Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

November 2008 Archives

An interview with:

           

COACH CHARLIE WEIS





BRIAN HARDIN:  We have Coach Weis available at the front table.  Coach Weis
will start with some opening comments, then we'll take questions from the
media.
            COACH WEIS:  Well, Coach Carroll is in his eighth year as the
head coach of the Trojans.  Besides having an 85‑15 record, one stat that I
found a bit overwhelming is the fact he's undefeated in the month of
November as the head coach of USC.  They've been pretty dominant in every
quarter, 89‑34 in the first, 124‑30 in the second, 80‑7 in the third, 91‑12
in the fourth. They've been good in every quarter.
            I want to talk about offense, defense and special teams because
there's some glaring numbers in all three facets.
            Coach Sarkisian, who's not only the offensive coordinator but
the assistant head coach and coaches the quarterbacks. They're averaging 38
points a game, which is 14th in the country.  Rushing for 209 yards a game,
18th in the country.  That's 5.4 per carry by the way.  They're averaging
242 passing in the game, which is 30th in the country.  451 yards overall,
which is 14th in the country.
            When they get in the red zone, they score touchdowns 69% of the
time.  A lot of that starts with Mark Sanchez at quarterback.  Mark played
against us last year.  He has a good, smooth release.  He moves well in the
pocket, moves well out of the pocket.  He's got a very strong arm.  He's got
a stable of runningbacks to give the ball to.  Lately they've been playing
three guys significantly.  Looks like Gable as of late has been the number
one go‑to guy, although Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight, all three of them,
see extensive time.
            A little different, Gable has got great speed.  He's athletic.
He can make you miss. Stafon is a little bit bigger. He goes at 215.  Joe
has that breakaway speed.  That's a very good complementary group of
runningbacks.  All three of them end up being in there.
            On top of that, they got one of the better fullbacks in the
country with Havili.  He's more of a halfback than a fullback, too.  He has
the ability to run with the ball.  He runs hard.  He's a legitimate
receiver, as well.
            McCoy handles the tight ends.  They just replaced those tight
ends.  They always seem to get the same type of body type and athleticism
every time.  Patrick Turner starts at X for them.  He's the most experienced
guy.  Plus he's 6'5", 220, got great size.  Damian Williams is the guy who
has really come on for them. At the beginning of the year, you heard a lot
about Patrick Turner and Hazelton and Johnson.  Those guys are all big‑play
receivers.  But Williams has almost become like the go‑to guy.  Starting at
Z, and when they go to the three‑wide receiver sets, he goes into the slot.
He's really having a heck of a year for them.
            On the offensive line, Brown has settled in. He's been their
left tackle for all 10 games.  Started all 10 games. Byers has been their
left guard. He used to be a center, but now he's their left guard.  O'Dowd
handles the center.  He's a very solid center.
            Right guard and right tackle you'll see a couple of guys.
Parsons and Heberer will handle right guard.  Howell and Butch Lewis we'll
see at right tackle.
            Over to defense, Coach Holt is one of the better defensive
coordinators in college football.  He also handles the defensive line.
They've got big numbers now.  They're first in the country on points per
game, 8.3. Sixth in the country in rushing yardage at 90.2.  Giving up 2.7
yards per carry.  First in the country on pass defense at 132.  They're
second in the country on total defense at 222.  24 sacks.  They're only
letting people convert at 20% on third down.
            As any other defensive line coach/defensive coordinator, it's
all going to start with his defensive linemen.  Clay Matthews is playing
very, very well as one defensive end.  Sometimes they put Everson Griffen in
there more as a pass‑rusher in a nickel situation.  Usually call more plays
opposite of Matthews, the other defensive end.
            Topou starts at their nose.  Moala starts at the three
technique.  They're both big bodies that are aggressive. Those guys, their
size, allows these linebackers that they have to really run to the football.
All three of them, everyone knows about Maualuga, All‑American candidate.
Everyone knows about Cushing because he's maybe a nose behind him. Maiava,
you can just group him in with Cushing and Maualuga because these three
linebackers are as good a combination of linebackers as you can get.
            Their secondary, Pinkard and Harris are going to handle the
corners.  Kevin Thomas, he plays a whole bunch for Pinkard, who usually
moves into their nickel back when they put in nickel.  Harrison has been
starting at strong safety for Ellison, who had gotten banged up.  I don't
know if he'll be in other not.  Mays handles the free safety.  Everyone
knows about Taylor, who is one of the bigger, more physical safeties in
college football.
            Todd McNair, their runningback coach, handles their special
teams.  The first number that sticks out to you right off the bat is their
kickoff return group, which is first in the country.  They're averaging 30.1
per kickoff return.  Woidneck handles their punting.  He doesn't have to
punt very often.  He's only had to punt 37 times.  13 balls being caught
inside the 20, and 10 more being fair caught.  They usually have very good
field position.  So when he does have to punt, he's usually in plus 50
punting.
            Buehler doesn't have to kick very many field goals, he's usually
kicking extra points.  When he does, he's seven for eight.  Stephenson
handles the long snap, Poussan handles the short snapping.  They put their
good guys back there on returns.  Johnson and Gable are back on kickoff
returns.  Ronald Johnson and Gable are back on kickoff returns. Stafon
Johnson handles their punt returns.
            THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead with questions.


            Q.  Your guys coming off a pretty tough loss, what this game
represents to USC, the numbers you just mentioned, how daunting of a
challenge is this given everything that's led up to it?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, if it's every going to get the players'
attention after a tough loss, this gets your attention.  Those numbers are
validated on tape, too.  Sometimes I give you numbers, and people say, Yeah,
but who were they playing, this and that.  This is the team that shows up
every week.  They show up on offense.  They show up on defense.  They show
up on special teams.
            The one thing that happens a whole bunch of times is people will
hang around with them for about a half.  Seems like after halftime all of a
sudden they just start pulling away.
            So just the reason why I emphasize those quarter‑by‑quarter
breakdowns is the fact that you can't just be happy to be hanging around
with them for a half.  If you're going to have a chance to beat 'em, you're
going to have to be ready to play for 60 minutes.


            Q.  Where are your guys at after Saturday?

            COACH WEIS:  I think by yesterday afternoon we were back on
task. The fact that this is USC, I mean, if it might have been just about
any other opponent, you know, I think it might have taken a little bit more
time to get their attention.  But they know this is a daunting task.  I
think immediately it helps, you know, gives you a figurative slap in the
face, saying, Okay, it's time to go back to work.


            Q.  You talk to your guys about everything, 9/11, as well as
ball stuff.  How, if at all, did you address sort of the scrutiny on the
program and even yourself with the guys?

            COACH WEIS:  I think that we don't ‑‑ the way I address it with
them is that we play week by week.  Basically I told them by Saturday night.
After I left the locker room, I talked about my family, I talked about
recruiting, I talked about the things that I actually do.  I said, but at
the end of the day, when it came back to Sunday morning and you're back to
work, it's 4:30, you're sitting back in the office, I think it's back to:
How do you bounce back?  How do you bounce up?  How do you get out of where
you are right there?
            I think that more importantly than anything else, the fact that
it is USC, going back to the comment just a second ago, the fact that it's
USC is probably as good a thing that could happen to these guys to get their
attention right off the bat.


