November 2008 Archives
Seattle Times staff reporter
On the day the University of Washington completed an expected procedural step in the search for a new football coach, there was also a report of a new candidate for the job -- Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.
Rivals.com reported that Haywood was scheduled to arrive in Seattle on Wednesday night and is expected to interview today with UW athletic director Scott Woodward. The two know each other from years when they both worked at Louisiana State, where they crossed paths from 1999 to 2002. Haywood was an assistant at LSU from 1995 to 2002 and recently called Woodward "a very good friend."
According to the Rivals report, Haywood was not at Notre Dame's practice Wednesday and had been granted permission to interview for the job.
He is a 1986 graduate of Notre Dame and has worked with the Irish since 2005. He was named assistant coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association in 2005.
However, Notre Dame's offense has struggled this season and coach Charlie Weis announced this week he was retaining play-calling duties, which he had taken over last week when Haywood missed practices due to the death of a cousin. Haywood, 44, was a flanker and cornerback as a player at Notre Dame.
Woodward said earlier in the day that the Huskies were not close to naming a coach.
"This is kind of like courting your wife or girlfriend," he said. "We are at the hand-holding and kissing stage. We are not at the altar yet."
Part of the process included naming the 13-person advisory committee.
Unlike most coaching searches at UW, however, the committee was not named a "search" committee as it has been made clear that president Mark Emmert and athletic director Woodward will make the ultimate decision.
"It is clearly an advisory committee that is set forth to give us the qualities and characteristics they want the next coach to have," Woodward said.
The committee will be chaired by Pat Dobel, a professor of public affairs who is UW's faculty athletic representative to the Pac-10.
The committee, made up of faculty, coaches and community members, also includes quarterback Jake Locker and former receiver Andre Riley.
In a news release, the school said that the committee "is expected to provide its input to the search process by the first week of December."
That indicates a hire of sometime after the first week of December, though Woodward said it doesn't rule out that an announcement could come more quickly.
But he said the likelihood is it won't happen until early to mid-December.
Nov. 18, 2008
Nov. 18, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Weis.
COACH WEIS: I have two matters of business to clear up before I go on to Syracuse. First of all, this Saturday I would like to encourage all fans to wear green to support the university's Green Week initiatives. We'll be playing the first carbon-neutral game in Notre Dame Stadium history. And for more information fans can look at Notre Dame's website. So I encourage you to wear something green to the game this week.
As far as play calling goes. This week, Mike Haywood is going to be missing some practice for personal reasons. I support these personal reasons. But he'll be missing some practice again. And with that being said, followed up by a short week next week for the rest of the regular season I will be handling the play calling on offense.
On to Syracuse. Coach (Greg) Robinson was told on Sunday that he's not going to be returning but is going to coach the final two games against us and finishing up next week I believe against Cincinnati.
He also serves as the defensive coordinator, co defensive coordinator. We'll get back to that in a couple of minutes. Coach Browning handles the offense. And one thing you cannot sell short on Syracuse offensively is you better be ready to stop the run.
They're averaging 146 yards rushing a game. Averaging 4.4 a carry. We're going to be talking about (Curtis) Brinkley here in a second. But I always start with the quarterbacks. But you better be ready to stop their running game or you could be in for a long day at the office.
They played two quarterbacks last week. (Cameron) Dantley, who is a former walk on, who earned a scholarship in 2007, started last nine games. Has a strong arm.
(Andrew) Robinson was the returning starter entering the season but lost his job but he's got more into the mix the last few weeks. They both have been playing.
Getting back to Brinkley. Brinkley is a very good player with very big numbers. He's a returning starter. He's rushed 204 times for 1,060 yards, 5.2 per carry. He himself is averaging 106 yards a game rushing.
The one thing, as you watch the tape, you'll see two things that stand out about him very clearly. He has very good vision and he runs very hard. Now, they have two other backs that splay significant time. Hogue, he's the bigger back, but he's also they also like to throw it to him out of the backfield a whole bunch more.
And then they have their Mr. Versatility in (Antwon) Bailey. He's a true freshman who they line up at wide receiver. They line up at running back. They line up at wing. He's the fastest of these three guys, and they do all they can to get him involved with at least a few plays a game from different spots. So one thing you're going to have to do, and our defense is going to have to do, is identify where he is.
Now, I'm going to talk about the fullbacks and the tight ends because when I talk about (Ben) Maljovec, I'll talk about him both at tight end and at fullback. (Tony) Fiammetta, he's their fullback, big guy, 250 pounds, has good hands. He's a threat out of the backfield. He's got decent speed. He's backed up by Maljovec. But Maljovec also plays tight end as well.
The tight ends are listed as (Mike) Owen, who is second on the team in receptions as a receiver. But last week I didn't see him a whole bunch especially in the second half, and I'm not sure why. I saw (Nick) Provo show up a little bit more in the game when Owen was out. So a combination of these fullbacks and tight ends, they usually have a combination of two of them on the field at all times.
Wide receiver, (Donte) Davis, he's their most productive receiver. He starts at X, but when they put three wide receivers, he usually moves into the slot.
They also have their biggest receiver is (Lavar) Lobdell. He's also the most physical receiver. And the guy who you should keep an eye on is (Marcus) Sales, a true freshman, and seems like they've been playing him more and more each week.
Up front they do a pretty good job, especially as run blockers. (Tucker) Baumbach starts at left tackle. He started every game there this season. (Ryan) Batholomew, their left guard, he likes to play with toughness and strength.
(Jim) McKenzie, he's the heart of their offense. He started every game at center this season. He's a really try hard guy and he's a finisher. And that stands out on tape.
(Ryan) Durand, he's a returner at right guard. And (Corey) Chavers moved from left tackle to right tackle in the spring. But, once again, against UCONN, I didn't see him much in the second half either. (Jonathan) Meldrum was the third tackle, shows up in the game. So I think we'll end up seeing a combination of three tackles in the game somewhere.
I mentioned Coach Robinson is the defensive coordinator. Coach Jackson is co coordinator and also coaches the defensive line. Might as well start with defensive line.
Their two defensive ends are two totally different guys. (Vincenzo) Giruzzi was a converted linebacker who moved to defensive end who is the smaller, faster guy. He's your try hard guy, hustles all over the place. A lot of times, as a matter of fact, he's in a two point stance, where Kimmel is a bigger guy that plays on the opposite side.
Inside, they play (Arthur) Jones and (Nick) Santiago. Both of them can be disruptive, especially Jones, because he's disruptive both in the running game and in the pass game.
At linebacker, they moved Derrell Smith back and forth from linebacker to running back and then back to linebacker. He's a very athletic linebacker. He's their adjuster. If they decide to stay in four three people, they can adjust out and use him as an adjuster because he's a very good athlete.
But they'll also bring him off the edge and put his hand on the ground some as a nickel pass rusher. (Jake) Flaherty and (Mike) Mele are the other two linebackers. The thing about Mele is he's from Manasquan, New Jersey. He went to Manasquan High School. They list him at Sea Girt. I'll have to run him down, see if that's really where he's from. That's my home turf where I met my wife. I'm looking forward to running into him.
And the secondary, they're solid at corner and experienced at safety. (Mike) Holmes and (Kevyn) Scott are very solid corners for them. And they have two senior safeties, both (A.J.) Brown and (Bruce) Williams, who are not afraid to come up and hit you.
Now, the two other safeties show up and they're substituted packages, (Paul) Chiara and (Max) Suter, they both show up as down guys in their nickel look. So we expect to see six guys involved in that mix.
On special teams, they don't list a coordinator, but there's two units that they're very good at. First of all, they block punts. And, as you all know, we've had some problems at punt protection over the last month of the year. So I think that we can see a heavy dose of punt rushes in this game and also they're very good on kick off return.
They've gotten very good production on kick off return. Their specialists are solid. (Patrick) Shadle is their field goal kicker. He's 21 of 21 on extra points and 12 of 14 on field goals.
(Niko) Rechul is their kick off guy. He has definitely above average hangtime. You'll see the ball kicked off down by the goal line. (Rob) Long is the punter, no pun intended. He also serves as the holder. He's punted the ball 54 times this year for 46 yards and 14 inside the 20.
(Max) Leo is their long snapper and (Dalton) Phillips is their short snapper. And on returns, kick return, they've done a really good job on kick off returns. (Mike) Holmes and (Max) Suter both have had fairly good production. Holmes took one to the house for 90 yard touchdown, and Ryan Howard will handle the punt returns.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Wondering what you were going to do at the inside linebacker positions. Toryan Smith obviously had a good game. And you talked about stopping the Syracuse running game. Do you want to get (Steve) Quinn involved and maybe have (Maurice) Crum swing between the Mike and The Jack?
COACH WEIS: I think the three of those guys will play. I think it will be Toryan and Crum with Quinn being the swing guy. I think you can seeScott Smith some. If we need to get a fourth inside, I think you could see Scott Smith some in there as well.
Q. Brandon Walker obviously has done a good job of straightening things out. You've got to give the kid a lot of credit for handling a really tough
COACH WEIS: I think he's a perfect example. We talked about three or four different kids Monday morning on the team and Brandon was one of them.
We talked about Ryan Burkhart, who had his best game kicking off since he's been here this past week. What we talked about, we talked about Brandon, how earlier in the year it would have been easy for the team to either throw the towel in on him or him to throw in the towel. Neither of those things happened.
When good things like that happen, whether it be Brandon Walker, whether it be Ryan Burkhart or whether it be Toryan Smith, a guy who hasn't played a whole bunch since he got here and all of a sudden he goes in there and has a good game, we're really happy with the way things have worked out with Brandon.
Q. You probably didn't have a bunch of you didn't have a bunch of alternatives at kicker with him. But is there something in Walker's makeup that led you to believe that he would overcome the struggle he was going through?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, because he was a great practice kicker. I think that he's transformed that practice kicking to game kicking. And I think that is never a question of whether or not he had the ability to do it. It was a question of whether or not you could transfer performing in practice to performing on a game field. And that's come around.
Q. You were asked some tough questions last week, and I'm sure last week was not the time to address that issue with the players, but if and maybe you did, I don't know. But if down the road you're in a situation where there is a lot of controversy swirling about the program, is that something that you will discuss openly with them?
Q. But they hear the media's speculation, so does that then in turn prompt you to address it with them?
COACH WEIS: No. No. The answer is no.
Q. Chop blocks, cut blocks, get a couple of players hurt in the process, it's got to be frustrating as a coach coaching against that style of play.
COACH WEIS: It is frustrating. I've been involved at different levels where that's the MO of the team you're going against. Teams hate going against the Denver Bronco's offensive line, always did, because they were a cut blocking team. Players hate going against them. Coaches hate going against them.
They try to take things to the letter of the law and do them as legally, do things legally. Unfortunately, you end up, if there's injuries that happen from things like that.
Q. Should they be disallowed?
COACH WEIS: I think that in football so many things have happened, they've taken so many precautions. They've taken so many precautions on so many other issues; is it something that they could address to make people do, I'm sure they could. I just don't know if they ever would.
Q. As far as Michael Floyd goes, I know I asked this question Saturday after the game. I want to reask it. How much do things change now that Michael's not out there? Because he seems to deflect a lot of attention from Golden (Tate) as well, and the team seems to maybe have two guys they're really worried about.
COACH WEIS: One thing, we really didn't have a very healthy David Grimes around this year for a while, too. Remember when Michael really started playing was at the expense of David Grimes early in the year. So now that we have a healthy David Grimes back, David and Michael are not the same body type and not the same player but certainly lessens the loss.
Q. I'm guessing Duval will get a lot more playing time?
COACH WEIS: Absolutely.
Q. Is George West involved in this; is he hurt?
COACH WEIS: No, George had his knee scoped. No, he's not in that mix.
Q. I remember you saying mid year season, it's later in the year, you said if injuries happened you might need to use Goodman or Walker; is that a possibility?
COACH WEIS: We would do everything we could to not have that happen at this time.
Q. With you calling plays, how did it feel last week now that you've had a chance to feel just right back at home?
COACH WEIS: I think that it felt very comfortable doing it. I think that probably the thing that was easiest thing for me to do is to come in at halftime and be able to whittle through the game plan and get back to what we needed to do to win the game. And I think when you're not involved in that whole process and all the play calling, that's a much more difficult test to do than when you're actually involved in the play calling.
Got a lot of help from the offensive staff. So let's not but I think that more than anything else the biggest comfort zone was being able to, because we were involved with the whole process, be able to tweak some things at halftime to kind of get it right.
Q. You said obviously the rest of the regular season. If this goes well over the next couple of weeks, is it just
COACH WEIS: We're just trying to get through this week and then it's a short week to USC, with Thanksgiving and we're practicing 8:00 in the morning or whatever on Thursday.
I just want to get through these next two weeks, because then we have another game that we're anticipating and we can revisit it at that time. But right now we just want to get through Syracuse first, and we understand that right after Syracuse, you get followed up quickly with a short week.
Q. And just with (Terrail) Lambert, obviously you guys practiced yesterday. How did he look?
COACH WEIS: I'd say doubtful for this week; probable for next week. I think this week it would be a real stretch to put him out there. But, I mean, he actually was out there starting to jog some, if you were to have seen him Thursday night you would have said there's no chance that that was happening. I would say doubtful.
Q. I know you said there was a couple different issues, turnovers, but is there any way for you guys to continue addressing that, or is there anything extra you guys can do to try to prevent it?
COACH WEIS: On two of the three turnovers, it would have been nice if we would have blocked the guy that hit the quarterback. And on the other one, the quarterback it was cover-two and he shouldn't have thrown the ball where he threw it.
Jonas (Gray), the one at the end of the game, even though he's getting hit inside the 5 yard line, that's just being careless with the football. But the first three earlier in the game, the quarterback gets hit twice and you have to take care of the ball. But I think he was surprised on both of those hits. The first interception, that's on him.
Q. And the second half of the game, was that kind of the way you envisioned this offense before the season with the three running back kind of style of play?
COACH WEIS: No, in this game it was this game. There's other games where you're going, Asaph Schwapp's out there and you're going to be going in that direction. But earlier in this year, I thought this would be the running game, the way we were going in the second half, I thought was something that we were at least capable of doing.
We haven't shown enough consistent evidence at this time. But we have at least shown capability of going ahead and doing that.
Q. How much more confidence does that give you for the next couple of games overall?
COACH WEIS: I think it helps them all be more confident. But still it's still one game. You have to keep it in its proper perspective. It comes down to can you consistently keep on getting that going.
