"I think we should do this every day (joking). Find out what you're doing, what you had for breakfast -- I had an early breakfast -- We had practice at 6 a.m. this morning, got my first e-mail about the music being loud at 7:45…got my morning going off to a good start. Today, last-minute preparations, our Thursday practice if you will on Wednesday. I wanted to get all of our work done before we get to Ireland. Going over down a distance situations, end of game, all those things in preparation for the game. Got those things accomplished today.
"For our team, very important for them, getting them up early today. We had everybody in the locker room by 5:20. So they are at class, they’ll come back, weight train and keep them occupied until we get on the bus at 5 o’clock. Excuse me, have dinner, then we’ll get on the bus, get them on the plane, get them some sleep. Provided all our guys didn’t sleep through their classes today, we should be on a pretty good schedule."
How did you think the one early practice went and do you think that will have the desired effect?
"I thought it was good. Just to get young guys up in college life all in the locker room by 5:20, you’re always apprehensive. I was looking at the clock every five minutes, but when (director of football operations) Chad Klunder came up and said all accounted for at 5:20, I had a sigh of relief. I made it pretty clear that if anybody was late, they’d be staying in South Bend. It was good to have everybody on deck and ready to go.
"Answering your question, we’ll see how it goes, but I’m confident that we made the right decision in terms of practice."
You’ve been to Ireland before? "I have."
What were the circumstances, obviously not to coach a football game.
"Poor golf. Got a chance to play some golf on the west coast of Ireland. Learned a lot about Ireland. One, that Guinness usually travels in pairs. Never a single Guinness. And Paddy’s is the preferred Irish whiskey over some o the more well known and that my golf game really stinks. So I learned a lot about Ireland the first time through."
Dan Fox was slowed the first time through, how’s he been. Also John Goodman?
"It’s interesting because when Rob Hunt put together a list for us, 'Iron Men' if you will, in terms of who does not miss a practice in preseason camp, Fox was son there, even thought we didn’t’ contact him every time, he answered every practice. He’s fine. Goody had a little bit of a groin, that seems to have resolved itself with the rest that he had. Those guys should be fine."
Could you evaluate Conor Hanratty and Jarrett Grace?
"Jarrett, he’s a big, physical, strong kid, he’s got great instincts at the position. So as a linebacker, he’s not just a kid that has great size, 6-2, 6-3, he’s a really big kid. He’s got great instincts, a really smart football player.
"Conor Hanratty is just a tough, gritty, throwback offensive guard. He gets in there and he’s gonna bang. Just at this stage of their development, we’re really pleased that they can be solid two-deep performers for us."
The players said that you chose the captains opposed to the team voting, can you talk about that decision? Also with Tyler Eifert and Zack Martin, you’ve got two of the more introverted guys as captains on offense. Why is being vocal maybe not a prerequisite to being a captain?
"Because part of our emphasis in terms of where we wanted this team this year is the peer accountability. In other words, they’re not afraid to tell others how it needs to get done. Maybe not in a vocal fashion. Also, they’re great guys to mirror.
"Earlier I mentioned to you that when your best players are your best workers, those guys were our best workers in the summer. They did all the things and they’re great players as well. I don’t know that from year to year, it’s different personalities and different people. Some years I’ve had all vocal, some years maybe more guys led by, in this instance, example.
"I did, along with our staff, decide on the captains. Our players did not vote on them. Felt like I knew our football team well enough and what our desires would be relative to the captains."
Did you hear Joe Montana’s criticism of you? "I did not."
I’ll read you the quote in full so it’s in context. He said, about Everett Golson being named the starter, ‘Kelly can’t figure out what he wants. Every one of the QB’s that he has, he claims is the next star. But he doesn’t last long with them. (Golson) is probably the least talented thrower they have, so maybe they’re looking to run the ball with him.’
"Well, Joe Montana is an icon. He’s entitled to his opinion about our football team. I think that’s all I’d say about that."
Danny Spond, is he available? "No, he’s not. He’s really close. Had a couple really good days working out for us. Rob Hunt has really upped his load. We’ll see where we are next week, but we’re getting closer to getting him back on board."
He’s back practicing? "No contact yet for him. He’s been conditioning. Though I believe he was in half rack yesterday, which would mean helmets and shoulder pads."
(Offensive tackle) Tate Nichols? "(Be back) Monday. Helmets and shoulder pads. So he’s getting really close."
Just the excitement of the season, talk about that
"I think every year you’re excited. You put in so much time and effort. I just feel more comfortable with our team and with my role and our staff’s role, just confidence that we can do the things necessary to be successful."
On that train of thought, you maybe have more inexperience on this team than you had the first two years with quarterback, receiver, cornerback, but when you say you feel more comfortable, is that where maybe being here three years, coaching these guys up, picking guys in recruiting, outweighs some of that inexperience on the field?
"I think all of those things you would add to it. I would also add a team that you’re confident can stop the run and that you can run the football too. That’s a pretty comfortable feeling as a coach to know that you can run the football or feel like you can run the football and stop the run. I would mention the things that you mentioned as well is part of the reason why we feel we can go out there and we can compete with anybody."
On experience, does the confidence that Theo Riddick has, does that make up for some of the inexperience he has playing running back?
"I think so. I also think the ability to blend both his natural instincts as a running back with his acquired wide receiver play over the last couple of years, I know now that when he takes the field he’s capable of doing a lot of things. I think that’s confidence that he has going into the game that he’s going to touch the ball in a number of different ways. You can see that carry itself out in practice."