            Q.  I think you addressed this a little bit in the rivalry
question on Sunday. This is a team you see every year. Do you have to kind
of judge your progress as a program?  Are they sort of a gold standard?

            COACH WEIS:  Even though Michigan was down this year, you know,
and Michigan is a game early in the year, that's one that always gets
everyone's attention. But you can't discard, you know, Michigan State and
Purdue, Stanford, some of the teams you play year in and year out.
            But for early in the year versus late in the year, you know,
usually late in the year you're going to have a team like this that you're
going to go against that gets everyone's attention.  I think the players
understand the magnitude, that is the type of team where if you don't go out
there and play hard and show up, you could have a long day at the office.
            I think they're perfectly cognizant of that.


            Q.  Given how strong their defense is, no matter how good your
offense is, does it almost come down to just somebody making some sort of
kind of individual play to open things up?

            COACH WEIS:  You're going to need some big plays in the game
because I think with as salty as they are on defense, I think if you're
going to nickel and dime them the whole time, I think you have to have that
in the game because I think if you don't run the ball at them, get a bunch
of three‑and‑outs, you really put the defense at a big disadvantage, leave
them on the field too much.
            I think you have to try to play as much as you can ball control
in the game, but you're going to need some people to make some big plays.
The games that they either lost, which the one game against Oregon State,
although close, were games where there were some big plays made.


            Q.  On Sanchez, he only played a few games last year.  How have
you seen him develop?

            COACH WEIS:  I've liked Mark for a long time as a player.  He's
got a lot of moxy.  I think within their system, you know, like some teams
in the past where they've thrown the ball for 300 plus yards a game, he
doesn't have to do that with this team right here because they're so good at
the runningback position.  I think he does a nice job of managing the team.
            But the thing that I like about him the most is that he can
throw the ball equally efficiently whether he's in the pocket or out of the
pocket.  And, you know, because their running game is pretty efficient,
they'll throw a lot of boots and let him throw on a move.  He's shown to be
very accurate throwing on a move.


            Q.  Personnel stuff.  Lambert going to be okay?

            COACH WEIS:  Lambert is going to practice today.  We'll see.
He'll be out there today.  How good he'll be, I told Corwin to let me know
because this will be the first day he's out there really running around in a
practice environment.


            Q.  Lloyd and Smith, still definitely out?

            COACH WEIS:  Yeah, they won't play this week.  They're both
doing significantly better.  But they're still a few weeks away.


            Q.  Chris Stewart, how is he doing?

            COACH WEIS:  He's back today, too.


            Q.  Will he play?

            COACH WEIS:  Probably.  If he can go, he's starting.  So he's
back today.  He's been itching to get back.  He probably could have been an
emergency guy last week, but he didn't practice at all last week.  I thought
probably the best thing for him would be, you know, to start off this week.
So he's practicing today.


            Q.  USC has essentially dominated this series.  When one team is
that dominant of another, can it still be considered a rivalry?

            COACH WEIS:  I think what you have to do is you have to look at
matchups of teams that have played over history.  In almost every series
like this, there's been streaks where a team will win for a while, then the
other team will win for a while.  You know, that's the way it goes.  We
still considered it a rivalry in a streak where Notre Dame won about 10 in a
row, too.  When you play year in and year out, there are periods where one
team gets the best of the other.  But, you know, at the end of the day, it
usually ends up settling out.


            Q.  Why do you think this team maybe struggles a little bit
emotionally on the offensive end?

            COACH WEIS:  I don't consider emotion just being an offensive
aspect.  I consider emotion from the whole team aspect.  And I think that,
you know, any time you're playing in a game, emotion should automatically
come with playing.  So for those players that lack emotion, which you're
talking collectively to every group, I don't ever see it collectively as a
group, I see it more individually than as a group.


            Q.  How do you maybe inspire those individuals who seem to be
struggling?

            COACH WEIS:  You play different guys.


            Q.  Are we going to see any different guys this week?

            COACH WEIS:  We'll see by the end of the week.  But they all
know that that's a possibility.


            Q.  (Question regarding Syracuse and USC's front.)

            COACH WEIS:  The run screen pass we were throwing to the left
that Jimmy got sacked on was the one time he got turned free.  We were
rolling out to the right and throwing a screen pass to the left.  Put a hand
on him instead of really pushing him before the lineman left to go out in
front of the screen.  Now, that's the one time he got turned completely free
in the game.
            But if you're asking about USC, what you can't do is you just
can't worry about their two interior guys.  Where you really have to be
concerned is on the edge because they're so athletic on the edge.
            So I think that more than just about any team you play, this is
a team you better make sure you don't get beat on the edge.


            Q.  You've invested a lot in 'enthusiasm' in camp, admonishing
them when they weren't fired up enough.  Do you feel you've gotten a return
on that?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I'm going to go back to the answer and say
it's more an individual basis than a group basis.  There's several players
I'd say the answer to that is yes.  There's some players I would say the
answer is I'm not happy enough.


            Q.  You haven't been favored in every game, but you've been
pretty much 50/50 chance. This is your first game being the substantial
underdog.  How do you use that to motivate them?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, one of the things I'm going to talk to them
about today is I'm going to reflect to a game last year at about this same
time that took place between West Virginia and Pittsburgh.  That's going to
be one of the conversation pieces we're going to have today with the team
here at 2:30.
            You know, Pittsburgh was about a .500 team. That's about where
they were. West Virginia was going to the national championship game.  You
know, it was supposed to be not even close.  Just go in there, let's just
play this one out.  West Virginia was going on to the national championship
game.  Next thing you know, Pittsburgh wins the game.
            I think there's a very live analogy as recently as last year
they remember very well, which is a very good teaching tool to address that
very question.


            Q.  You've won your share of recruiting battles with USC.  How
important is this game for recruiting purposes?

            COACH WEIS:  I think that it's important mainly because we go
into Southern Cal. Hey, we lose our fair battles of recruiting and we win
some.  But I think that if you're going ‑‑ one thing, when you recruit
nationally like we do, first thing you're going to have to do is get the
kids to leave their home state.  USC is one of multiple schools that players
from California could decide to stay in California for.
            I think it would be a big asset in recruiting, you go out there
and came out beating them.


            Q.  From what you've seen now after last week, the players,
their mental state, do they feel they can win this game?

            COACH WEIS:  'Think' is not the answer.  It's 'believe'.
There's a big difference.  They better believe they're going to win or else
you have no chance. 'Think' is too much of an abstract.  You have to believe
you're going to win.
            That's the number one thing on my list that we're talking about
today, that we addressed yesterday, making sure you have players believing
they can win because if not, the game is over before you even start.


            Q.  Are there any positives to take out of last week?

            COACH WEIS:  The one thing you take is you go into the game last
week, and Syracuse rolls into town the prohibitive underdog on the road.
They ended up making one more play than we did and ended up winning the
game.  I think, if anything, you use that as a lesson where you're the team
going in on the road this week in the same situation.


            Q.  You ran down the stats.  Obviously USC is a very formidable
opponent.  What has to happen to have a shot?  Is it a quick start, turnover
differential, third downs? What are the things you're pointing to?