Q. Charlie, is this the same personal issues Mike was dealing with last week, or is this something altogether new?
COACH WEIS: I support his personal issues. So this is not like there's any friction with anyone right there. He's got some things that he needs to deal with, and I'm supportive of that. And he asked me to leave it at that. And so I told him I would.
Q. It's been a while since Kyle Rudolph has really been involved in the offense. He had five catches for 70 yards early on in the game and since then a couple of catches a game. Is there a reason just not getting the tight end open? Is it what other teams are choosing to take that away from you?
COACH WEIS: He was involved last week because we were running right at him on about every play. But we weren't throwing the ball. It all comes down to whether you're throwing it or not throwing it. And last week was a game where he was very involved because most of the runs were run right at him.
So would I like to throw the ball to Kyle Rudolph more? You betcha. I think he's got a chance to be a dynamic tight end. But it's a week by week basis and last week his number one responsibility was to block at the point of attack and at the beginning of the year that would have been one of the biggest questions about him. So I think that he's made drastic improvement in that vein.
Q. He's becoming a good blocker; is he coming around?
COACH WEIS: He's become pretty good at the point of attack. No disrespect, in just saying it was just Navy. It's not just Navy. He's been a pretty productive blocker for us at the point of attack, which has given us a lot more versatility than we had earlier in the year when he was a little bit he was a bit more of a question mark.
Q. How much even before that, though, how much do teams try to take away your tight end because of how effectively you've used them in the passing game, going all the way back to Anthony?
COACH WEIS: I think tight ends should become more and more of a factor as we go forward because of the two guys lined up outside. I think that, for example, the last three or four weeks people have gone to a lot more cover two, which there's two things you do in cover two or any time you have split safeties. Any time you have split safeties, whether it's quarters or halves, the best two people to throw the ball to are the tight end and the backs. And run the ball. Whereas, when you have post safeties, the best thing to do is to try to isolate those people outside one on one.
So I think that the better that Golden (Tate) plays, the better that Michael (Floyd) plays, the more that Armando (Allen) and Kyle and those guys become involved in the passing game.
Q. This senior group is going to be playing their last home game this week. What do you remember about recruiting those guys, not a lot of four and five star guys in the bunch; just your experience in trying to pull that class together?
COACH WEIS: Let's take Mo (Crum) and Justin (Brown) and Terrail (Lambert) out of it, because they were already here. But what I really remember is the month of December where I was kind of like a one man gang, and I'm calling these guys and I'm talking to these guys. For example, I can remember the conversation with Pat Kuntz. Pat Kuntz was already I think he was going to head to Purdue. I'm pretty sure that's where he was going to go.
He always wanted to go to Notre Dame but Notre Dame really wasn't on him at the time. And I went and I watched tape on him. I said, look, I don't care how big you are, I just like the way you play. And I want you to be here. And he quickly, in a matter of days, we got together and ended up jumping on board. And it's good to see a guy like that who was more of an unheralded type of player, Eric, that wasn't 18 star player. Go through his career and be a nice productive solid player who will probably have a chance to keep on playing after he leaves here.
Q. With that being said, and not having the 18-star players in that class, you knew, or you probably felt at some point you were going to be able to recruit that caliber of kid, you were going to be recruiting over some of these kids, yet you didn't really have much attrition in that class at all. What does that say about them? What does that say about the way you were able to handle that?
COACH WEIS: I think that together with my staff that ended up coming in here, you think about it, we brought in 15 kids that year. And one of them transferred and two of them ended up going on medical. I think something along those lines.
There are guys, even though their roles may not be as full time starters, they've become productive players for us, productive players for us. Mike Turkovich, an unknown, who has had a nice solid year for us. Paul Duncan, David Grimes. Asaph Schwapp. So you look at a bunch of these guys, and I didn't name everybody, but I'm just going through that list. There are a bunch of guys who have become nice productive players for us here even though it was a little bit of a scrambled year.
I give the staff some credit, but I give those guys credit for coming on board when it was a very, I would say the situation was volatile and jumping on board and being part of the long term solution here.
Q. Is there anybody in that class that really surprised you, where you said wow, that guy...
COACH WEIS: David Bruton. David Bruton was a skinny little track kid. He walked in here I thought when the wind blew he was going to fall over. Seriously. Maybe he was 180 pounds. Maybe. Soaking wet he might have been 180 pounds. Now he's 210. Runs like a deer. Doesn't run any slower than he did when he was 180.
He's jumping 41 inches vertical jump. Running under 4.5 in the 40. And having a nice long career on Sundays. If you would have told me that looking at him walking in the door, you could have won a lot of money off me on that one right there.
Q. Talking about guys playing on Sundays. Brady's had a couple of starts. Wonder how many of those you've seen, and if you've talked and what your impressions were?
COACH WEIS: We've talked. And unfortunately I watched every snap. That was painful. I don't know how many times he got hit last night, but it was a lot.
But I had to stay up and watch the end of the game because if he's going to get his first win and I didn't watch I thought that would have been the wrong thing to do. It was past my bedtime, I promise you, but I had to make sure I got out of bed to send him a text so he knew I was watching.
He got it and acknowledged. I noticed the response early this morning. So I think he was happy to know that his supporters here were happy that he could complete a couple of passes in that last drive to set up that chip shot field goal (chuckling).
Q. Charlie, a lot of coaches come into the program to evaluate the commitment on board. Sometimes they say you're welcome to come. Sometimes they say look elsewhere. What was your mentality with this senior class when you took over? Was your mentality sort of if they want to come to Notre Dame I'm happy to have them or how did you look at that?
COACH WEIS: I felt, first of all, the guys that had been offered scholarships at Notre Dame I felt it was an ethical responsibility to anyone who was committed to do due diligence and try to keep that as is. I felt that that was the right way of doing business.
And then after that there were a few guys that kind of fell in place. Steve Quinn, for example. That fell in place in about 15 minutes. I mean, they kind of just fell in place. There was a phone call from somebody. A phone call from somebody. Next thing you know I'm talking to somebody on the telephone somewhere in some hangar somewhere, and during times when you could go ahead and call. And the next thing you know he's coming on a visit and he's committing.
Now, he might not be the most front line player in the whole world but he's been a productive special teams player, and this year he's helped us on defense as well.
Q. Aside from Kuntz and Quinn, McCarthy was the third guy you guys made a move on after you started. Knock on wood this won't be his last home game, but can you talk about your recollection about that improvement?
COACH WEIS: Here's a guy that, probably coming in with Zibby (Tom Zbikowski) leaving, that was probably one of the biggest questions, what are we going to do with strong safety. I think there's not too many people asking that question at this time.
Q. This is kind of a follow up to Jeff's question about coverages. I know North Carolina dropped a lot of coverage. BC plays that way. And you talk about the coverages you're seeing more. Those changes in coverage, does that kind of explain Jimmy relearning some things now where he's seeing some different looks that maybe he wasn't getting earlier in the season?
COACH WEIS: Even North Carolina, they were drawing some things up in the dirt during that game to adjust to some of the things we were doing because they had never played a dime defense. They had never played more than nickel the entire year, not once. Not one snap of it.
So I think that there's a learning process. But with any quarterback, what happens, as you see things, the more you see them, the less it confuses you when you do see them.
Q. As far as you had some older guys beaten out by younger guys. For an older guy, what do you say to him in that situation and I guess how do you try to keep them with it? Because I would think that it would be difficult sometimes in that situation?
COACH WEIS: I'm going to give you a perfect example of that, too. Obviously as a coaching staff we always talk about the value of a Notre Dame education. So when somebody does leave to there's been a handful of guys that leave to go to another school. It's always because of the depth chart. We can say whatever we want. But it's always because of the depth chart because, trust me, if they're starting they're not going anywhere.
So end of the day, you have a guy like Kevin Washington, Kevin Washington has been here for four years. Hardly has played at all. A little bit on special teams. I can tell you this year if we wanted to, we could make him the defensive show team player of the week every single week. And what we do is we use guys like him as examples with our young linebackers and the other guys on defense. Fellows, this is the way it's supposed to be done. This is the way you practice.
This is the tempo you practice at. This is how it's supposed to be important. And when a guy realizes that, hey, his time has come and gone as far as productive playing time. But rather than complain about their role, accept their role and do what they can do to help the team win, why of a lot of respect for players like that.
Q. Is it important, the receivers as well, with Floyd and Tate coming in, they flew by a lot of older players?
COACH WEIS: But some of that was timing of injuries as well. Because Robby (Parris) was banged up and George (West) was banged up and then Grimes got banged up and these guys started playing more. Then they were playing too good to take them out.
So sometimes a younger guy just comes out right ahead of people. Others, they get an opportunity to go by a guy and then it's tough to take him out when the time comes.
Q. Do you worry at all, last time your team was heavily favored at home, San Diego State. They got off to a slow start. USC, do you have any different mentality going into this game at all?
COACH WEIS: The last time we played Syracuse, we played solid on defense and we were kind of flat on offense, if we go back to that game. I remember if it wasn't for an interception early to start off the second half, I remember Leo (Ferrine) got a tipped ball and ran it in for a touchdown to kind of give us a little separation.
One factor that people don't see, media or fans don't see, are the emotions that are involved in this game. That's the one underlying thing that you can't explain to people.
This is a tough game for a lot of players, personally, because you see them in the locker room before and after the game, you'll see kids after the game that you didn't even know how much they cared just sit there bawling, just crying, because how emotional it is.
I think some of the psyche that is involved in the game, besides the Xs and Os, is the anxiety about going through the tunnel for the last time. I think that's one of the things you have to factor in in this game besides whomever you're playing against, in this case, Syracuse.
Q. How do you try to manage that?
COACH WEIS: I think the first thing you try to do you try to make the freshmen, sophomores and juniors play the game for the seniors instead of playing the game for themselves.
Because the last thing you want to do is have their last game at home in their career be a loss. I think a few years ago, and I don't know who started it, I don't know which player started it when they kind of took a lap around the field and were high fiving fans, it's probably an alumnus of the school and the head football coach, one of the most touching things you could watch when they're sitting there doing that and just standing back, it's almost surreal when you know it's the last time they're going to get to do it. And a guy like John Carlson jumping into the stands like he's in Green Bay. When would you ever see John Carlson doing something like that?
It's a really unique experience. And I think that one of the things you do is you put it on the younger guys that this game is not for you; this game is for them.
Q. Is this a bit of a trap game because relief of beating Navy and USC is it a little bit of a trap game?
COACH WEIS: I think the last home game could hardly ever be put in that category. It wouldn't make a difference who you were playing. I think there's still going to be a ton of reason to play well, a ton of reasons. But most importantly because it's the last one for those seniors.
Q. Can you talk about on Sunday about Syracuse, the coaches are loose and all that, don't know how the players will react, are you worried at all that they might come in on the first play with an onside kick or something
COACH WEIS: I promise you on my top 10 it's on there. It's one of those things and we're going to have a period tomorrow, okay, on Wednesday, we're eliminating one period in practice and we are going to go nothing but full speed onside kick for an entire period. So I can promise you one thing, if there's one thing that will be practiced, full speed this week, multiple times, that will be it.
Q. Now that you're bowl eligible, do you talk to the team about that?
COACH WEIS: We haven't addressed that yet. I know that they know. They were talking about it before I got in there. I got in there kind of late because of the way the production crew handles, different networks handle the production a little bit different on the games. So I got in there a little bit late after the game.
I know a bunch of them were talking about it. But when the time comes where we know that we're going and where we're going and I think that that's the more apropos time. I have to make plans accordingly. It's not like I can't make plans, but at the same time we've got to worry about Syracuse and I think that's where all our energies are going.
Q. Mentioned earlier about what you see with media reports, but one of the names that popped up as possible replacement at Syracuse is Rob Ianello, could you comment on
COACH WEIS: I hate to lose any of my coaches, and ever talk about losing a guy. But I think there's several guys on my staff that I think would end up being good head football coaches. But Rob has a unique niche in the fact that he's got a reputation of being one of the best recruiters in college football. I think any time you're building a program, one of the things you'll have to be able to do is recruit.
I'm not in the market of trying to push people out the door, because I need Rob. But if they were to come calling, I would give him my blessing.
Q. What do you credit with the change in your offensive line this year?
COACH WEIS: They're a year older and a year more experienced. I think last year a lot of the guys were playing for the first time and it wasn't very pretty. And I'm not saying that this is actually been a bouquet, either. But it's much improved from where it was, and fortunately with the exception of one player, you know, I'm going to have them all back next year, which bodes well for continuity.
I think in the offensive line position, I think that continuity and experience are probably the two biggest keys to success and hopefully that bodes well as we finish out this year.
Q. What did you work on, was there anything specific that you worked on with them to get them to where they are now?
COACH WEIS: I think that playing the same guys together all the time was one of the things. Last year, we were shuttling people from the right side to the left side and getting people in and out. This year we kind of settled in on the one group of guys with maybe one or two guys getting some time in there as a starter.
And I think that it's really helped with the cohesiveness and continuity of the group.
Q. At what point this year did you recognize that this was going to be a stronger offensive line and it was going to be a different year than last year?
COACH WEIS: Right off the bat we could tell we were going to be much improved in pass protection, because last year probably as bad as we were in many facets, probably the biggest area was in pass protection.
And we could see early in the year that that problem looked like I wouldn't say it's been resolved but it's been minimized. I think we're still a work in progress as far as the running game goes.
Q. I wanted to ask you about that, why is it that the running game seems to take longer to catch up than the passing game seems to be impacted immediately?
COACH WEIS: Because it all depends on the style of the players you're playing against. I think when you're playing against a bunch of like road grader type of defensive linemen. For example, let's talk about Michigan and Michigan State early in the year for us. Both big, physical, defensive line.
I think that it's a little bit easier with big physical defensive linemen to pass block them than it is to run block them. But I think at the end of the day you have to be able to if you ever want to be any good, you have to be able to do both.
Q. So how are you planning on building on from this weekend with Navy? Are you going to try to run the ball as much against Syracuse?
COACH WEIS: We're going to have to wait and see what they do. We intend to do both. And going into this game we're just going to have to see how it goes.
Q. And, lastly, what role has Eric Olsen played on your offensive line this year?
COACH WEIS: Eric Olsen has been a very good player for us. He started at left guard for us, the entire year. He's very athletic and plays with a lot of passion.
