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Irish Insights

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Irish running backs coach Tim Hinton

Notre Dame running backs coach Tim Hinton spoke to the media Wednesday. Here are some highlights from what the assistant coach said:

On adding freshman walk-on Tyler Plantz of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill., to the mix after Cameron Roberson was announced out for the rest of spring practice because of injury: "I gained one, that's good. We were plus one today," running backs coach Tim Hinton. He will help us in whatever we need to do. Obviously, he is way behind in the learning curve.

On Plantz first day of practice Wednesday: "He had a good time today. A little nervous and a little shell shocked, but he did well.

"The bottom line is it's a good opportunity for the young man regardless where it goes or how it happens. Forty years from now, he'll tell his grandchildren I put on a helmet at Notre Dame, that's a big thing. Our kids accepted it well, and put him in a roll. We don't have many bodies out there at running back, so he got an indoctrination. You may have to be alive to do anything at any point in practice.

On the running back situation: "We have five now total. Derry Herlihy (a walk-on last season) has come back and helped us out, and obviously the new guy. It is an interesting room. I'm coaching my rear end off, it's a lot of fun. Because three of the five really don't know a lot, we are working the heck out of those guys.

"Here's what coaching them in the spring does, it makes them better scout players in the fall. And the better our scout teams are, the better our No. 1 defense is."

On making sure scholarship running backs Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray do not get overworked this spring: "Here's the two things that has got to happen with those two, one, we have to be fall be ready. We have to put ourselves in position where we are getting enough reps and enough live reps and enough opportunities to see the multiple things that happen to you in the fall, so that when it gets time, we are not making mistakes.

"Objective two is get them to the fall. And get them to the fall in good health and good mental state, so they are ready to go out through those 28, 29 practices, whatever you get before you get into game week. And put ourselves in great position so those guys are ready to excel on game day next year."

On the development of Wood and Gray: "They've gotten better. They understand their roles, and now they look around and say I better step up. There's no Armando. There's no Robert. It's now me. They've accepted it. They are learning. They are studying more. Their knowledge on the field is better. Their run outs in practice are better. They are competing at a higher level. Their pass protections are better. That parts been really good. We are not good enough yet, and we got to continue to improve."

On Wood's improvement: "He struggled in pass protections, and that's gotten better. He understands protection better. His physicality within the protection is better.

"He is seeing the field better. Like in the Miami game, the (Sun Bowl) game, the game slowed down and he saw it better. He's brought that back to the table in the spring. He's seeing the field better. His runs are more significant. It may only be a two-yard gain in that run, but he saw it and put himself in the right place. Early in the year last year, it was a guess sometimes.

"He is being pushed by Jonas everyday. He knows there is competition for him to keep the position. I want that in our room."

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