            COACH WEIS:  I think the first thing you better do is make sure
that in the game of ball possession it doesn't turn into a one‑sided affair,
where you don't go in offensively and have a bunch of three‑and‑outs, have
the defense on the field all day. That's the first thing you better do.
            Second thing, you got to make some big plays. Big plays can come
from any of the three facets.  It can come from blocking a punt, like last
week.  It can come from Golden hitting a home run on a go.  It can come from
a turnover interception or fumble.  But you're going to need some big plays
in this game.  Whether it be a turnover or just a big play by any of the
three facets, you're going to need some of those to win this game.


            Q.  You're obviously going out there expecting to win, hoping to
win. Would style points count at all, just staying competitive?  Would that
at all help the momentum of the program?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I mean, you can't go there hoping to lose a
close game. I mean, you can't go there with that intent.  I mean, listen,
they've lost one game on the road to Oregon State where Oregon State was
holding on for dear life.  This is a good football team, one of the best
football teams in the country. You can't go in there, God, I hope we lose a
close game.  You just can't go in thinking like that.


            Q.  A minute ago you were talking about the team believing they
can win.  How can you make sure and instill that belief into them?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, we're going to have a pretty good idea here.
Before we leave here this week, we're going to have a pretty good idea of
which guys do believe and which ones don't.  I'll have to leave it at that.
We obviously have a plan.  This will be a very active practice day.  It will
be a boisterous day.


            Q.  You talked the other day about Jimmy in recent weeks being
in a little bit of a rut.  You mentioned teams taking away the deep pass,
trying to force it.  Is there anything else you've seen that caused him to
struggle?

            COACH WEIS:  They didn't take the deep pass the other day.  Was
this before the last game?


            Q.  Yes.

            COACH WEIS:  Because last week they didn't take away the deep
pass. And USC's going to almost beat you into the deep pass in this game now
because they'll play a lot of one cover. You'll see it.  There will be a
safety in the middle of the field. They'll go press up on you, say, Go
ahead, try to beat us.  The reason why they do that is because they can have
an extra guy in the running game and just stuff you, almost dare you into
going ahead and do that.
            If Jimmy would like the opportunity to throw the ball deep this
weekend, he should have plenty of them.


            Q.  Did you see anything other than not playing up to...

            COACH WEIS:  Like I said, last week's game, there were some
opportunities to go ahead and throw it deep.  They weren't playing that same
soft shell that a lot of people have been playing against us.
            I think as he moves towards becoming a complete quarterback,
he's going to realize week by week he's not going to have the same thing
available to him because even in one play, when you call one play, where
there's multiple options, if they take away the deep ball, there's always
something underneath, there's always a resource to go ahead and go to.  You
have to realize as a complete quarterback that's where you have to go when
they take it away.


            Q.  In the past you tried to stay away from the Brady‑Jimmy
comparison because you said you weren't here for Brady's start.  Right now
we're almost to the same point.  Is Jimmy pretty close to Brady?

            COACH WEIS:  I think that by the time this spring is over, which
is really that time, I'll be able to give you that answer.  Because really I
thought that Brady made the biggest jump of any year that I had him in the
first spring we got him after he had been playing for two years.


            Q.  Obviously Jimmy is from L.A., probably wants to have a good
game there. Is the danger for him maybe trying to do too much against USC?

            COACH WEIS:  Ron and I had this conversation today.  We talked
about adrenaline, forcing things, things like that.  But because there's no
school tomorrow, which is new at Notre Dame, not having school on Wednesday,
that now becomes an unlimited day hours‑wise instead of being on the clock.
I think more than any week we've had since the bye week, it gives us an
opportunity to make sure mentally we can guard against things like that
happening.


            Q.  I asked you a questions about some lessons you learned.  One
of the things you thought was pretty valuable was trying to oversee the
team, then moving back over to the offense, having some emphasis there.  I
wondered, are you glad you at least had the perspective of that macro view
of head coaching?

            COACH WEIS:  I think it makes you much more well‑rounded.  But I
think what you can't do, because you asked a question, it took me some time
to think of an answer, but I think it's important not to spread yourself too
thin.  You already realize as a head coach you got to wear a bunch of hats,
with recruiting being a main one as well, okay?  But I think that once I saw
how well our defensive staff was working together, because you have to make
sure this meshes there, but once you saw that, it kind of freed you up.  I
had been spending a lot of time with special teams, not as much with
offense, not as much with defense.  As you look at this pie, you feel that
the defense is pretty resolved and settled, it gives you an opportunity to
go ahead and spread the time you have and move it in another direction.


            Q.  I know when you first got the job, you talked about some of
the models you've looked at, guys that had come from the pros, Kirk Ferentz,
Pete Carroll. You read through the stats, it's overwhelming.  What do you
see in Pete's model four years into your time here that you say this is
something that might work for us?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, two things that I think they do the best.
First of all, he recruits very good players, and they play with an attitude.
I have a lot of respect for him on both those things.  People think that
Pete's not out there working, USC is selling itself.  He's a diligent,
hard‑working recruiter.  He pounds it now.  I know I pound it, and there's a
lot of guys I don't see.  He's one of them I do.  He's out there.  He
doesn't take it for granted.  He doesn't take the USC status for granted.
He's a hard worker in recruiting.  He has his team play with an attitude.  I
have nothing but respect for him on those two things.


            Q.  The 2005 game was an epic game.  As you go into this game,
do you see, at least from a personnel standpoint, you're similarly equipped
to that 2005 team?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, there were elements of that game that you
have to incorporate into this game, starting about seven seniors on defense.
A bunch of 'em of probably first‑round draft choices. So you have to factor
that in.
            You have to factor who the personnel is when you're playing,
too, and realize the strengths and weaknesses of both your team and the
strengths and weaknesses of them.  But I think the mentality to not have
them have the ball very much I think is, you know, definitely the right
idea.


            Q.  There's so much speculation, we're asked so much about where
your job status stands, so forth.  To be fair to you, do you have regular
communication with the administration about how they feel about what you're
doing?  Is that something that is left till after the season to talk about?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, first of all, Jack and I meet every week.
Just like Kevin and I met every week, the difference is Kevin was an early
bird, Jack's a night owl.  So where Kevin and I used to meet at 5:30 in the
morning, Jack and I meet at 6:00 at night.  I used to meet Kevin Monday
mornings at 5:30.  Now I meet Jack Monday night at 6:00.
            We've just been going along as is.  The intent is to go out
there and do all we can to beat USC, stay out there on the road and go out
recruiting.  That's what the plan is.


            Q.  There's another similarity to this USC game to the one in
'05 in that four years ago nationally USC was considered to be the
unbeatable team, yet you had them there to the very last play.  Obviously
you had your team believing fully that they were capable and going to win
that game.  How did you make that happen four years ago?  Can you take some
of that and employ it this week?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I think that the one thing different in that
game than the last couple games is I think that a lot of the older kids on
our team went into the game not feeling ‑ let me say the word's not
'intimidated', but not at all in awe of USC's team.
            I think that, you know, awe factor, I think if your team has an
awe factor of the team they're going against, then you have no chance, okay?
I can tell you one thing, I'll be shocked this week if our team goes in
there with the awe factor.


            Q.  Jimmy going back home, could that work the other way, too?
Could he be so inspired, he could maybe play the game of his life here?

            COACH WEIS:  That's what I'm counting on.  He's going to have
the ball in his hands on every play.  That's what I'm counting on.
            Hey, I think the point is a valid point that you have to guard
against him trying not to do too much, but at the same time you have to give
him an opportunity to make plays in the game.  You got to count on that guy
stepping up big because this game means even more to him.