Q. Golden has zero catches. Last week you mentioned the soft coverages. Jimmy's talked about them doubling the outside guys when Michael was in there. Specifically in the passing game, how do you get Golden more involved if they're basically rolling everything to him?
COACH WEIS: We're going to formation a few things this week that, formation a few things this week that put him in a couple of different positions.
Q. He's gotten to the point where he can pick that stuff up? We've talked a lot about his development.
COACH WEIS: Mentally he can handle that. That's a good question, because they're the type of things that earlier in the year you slapped him at one position, just put him out there and said let's see if we can get this right. But I think that he's progressed nicely as far as the mental aspect of the game goes.
Q. Losing Michael, I know this has been asked multiple times now, and you've mentioned you've got guys that can step in. But obviously that's a big loss. I mean this is a guy who can stretch the field and your leader in catches, right?
COACH WEIS: Definitely, because of his size. But now Robby is playing more and Duval is playing more and David is healthy.
So if you look at that combination of guys, I think that with those four front line guys playing, I think that, hey, we'll miss Michael. Just like we'll miss Brian. We'll miss those guys, but I think I feel pretty confident that the players we're putting in there will play well.
Q. Just some housekeeping stuff, I guess. You mentioned there were knee strains, which not being a trainer, kind of surprises me they would be out for a month. Is there anything structurally wrong with the knees? Are they undergoing any kind of procedures?
COACH WEIS: As a matter of fact, they're both getting MRIs this week. But what's happened with both of them is the knee is a little too loose for them to practice. Like Smith was already politicking yesterday to play next week.
So if this were to the last game of his career, could you tape him up and tape him up and play, probably; but then you'd have a negative residual effect down the road. So I think the one thing we don't want is both of their knees are a little loose and you want them to go ahead and tighten up.
Q. How much will Mike Haywood not be in South Bend this week, how many practices is he missing?
COACH WEIS: It's either going to be one or two. I'm not really sure. He'll obviously be here today. But it will either be one or two.
Q. After the Navy game several players said a win is a win, just glad to get the win. They said the same thing after San Diego State. While I can understand that testament, especially after the Navy game ended, I'm just wondering has this team continues to mature and develop is there going to come a point where they're going to need to expect more out of themselves against the quote, unquote lesser teams to put themselves maybe more in the position to beat the better teams down the road, does that make sense?
COACH WEIS: I think it's a fair statement. I think I'm going to spin off on that a little bit and tell you not from the player's standpoint but from my standpoint. I realized that this year we're not in a position to go play for a national championship. I got that. I got that figured out.
But just like as our team is developing a different mentality, I also understand that as we move forward and continue to get bigger and better and try to get into that position, you're going to have to play the game differently.
And I think that that's important for me to understand just like for them to understand that going for the jugular is part of this game.
Development is all great and everything like that. That's part of the game, too. But like what you're talking about is really just going for the jugular, and I think that that's something that they're going to have to get sooner rather than later.
Q. There were also people congratulating themselves after a playing good third quarter, I'm thinking against a team you've beaten 43 times in a row, going out playing a good quarter, complete quarter, is that a high enough bar?
COACH WEIS: Time out. Really good quarter? It was two minutes and 30 seconds left to go in the game with 27 7. It wasn't a really good quarter. Let's cut it down to really where it was. They get the ball back on the 40 yard line with 2:30 to go in the game. It's 57 and a half minutes. It's not a really good quarter that we're talking about.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 11, 2008
COACH WEIS: Good afternoon. I told you the other day I would address, first of all, before we got into Navy, any changes as far as my involvement. On Friday of last week, Coach Haywood came to me, and a family member of his had passed away sort of unexpectedly, after a long illness. And we had come up with a plan that we would discuss on Sunday what we would do this week.
And after discussing with him on Sunday afternoon, what we decided we would do is he's going to fly out of here tomorrow to go back to Houston to attend the funeral back there in Houston.
In his absence, this week I'm going to take over the offense. So I've been involved in the game plans with Mike there, of course, but I've been involved with the game, with all the stuff as of Monday morning, as far as the game plan and the installation and implementation. And I'll run the offense this weekend, call the plays for the Navy game.
So let's move on to Navy. Navy is sitting there 6-3. The three losses have come from teams that have a record of 20-7. It's pretty obvious they're having a fine year for them. Already in a bowl game. Coach Niumatalolo is in his first season as a head coach. But he's been there quite some time as the assistant head coach and the offensive line coach.
So the change in their offense has been slim to none. Coach Jasper had been there as the quarterback coach. He just moved up to the offensive coordinator/quarterback coach. He's been there for nine seasons, too, even though this is his first as the coordinator.
So they just kind of just evolved the way they normally do, just moved the assistant head coach up to head coach and moved the quarterback coach up to coordinator and really haven't missed a beat. It's the same Navy team. And they're averaging over 300 yards a game rushing, 308, which is third in the country. 5.4 a carry. Nothing changes with them. They're one of the best at what they do.
They get in the red zone, they score. They've scored 88 percent of the time, and they get off to fast starts. Usually they're outscoring their opponents in the first quarter, first quarter, 91-69.
They play three quarterbacks this year. We've got mainly Kaipo last year. He prefers to be called Kaipo, so I won't go into all the phonetics of Kaheaku and Enhada that I've been practicing forever.
But Brian's been their starting quarterback who was named their offensive captain. He's been dealing with a little bit of a shoulder that's limited him over the past few weeks but we expect to see him start. Kaipo played in the Temple game. Looked like he got reinjured again. But they also used Dobbs. To be honest, looking at Dobbs, he might have the strongest arm of the three of them.
But they're all system quarterbacks that do a very good job in their system. One of the bases for this offense is to have a bruising fullback. And Kettani definitely fits the bill. He's 6'1", 233, senior, veteran, runs hard, physical player and really is the centerpiece for this offense, along with the quarterback.
A lot of times people talk about Navy just having a bunch of undersized underachievers. But you'd have a tough time convincing me that Shun White is one of those. He's a slot back. He's 5'9", 190. He's their most experienced. He's a legit 4.4 guy. He's a legitimate good player. He's dynamic with legit speed.
Shinego is their other slot back, and he's a guy that you can't just worry about running him because he's probably one of the better receivers coming out of the back field that they've had since I've started looking at Navy.
And then as always they always have big physical wide receivers that block first and catch second. Barnes is their leading receiver and their number one physical blocker. But Sharp 6'4", 239, the other receiver, between the two of them, their big physical guys that block. And when you saw out the stuff to run, that's when they beat you on those play action passes.
Their offensive line is centered around their left guard, Gaskins. He's the leader of their line. Battipaglia is their left tackle. He started the fall at right tackle but emerged as their starter at left tackle. Moore is at center. Switched from right tackle to center in the spring. Bass is the right guard. Molloy is the right tackle. And Milke started the year as starting right tackle but he's now listed behind Molloy.
On defense, there's a defense that plays hard with great passion. They go back and forth between 34 personnel group and they do play some 33 nickel personnel group. But in both personnel groups they play both odd and even fronts. And the lineup in odd and stem to even. They'll line up in even and play even. They'll lied up in even and stem to odd. So you have to be ready for them going back and forth between those two fronts, especially coming off a bye week where they've had some extra time to go ahead and practice some of these things.
And in the secondary, they play coverage. That's what they do. They make you just take what they give you. Buddy Green, I've known him a long time. He's the defensive coordinator there, also coaches the secondary. The one thing they've done very, very well this year is they've stopped the run. 30th in the country. Only given up 116 yards a game in the run game. And the perfect example of that is the last game they played against Temple. Temple carried the ball 37 times for 69 yards. So they averaged less than two yards a carry.
One of the reasons they've been good against the run, it starts with their nose tackle, Nate Frazer. 6'3", 287. Certainly not undersized. He's a pretty dynamic player. He's the guy you've got to worry about the most because he's very, very disruptive.
Their defensive ends, a little bit undersized but they're very, very active and physical at the point, both Tuani and Nechak, both of them, very similar players. And then it gets into this group of linebackers.
Now the one linebacker who gives them the most versatility is Corey Johnson. He's their most versatile player. He plays both defensive end where he'll put his hand down or he'll walk in and rush when they shift to four down and he plays outside linebacker. No. 5, keep an eye on him.
The other guy they do have some versatility with is Vela, No. 34. Plays outside linebacker. He'll occasionally end up being a defensive end. When they go to even as well.
And middle linebacker, they either play Haberer or Sovie. They both played in there. And Pospisil, he'll handle the weak side inside linebacker, who we call the jack. Against Temple he led the team in tackles with 11 tackles, two for loss and the forced fumble.
Their secondary, a lot of times people want to say let's go after Buffin at corner because he's 5'11", 168. Well, he's a senior and not -- the only time he's been beaten is when people have run stutters or something that some kind of move to go ahead and get by him. He's been pretty solid, as well as King's been on the other side. They are willing to give up yardage underneath them. But the only way you get by them is if you do some kind of a move-go, because they're very good in not letting that happen.
Rover, Deliz, also plays outside linebacker. Besides being a strong safety type, he's also an outside linebacker type as well. And Middleton is their veteran, leader of their secondary, weak safety, and one of the better players made a whole bunch of plays against us last year.
Last but not least on special teams, Coach Johns has taken over on special teams. They have a good hitting yardage stat. They're averaging over 13 yards a punt return but only giving up 5.7 yards, eight punt returns. They're gaining a good seven yards and six and a half yards in that facet.
The field goal kicker hardly ever misses. He's 14 for 16. And they've got a new kick-off guy whose had seven touchbacks this year. Harmon, he handles the place kicking. He's 14 of 16 along with 49. Teague is their kick-off guy. Seven touchbacks. He's a freshman. Delahooke, he'll handle the punting. Reider is the long snapper. They use three kick returners, Jones, James and Angelo and Mario Washington will handle their punt returns.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Is this a one-game only with you calling plays?
COACH WEIS: Michael had anticipated us that being the question. We said let's just get through Navy. I want to give him his time. And he really needs a little time here. He's here and he's gotten it out. But I think that having gone through a death during a football season myself at one time, you show up for the game but you're kind of in a fog.
You're there, but you're kind of not there at the same time. So we both decided let's just get through this game.
Q. Can you tell us, was it a family member who died?
COACH WEIS: I'd rather leave that to him. I don't think that's my right here, to tell you the truth.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about, Jim Clausen has been struggling since halftime at North Carolina. Have you seen something he's doing differently?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, I know he threw the one pick in the first play in the second half against North Carolina but he also threw for a bunch of yards. I think one thing that we have to make sure we do, and we're going to make a big point of emphasis this week, not that we don't do it every week, but that's going to be to make sure that especially with the way this secondary plays, that you just take what they give you.
And I think that if you don't, you're going to end up throwing picks against this team, too. I think you have to make sure you take what they give you. And that's what our big focus this week is going to be.
Q. Do you think that Jimmy may be trying to force it a little bit?
COACH WEIS: Said that after the game the other day. I think we have guys that are just trying to make a play and they're trying to do too much. So it goes are away from my premise that you're supposed to just do your job. Then when you start trying to do too much then you start forcing it and bad things happen.
Q. And any other steps you're taking? You talked last week about how you try to shake things up and that you really can't do it too often. Anything else you're doing this week because looked like the team -- the offense --
COACH WEIS: I think it was already quite drastic of a change for them yesterday when all of a sudden I'm running the meetings and I'm calling the plays and I'm doing those things. When you're not the same people, it's quite different.
Q. And is one of the goals for the rest of the season, it seemed like the one common theme in the wins and losses is the running game, and gave you a rush for over 100 yards, you won. The only game you actually rushed for 100 an d lost was Pittsburgh, but didn't have 100 at regulation. Do you have to get the running game going to get the offense going?
COACH WEIS: I think if you ask any guy on our team -- but I'll speak as the leader -- every week we go in and we probably practice about 50 percent runs and 50 percent passes in practice.
We go into our game figuring that at the end of the game that's statistically that's pretty close to what we'd like to end up being.
As the game goes on, a lot of times things change going into the game. Going into this game, you'd like to go into a game where you ran it 50 times and threw it 20 times. That's what you'd like to be able to do. But it doesn't always work that way. Because now you're going against a team that, statistically, if you look at their stats, they're a lot better against the run than they are against the pass. So you have to go with the flow of the game and make sure, just like you're telling the players to take what the defense gives you. As a play caller, you also have to take what the defense gives you. I think it's a combination of the two things.
Q. And seeing what the goals were for the season, is this a must-win now for this team?
COACH WEIS: I think that this is a critical game for our team for two reasons. Not just the goals of the season, it's coming off the last couple of games. I think it's part of that as well. You have a disheartening loss against Pittsburgh. Then you go against BC where the defense plays one of the best games and offense and special teams play pretty lousy games. I think it's pretty important for the whole team for this week.
Q. Going back to the last game, Jimmy was ill, something that may have impacted his performance, why not say so afterwards? Because it might have helped people kind of explain his performance. For instance, I thought during the game his body language wasn't very good. Once we found out he was ill, then it made sense.
COACH WEIS: We had several talks about it. First of all, if I say that after the game, then it's perceived like I'm making excuses. Because then I'm making -- I'd rather just tell you not after the heat of the game but after you get back to sit back and reflect from the game and just tell you, I think it's really important for me to tell you the truth.
But at the same time I don't want to ever be perceived or we don't want to be perceived as making excuses. During the game we had several conversations, he and I, about: How are you doing? How are you doing?
And I never felt that it was at a point of the game where he couldn't play in the game. Because if I felt that, I'd put Evan in. Not like I don't have any confidence there. If I came in after a game where we got shut out and say, I'm sorry we got shut out, but Jimmy wasn't feeling very well, that isn't going to go over very well.
Q. (Question off microphone)?
COACH WEIS: Friday. He came in and told me Friday morning. And he was okay. We had talked about that then, and then we said we would revisit it on Sunday exactly what the plan is.
Because, see, with me, any time this happens I give my guys carte blanche to do whatever they want to do. So as coaches, by nature what you're trying to do is you're trying to miss as little as you possibly can, but it's almost like I have to force him to go, to go do it, do what personally you're supposed to do.
Q. Will he be back, will Mike be back?
COACH WEIS: He'll be back for the game. I don't know if he'll meet us in South Bend or if he's going to meet us in Baltimore. I'm not sure which one. The funeral's on Thursday.
