep guys on the field so long. But you know, if the ball’s played on the left hash and we’re on the other sideline, sometimes it’ll be hard to get guys in. But we’ve worked substitution all week and we want to get fresh guys out there.”
What have you seen from Dayne Crist?
“I’ve seen two games. He’s a very confident kid, I think, he throws a nice ball. Makes good decisions – I don’t know how many picks he’s got on the year, I don’t really look at that stuff – but he gets the ball to his playmakers, No. 9 and No. 3.”
With the spread and the hurry-up, is it as much a mental thing as a physical thing for the defense?
“It’s a little bit of both now. You get out there and I think they’ve got a left guard that’s 365 pounds, it’s physical and mental. And it’s all about toughness, mentally and physically. It’s the game of football. It’s not a soccer game.”
Much has been made of the routes in Kelly’s offense, the “vertical stems,” that it’s harder to read the routes early. Is there anything to that?
“ I don’t know about that but they run routes just like everybody else, they spread you out and they do a good job.”
The routes aren’t different?
“I don’t see that, but we’ll find out.”
Have they run four-receiver sets in the first two games?
“No, they don’t run any four-receiver sets. They’ve got 11 guys on the field at one time, they put their best guys on the field. So you’re not gonna see them with four receivers in a game, you’re gonna see them with three great receivers, you’re gonna see Rudolph and you’re gonna see the tailback out there. And they’re gonna go from a one-back set to one tight end attached to the formation, to everybody’s in empty. So they play with their best players, 83 percent of their offense is that same personnel. Three receivers, one tight end, one back, that’s 83 percent of their offense. So you’re gonna see the same personnel but you’re gonna see 60 different formations out of it.”
How good are Rudolph and Floyd?
“They’re great playmakers, I mean they’re gonna throw to them. Our guys are looking for those guys on third and medium, third and long. I think they’ve got 14 attempts just this year in the two games. They’re playmakers, Rudolph is Crist’s roommate, the whole deal. So you usually throw it to your roommate.”
The way they spread it, does that make it even more important that your linebackers cover well?
“No doubt about it, and there’s gonna be a lot of space out there. Like I said, they spread you out and we’ve got to make plays in space, we’ve got to do a good job.”
Is Jon Misch working more at the Star now in addition to the Sam?
“Misch is a very good linebacker, we’ve been saying all along, and Misch knows every position just about. So Jon will play a little bit of both and be able to relieve Chris Norman out there as well as Denicos Allen. Denicos is still raw and green, probably where Chris Norman was a year ago. So there’s still times where he scares you out there, but then there’s times when he can turn it on and make great plays.”
Norman’s versatility would seem to be key in a game like this. How has he played in two games?
“He’s played OK. You know he’s still, it probably comes down to awareness sometimes, being aware of what people are doing to you, but he’s played OK. But we expect him to be a lot better. I mean he’s got to get better for us.”
How happy are you with the secondary to this point?
“You know, it’s hard to tell. I mean I’m never happy, so -- not happy. I think Saturday, I don’t know what they had (statistically) in the passing game, but I felt pretty good at halftime. Wasn’t happy with some of the things that happened in the second half, for whatever reason. But it’s OK. It’s OK. I know our depth is not where it needs to be, and I’d like to keep those four starters out there as long as I could. But I’m never gonna be happy unless we just shut a team down.”
Gholston looked like he made strides last week. Is he going to get more reps as the season goes?
“Well, I hope so, I hope so. You’ve got to do things right now. One of the disappointing things is we had some just little errors, Gholston should have a sack on a third down and 11, the quarterback scrambles for a touchdown. Should be a sack but he loses contain and all that. So we’ve got to do all the little things right. This is a critical game, so it’s critical we can’t make the mistakes we made last week. Kind of average second half.”
Do you feel like you’re a few plays from being a good defense this year?
“I think so. Marcus Hyde drops a pick last week which is a pick six, you’ve got to take it.
We had two fumbles out of bounds, but it’s hard to say. We’re an OK defense right now. That’s what we are. We’ll be a good defense if we’re 10-0 here, you ask me in seven, eight weeks. So we’re just average guys right now.”
So how much 3-4 are you going to play Saturday?
“I don’t know.”
Have you been holding back some stuff? Is that fair to say?
“No. No. Holding back for what?”
For a game like this.
“No, there’s no holding back, I like to work it and make it better. You don’t get good if you don’t play it much.”
In camp you worked the 3-4. Haven’t seen it much on the field yet. Are we going to see more as the season goes on, or are you uncertain about that.
“We’ve played it. It all depends on who we have on the field.”
Do you like what you see when you do use it?
What does it give you?
“It gives you a versatility as far as you don’t know who’s dropping, who’s covering, where it’s coming from. Which is what we do on third down anyway.”