            Q.  Thanksgiving Thursday, do you let the guys go away or do
they all eat together?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I think twofold.  What we do is we finish
practice by noon.  What I do, I put the travel list up on Wednesday night so
the guys that aren't going to go on the travel list know so they can plan
accordingly if they want to get out of town after noon.  We let out a big
Thanksgiving dinner.  Trust me, no one's hurting for a Thanksgiving dinner.
There's more food eaten in a half‑hour span, it's for two hours, but from
about 1 to 1:30, I don't know how it's humanly possible to eat any more food
than they eat.
            I think by the time they're done, all's they want to do is go
lay on the couch and fall asleep, to tell you the truth. But it's really
nice.  They get to go.  The coaches that they choose, their families can
come to dinner, the managers and everyone who is around there.  Anyone who
can't get out of town...  There will be a percentage of the kids that aren't
traveling that go ahead and get out of town and go home and just be back for
school on Monday.


            Q.  Looking at the tape last week, Ray Herring played a little
bit more than we've seen.  Was McCarthy a little banged up or sick?

            COACH WEIS:  He was a little banged up and sick.  I think Ray
Herring has eked his way into more playing time as time has gone on, too.
It's a combination of not just Kyle, but Ray as well.


            Q.  You mentioned the awe factor.  On top of Pete never losing a
game in November, all the stats that are easy to throw out, why wouldn't the
team be in awe of USC this week?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I think the big difference was, for example,
last year when they came in here, you hung around for a quarter, then the
game slowly started to get away from you.  Well, I'm taking a lot of those
same people now that saw you hanging around for a quarter.
            The whole point is that in a lot of the games, there's evidence
they play that teams hang around for a while, then usually the game ends up
getting away from them.  Let's say it's Stanford, for example.  Stanford is
playing a really good game in the first half. They're up 17‑10.  They
kickoff after they go up 17‑10. Stanford has two guys on the 18 yard line
unblocked to make a tackle on the kickoff return.  They both miss.  Next
thing you know, the guy takes it to the house.  It's 17‑17.  Now they
kickoff to start the second half.  They take another one for 60 yards.  If
the guy doesn't barely step out of bounds, that one is going to the house,
too.
            The game did not change on offense or defense in the Stanford
game.  The game changed on two kickoff returns.  That's where the game
changed.  Well, it's no irony that they're No. 1 in the country on kickoff
returns.  But we happen to be No. 1 in the country on kickoff coverage.  So
that's one area that you have to make sure at worst you get a stalemate in
the game.


            Q.  Do you try to figure out where your team is psychologically
this week, who is with you, who has far away eyes?  If you find those guys,
do you leave them here?

            COACH WEIS:  They won't go.  They won't come.


            Q.  How do you test that?  What's the evidence you're looking
for?

            COACH WEIS:  The whole coaching staff's on this project.  It's
not me alone because the thing is, if I'm standing most of the time on the
offensive end of the field, most of the time in practice in the last couple
weeks, I can't feel emotion on the defensive side.  If you can't feel it...
When you watch the tape, you can't feel that. You have to be there to
witness that.  So I'll just count on Corwin and John and Jappy to give me a
pretty good idea what's happening in there.


            Q.  I think it was Smith we were talking to after the game.  I
was asking, who fires up the defense.  He mentioned Corwin, Tenuta.
Offensively, are you the guy that tries to put the charge in the offense?

            COACH WEIS:  Michael is the mouth of the offense.  He's a
fired‑up guy.  Don't let that calm demeanor that he talks to you guys with
that he's not a fiery person, because he is a fiery person.  As a matter of
fact, there's a better than even chance in this game Mike will be on the
sidelines instead of being upstairs.  That's one little thing that we're
talking about. But that's one of the reasons why, for that same thing that
we're talking about.


            Q.  I think probably everyone in this room has been asked, Do
you feel like the team is still listening to Charlie?  What is the evidence
that you say they're still with you?  Will you just kind of find out
Saturday night?

            COACH WEIS:  You have asked for about 20 guys today.  So why
don't you just ask them.  I mean, I think that's a better question directed
to them. I don't want to answer for them. You guys can ask them.  I'm asked
the tough questions.  Go ahead and ask them some tough questions. They'll
not be afraid enough to answer it for you.


            Q.  As you look at USC in the second half, they've only given up
19 points after halftime all season.  Why do they get stronger in the second
half?

            COACH WEIS:  Because teams start pressing as the game starts
getting away from them offensively.  Because now all of a sudden that 17‑17
game, you know, is now is a two touchdown deficit, and now they start
pressing.  If you can hang with them and the score's relatively close, you
think about Stanford's game last year with Stanford beat them at USC, they
just hung in there till the end.  They just hung in there.  They were just
hanging around, hanging around, hanging around.  At the end of the game,
they throw a fade ball for a touchdown and they win.  Usually against these
guys, that's the way you beat 'em.


            Q.  That November number that Pete has put up, as you watch tape
of them over the course of a year, what do you see that gets stronger about
them as they hit November?

            COACH WEIS:  I don't know.  They opened up the year at Virginia
beating them 52‑7.  Then Buckeyes rolled into town, they beat them 35‑3.
They don't lose very many games ever.  They just haven't lost one in
November.  They don't lose very many games now.  He's lost 15 games out of a
hundred.  That's a very small percentage.  November just happens to be a
good month for him.
            If you really look at it, okay, in November they played three
games.  They drilled Washington.  Cal was 17‑3, which Cal tried to hang
around with them.  At the end, they couldn't make enough plays to go ahead
and do anything.  Then the Stanford game is the one we were just talking
about where they hung around for a half, then USC pulled away in the second
half.  There's the three games they played this month.


            Q.  If Mike is down, are you then up?

            COACH WEIS:  No, I'm not up.  I will not be up.  It will either
be Rob or Ron, one of those guys would be up in exchange.
            Just one thing.  We talk back and forth.  I know about all the
negative things, but still it is Thanksgiving week.  I'm not going to be
talking to you on Wednesday or Thursday.  So despite all those things, I
still wanted to make sure that if somebody said something good, it was going
to be me.  So I want to make sure I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
                       

     FastScripts by ASAP Sports
November 23, 2008
 
 
  
                          
An Interview with:
 
COACH CHARLIE WEIS


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach. 
 

            Q.  I know we've been asking all year about this.  One of the major problems throughout has been the running game. Yes, you could have gotten the running game going.  Might have gotten fewer possessions.  Have you been able to spot anything yesterday that went wrong or what you can do better there?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I think that yesterday the only ‑‑ the best production we had was running the ball to the open side, not to the tight end side. 
            Not because of the blocking of Kyle, necessarily, but because we've been running so often to the tight end side, that they were loading up there some. 
            So, really, the most production we had ‑‑ we had some good production with Armando.  It was just really running the ball to the open side. 
            But really you have to be able to run the ball more consistently, especially when you get an opportunity to finish a team out.  I think that that becomes critical.  And I think we had too many runs for no gain or losing a couple yards that put us in a little bit of a bind.
 