Q. And he'll work from the press box still?
COACH WEIS: As of right now that's the plan. We haven't really got to that. To be honest with you, Tim, I have to wait and see how he is. Because I've got to worry about him, see how he is. Because whatever is going to be best for him, that's what I'm going to do.
Q. You talk about the whole good cop/bad cop ad nauseam. But when Jimmy's coming off a game like that, do you have to play a little bit more good cop this week to kind of get his confidence level back, or is he not the type that needs that type of stroking?
COACH WEIS: Everyone needs it. There isn't anyone -- I've been around Hall of Fame quarterback, they needed it too. They can act tough and act like I'm okay, but they're not okay. No one feels good after a performance that turns out like that.
So I think that what you have to do you have to start it before the game's over. That's something you cannot wait on. And I did. I started it in the fourth quarter.
I mean, you don't wait for the game to be over. You don't wait for the next day. You don't let them wallow in self-pity. You have to already start the process, because the longer you wait, the longer it's going to take to come out of it and rebound.
Q. In terms of Armando Allen and his running style and breaking tackles, is it just an issue of strength with him, or is it a running style? What kind of things -- I know you used the gauntlet as a tackle breaking device, but what other things can you do to improve a running back's ability to break that?
COACH WEIS: I think the best thing you do is tackle live. I think there's nothing better than actually doing it. And I think that by what we've been doing this year time and time again, going full speed on a couple of days a week, which we do on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I think that's the one thing that keeps on -- we keep on working on the same skills all the time.
I think that running styles come into play, but at the same time there comes to, you know, making sure you're not taking a hit on full speed, knowing how to -- some of the best running backs that have not been the biggest running backs, one of the reasons why they've been able to stay durable is because they know how to torque their body at the right time, which has always gotten them extra yards and taking hits off of them, too.
Q. Because of the injury he's had, is he way behind in terms of strength, leg strength?
COACH WEIS: I don't think leg strength. I think a lot of players, you ask me -- might have been you asked me about Jimmy the other day being worn down and stuff. There's a lot of guys you're eight games into the season right now. There's a lot of guys banged up. It's not the same as it was four games ago.
But it's the same truth for the guys you're going against, too. Guys especially who get 20 touches a game, you're going to get banged up.
Q. Two quick questions about Navy. The first is hypothetical. But which is a more dangerous team, a Navy team that knows it can beat Notre Dame or a Navy team, last year, that was hungry to finally end a long streak?
COACH WEIS: That's a very good question that I don't know the answer to. I'd be lying if I sat there and gave you an answer to that one, because they both have their pros and cons.
Q. Last thing about Navy, no two guys are going to call a game exactly the same. I mean, do you see some nuances and some differences with their new head coach over a guy who was pretty much the master of that style of offense?
COACH WEIS: I think that he's, you know, he's been a very good student. And the package is almost identical. I'll leave it to Corwin and John and Jappy to find out what the tweaks have been in the system. Because really I've been putting all my efforts into seeing if we can't score some touchdowns.
Q. You touched on this a little before. What's important? It's not like this is the first time you've ever called plays with most of these players, but what's most important to minimize confusion transitioning into this for one week or is there?
COACH WEIS: Well, the one thing I'll do is the guys will know very early in the week what we're going to call in the game. And I think that you put a game plan in. Like yesterday they got the first and second down game plan. So you introduce it yesterday. Now today is the first big first and second down day.
And then now tomorrow, when you put in third down and you go into other situational football, one period of the day you always spend going over first and second down. Well, what will be different this week than they've been having is the plays they're going to be running in the game first and second down early in the game on Saturday, they'll be practicing tomorrow.
And when you can start getting ready for those games, those plays early in the week and you start getting, okay, here's what's going to happen, here's what's going to happen, then players can start visualizing, players can start visualizing here's what we're going to do and what's going to happen.
And that's probably the only major difference. It's not the plays. It's just probably the presentation.
Q. With Jimmy, you mentioned a lot of interceptions, trying to do too much, trying to take what's not there. This is going to sound snarkier than I mean it, but should he be past that by now?
COACH WEIS: I think he's past that in a normal football game. I think that when you get down in a game, that's when quarterbacks do things that they regret or wish they wouldn't do. I mean, I've had, like I said, not to give an analogy to Tommy, but we played a game against the Miami Dolphins where he threw four interceptions and we ended up losing on a year when they were really terrible.
One interception he threw, it's a close game, and he's got a guy wrapped around him, throws it right to a defensive lineman, who runs it in for a touchdown and we lose. This is a guy going to the Hall of Fame, winning Super Bowls.
So I think what he would tell you, which is the same thing that Jimmy would tell you, is that he was just trying to make a play. And what you have to do as a coach is explain to him sometimes taking a sack is a good thing. Sometimes throwing the ball away is a good thing. Sometimes you can throw the ball away and taking a sack is better than the end result where you throw the ball into traffic.
So I think that having coached one of the best players that's ever played the position and had these similar problems with him, I mean, I've had four interception games with Tommy. I've had four interception games with Brady. And Jimmy's joined the trifecta.
Q. Larger issue stuff. I think it's probably fair to say or maybe even conservative to say some people who are interested in Notre Dame football are a little inpatient now based on the way things have gone in the past couple of weeks. Given where this team was last year, the current composition in the roster, do you think that's fair?
COACH WEIS: I think that I'd be perturbed, too, if I were them, to be honest with you. I wouldn't be very happy the way the Pittsburgh game lasted, the way it ended, should I say.
And I wouldn't be too excited about how the offense and special teams played. Now, the difference between the Pittsburgh game and the Boston College game you can't give enough credit to how the defense played in the game.
So you could not say that in the Pittsburgh game. There was plenty of blame slash to spread around in that game between the coaches and the players and everything that happened. But you can't say that about how the defense played in the BC game, because they played darn well. And I think that now the offense has to step up and they have to do it this week. They have to do it next week. They have to do it the week after that, and we'll see where we are after we go through that three-week stretch.
Q. Do you think Saturday's a big game for you in terms of what it means for your future?
COACH WEIS: If you're asking me is everyone going to know that Weis is calling the plays, and do I know that everyone knows I'm calling the plays, yes. But other than that, I think they're all big games. I mean, I don't try to minimize any of them.
Q. Charlie, just for clarification on the offense. If things go well this weekend, will you revisit, is that going to become a week-to-week thing?
COACH WEIS: We said we wouldn't even talk about it until after we got through this game, we got through this week. We said let's just deal with Navy. I had the same questions that you're asking. So you brought it up, Tom brought it up. And they're logical questions to ask. We decided not to even go through there. Let's try to get through this week and get through Navy.
Q. You always seem to have a theme with the guys, what's sort of the overlying theme this week.
COACH WEIS: Once again, I want to give you the theme here but I want to give a little prelude to it. Once again, it's tough for me to chastise the defense for the performance they had last week. With that being said, there's no sicker feeling than watching Navy celebrate after that game last year, after they stuffed us on the two point conversion. And if that isn't enough, if that isn't enough, then their memory is way shorter than mine is.
Q. Building a little bit on what Brian was asking. In terms of big picture, how close are you to being on schedule with where you think this program should be right now?
COACH WEIS: I'm encouraged with the personnel. I'm encouraged with the holes we're filling on a regular basis both currently and in the future.
And to me, as far as the mechanics of our staff, to me everything's starting to fall into place to me very clearly. I think that sometimes you go -- remember, I went through this whole thing myself this year, Todd, as I was going through this, go away from being the offensive coordinator/play caller to the head coach. And now all of a sudden you're back in the ringer here this week, where I won't be spending nearly the amount of time worrying about the defense. But I believe at this stage I don't need to, because I think the defense is in good hands. And I feel very confident with the defensive staff and what they're doing.
With that being said, I hope they can stop the run, put the pressure on them. But I'm saying that in jest. I think that we have the personnel, the uptick on the personnel, the talent level on the personnel and the mechanics of the coaching staff I think are all in line for everything to go in the right direction.
Q. I asked this after the Navy game last year. I'll ask it before the Navy game this year. Obviously I think everybody's in-boxes in this room were stuffed over the weekend. And everybody wants to know why are you the right man for this job, Charlie?
COACH WEIS: I think if you look at last week's game against Boston College and the game against Pittsburgh, you sit there and you say, well, we're sitting 6-4 why aren't we better than that?
Okay? I think that the bottom line is where's the program going to go? I think that's the big question. And I'm confident that the program's going to go where we all want it to go. And that's as honest as I can be.
Q. To follow up on that. What are the reasons that you're confident that the program is going to go where you want it to go?
COACH WEIS: Because I think we've got pretty good players. And I think we've got pretty good players. You have a chance of being pretty good.
Q. You talked about pressing Saturday night, Sunday night, a little bit today, as a play caller, how can you stop an offense from pressing? Are there certain calls you can make that make it almost impossible for a quarterback to press?
COACH WEIS: I think that they'll know very clearly. My personality is different than the offensive staff and Michael's. My personality is different, how I call things are different, how I run things are slightly different.
I mean, we all know the same stuff, but just how we do it is different. And let's think about it for a second, Pete. You're in a classroom now instead of the coordinator running the offense is the head coach, well, you can imagine the attention for detail not just the quarterback, but every position you can imagine, the attention for detail would automatically just naturally go up.
Q. As far as the running game goes, I think it would be fair to say that not just this season has been inconsistent but for the last couple. Where do you see that going? And what gives you confidence that that can get turned around?
COACH WEIS: Oh, we're just going to have to wait and see how things go because if I didn't think that we could run the ball, if I didn't think we could run the ball, we wouldn't practice running the ball 50 percent of the time in practice, we'd just go out and throw it on every down.
If we didn't think that we could go into a game and run the ball, that's not what we would do. I mean, there's plenty of teams out there that I watch on a weekly basis that I don't even know if they have a run and a game plan. They just throw it on every down. That's not, ultimately, our goal.
And I think that when it's all said and done, I think we have potential to be very successful in the running game. Just the numbers don't lie, and I'm not ignorant of that. But we'll see where we go.
Q. The dynamics of pressing a little bit against a team like Navy that's obviously going to shorten the game, it becomes even more important, I would think.
COACH WEIS: Like you said, we always talk about top 10. It's right up there relatively high that there's going to be fewer possessions in the game and you've got to make the most of fewer possessions.
Q. How does that impact you? Given their propensity to take time off the clock, you have a quarterback who is already pressing. You say sometimes trying to do too much. You fear that he won't be patient enough because of those limited possessions?
COACH WEIS: I don't think he'll be pressing this week. I don't think he'll be pressing this week.
Q. We asked about the running backs and Jimmy. Is it fair to say that when the offense does bog down, it's because it's getting, it's the point of attack. It's the line of scrimmage, it's the offensive line that's getting beat, especially in the running game?
COACH WEIS: That would be true -- generically that would be true, Jeff. I think one of the problems last week, we keep -- on the first five drives you get three holding penalties called in there, and now all of a sudden you're putting yourself in a bind. It's first and 20 or second and 20 rather than second and 5.
I think the whole dynamics of your calls change, and also what the defense could do on the other side. I think that's another area where we haven't spent enough time just talking about.
But I think that you can't go into a game and have multiple holding penalties because every one of them are drive killers.
Q. Most of this group is juniors, when they came in three years ago they were much heralded looked like a great offensive line class. Is it fair to say they've not developed the way you would have liked they would have?
COACH WEIS: Actually, I'm encouraged as we end up this year and go into next year. I'm really encouraged about where they'd be. Because now with the exception of Sam, now these guys will have been playing for a couple of years. And I think that at the offensive line position -- we talk about cohesiveness and experience. So you lose one guy on the offensive line. I think it bodes well for the success of the future.
Q. Are they still on the trajectory that you like?
COACH WEIS: Maybe not as fast as I'd like. But do I believe that the future is promising? Yes, I do.
Q. Going back to, what, first quarter or whatever when you went no-huddle against San Diego State, with a few exceptions Michigan State for some periods, the offense has been rolling. Do you see this coming? Did you think they would --
COACH WEIS: Which part, the Boston College game you're talking about?
Q. Even the second half, the last -- were you surprised that given how things were going that you would have these problems now? And I guess the second question is, was there anything picked at offense, some wrinkle that Boston College picked up on that maybe tripped it a little bit to the offensive coach?
COACH WEIS: I talked about Pitt last week. When you come out, the first play, and you get blown up, you a great look and the second play you miss a sight adjust and now you're punting. Now it's 17-10. And then you come out and they hit you with a blitz on 1st and 10 and 2nd and 15 on your next drive. Well, that really went for the first couple of drives.
Now you settle down and you go on to 10-play, 75-yard drive and go back and regain the lead. I can replay those games in my mind until I'm blue in the face. But still, at the end of the day, it's what did you do last week versus what are you going to do this week.
So I think as badly as people feel about how things went last week against Boston College, hopefully Saturday, about 3:30 in the afternoon, they're going to feel just as good as they felt badly.
Q. Coming off last year with how hard you had to work with recruiting, do you get any of those questions this year when you're losing 3 out of 4, do you have to talk to the kids about how things are going?
COACH WEIS: No, our kids have been pretty solid, because when we get involved in recruiting, especially whether a kid -- when a kid, especially when a kid has said yes, they want to come, we involve them in everything that's going on on a daily basis.
They know all the good and all the bad. So when a kid's one of ours, we make him one of ours so they feel the good and they feel the bad. So this way, just like last year's class, one of the reasons why our players have proved to be resilient when it comes to that, is because of our involving them in what we do on an everyday basis.
One of the biggest mistakes I think people make in recruiting is when somebody says yes, they go start spending more time on getting the next guy than the guys they already have. And I think that that's where it starts from. Once these guys feel part of the family, like part of the involvement, usually there's very few guys that ever waver from that.
Q. To clarify, if Michael hadn't suffered the family tragedy --
COACH WEIS: But he did. Let's not go hypothetically. But I'm saying he did. I don't know the answer to the question, because I already knew on Friday. This is before we'd even played the game, this was an issue for us that we had talked about. And we talked we'd revisit it on Sunday.
So I don't know the answer. What if we had won by 40, I'd still be running the offense this week. So it wouldn't have made a difference. I'd still be doing the same thing based off of what we're dealing with this week.
Q. This is kind of like a layman type of question, but you look at Navy. They throw the ball for less than one pass per quarter and you're a sports fan, you've heard people in different sports will say: Let's make someone else beat us. Why not make a 5'10" quarterback who throws the ball once a quarter beat you with a passing game?