            Q.  Considering you've had a couple of losses this year, is it easier this week because it's a rivalry game, to get the team out of the tank a little bit?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, USC will certainly have their attention in a hurry. But I think first things first. Anytime these guys come in, you have to deal with what's just occurred before you get going to USC. 
            Obviously a team with the caliber of USC and always being such a big game and being Thanksgiving week, there's a lot of things that create a sense of urgency because their time gets pushed up some so that you can give them some time on Thanksgiving day to actually have Thanksgiving dinner like everybody else does.
 

            Q.  Is this automatically always the biggest game of the year, no matter what?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I mean, it's a big rivalry game.  I know that everyone would like to sit there and say that it's just about USC.  But I think that Notre Dame has so many natural opponents that they play year in and year out, home and home, that you have to take them as they're dialed up. 
            Like just the fact that it's at a different time every other year, you play them at home in October.  You play them on the road the weekend after Thanksgiving. I think that you just have to be worrying about the ones is their doubt up because there's too many teams in the home‑and‑home variety.
 

            Q.  Just seeing what Pete Carroll has done there, do you think he's set the mark of what other teams throughout the country are trying to match?

            COACH WEIS:  I think Pete has just done an excellent job of going in there and getting top‑notch athletes that are competitive week in and week out. 
            And he's got a whole bunch of them. And somehow he's been able to not only get a whole bunch of them but keep a whole bunch of them happy, because they usually end up staying there. 
            You look at the running backs, which we'll get to later on, and you have a guy like Mark Tyler who we want really bad and he's their fourth halfback.  So as you look at their depth chart, he's done a really good job at assembling a good amount of talent and they play that way. 
 

            Q.  Would there be any circumstance, if you lose this game, would there ever be a reason why you wouldn't want to go to a Bowl game?

            COACH WEIS:  I think the downside of not going to a Bowl game is the extra practice that you miss to develop your younger players.  No one's jumping up and down to go to a Bowl, if you were to lose the game and end up 6‑6, no one is jumping up and down to do that.
            But at the same time that's multiple practices and development that could be going on that you end up losing out on. And I think in your program's sake I think it ends up hurting you in the long run.
 

            Q.  Yesterday you didn't want to answer the big picture questions.  Now that you've had a day to look at it, especially in light of when you came in here you kind of gave the team a talk about the 5‑7, 6‑6 aren't good enough.  And at this point your record is slightly below that. 

            COACH WEIS:  I have given some thought to that and I do have my response to that. I think that it was important yesterday for me not to respond to that, because I just think that I would not have given a thoughtful answer and not exactly sure how it would have come across. 
            But I've kind of reflected back off of last year to this year to next year.  So last year I think we were pretty crummy football team.  We were 3‑9.  We were playing a whole bunch of freshmen and sophomores.  And first‑year players. 
            And it really looked that way.  There were multiple games last year where we just didn't lose but I felt we were basically noncompetitive as the game went on.  So then we go to this year.  Now, these guys have now another year under their belt.
            Now we're sitting here 6‑5.  So you sit there and look at the five losses. And three of the five losses you had double digit leads.  In North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and yesterday, you have double digit leads. 
            As a matter of fact, in none of the games were you noncompetitive.  There wasn't one game where you didn't have a chance to win the game, unlike last year where there were multiple games where the games were over early and just put away. 
            So what you've really done is you have taken these guys who were a bunch of pups, now have a year under their belt. Going from a crummy team to what I think is a decent team.  I wouldn't say we're anywhere near good but I would say we're decent. 
            And I say as you look forward into next year, as you take the next step, if you take a step from three wins to six or seven wins, not including a Bowl game, going to the next year, you should expect the progression to be at least as good if not better.  And I think that's ‑‑ really you have to sit down and reflect.  You have to look at the difference how you played in the losses last year versus the losses this year where you stepped up from where you were last year from where you are this year. 
            And with a good portion of these guys now with two years under their belt coming back for next year, you'd have to say you have a chance of being pretty darned good. 
 

            Q.  Do you feel pretty comfortable right now with your job status?

            COACH WEIS:  I think that the team has a chance of being pretty darn good next year.  I can't worry about my job status.  I'm the head football coach.  And that's what I intend to be. 
 

            Q.  As you look at the penalties and the mental errors in week 11, have you found a reason for the delay in development?  Are these things that you're seeing in practice?  Is there a way to ‑‑ have you thought about just why this keeps happening? 

            COACH WEIS:  Well, there are two different issues now.  So let's separate penalties from the mental areas. 
            Penalties as they occurred in the game ‑‑ I can go through every one of them ‑‑ I can talk about the two on defense, which were aligned off sides and defensive holding/pass interference call, where Harrison was riding the guy down the field.  That's a type of call where normally when you stay engaged with somebody, which he was engaged with him the whole time. 
            Normally you don't see something thrown on that one.  I could give you a half dozen times where we're running 30 yards down the road where we're engaged the whole time and I don't see a flag.  But then it's a he said/she said and you're making excuses on it.
            I can think of the three holding penalties on offense, two of which I saw and one where I didn't.  On the first, on the run that Armando ran down by the 5‑yard line, the penalty on Danny, that was actually behind the play.
            Now, he was holding on the play but it was behind the play.  It was unnecessary.  It really just ‑‑ we didn't need to do it.  And then another big call on the holding call on Grimes on the screen to Kyle that went for a whole bunch of yards.
            And looking at the tape, I'm not going to argue with that one either.  But it's 20 yards down the field.  And he's trying to hold on and hold on and trying to make a play because it's a slow developing play when it's a screen. 
            So if you look at each penalty in the game, usually there's a different set of circumstances.  The only one I'm really not commenting on is the one with Turkovich, because I really couldn't tell on that one.  Was he engaged?  Was he not engaged.
            Mental errors are a totally different answer. I think sometimes mental errors come from things that you're not expecting to see.  And sometimes teams do things that you haven't seen all year and then you have to react to them. 
            And I think that the more experience you have ‑‑ very seldom do we make a mistake where you call something that everyone has a lot of familiarity with and they wind up with something that's sort of like what they looked like when we turn somebody free.  That doesn't happen very often.  But there were a couple of instances on both sides of the ball yesterday where we just made a mistake that ended up costing us. 
 

            Q.  In the bigger picture, as these things might keep happening from game to game to game, is there a reason when you sit back and look at it why it happened over and over again?

            COACH WEIS:  I'll give you an example offensively.  Like last week against Navy, we had the least number of mental errors we've had the entire season.  And now this week against Syracuse I would say we had a few more than we had last week but the number's drastically down from where it was four weeks ago.
            So I would think both on offense and defense, even though you still have mental errors in the game, I think you'll find the number of mental errors has been continually decreasing.
 

            Q.  Last, how do you handle the pressure of these situations?  Do you rely on your family?  Do you put it behind you immediately?  How do you deal with it? 

            COACH WEIS:  The first thing I had to do after the game is deal with the emotion of the players, especially the seniors.  And as I told you before, win or lose, there were going to be guys pretty tore up.  And having lost, I made sure before I went and did media I made sure I spent some extra time making sure I saw a bunch of those guys.  I couldn't get to all of them.
            But I tried to get to a bunch of those guys. Then after doing media, which is always my favorite after a game like that, then my attention, because I had recruiting going on, my attention briefly turned to my wife and my son, who were pretty tore up.
            But then you go to recruiting, and you can't like all of a sudden, you've got a bunch of top recruits in here.  You can't say all of a sudden I'm not going to recruit today because I'm not in a very good mood and kind of brings you back to reality because then you're back to work all over again in a very calm demeanor.
            And I think that the problem is you have to mix and match a whole different bunch of things.  Your own players, your own family, recruiting, all those things have to mix.  They have to co‑exist and sometimes it's tough going from one hat to the next. 
 

            Q.  I think it was last year's USC game was kind of a rock bottom type deal, and you had Mike Floyd and maybe Trevor Robinson and Jonas Gray were in that, and I think Floyd committed.  You have some top recruits in this weekend.  What do you tell those guys after a game like that and how do you feel like you were received? 

            COACH WEIS:  Well, obviously I can't go into the players, but you sit there and say, now, could you have been the difference between us winning and losing? That's the first question you ask them.  And a one point game, most every recruit would look at it, a game like yesterday, and say they could see themselves being the difference between winning and losing. 
            I think all the guys I've talked to this morning.  And once again we can't get into particulars, I think that they all saw that the conversation I just had with Tom about last year to this year to next year was really the same thing that we talk about. 
            I said:  Did you want to come in on a crummy year, decent year, a year that we were pretty darned good?  So I think that they see the same things.  They look at the depth chart.  They see the players.  They hang around the players.  Our players do a very good job in recruiting.  In good times and bad, they always do a very good job in recruiting. 
            And usually by the time I have an in depth conversation with them on Sunday, usually they have a really good feel for field of plays and seldom is there much of a negative overtone in that conversation.
 

            Q.  In terms of lessons that you've learned this year, maybe what's the most valuable lesson you've learned and maybe the most painful this year?

            COACH WEIS:  Most valuable and most painful?  I'm trying to think if I should defer this to a couple of days as well, Eric. 
            I think I'd have to think of that one. I'm more than willing to give you an answer, but once again I think that they're fair questions but one I'd like to give a little time on thinking about, okay? 
 

            Q.  Jimmy is sitting at 52 in the nation passing efficiencies.  Has jumped way up then he's found this level in the 50s.  Did you expect him to be higher in that standing?

            COACH WEIS:  I wasn't expecting the little rut we had there for a game and a half or that little rut that we were into.  But I think yesterday, there's a couple of throws he'd like to have back.  But yesterday he started to manage the game much more efficiently than he had in the last couple of games. 
            And no picks.  Didn't try to force the ball.  Didn't try to force the ball.  Took a sack at a time when it was actually, even though it was a big loss, it was a smart play to take a sack because he would have been just throwing the ball up in the air.  And when that ends up happening, you can end up getting a ball intercepted very easily.  I thought yesterday he made definite strides back in the right direction.
 

            Q.  I know that probably you love people bringing up old quotes of yours and throwing them at you.  But I'm not exactly doing that.  But I think when you came in you felt like you can make a difference with a team that was basically 500.  What is it about ‑‑ where do you feel like your expertise is going to make a difference in this team jumping from 6 and 5ish to BCSish?

            COACH WEIS:  I think we have a lot of young talented athletes that are gaining in valuable experience.  I think that we all, whether media or coaches, can identify that one of the major issues that we're dealing with is finishing the game.  You would say it and I would say the same thing. 
            I think where I expect the biggest change or biggest uptick is in that quality, because experience is usually the one that puts you over the edge on that one.  And I think that's what a bunch of these kids are now gaining.  I move it in the right direction for that one alone.
 

            Q.  With the students/fan Charlie Weis of how many years ago, be patient with the Coach Weis that we see today?

            COACH WEIS:  I never missed a pep rally, and I never missed a game.  And that's one thing I can tell you. Wouldn't have made a difference to me if it was 35 degrees yesterday or 85 degrees.  I would have been there because I had a bunch of friends on the team and I felt that no matter what happened, I was going to be there and feel like I was part of that team.
            I was going to feel the wins and feel the losses and when we won the game, even though I wasn't a player, I felt like I won.  When we lost a game, even though I wasn't a player, I felt like I lost.
            So at least when those football players would go to class on Monday, I could feel their pain because I felt it right along with them. 
 

            Q.  With that connection to the student body in mind, what did you think when you heard that snowballs were flying into your bench from the student section yesterday? 

            COACH WEIS:  I was taken back about it, to tell you the truth.  I was caught a little off guard because they started coming early.  And I think that maybe it was meant in fun at the start of the game.  But it's a dangerous thing.  And it's just something I wish would have been avoided.
 

            Q.  You were talking about a little bit about the prospects last year and this year, next year.  How many of the things, the problems you're looking at with this team the improvements that need to be made are things that can only be made in the off season when you have an extended amount of time to go really big picture with this group?

            COACH WEIS:  I think you can make more strides in the off season, because you can take a few things to make a point of emphasis and emphasize them for multiple months.  During the season you're week‑to‑week, whereas the off season you can identify problems and then spend extensive amount of time directed at those specific problems.
 

            Q.  I know that after a loss you make sure the players feel ‑‑ considering where they are mentally, do you feel like there's a fragility there that if you hammer them again they may ‑‑

            COACH WEIS:  I won't be hammering them.  But I will be matter of factly addressing the problems.  I think that no matter what the problems need to be addressed.  I don't think you can ever ‑‑ you just can't say, hey, it's okay fellas. That's not the way to go. The problems have to be addressed, and they will be. 
 

            Q.  This may sound a little rhetorical.  But after the game, Sam Young said that he felt Syracuse wanted it more, which seemed like it was our statement on senior day against a team with a lame duck coach.  When it comes to motivation, how much of that do you put on the players themselves to motivate each other?  How much of that is on you, how much of that is on the system?

            COACH WEIS:  First of all, I didn't hear Sam say it.  And I don't know the context in which he said it.  And he's on the leadership committee. So I'd have to defer that one to him, because I don't want to take one quote that somebody said without the whole ball of wax.  I think it would be out of line for me to comment on that one.
 

            Q.  Robert Hughes didn't make ‑‑

            COACH WEIS:  There's two or three times we were going into the game.  But then the mode switched from a mode where we were going to have to spread it out.  And when we spread it out, the best guy for us to have in the game is Armando. 
            He was two or three times he was dialed up to go up, but then something happened in the game, either it was a long drive or something else that had happened where we were going to change modes and went from him being the lead dog to Armando.
 

            Q.  I know you're focused on this week and the Bowl after that.  How much time do you spend in how you want to spend your off season, what changes do you want to make if you feel you need to make changes at all?

            COACH WEIS:  I'll have plenty of time on the road.  I spend probably the first three weeks in December on the road.  So usually when I'm on the road is when I am away from my wife and my kids.  So I have a lot more hotel time and that's when I usually start addressing those things.
 

            Q.  Tom asked you about the running game and you told him why you kind of support it.  But what are the problems?  Is it technique? Is it effort?  Is it the team?

            COACH WEIS:  Depends week by week.  Like what were the problems yesterday?  Because they weren't the problems last week.  So last week they weren't problems.  Last week the running game was fairly efficient.  This week you were going against a different defense that decided to make you go away from the tight end side by how they were slanting and overloading their linebackers and pushing them that way and making you run that direction.  That's what you end up doing.
            You end up starting to go in that other direction.  When you're running to the open side, when you're running to the open side, there's only so many runs you could dial up to that open side because you've got a lot less versatility.
 