COACH WEIS: Say the last --
Q. My question is, is there something you can do defensively to basically bear them, force them to throw the ball on you?
COACH WEIS: I think that watching all the tape that I've watched both our defenses get prepared to go against them as everyone else, I think what happens is they have these big old splits that they take and they kind of challenge you. Well, are you going to try to take the split on this gap or are you going to try to go ahead and spread out with us.
I think they're so good in their system and it's so unorthodox, that everyone in the country knows what's coming. It's the same thing. Everyone knows what's coming. But at the end of the game almost every week, doesn't matter who they play against, usually they have 300 yards rushing. It's just what they do.
Q. My follow-up is, can you commit more men? Can you take your two best cover guys and say one-on-one with these wides and we're going to go nine guys and five?
COACH WEIS: Every one against them plays eight or nine like you're saying, John, but they definitely play at least involved in the front. Everyone does. Every team that plays against them commits at least eight down there.
So the little quick motions that they run forces people to adjust very quickly on the fly. But even with that, with having eight guys down there, even if you had nine guys down there I think the one thing you still have to be able to do is you still have to be able to stop the inside run no matter how many people you had out there and it starts with the quarterback and the fullback.
Q. In trying to balance Mike's delicate situation and what's good for your team, do you still try to make some tweaks and still try to impose a little bit of your personality into the offense this week?
COACH WEIS: I think that my personality that I'm tweaking is more in presentation than anything else. And I think that because I'm in there, it allows me to create an even greater sense of urgency than normal, because just the fact that I'm the head coach that's in there now. I think that automatically gets everyone's attention, plus I think that that being said, these guys all know that I've done this plenty of times before. So this isn't like some new guy coming into the mix.
So I'm expecting them to step up big.
Q. After the game you talked about talking to Jimmy on the side line about being a leader and how people are going to follow his lead. I'm sure you know that they're going to be following your lead, too. What's kind of the theme for you this week? What do you want to show to your players as you go through a tough week like this?
COACH WEIS: First of all, I talked to the captains and the leadership committee yesterday to tell them what I was going to do this week, because I think that it was very important to me that when I was going to tell the team that I was going to run the offense that there was no mistake that this was not about throwing Coach Haywood or any of the offensive coaches under the bus. I just think it was extenuating circumstances that led to this, and I think it was very important, because that is one of my greatest pet peeves is people who do exactly that.
That being said, I think that the team, because I've stepped in to take over this week, they can sense a greater or heightened sense of urgency coming from them because of the fact that it's now not the assistants doing it, it's now the head coaches in there.
Q. This is a finer point, with Michael being gone perhaps until Thursday or longer, who coaches the running backs this week?
COACH WEIS: I'll probably -- he's going to be around Wednesday. I'm not sure what time he's leaving. And then he won't be here on Thursday. So I'll just take them on Thursday. I'll hop along and go over with those guys.
Q. To follow up on something with Jimmy, I think Neal asked it in the beginning. Seems like players will always say I'm okay to play, was there a point where you were like maybe he's not ready, maybe he's not feeling well enough and want to put Evan in?
COACH WEIS: No, we had that question as late as the fourth quarter. So it's when you know what you're dealing with going into the game, I think it's part of your job to make sure you check often during the game that that's not the case. And I never felt that way.
Q. Do you still call plays from the field, or are you going to go upstairs given that mobility is a bit of an issue?
COACH WEIS: It actually is something at least I would not -- I've called the plays from the field for the last bunch of years. The only way I would go upstairs is if my legs hurt me that bad where I had to do that.
Did I at least broach the subject? Yeah. I've at least broached the subject. Right now I'd say I'd be on the field. But if it went the other way it would be leg-related and I'd let you guys know before it happened. So it wasn't all of a sudden on game day I make a big dog and pony show and I go upstairs because I wouldn't do that.
If I go up, I'll let you know I'm doing that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 4, 2008
COACH WEIS: Good afternoon. Obviously Boston College is sitting in a similar situation as us, 5-3. They've had our number lately. Beat us five straight and six out of seven. One of the things they've done very well in their non-conference games since 2004, they've actually won 20 in a row of non-conference games.
Coach (Jeff) Jagodzinski there for the second year, Steve Logan came along with him as the offensive coordinator last year and they're scoring 28 (points) a game and rushing for 150 (yards) and throwing for 185 (yards). One area where they've been exceptionally good statistically this year is going for it on 4th down, which is something our defense has to be ready for because they've gone for it 18 times and converted 72 percent of the time.
As I've studied our quarters, the quarter that they've done the best this year is the third quarter, where they've outscored their opponents 49-13 and offensively they've only allowed 10 sacks (this season).
Now, everyone will say because they lost a quarterback last year when he went on to the (Atlanta) Falcons that there would be a huge drop-off, but Chris Crane has done a nice job for them. He's been the back-up for the last couple of years. He's a senior who has kind of paid his dues and waited his time.
He's not the same type of quarterback (as Matt Ryan). He's actually a guy who likes to run the ball a little bit more, not afraid to run it. They actually do run some read options with him actually carrying the ball. The other thing, if he doesn't see something in the passing game open, he's not afraid to pull it down and go with it. He does a nice job feeling pressure and avoiding the rush and getting out of the pocket and throwing the ball away when he's under duress.
At running back I think we'll probably see two guys. They're both freshmen. Probably see (Josh) Haden as the starter. He's been their starter, last week 15 carries for 71 yards. He's not a big guy, but he runs hard. He's very quick and he's also a good receiver out of the back field. (Montel) Harris is the other guy we'll see, also a freshman. He's not that much different than Haden. He's not that much different. They're not real big guys but both backs that run real hard.
At fullback (James) McCluskey is their starting fullback. He's more athletic than most fullbacks we go against. He's a good receiver out of the back field. They're not afraid to put him as a one back in one back sets when they're in the shotgun.
At tight end, (Ryan) Purvis is their starter, big guy, six-four, 260, good hands, good receiver, runs good routes. He really gives good effort in both protection and especially in the run game. Lars Anderson is the other kid we'll see there who is their second tight end.
Moving on to wide receiver. (Brandon) Robinson is their Z. He's a returning starter at wide receiver. He started every game this year. He's their most productive receiver. He's got 27 catches for 444 (yards), averaging over 16 yards a catch.
(Rich) Gunnell, he was the guy who was the returning team leader receiving yardage from a year ago. We'll see him play at Z, but more often than not he usually comes in at the slot and does a good job as a guy who catches the ball well from the slot position.
They also use another guy at Z, a real tall guy, (Ifeanyi) Momah, who is six-six, 225. And where they really like to put him in the game is in the red zone. After watching (Jonathan) Baldwin playing the other day I could see them seeing some things that happened in the game and try to use him the same way.
At X, (Justin) Jarvis, he's a junior, wide receiver who adds some size. He's another six-five guy. (Clarence) Megwa had a serious leg injury. Looks to me like he's gone, so looks like Jarvis will be the guy.
The offensive line, it's a nice composition of players. (Anthony) Castonzo who started against us last year at right tackle, he's moved over to left tackle. He's done a nice job for them transition. He's shown he's athletic with some feet. (Clif) Ramsey who was their right guard moved over to left guard in the spring.
The whole offensive line really starts with (Matt) Tennant. He's their center, most experienced guy they've got. He started 22 games. He's athletic. Reminds me a lot of Dan Koppen, to tell you the truth. There's another BC guy who I coached. He gets on the second level, he moves okay, he's a 'tries-hard guy.' Plays physical.
(Thomas) Claiborne will start at right guard for them. He was a defensive lineman and moved over to the offensive line and won the job in the spring. Another guy with good strength and physical. He has good strength, he plays physical, he's 325 pounds. As a matter of fact, that right side of their line with (Rich) Lapham right next to him, he's six-eight, 322. So they've got some big size over on the right side of their line. But the line is definitely anchored by Tennant.
Defense, Coach (Frank) Spaziani who I know very well and have a lot of respect for, defensive coordinator for 10 years, they're statistically in all sorts of categories, given up 19 points a game, which is 27th, 106 yards rushing in the game, which is 19th. Only giving up 3.2 per carry. They're only giving up 168 yards passing in the game. That's 14th. Total yards, under 275. That's 10th.
Okay. In the red zone people aren't scoring touchdowns. They've only scored touchdowns 42 percent of the time, and they've got 21 sacks this season, which is 28th in the country. So they're statistically up there in a whole bunch of different categories. Last week, for example, they had three interceptions and two sacks against Clemson.
Now, their defensive line starts with the two big bodies inside. I think that we'll talk about their ends but it all starts with -- they play eight guys on the defensive line, but (Ron) Brace and (B.J.) Raji, these guys are big guys, they're both well over 300 pounds. They're very good against the run. They're big physical players, and one of the reasons why they're playing so good on -- solid on defense is because it all starts with those two guys up front.
Giles will handle their left defensive end. He got in there after Albright hurt his neck. So he took over for him and Ramella, he's on the other side and he's probably as athletic a guy that they're playing with and he plays hard.
Now, at linebacker, the guy who is their big adjuster in all they do, which gives them a lot of versatility, is (Mark) Herzlich. You'll see him all over the field, plays physical. He's a good tackler, smart, tough, runs to the ball. From what it looks like to me, he looks like a leader on that defense.
(Mike) McLaughlin, and (Robert) Francois, he'll play their will. They lost Brian Toal, was a big loss for him. I've known the Toal family a long time, so I wish Brian well. His father is a big high school coach from Jersey that I have a lot of respect for.
Their secondary, I'll name a bunch of guys, which is unusual because we don't usually get into this. But, first of all, it starts with (Kevin) Akins. Now, he starts as their boundary corner, but when they go to nickel he moves inside to linebacker, which is a very unusual combination. And he also, when they run this odd package, he's the guy that will walk all over the place. So he's six-two, 224, starting at boundary corner and they don't ask him to back out of there a lot of the time. He plays a hard corner. He's physical and he'll hit you. But he gives them a lot of versatility. It's interesting how he goes from corner to an inside guy when they go to nickel. When he does that, Rollins will come in for him.
At the field corner, they'll play either (DeLeon) Gause or (Donnie) Fletcher. At strong safety they'll play (Marcellus) Bowman or (Paul) Anderson. And Anderson really is going to start at free safety. It's him or Wes Davis. There's three guys that play. Anderson, Davis and Bowman handle the two safety positions.
Coach (Don) Yanowsky, he handles the special teams. Biggest problem we have is their punt returns are averaging just under 15 yards a punt return. (Steve) Aponavicius, he handles their place kicking. (Billy) Bennett is the kick-off guy. Didn't play last week. Not sure of the details why he didn't play last week. I don't know if he's playing this week or not. When he didn't kick off last week, Aponavicius handled one kick off and (Ryan) Quigley, their punter, handled the rest of them.
Their holder is Billy Flutie, also back-up punter, and long snapper is (Jack) Geiser. On kick-off return they'll use (Jeff) Smith and (Montel) Harris. Smith has a reputation as an All-American type kick-off returner and (Rich) Gunnell will handle the punt returns.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Charlie, going back to the Stanford game, which you guys won, it seems the offense has had trouble grinding out first downs, keeping the clock running in the second half. What's the issue with that? Is there anything, any, I guess, specific reasons why?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that when you're running things on offense, it isn't just grinding it out and the running game. I think the complexion of how a game goes has a lot to do with how you call a game.
I mean, sometimes as you're grinding it out and getting first downs or not getting first downs, you're content with playing a field position game. Other times you're just, you know, saying the heck with that, we don't have to play a field position game.
But the complexion of games sometimes changes as all of a sudden -- let's say you're shutting the team's offense down and all of a sudden they start kicking it into gear. The complexion of the game, there's ebbs and flows that happen in a game. So I think each game has its own set of circumstances that come with that.
Q. You'll hear fans or media get frustrated about, quote, being too conservative, sitting on a lead. But there's reasons why you can't just go bombs away, right, when you're up three touchdowns in a second half?
COACH WEIS: You can definitely go bombs away. But when you're up two or three touchdowns, what you're trying to do is do whatever you can to score another one. But do it within -- doing it within the team element, you know -- when we've gone into every game, what we do is devise a complementary game plan that intertwines the offense, defense and special teams, and you come up with what you feel you're going to have to do to win a specific game and try to play the game accordingly.
Q. Do you kind of know going in maybe what if you're up two touchdowns, you know second half we can keep passing on this team or this is a team we can run on, do you think those things through?
COACH WEIS: You do that some at halftime, but there's the feeling in the game whether or not you've got the team reeling or not.
I'll give you an example. Like I'm not rehashing last week's game that much because I'm off to Boston College, but last week on offense they had 71 yards of total offense. So you're coming in at halftime. They're sitting there with 71 yards of total offense. You're feeling pretty good about your chances, just as long as you keep on doing what you're doing.
And all of a sudden the momentum starts to go the other way, then you have to go ahead and react accordingly.
Q. Coach, you talked a little bit about how BC's had Notre Dame's number. How far back do you go with his team or does it not apply because you only go to last year or what?
COACH WEIS: I go back to last year. That's it. That's as far as I go back. We played them last year. I thought it was a competitive game. We had some games last year that weren't competitive. This wasn't one of them. They were a really good football team last year with a lot of veteran guys playing for them. I thought with you slugged it out good with them, but that quarterback made a few too many plays.
Q. Any thoughts on the rivalry between the two schools?
COACH WEIS: Just that I lived in New England for nine years. I lived up there. And I know that there's a lot of very similar compositions in the schools. I have a lot of respect for Boston College, and I know that they'd like nothing more than beating Notre Dame. And conversely we'd like nothing more than beating them just the same.
But I know that living up there for nine years, I think that you could see that this would be one of the ones that they've got a big asterisk on their schedule.
Q. Any thoughts after the game about the next 24, 48 hours being crucial, how do you think that went?
COACH WEIS: You need to ask them. It might not have been very pleasant. I think that yesterday morning probably didn't start off too well for the fellows. Okay. But by yesterday afternoon I think things were on track. It wasn't a good start of the day.
Q. A little off topic, have you heard from Brady since he --
COACH WEIS: We chatted last evening, yes, we did.
Q. How about with today being election day, do you talk to the team at all about what that means to the country?
COACH WEIS: I will probably address that briefly. I think that it's important for me to not show a political favorite here, just talk about the importance of elections.