            Q.  How about Brandon Walker.  I know you talked to him after the game.  Did you do anything to ‑‑

            COACH WEIS:  Remember, now, the true makable field goals in the game, the ones that weren't borderline, he made. 
            So you have the mishandled ‑‑ I'd say it was a combination of a knuckle ball snap and a mishandled snap on the short field goal and that stretch in the third quarter where we weren't taking advantage of the field position.  We had that one and the ball gets put down and he's just trying to punch it through. 
            It's tough to blame him on that one. The other field goals were a 48‑yarder and a 53‑yarder, and you hoped you'd make one of those field goals, especially the first one.  But certainly you're hoping for the second one. 
            But in reality he came up a little bit short, especially on the first one.
 

            Q.  Does he just kick regular balls?  Are those balls he uses, are they ‑‑

            COACH WEIS:  It's tougher to kick a ball in cold weather games.  But it isn't like they have balls over there warmed up by the heater or anything like that.  It's a little tougher to kick a cold ball.  But he made that 45‑yarder right down the middle; but that 48‑yarder in the same direction,  you're hoping he makes that one, too.
            THE MODERATOR:  Thank you. 
 

Meyer and Notre Dame: A dream marriage

COLUMN BY PETER KERASOTIS • FLORIDA TODAY • NOVEMBER 22, 2008

It was a parenthetical pause. An aside in a column I wrote last week comparing the differing coaching styles between the University of Florida's Living Legend (Steve Spurrier) and current legend, or Urban Legend, (Urban Meyer). It was an opinion I threw into the churning sea that is Gator Nation, which was quickly treated as chum.

Oh, the e-mails.

Why do I think Urban Meyer would go to Notre Dame?

First, let me interject to say that just because I think Notre Dame is in Meyer's future doesn't mean I want it to be. It'd be great to see him spend the next 20 years of his coaching life at UF. I just don't think he will.

Again, that's just an opinion; an opinion that got heavy reaction.

A common contention in my e-mail inbox is that in 2004, Meyer turned down Notre Dame in favor of becoming Florida's coach. Why, then, would he leave a school he once chose over Notre Dame to go to Notre Dame?

Why?

Because things change.

After winning the 1996 National Championship, Spurrier went to bed prepared to wake up the next morning and take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' job. He didn't. But five years later, he did jump to the NFL. Things change.

In his authorized biography "Urban's Way," written with former Florida Today sports editor Buddy Martin, Meyer refers to his Big Three coaching jobs, the only three his wife Shelley has no veto power to block him from taking a job at. They are Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan.

Of those three, Meyer's self-proclaimed "dream job" -- his quote, not mine -- is Notre Dame, where he was once an assistant under Lou Holtz, spending five years with the Golden Domers. Meyer also spent the first two years of his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State, where he earned his master's degree. He is an Ohio boy who grew up revering Woody Hayes.

So why didn't Meyer take the Fighting Irish job in 2004? Because the timing wasn't right. His authorized biography explains, "Florida's biggest advantage would turn out to be Urban's and Shelley's desire for a strong family life, because he could recruit closer to home."

At Notre Dame, you recruit nationally, which means flying around the country, away from home a lot more. At a state school like Florida, you can recruit a kid, or several kids, during the day, and still be home for dinner, or at one of your kid's practices, that night. With a young family, that mattered a lot. But even with that in play, turning down Notre Dame was very difficult, as Meyer notes in this passage in his biography:

"I wanted to go to Notre Dame," Meyer admitted, "but my family wanted to talk about going to Florida."

Shelley knew how tough the decision was for her husband because "he left his heart at Notre Dame when we left there last time -- he really, really, really loved Notre Dame."

That's "really" loved three times, if you're scoring at home.

So, again, the main reason Meyer chose Florida over Notre Dame in 2004 was because he had a young family.

Memo to Gator fans: The family isn't that young anymore.

Oldest daughter Nicole is 18, getting ready to leave the nest and head to Georgia Tech on a volleyball scholarship. Next oldest is Gigi, 15, a high school sophomore. Then there's Nathan, who turns 10 on Monday. Soon, he'll only have one child at home, which makes it much easier for him to balance his professional and personal life (i.e.: the rigors of coaching the Fighting Irish).

All of this is relevant, of course, because Charlie Weis continues to struggle at Notre Dame. You just know that if Notre Dame could trade Weis for Meyer, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

If you're the Fighting Irish, you must have a short list of candidates in mind if you do make a coaching change. And if you're the Fighting Irish, Urban Meyer absolutely has to top that list.

In my opinion, Meyer is one of the country's three best college coaches, along with Southern Cal's Pete Carroll and Alabama's Nick Saban.

For Notre Dame's purposes, Meyer is the guy who repeatedly calls coaching your football program his "dream job." He's also, and this is no small consideration, devoutly Catholic, even named after a pope.

For Notre Dame's purposes, Meyer runs a clean program, wins, works like a maniac, is passionate about recruiting and cares deeply about what kind of men he produces off the football field.

In short, he is everything Notre Dame would want.

He is -- dare I say it? -- Notre Dame's dream coach.

Better yet, your dream coach calls your school his dream job. How often does that happen?

And people wonder why I think a marriage is inevitable?

For what it's worth, I discussed the topic yesterday with Buddy Martin, author of "Urban's Way." Buddy's gotten closer to Meyer than any journalist I know, and he reiterated to me that "Notre Dame is Urban's first love."

Will it be his last love?

Martin said he doesn't see Meyer coaching the Gators beyond the length of his current contract, which has five years remaining.

Me?

I don't see him lasting that long.

Again, just an opinion.

Pregame Syracuse Entry

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It's cold. Twenty-six degrees on my car thermometer. There aren't as many people tailgating. I can't blame them. The ones that are are bundled up pretty good. Most of the snow has been cleared from the stadium but there are piles around the field and there still plenty in the bleachers, especially in the upper decks. 

It will be interesting to see how Jimmy Clausen deals with the weather. He's a Southern California kid, after all, and he really hasn't played in conditions like this. He needs a big game today for obvious reasons. He's thrown six interceptions in his past two games. 

...

Just talked to longtime ND sports information director John Heisler, who said approximately 100 people shoveled out the stadium on Friday. The problem was, there's no place to put the snow. Can you imagine hauling every shovel full up the stairs and dumping it over the rim? Heisler said that he hasn't seen this much snow inside the stadium since 1964. Wow. The snow piles are especially deep in southwest corner. If a receiver were to catch a fade pass there and get pushed out of bounds, he might end up with a face full.

KEYS TO THE GAME: This is starting to sound cliche, but Notre Dame needs to get off to a quick start. Syracuse has some motivation this week after it was announced coach Greg Robinson would be fired after the season. The Irish need to crush their hope early in the game. The worst thing they can do is let the Orange hang around and think they have a chance.

Hard to believe that Notre Dame can have a statement game against 2-8 Syracuse, but this is one. They need to put a complete game together. It's time. No excuses.




Here is the Seattle Times story. Evidently, Rivals.com broke the story.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Which team do you think will be the first to get back to a bowl game?


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.

Charlie Weis Press Conference Transcript (Nov. 18)

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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? COACH WEIS: I talk about everything openly. But, once again, because the media says it, doesn't mean there's any fact to it. That's not being disrespectful. I mean because a lot of times speculation is conjecture. Sometimes it's based on facts. Sometimes it isn't. But I'm big on always telling the truth. I try not to hide anything from the players.