But right now the election I'm worrying about is going up to Boston, going up to Chestnut Hill to see if we can't do some damage right there.
I've already casted my vote.
Q. Is this BC defense the best defense you've faced up to this point?
COACH WEIS: Statistically, it's not close. They're a lot different than a lot of the teams we've played because they've shown statistically they're good against both the run and the pass. Normally when you go against a team, they're statistically -- you know, if they're good on defense, usually there's one side that they do the best. Like they'll shut down the running game. And everyone has to throw against them.
But people have had trouble running against them and people have had trouble throwing against them. So I would say they're definitely the most balanced solid defense that we've gone against.
Q. You obviously already have a road victory, but this one's a little bit different. What's the point of emphasis this week heading back to the road?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that this will be a very hostile crowd on Saturday night a little bit after 8:00, and could be a little rainy and looking at the weather report, and giving all those students from Boston College a whole day to prepare to be ready for that game and it's a small stadium and it's right on top of you, it's kind of like "us against the world" mentality, which I think that that's the way the players are going to have to go in there.
Q. I know you don't talk about injuries and I'm not asking for an injury report, but just wonder if Jimmy Clausen got banged around a little bit Saturday, did that impact him, say, in overtime when he missed on a couple of throws?
COACH WEIS: He's on the injury report every week. So it's a whole litany of different things. But was he banged up? Was he banged up during the game? Sure, he got sacked one time, though. I mean it wasn't like he got hit a whole bunch of times.
I don't think that that had an impact on us winning or losing.
Q. Pittsburgh's defensive line seemed to do a better job of rushing Clausen in the overtime. Did you feel your offensive line wore down a little bit with the extra time on the field?
COACH WEIS: What play are you referring to?
Q. I'm not referring to any specific play. But they started putting more heat on Clausen in the overtime period.
COACH WEIS: I don't think the offensive line wore down. I don't think it was that type of game. We threw the ball and ran the ball pretty close to the same amount. We threw it a little bit more than we ran it. I think we threw it 44 times, ran it 30 some times.
I don't feel that they were worn down, no.
Q. You said what one play, there was a play where they had a three-man rush and got to him or made him step up and vary his throw.
COACH WEIS: I don't remember exactly the play -- I'm not being evasive. I just don't remember exactly the one you're talking about. If you told me I'd probably remember. But I just don't remember it.
Q. Just following up on your Chris Stewart report on Sunday, where does that --
COACH WEIS: He had an MRI yesterday that we'll get the results back from today. I would imagine -- just from looking at him, I would imagine he'd be gone for a little while. And based off of MRI it could be when they come back he might have to get it scoped.
But I don't want to be premature in what I'm saying, but just looking at him it didn't look like he'd be ready for a while. So that just means we move Trevor (Robinson) up and let's go.
Q. Speaking of Trevor, can you talk about why he's been able to play as a true freshman, what's brought him to that point, and then kind of as you look, project into the future what you see him getting better at?
COACH WEIS: First of all, he's a good, young football player. But here's a perfect case, not that I'm a big supporter of mid-year guys, but I think the reason why he's in position to be more competitive as a freshman is the fact that he had gone through the spring, and that kind of gives you a jump-start.
Now, when you're coming into training camp it isn't like you're hearing it for the first time. Now you're hearing it for the second time. And I think with his athletic ability, okay, together with the fact that he was here in the spring, I think that gave him a chance to be much more competitive as we led him to the fall.
Q. I wonder how Jimmy's good cop/bad cop session went and knowing again that the kid is sort of on the injured list every week, do you have to be careful how much bad cop is in there knowing that you are getting pretty good effort?
COACH WEIS: Not yesterday.
Q. How was Brandon Walker in practice, when he came back to practice?
COACH WEIS: He was already better by Sunday. Psychologically he was already better. He had already gone through it. We had the conversation on the field. Had the conversation in the locker room.
As a matter of fact, I only called one player on Saturday night when I went home. The one player I called when I went home Saturday night was him, to tell you the truth. I'm not in the big habit on Saturday night after a loss to call up everyone and ask them how they're doing. But he was the one person I did.
But I think Brandon will be fine.
Q. Following up with a Brady Quinn question. Is there something that you can share about that conversation, something that he said to you or that you said to him?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I'll give you one a little anecdote. He said, 'well, it's the same as every week. I prepare the same every week.' I said, 'hey, Brady that's a bunch of garbage; you can tell it to someone else who wants to hear that stuff.' I go, 'you can say you're preparing the same every week, but it's the one thing when you're the back-up, the other thing is when you're the starter,' which is exactly what I said, 'you can tell somebody else that wants to hear that.'
Q. When you spread out in your five-wide, it's been good for you now. It's been a change-up a lot of times. Is it possible to do that throughout a game?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, the only problem is when people -- there's two things that teams do that put a little extra thinking when you do this. One is you go five wide and they just bring six guys. You've got five to block six. And it forces you every time you're out there, you're going to have to be ready to throw the ball quick, and you're going to be ready to get the quarterback hit.
And I'm not really big on getting the quarterback hit on free runs that often. Number one. Number two, what a lot of teams do on the complete flip side of that is they just rush three guys and they drop eight. So now you've got five guys out there, but like you'll see in the last couple of games, you saw it in North Carolina. You saw it in Pitt. Now they're in five under three deep.
So now the windows to throw the ball become that much smaller, too. So those two extremes are the things that you have to guard against.
Everything in between becomes throw and catch. But those are the two -- when you're practicing, you can't just line up in a four-man rush every time because that's not what people do on every play.
Q. And because you don't have a running quarterback, is that why maybe it works better as a change-up than as your bread and butter?
COACH WEIS: Because what a lot of teams will do when they get into that is when they go a three-man rush, tell them to pull it down and go. That's not really our deal.
Q. Curious about the dynamics of the play calling. After the game you said you would call formation and then Coach Haywood would then put in a play. Is that how it goes for the entire game? Are there different circumstances?
COACH WEIS: When we go no-huddle it goes that way. And all's that is is to go ahead and get the guys lined up.
See, when I can quickly -- when he looks over, right when the play is over and I give him a formation, now Michael has time to look down to that formation and decide what play he's going to run and the guys can kind of go to the right areas, can get to the right areas while we're waiting for the play to come in.
Remember, when we're going no huddle and it's not two minute, there's not a sense of urgency at the time. So it's just trying to get everyone kind of lined up to the right spot while we're waiting for the play to come in.
All it does is expedites getting people lined up so that once the play, once Michael does give the play to Ron and then Ron signals the number of the play in, now everyone can get ready to go.
Q. Why is it that you call the formation? Is it just to expedite things?
COACH WEIS: It's just to push them to get them to get lined up. There's only -- wherever the ball is, there's only a couple of formations we line up in. We might line up in one of two formations. If the ball is on the right hash mark we're either going to line up in a two-by-two to the right or three-by-one to the left. That's the only two formations we're in.
So then Michael will have a list of plays of the two-by-two to the right and three-by-one to the left and pick from them. So it's really my active role is just to help them get lined up quicker while he's picking what we're going to end up doing.
Q. So he's not handcuffed by necessarily because --
COACH WEIS: Oh, no. There's a big volume in both those formations. And there's runs, play actions, drop-backs and both those formations. So that doesn't get your hands tied behind your back.
Q. Have you tweaked anything with Coach Haywood as the season moved along? Are you basically using the same process you were for San Diego State when it comes to discussing plays?
COACH WEIS: Everything is the same except for when we go into the huddle. When we go into the huddle, which we do a lot, like when James (Aldridge) is in the game and we're just pounding away, now it's just huddle calls. Now everyone goes in the huddle, we huddle, and he gives -- once again, give Ron (Powlus) the number of the play and Jimmy just calls the play.
Q. In a huddle does Coach Haywood do the formation and --
COACH WEIS: No, every play that we have, okay, has a formation and a play. So if he wants play 43, that's the play we run. He wants to put it in left formation, he'll say flip 43. And then it will be in left formation. It's a very simple process. Been doing it for the last 20 years. So it's not that difficult.
Q. Washington obviously is fairly easy win, obviously when you look at the scoreboard and whatnot. The tougher games, do you interject more? Do you try to stay clear? Does it make any difference what's going on the field as far as your role?
COACH WEIS: I'm pretty much the same in every game. It does make a difference whether it's a tight game or it's a big game one way or another. I'll say, hey, I'll say, you've got to reel them. Like if you're running the ball and you just ran it four times in a row for 10 yards a pop, I'll say, you know, you've got them reeling, but if you're throwing the ball all over the place, go ahead, keep doing it.
Q. As far as scripting plays, how much input do you have? Is that all Coach Haywood?
COACH WEIS: When you're in no-huddle there's hardly any scripting of plays. Scripting of plays is only related to when you're huddling. When you're no-huddling -- because you don't know where the ball is going to go, therefore those formations we were talking about, you don't know if the ball is going to be in the right hash or left hash or in the middle of the field. Therefore, you don't know what formation is going to be up. So therefore you can't have a play dialed up next.
Q. Can you give us an idea of what made yesterday morning unpleasant?
COACH WEIS: What made yesterday morning unpleasant? Well, I'd already decided that the best thing to do -- normally what happens on a Monday is a Monday the previous game gets carried over from the morning into the afternoon before you start really get going on the next game.
And I felt the best thing to do would be to get the previous game out of the way in the morning so that by the time we came here in the afternoon you weren't dealing with a previous game anymore. So I was the one who took care of the previous game. And then in the afternoon the assistant coaches got to get working on the next game.
So I was the bad cop.
Q. So it was more in talking about the game, not necessarily the drills they had to do or the --
COACH WEIS: No, it was the talk about the game, very clearly. It was the talk about the game. The drills were a side bar. They were irrelevant in comparison to the start of the meeting, let's just say that.
Q. You got a sense in the afternoon that the team was -- put Pittsburgh behind them?
COACH WEIS: You could tell very clearly that we had moved on. Because I also -- when you do something like that, also the assistant coaches were -- under my guidance were, say, okay, fellows, I've already taken care of that stuff. Now let's start dealing with the things that I was talking about by getting a team ready to go against Boston College.
So what I didn't want to do is me hammer them and them hammer them and it prolonged into the day and now you leave here on Monday no better than when you left on Saturday.
But that was not the case yesterday.
Q. And was there one message in general to them you're saying what you need to get behind you?
COACH WEIS: Yes, the message is it's not okay. You know, you lose a game and the people come to you, 'God, that was a tough game. Four overtimes, that was a good game. God, it was close.'
Well, from my standpoint, the message was it's not okay.
Q. Is that kind of a year ago that would have been okay, maybe. It's never okay to lose, but is this an idea that it's playing good is not good enough, winning is what has to be?
COACH WEIS: I'd say that that's a fair question. I'd say that's what it's all about. The second part is a fair question. Would it have been okay last year? It wouldn't have been okay last year either. It wouldn't have made any difference between last year and this year. But from here and now, it's definitely -- it's definitely a valid question and the answer would be yes.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the play of David Bruton this season?
COACH WEIS: Every time you turn around he's making 10 or 15 tackles, or has an interception or in the red zone he's made a bunch of plays in the red zone, whether it's strip sack fumble or -- for example, a play that a lot of people didn't even make a big deal out of, but Raeshon (McNeil) intercepts the ball and runs the ball down the red zone but then he gets strip sacked, and who is there to recover it? David Bruton.
Even though he didn't make the interception, there he is down the field and when the ball's laying on the ground -- because, after all that, and, okay, once Raeshon gets strip sacked when he's running with the ball, they could get the ball back and now the score at halftime is 10-3 instead of 17-3.
Q. I think back in August you said that when NFL coaches talked to you, he was the one name that came up the most often. Is that still the case?
COACH WEIS: There's not a doubt.
Q. Frequently this year or a couple times this year you mentioned that Golden being the fastest guy on the team. Golden said David beat him in a race and David said he's been pleading with you coaches to acknowledge that fact but you won't do it. Just wondering -- why you want to set him as being the fastest guy?
COACH WEIS: David is going back to his days when he was 180 pounds when he got here, when he was a track guy playing football. When you see David this week, you tell him he's now a football player that used to run track.
Q. He said he beat Golden in a 40-yard dash this summer and Golden said he did.
COACH WEIS: I can just tell you when you go on the field if Golden is running, he's running by David, just so you know that (Laughter).
Q. You mentioned how Boston College this week, big asterisk, it's a red letter day whenever Notre Dame comes to town. There's been a popular theory especially prevalent when Tom O'Brien was the coach, that this game is bigger to Boston College than Michigan, USC, big rivalry, only so many names but Boston College, this is significant. How do you match that type of intensity?
COACH WEIS: We're trying to change that this week. We have to, like you say, and that's definitely a fair -- that's also a fair statement. When you're playing all those games that, teams that you play year in, year out. Home and home and you have those games all the time.
But I'm putting a lot of importance on this game with the fellows this week. I don't think it's going to be -- by the time we play there, I don't think it's going to be any more important to them than it is to us.
Q. The disparity in tackles, the two safeties, David (Bruton) and Kyle (McCarthy), both 70s, over 50, is that an indictment maybe on the run defense or is it just everything is so set up that they end up cleaning up?
COACH WEIS: When you're a blitz zone team, which is what we are, when you're a blitz zone team, the down safety the is the guy who is in position to make most of the tackles. Because the guy who rotates down to a three deep side is usually the guy who doesn't have a hat on him and he's in the action.
Usually they can get a hat on everybody else, but the guy who they usually don't get a hat on is that safety. So he's really in the position -- he's in the best position to make a play if action's coming his way.
Q. Is it still too much of a disparity to be comfortable with that?
COACH WEIS: No, if you're going to block seven with seven and he's the eighth, he's the unblocked guy. That's why you do this defense. That's why you go ahead and bring a blitz zone. That's why when they blocked those other guys the one guy who rotates down is the guy who is unaccounted for. And in this defense, the guy who is probably going to be involved in the mix the most is going to be the safety rotated down to where the pressure's coming.
Q. Pitt used the Wildcat formation, something so popular even in the NFL running game?
COACH WEIS: Against the Patriots. I caught it.
Q. Even Bill Belichick got beat on something like that. What makes it so effective? From the untrained guy it looks like it's straight through the tail back?
COACH WEIS: It's really simple. You gain an extra blocker. You gain an extra blocker. If you think about it, the quarterback is the main ball carrier, which in our case is not the case. But the quarterback's on the field but he's outside. Somebody has to cover him. Even though he's not going out for a route most of the time, somebody has to -- so that's one guy you have to go cover a guy who is not even going out for a pass.
So really what you've done is you've gained an advantage because you've gained an extra blocker, because really football is played 11 on 10. There's 11 defensive guys and 10 offensive guys because the quarterback, unless he's going to carry the ball, which we don't do very often, they're one up on you.
But if the quarterback is now detached and the quarterback, the acting quarterback is actually the lead ball carrier, now it's 11 on 11.
Q. Would it be less likely that you would be able to use this because perhaps you don't have the running quarterback out there?
COACH WEIS: Oh, no, if we wanted to take Jimmy, go put him outside and snap the ball to Armando, one of those other guys, we could do that. I kind of like the ball in Jimmy's hands, to tell you the truth.
Q. Kind of following up on some of the questions about Jimmy before, has there been a point this season where he was so banged up you considered not playing him or pulling him?
COACH WEIS: No, there's never been a time this season where he was so banged up we wouldn't play him.
Q. And obviously you're going back to Boston this week. Your feelings on that since you did spend a decade there?
COACH WEIS: Well, both my kids were born there. Relatively close to where we're going to be. I've got a lot of memories there. A lot of good memories there. I've got some bad memories there, too, going through the problems with Hannah we had there. Trust me, there's a lot of bad memories there. Going through a bad operation. That doesn't bode too well for my memory banks early.
But I have a lot of close friends there. And I've let them all know that I won't be seeing them because I'm not going there to go hang out with my boys. I'm going there to help our team beat Boston College. That's one thing they don't get; you come into town, they figure you're just going to have all sorts of free time for them. It just doesn't work out that way.
Q. One more on the safeties. Kyle (McCarthy) and Dan (McCarthy), how are they similar? How are they different? They look like they're practically clones?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, they do look alike. Dan is more free safety-ish than Kyle. He has very good range. Kyle was a little smaller when he first got there. So when Kyle first got here, they were almost exactly the same as far as body types and everything. Now, Kyle's gotten a lot bigger since he's been here. So he's become more of a strong safety type than a free safety type.
I think one of the things that they're really looking forward to about the potential possibility of actually some time in the future being on the same field at the same time, I think that fires them up a little bit.
Q. How realistic is that? I guess it's more on Dan progressing at this point.
COACH WEIS: I mean, one guy's got to be able to -- has to apply for a fifth year and come back and the other guy's got to earn himself some time. Could I see that happening? Could I see both of those things happening? Yeah, I could see both of those things happening.
Q. Did they play the same way, the same attitude?
COACH WEIS: I know a lot more about Kyle now than I know about Dan. But they both had quarterback background too offensively. Both of them did. And both of them have very good instincts in the secondary.
Q. And has anything Kyle done, the way he's produced, like you said a lot of the defense is set up for the safeties to produce the way they are, but has it been more than you expected in some ways?
COACH WEIS: I think he's proven to be a very sure tackler, coming in, that's the big question, what are we going to do with safety. And I think he's shown to be one of the better players on our defense, to tell you the truth. He's been a very sure tackler. And the communication between him and David Bruton I think has been exceptional.
Q. Coach, you mentioned a couple, I think it was last week, and this was talking about being ranked. You said to be ranked you have to beat the better teams on your schedule. And forgetting about the ranking for a minute I'm wondering beating the better teams on the schedule are you kind of running out of time. Does this game have some added importance in that way in that to make that statement there aren't that many better teams left, I guess?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that, first of all, I think that if you just, you know, revisit like the North Carolina game and revisit the Pitt game, I mean the bottom line is being close just isn't good enough.
And I'm almost happy that we're playing Boston College this week after last week's game, because it gives the team another opportunity, as you're implying, but it gives the team another opportunity right off the bat, right after that four over time loss to go on the road and beat a good team.
Q. You also mentioned that you were going to go back early in the week with your own coaches and look at some of the things you did well, you do well, and maybe try to simplify and do more of that and maybe eliminate some mental mistakes. This is kind of a weird question, but do you feel like there's enough things you guys are doing well? Offensively, are there enough different things? I know the five wide and Jimmy throwing has been real successful. But offensively and defensively my question is do you think you have enough different things to hang your hat on?
COACH WEIS: Absolutely. We have a couple of young receivers on the outside that are getting big production. Quarterback's not getting sacked very much. The running backs, the running backs when they're carrying the ball usually are getting pretty good production.
Quarterback, knock on wood, the quarterback goes through the game throws it over 40 times has no picks. Defensively, pretty much kick their butt in the first half of the game. They go and scheme you a little bit and get back into the game. You get to overtime. Defense holds them without a score for four overtimes and the offense doesn't score a touchdown.
I mean, there's plenty of stuff just from that game alone that you could sit there and pick good and bad and I think that one of the things we did as a coach was to tried to harp on the good and just get rid of the bad.
Q. Okay. I guess my point was maybe misunderstood, or more than likely I didn't phrase the question very well. I meant the passing game and young receivers and the play makers have emerged there and Jimmy has been a strength week in, week out. There's something there. And I just wondered if you feel like there were that many other just absolute staples week in, week out, things you can count on and build around, because that's what I got a sense that you were talking about today when you were talking about simplifying a little bit?
COACH WEIS: No, I just thought that in the last game I just think that there were just too many -- I wouldn't say mental -- there were too many mental errors from my perspective. Now mental error to me might be something that's more particular than you would think.
For example, if a quarterback is in the shotgun and he catches the ball and takes one step, there's a certain timing route that goes with that. When he catches the ball and takes three steps, there's a different timing that goes with that. I'm just using that as an example of making sure we're more on mark to make sure we're all on the same page so everything works out whether it be the running game or passing game.
And that would be true on defense as well. You know you're bringing a lot of pressure. You're bringing a lot of heat. And even when you don't get to the quarterback, you gotta make sure that you're in the right spot, because in the first half you can hold them to 71 yards, and then the runner starts breaking through on the second half. You're really playing pretty much the same defense. You have to go back there and sit there and say, well, what did we do different, which really wasn't a whole heck of a lot, and how are they productive in the second half versus the first half, and then go ahead and fix it accordingly.
Q. This is somewhat of a timely question, but because you're playing BC and I work in Boston, it makes sense for me to ask, but right now in your first three plus seasons here, has coaching Notre Dame since you left the Patriots -- has it lived up to what you thought it would be and does anything stick out as not surprising or something that you did not see coming?
COACH WEIS: I love coaching at Notre Dame. I loved my coaching experience at New England as well. But I think that I'll always just -- and I'll always have a bunch of good friends and people I respect at New England, especially in the Patriot organization. But I think that this is my alma mater and this is my home and this is my life and I'm happy to be here.
Q. Is there anything about the job or just in general that has surprised you?
COACH WEIS: No. I wouldn't say surprised me. Like these guys are all sitting here in front of me kind of know this answer, but I'll give it to you. The big difference, you're in New England. Bill's the man, and it's his program and you just follow his lead because that's the Patriot way. Here, you're the man. And one thing that happens at Notre Dame, or I'm sure this is true at most colleges, you wear a lot of extra hats in addition to being a football coach.
It isn't just about coaching football. There's a lot of other facets that you have to deal with. So when you're an offensive coordinator just dealing with half of the team with the Patriots especially with a bunch of good players that are winning championships versus being the head man here where you're wearing a lot of hats, that's quite a difference.
Q. And how much better of a handle do you have on that now as opposed to, say, even maybe two years ago?
COACH WEIS: A ton. It's a ton different now from when I first got here. There's a lot of things as you grow, as you grow and continue for years and years, keep on looking for better ways of doing things. And the one thing you have to be willing to do is you have to be willing to change and listen and change and go in a different direction, if there's a better way of doing it, that's the way you gotta do it.
Q. This is probably old news to the guys there, but how is your knee doing and how does that affect you on a day-to-day basis?
COACH WEIS: My knee's doing crummy, thanks for asking. But I'm actually going to in the near future have an MRI and find out exactly the extent of where we are and if I'm getting it fixed. I already have a couple of tentative dates that I would get it fixed. But the problem is you have to go right on the road recruiting as soon as the regular season is over, boom, you're on the road recruiting, so you really can't get it done as expeditiously as you would like to. So we'll just have to wait and see and find out exactly what the results are first.
Q. And I guess sort of aside from the pain it causes, does that affect you on a day-to-day basis? Is it hard to do your job because of that?
COACH WEIS: No, as a matter of fact, it doesn't really do much other than the fact that when I'm up and walking around, you know, there's no sense of whining about it, it's just the way it is. It is what it is.
Q. Have you ever been the good cop after a loss?
COACH WEIS: Have I ever?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I actually have been. But not as the head coach. I've been in that position where, whether it be Parcells or Belichick, just goes in and they take care of the bad side and you have to do the damage control.
But I think it's important, when we go back to what I said the other day about the psyche of the team, what you couldn't ever do is let them leave on Monday not already having moved on.
So by breaking up the day the way we do on Monday it allowed the morning to be the time to get that out of the system and then in the afternoon time to move on, because if not they leave on Monday and they come in on Tuesday and we're in the exact same position we were on Saturday.
Q. This team seems very confident going into North Carolina and that's the reason they were down coming out of it. Considering what's happened two of the last three games, do you feel like this team's confidence is kind of at a shaky point?
COACH WEIS: No, I'm happy they have Boston College. They're looking forward to playing Boston College. If it were another opponent, I'd be a little bit more concerned. But Boston College has their attention.
Q. Trevor (Robinson), does he remind you of anyone you've coached here or in the past?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, but not that you guys would know. Reminds me a little bit of Steve Neal, but you wouldn't know who Steve Neal was so that doesn't help you out too much.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
End of FastScripts
Don't write off Boston College
ACC title hopes still exist
By Steve Conroy
Monday, November 3, 2008 - Added 16h ago
The Boston College football team is eight games into its season and the Eagles are right where they were predicted to be in the preseason. The Eagles are fourth in the six-team ACC Atlantic Division and on the far outside looking in on the national polls.
But while they need a little help to get back in the race for the ACC championship, they don't exactly need a miracle for things to line up in their favor. Division-leading Maryland has a two-game edge on the Eagles in the loss column, but the Terrapins have Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State - all losable games for the Terps - before they finish the regular season with a trip to Chestnut Hill.
The two other teams ahead of BC are Florida State and Wake Forest and each has a one-game lead on the Eagles. BC plays both teams in the coming weeks.
So it's not inconceivable for the Eagles to land in Tampa for the title game as the Atlantic Division representative.
The Eagles just need to get their own house in order, especially on offense. In Saturday's 27-21 loss to Clemson, Chris Crane threw the ball 39 times with only 116 yards to show for it. The fifth-year senior made a terrific play on a fourth-and-4 situation in the fourth quarter on which he flung off a would-be tackler and found Brandon Robinson in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown and a short-lived lead. But that was it for the offensive highlights.
"We didn't have an aggressive game plan," BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "We didn't want to turn the ball over. Could we have done better? Yeah. I thought we left some yards on the field, in particular in the passing game. But it is what it is."
Jagodzinski is caught in a catch-22. After Crane threw six costly interceptions in the previous two games, Jagodzinski's No. 1 priority was to cut down on the turnovers. BC did have two costly fumbles, but Crane did not throw an interception. But the cautious approach took some sizzle out of the offense.
"You can't have it both ways," said Jagodzinski. "We could sling it downfield, but I'm not going to have what I'm trying to avoid, which is the multiple-turnover game. You don't even give yourself a chance that way."
Asked what the happy medium was, Jagodzinski responded: "That's a good question. At some point, you've got to go make a play."
Earlier in the season, Jagodzinski had worked backup QB Dominique Davis into the mix, even giving him most of the Rhode Island game in which the redshirt freshman did little more than hand the ball off. But the coach said that Crane remains his best option at quarterback.
"If I thought that Dom was the best guy to go with now, then I would," Jagodzinski said.
However they do it, the Eagles must pick up the pieces and move forward. They are on the second losing streak of the Jagodzinski era. They must keep it as short as the first (two games) if they want to reach their goals.
"I don't think you ever feel good about losing a ball game, but I know who my guys are," he said. "I know that they'll fight you for 60 minutes."
Wide receiver Clarence Megwa will miss the rest of the season after breaking both bones in his lower leg on a play in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss. The junior will undergo surgery today. . . .
With Billy Bennett on indefinite suspension, Jagodzinski said he probably will stick with Ryan Quigley on kickoffs and Steve Aponavicius on field goals.
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 2, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions here for Coach Weis.
Q. Charlie, I know it's their day off, but how does it look injury-wise with some of the offensive line?
COACH WEIS: Chris doesn't look very good. His knee locked out on the way out to the field. I forget who asked me the question. His knee just locked on the way to the field. So he's got to get tested. If he does get tested, he'll get scoped. If he did get scoped, it will probably be four weeks.
You know, Trevor is fine. As a matter of fact, I think that's the only offensive lineman that they thought missed time. But he could be a while if it turns out he needs to be scoped.
Q. Olsen is okay?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, Olsen is fine. Well, his ankle, but he's fine to go for tomorrow, so...
Q. Brian emailed us a little bit and said our viewing time is going to be different; there might be a difference in practice schedule. What do you do different this week?
COACH WEIS: After any game, I never sleep very well at night. But after a game like that, I certainly didn't sleep very well. You know, it was about one or two o'clock, I was rolling around. After you've already revisited every play in the game for a while, now you have to think, Okay, what can I do to shock their system, not be in that rut of just doing the same thing you do every day?
So I came up with a schedule for this week, which really more than anything else more affects Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday it starts to settle back in again. But we're doing things different for the next couple days 'cause I think that if I just let them go into their normal routine, I could set it up for them taking a little bit longer to get out of the tank.
As I told you yesterday, my biggest concern was working on the psyche. So tomorrow morning what we'll do is I'll meet with them early at 6:00. The first thing they're going to do is go in and lift and run. Usually that's the area where the camaraderie comes out the best, when they're all pumping iron and running. It kind of gets things out of their system and gets them moving forward.
To do that, to compensate for that, then I had to pull back in the afternoon, because you only get four hours in the day. So we use an hour and a half in the morning. I had to pull back in the afternoon physically and make the afternoon more mentally.
What we haven't done is spend a lot of time on first and second down of our opponent on Mondays. It's been just scouting report and a special teams. But tomorrow we will do first and second down. We will do all the meetings for first and second down for Boston College tomorrow afternoon. Therefore, I don't need as much meeting time on Tuesday when they come in at 2:30. I need some time for them to get ready for the special teams, but other than that it allows us on Tuesday to get out there earlier and get on the field earlier and get going earlier.
So what I'm really trying to do more than anything else is shock their system, you know, get them out of a rut. I had to come up with a plan to make sure that it wasn't just business as usual.
Q. What is still out there for this team? As a head coach, what could their ceiling be as far as what they can accomplish this season?
COACH WEIS: Well, let's start with beating Boston College on the road. That would be a good place to start. There's a lot of similarities. They just lost a tough game at home against Clemson. They're sitting with the same record. We're basically in the same boat right now as far as where we are stat-wise as far as the end of the year.
I think you can't even worry about Navy and Syracuse and USC. You can't even worry about those guys until after you've worried about Boston College.
My biggest job is really the next 48 hours more than it is the next four weeks because the mode for this week is going to be set on Monday and Tuesday. I can't be worrying about the whole rest of the year right now.
Q. I'm sure a lot of people are concerned about Brandon's psyche. But what about Jimmy? He's a guy that would seem like he's really hard on himself, a perfectionist. How do you deal with him?
COACH WEIS: Well, I have a good cop/bad cop situation set up for tomorrow. I happen to be the bad cop. So tomorrow at 1:00, Jimmy will come in and visit with me. I'll go through every play in the game that I have something critical to say about. Now, some of those plays end up being good plays, but that doesn't mean I don't have something critical to say about them. I'll truly be the bad cop.
Then shortly thereafter, when they start going into offensive meeting, Ron gets them. Then Ron gets to be the good cop and show them all the good things that happened in the game.
I think it's important to point out both of them. It's always better to end with the good stuff rather than start with the good stuff so that you have a good taste in your mouth.
Q. Obviously you've given a lot of attention to the whole psyche thing. Obviously they were disappointed after the game last night. I mean, did you sense from them that that was something that you had to immediately address? Is that because it's a relatively young football team and you're concerned about which way it can go?
COACH WEIS: I think the answer to both of those are yes and yes. I think that I felt that I immediately had to address it because, you know, this is the second time in a month's time frame where you're dealing with a similar situation. And this one was even worse. You know, you're talking a four-overtime game.
There's 50 plays in a game. You could say, If he would have done this, if he would have done this, if we would have done that, it's the difference between winning and losing, one play. So I felt it was important to do that.
I think that changing the schedule, to just piggyback on that, is important, too. I didn't allow them just to come in and be in a rut. I think that was important.
Secondly, with the high volume of relatively young players, especially first- and second-year guys, I think you can't let them sit there and take the blame. You have to make them accountable now, okay? They're essential going to be held accountable. At the same time you don't want any one person feeling that they're solely responsible for the outcome of the game because it's a collective effort.
Q. The inability to close games out, it's happened twice. I know you're not calling plays, but you and Mike, do you have to become more aggressive and keep the foot on the pedal a little bit more to make sure you do close it out?
COACH WEIS: We evaluated that today. I went and had a long conversation with the offensive staff. I think the most important thing, first of all, is see what exactly happened. Like we start off the first play of the second half with a very, very advantageous front to the play we had called. The play didn't work out. It was a play that it looked like it should go for a bunch of yards. Then on the very next play, we have a guy miss a sight adjust. You'll see one guy running down the field and the quarterback throwing the sight adjust.
So when you start off the first two plays with an advantageous look, the guy missing a sight adjust, that's just not good football. That's not play calling. Hey, we made plenty of play calls that you'd like to have back in the game - just not those. There's one play that they got us on, which was the next drive, the first play after the turnover in plus territory where we're running a stretch play to the left-hand side, and they blitz the Sam linebacker. Because we had the outside guy in motion, couldn't move the inside guy in motion to go ahead and pick that up. Other than that, what ended up happening is the first two drives the second half, you start with a negative run on the first play, which puts it in a disadvantageous situation.
You have to remember now, the game gets to 17-17 after a couple drives. They proceeded to go on a 75-yard drive, going right down the field to go ahead and take the lead with five minutes and change in the game. So I think that they regained their composure and got back on top.
Probably the most disappointing thing after that wasn't the very end of the game; it was not scoring a touchdown in overtime. That's the most disappointing.
Q. How do you teach killer instinct? For example, how did the Patriots learn a killer instinct?
COACH WEIS: By starting to win a couple of close games. Because once you start winning close games, every time you go out there you're expecting something good to happen at the end of the game instead of something bad to happen at the end of the game.
I do not believe our guys are expecting something bad to happen because these guys are fighting till the end of the game now. You saw both teams going after it right to the very end of the game. They ended up being happy and we ended up not being happy.
I think the first thing that's going to happen, especially for a relatively young team, something good has to happen, you have to win a couple of these close games, and I think your momentum grows from there.
Q. In your three losses in the second half, you've been outscored 54-21 in the third and fourth quarter. Are you losing the line of scrimmage or are you getting out-schemed in the second half in those instances?
COACH WEIS: We're making a few mistakes. I mean, every once in a while the defense wins. I mean, we're making a few mistakes that we shouldn't be making. They aren't new things. It would be one thing if they're new things. But we're making some mistakes.
One of the things we already talked about is, you know, not necessarily cutting back on what we do but going to things that we do the best and just doing them more and seeing if we can't settle into some things so that mentally we don't make a mistake that costs us on the field.
Q. Two or three players yesterday said they think the team was thinking they had the game won going into halftime. How do you prevent them from thinking that or having that mindset?
COACH WEIS: Well, I didn't hear who said that. I don't know who said that.
Q. Golden was one of them.
COACH WEIS: Well, that doesn't surprise me. That's why you ask for him every week.
Let's just say that I'll have a talk with Golden and he won't be saying that any more. He seems to be the team spokesman for two weeks in a row now, just like Michael Floyd was (indiscernible) the ball in the North Carolina game. By the way, I checked with Mike on that. It wasn't the case.
But I think that maybe because he was one of the guys making a mental mistake. Maybe that's where that answer came from. I don't say names. But if we go back and review the bidding on the second play, when we're throwing the sight adjust to a guy who's running a go, we're throwing a ball out there, there's just nobody there. So maybe the next question you should ask him when you talk to him is, Did you see that weak corner coming, the guy who was lined up right over your face? Maybe that would be a better question (laughter).
Q. But he wasn't the only one. A couple other players said they thought the team may have thought they had it won.
COACH WEIS: I'd like to know if they were some of the guys making the other mental mistakes. That's all I'm saying.
I didn't feel that way. I listened to Tim's question. I understand the same thing you're saying. What's happening in the third quarter? But we didn't ask this question last week when we scored two touchdowns and a field goal.
In the first three drives of the second half last week they came out and executed very well. Sometimes it comes down to play calling. Sometimes it comes down to execution.
Q. I know you talked about trying to get the team out of the tank. That's obviously a big job this week. Without trying to scapegoat, do you ever think about from a personnel standpoint elevating somebody so they can have a spark? Not the quarterback, but the equivalent of a goalie, maybe Barry Gallup?
COACH WEIS: I think there will be some players, frontline players, that will definitely be being challenged this week. Not getting into particulars. They'll know who they are tomorrow. If they don't know right now, which they should, they will certainly know tomorrow.
Q. Is there any status update on John Ryan?
COACH WEIS: He's able to go. Just, you know, since he's come back, the guys in front of him have been playing better than him.
Q. You talked about the fourth and one at the end of regulation yesterday.
COACH WEIS: We had a big conversation on that. Called a play-action pass. Actually, we were trying to score. Normally in that situation they bring everybody up close to the line of scrimmage to try to stop you. In that case, when we sent Duval over in motion, the corner didn't run over with him. It kind of looked on tape like maybe he thought he was supposed to run over with him, but he stopped, which now left us -- when he stopped, it kind of left us one man too much on defense right there. So Jimmy just tried to run for the first down. There was no sense throwing the ball at that time.
Q. Jimmy said he saw that, too. You were out of timeouts. Is that a situation where he doesn't have the ability to audible?
COACH WEIS: It was too late to audible at that time, when you already sent the guy across the field. The guy, I believe he was probably supposed to run across the field, but he didn't. Once he didn't, I have a couple choice words because you're sitting there watching it. Sort of like, Oh, no. I might have said, Oh, no, but just a little different way, okay?
Q. How about the timeout, burning two timeouts?
COACH WEIS: He didn't feel comfortable when we were coming out of it that we had the play exactly the right way. I explained to him that we have another timeout. If there's any problem right here, just go ahead and burn it.
We were already prepared if there was anything that was a problem. Another problem occurred after that problem. Now you didn't have any left.
Q. R.J. played pretty much the whole overtime. Any reason you saw to put him in there instead of Lambert?
COACH WEIS: He did a fairly decent job in covering most of the day. A couple tackles he would have liked to have done better. But he's not afraid to be out there. He's one of the guys we were talking about where you could see Blanton playing more. I could definitely see Blanton playing more.
Q. How about Brian Smith, he didn't start the game, but came in early.
COACH WEIS: Grimes didn't start the game either. A couple of those guys missed some time earlier in the week. They knew we weren't going to start them in the game; we would get them in there as quickly as we could.
Q. Does becoming Bowl eligible affect them at all? Is it something they've been talking about?
COACH WEIS: I don't talk about it. I'm sure they think about it. They're smart kids. It's not a subject that I spend time addressing very often. But they know the numbers. They know where they are right now.
Without us spending much time talking about it, because it's sort of like Eric's question before, where could you end up being at the end of the year? Obviously what they want to do is they want to win the rest. They want to be sitting at 9-3. That's where they want to be.
Q. So as a coach, how do you take the pressure off them, keep those types of things out of their mind, keep them focused on the next task at hand?
COACH WEIS: I think we started yesterday. Before I even got off the field, I already started, because I started with Brandon. The kid is taking personal responsibility. Now, would I want him to make the 38-yard field goal? Yes, I would. But the kid had already made four, which was one of the reasons we were still in that position. I wanted him to know that I could give him a whole list of things that could have been the difference between us winning and losing, and that just happened to be one play.
When we got into the locker room, it was more of that type of thought methodology where everyone, coaches and players, have to own up to things that they could have done better, which might have made a difference.
Q. Is the way the game played out, do you think they took this loss as the toughest of the season?
COACH WEIS: I think it was a toss-up with North Carolina. I think it was very similar. You went on the road, thought you had them, then you didn't have them. You had a chance at the end, then you didn't. But the fact that the game went four overtimes, you could win or lose -- any of those could have ended it right there. Remember, we were already into the two-point discussion, too. By the time you get to the third overtime, even though neither team scored a touchdown, now you're going for two now on the third overtime. That's a discussion we had both on offense and defense, if that situation presented itself.
Q. How much different is the process of getting over this loss as opposed to UNC, where now you have to turn it around quick and get focused on Boston College?
COACH WEIS: That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'll reiterate it. Not one of my themes with the players, but internally I'm trying to shock the system. I think if you just go status quo, do the same things you do every day in a normal week, it might be Wednesday before you get them back. Tuesday, once they get out on the field, start running around pretty good, usually they get it out of their system. I can't afford to waste Tuesday. That's why Monday we're going to put in the first down scouting report so that Tuesday, you know, it's going to be an important day. It's not going to be the second time around. I mean, it's not going to be the first time around like a normal week, it's going to be the second time around already.
Q. Was there a shocking of the system after UNC?
COACH WEIS: Yes, but there was time. We spent three days working on fundamentals and techniques. We had Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday without a game coming that week. Then we had a day where we worked on special teams. We had plenty of time to go through this transition.
This time we don't have that time. We don't have time to psychologically rebound. That's why you're forced to do some things a little different so you just don't fall into that rut.
Q. The inability to close out games, did you attribute it to this team being young?
COACH WEIS: I'm not making any excuses. You can attribute it to a lot of things. There's a whole bunch of things that happened in the third and fourth quarters of the game pro and con. I could give you a whole litany of things that happened.
I think "young" is not the word. I think the more experience you have, the easier it comes to be prepared for those situations.
Q. I think most people would look at a team that struggles to close out games, that being an inability to run the ball as well as you would like. How much correlation do you think there is there? Would that potentially be a solution?
COACH WEIS: Actually I thought in the overtimes we had a bunch of good runs. As a matter of fact, we had Armando having those three or four in a row that got us down to the four yard line. That's probably one of the only times I whined the whole game because I thought there was a facemask at the end of that, which would have gotten you first and goal instead of second and four. That changes the whole complexion of that situation right there. Now you're at the four yard line. If they call that a facemask, you're on the two yard line, it's first and goal, you have James in there hammering away trying to run the ball into the end zone.
But it was three or four stretch plays in a row where Armando went from the 25 down to the four yard line. We were sitting there in pretty decent shape. There were a few nice runs in there, too.
Q. You mentioned in some ways you see a lot of the same things. As a coach, is it more frustrating when the same mistakes keep popping up or is it more frustrating when it's a different thing every week?
COACH WEIS: I think error repeaters bother you. By "error repeaters" I mean there's errors addressed both during the week and after a game when it happens. You go through and walk through mistakes from a game. You make sure you present those things during the week. Even if the other team doesn't do those things, you still present them to make sure you got them solved. When they present themselves again in the game, that is frustrating.
Q. We spend a lot of time asking you about the offense, Jimmy, the receivers. Defensively how do you evaluate the way the guys played throughout the course of yesterday?
COACH WEIS: First of all, in the first half, I think they gave up about, what, 70 yards. They got three turnovers in the game. Third down they gave up less than 30% conversions. They handled the blocked punt situation, which we call sudden change. You couldn't have handled it much better when they went out there because they didn't give them a sniff and held them to a field goal. The safeties had a whole bunch of tackles. Reyshawn had a couple picks. Ian was pretty active.
I can give you a whole list. I know I'm going not in sequence right there, but there's a whole bunch of things you're talking about right there that are good things that happened.
The bottom line is, we gave up too many rushing yards in the second half and probably didn't tackle the best. We had five penalties on offense, we only had one penalty on defense, and it was a relatively critical one.
That's basically the synopsis.
THE MODERATOR: That's all the time we have today. Thank you.
End of FastScripts