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 KuntzPat 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.

But look at who you ended up left with. You got David Bruton and Kyle McCarthy. And Ray Herring, all three of those guys, that have all been obviously significant players.

I think the only two defensive linemen were Kuntz and Derrell Hand, who is on medical. But a guy like Scott Smith, who was in that class,Steve Quinn who was in that class.

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 DuncanDavid GrimesAsaph 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 BrutonDavid 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 WashingtonKevin 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

Weis To Keep Calling Plays

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Charlie Weis said during his Tuesday conference call that he will continue to call pays for the rest of the regular season, beginning with Saturday's game against Syracuse in Notre Dame Stadium.
Weis had delegated those responsibilities to offensive coordinator Mike Haywood during the offseason but resumed game-planning and play-calling duties when Haywood flew to Houston last week to attend the funeral of his female cousin. Weis said Haywood would miss additional practices for personal reasons this week. Haywood's absence, coupled with a short week of preparation leading up to a season-ending, Thanksgiving weekend showdown with USC on Sept. 29, convinced Weis to keep calling plays until the end of the regular season.

Weis also said cornerback Terrail Lambert was "doubtful" for this week but "probable" for the USC game. Lambert turned his ankle in practice before the Navy game.

I will post the press conference transcript ASAP.

Weis Transcript 11/16

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November 16, 2008 
  
 
  
                      
An Interview With:
            
COACH WEIS

 
Q.        First of all, want to talk a little about the defense.  It seems like some of the things that you guys are doing, and doing well, are different than what you were doing during the year.  Can you talk a little bit about how it's evolved? 
           COACH WEIS:  Well, I think that since the bye week, we've just been starting to work on some of, you know, how drastic the improvement's been with the defense since the bye.  Third down yesterday, one at third and one being at the end, but I think that what the defensive staff has done and the defensive players for that matter is from week‑to‑week they have been able to adjust.  Yesterday was a totally different defense than what we have been playing, to match what Navy does, and really it was a very simple, fundamental game plan, which now just came down to being fundamentally and completely sound, and I don't think they could have responded much better than they did. 
            I think what they have shown on defense and what we have shown on defense is week‑to‑week an ability to try to gear your game plan towards your opponent, and coaches have done a good job of putting the players in the best chance of being successful and the players have made a whole bunch, a whole bunch of plays. 
 

            Q.  I know you mentioned Harrison is going to be a free safety next year.  The way he's playing now, does that make it difficult to do that?

            COACH WEIS:  I tell you what, he's one of our better defensive players.  He's very, very disruptive.  Obviously you can go against some teams now and he can become a bit under‑sized, because at 210, soaking wet, that's what he is. 
            But he's played so aggressively, he's been like a strong safety down in the box all year.  You can call him a Sam linebacker or strong safety or whatever you want, but he's really giving us ‑‑ been very disruptive for the defense and made a whole bunch of plays for us. 
 

            Q.  Michael Floyd and Brian Smith, what do you know about them today? 

            COACH WEIS:  I'll give you the update on both of them.   I think that they will both miss the next two games, but they will both be back probably back practicing by the middle of December. 
            So, you know, the bad and the good; the bad, they miss the next two games.  But the good is there will in all likelihood, there will be another game left after that where they will be back and have a couple weeks to get conditioned, because their knees will be fine by that time.  They are both looking at like a four‑week period, and fortunately for us, that would take us to the middle of December, and still giving you over a couple of weeks to get their cardiovascular up and be ready to go.
 

            Q.  Are we talking strains with both?

            COACH WEIS:  In both cases they were strains, but strains where they wouldn't be able to go.  It would really, really be unreasonable to see either one of them playing in the next couple of weeks.  It's more of a four‑week deal. 
 

            Q.  You know you're going to get the play‑calling question; so? 

            COACH WEIS:  As a matter of fact, we just approached it about ‑‑ a little bit before I came in here to say, okay, what am I going to say when I'm asked this question.  And we really have not gotten a chance to iron it out. 
            So the whole offensive staff, I just left them a couple of minutes ago and we are in the same boat where I was last week; by Tuesday, the first thing I'll come in and tell you is exactly where we are, because really been scrambling a little bit to get to where we are right now. 
            You know, we spend the morning ‑‑ we spend the morning on Navy and the afternoon, we start working on Syracuse and then the little wrinkle of how the news from there, how that can potentially tweak what they do offensively and defensively, you have to try to apply that, too. 
            So I will start off Tuesday and tell you exactly where we are. 
 

            Q.  In our profession, at least with me, part of my job when things are not going well with the team sometimes is my mom gets accused of driving a beer truck. I know that last year was not the easiest week for you; as a coach, though, do you ever prepare for how you deal with a week like that or do you just never think about it?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I was asked a question by somebody last week, and I said that I really just keep myself immune from those things.  Because I have to deal with the day‑to‑day operations of the whole organization.  If you're talking about ‑‑ are we talking about big picture things and criticisms and everything? 
             I really think it comes down to this.  I think when things are not going well football‑wise, you as the head coach should feel that you are open to scrutiny football‑wise.  I think it comes with the territory.  I think that for all of you who come to here on a daily basis and we have give and take all the time about what's going on football‑wise, usually, not that I agree with you all the time or you agree with me all the time, but we kind of have some kind of meeting point at the end of the day.
            Really what bothers me more than anything are national guys or regional guys who are not here day‑to‑day, and then they feel ‑‑ forget about the professional, because I said you're already open for scrutiny when things don't go well.
            But when they personally attack you, I think it's just out of line, and I think it's irresponsible and I think it's really immature. 
 

            Q.  Following a little bit, looked like your son was quite relieved. 

            COACH WEIS:  I'd say that's a fair statement. 
 

            Q.  Is it tougher on the family a lot of times?  I'm sure for him going to school every day and your wife going out in the community must be more difficult. 

            COACH WEIS:  I think that more ‑‑ Charlie might be the most high‑profile, but it's like that with everyone, every coach.  It isn't just Maura and Charlie Weis.  All of our wives and kids live this. 
            And different from a fan, who believes that they have a right to say whatever you want; this is their livelihood. This is what we do.  And our wives and our kids live the wins and the losses right along with us. 
            You know, you talk about like little Charlie, for example, sometimes it can be brutal being a kid.  Sometimes you go into school and it isn't just the kids sometimes.  Sometimes it's the teachers.  It's not the easiest thing in the world. 
            My wife, she just wants to go do hand and friends and ride her horses and when she goes to the grocery store and somebody comes up at the grocery store and says, "Yeah, tough one yesterday." That's the last thing in the world she wants to be dealing with, either.  But it isn't just Maura and Charlie Weis.  They have to live it right along with us.  I feel that way with everyone affiliated that's working because they get affected, too. 
 

            Q.  You told a couple times after some ‑‑ the fifth game, the first game, your first game ever; any remarks about the close win yesterday?

            COACH WEIS:  I think that he said two words and it was like "thank God" or something like that.  Because you know, when we were talking off the field, he said he saw that ball going up to Blanton at the back side, and he said, "Don't even tell me." 
            I said, "We had it all the way, Charlie."   
            But I said it in jest.  I think that "thank God" might have been the appropriate response at the time.
 

            Q.  And just the news on Syracuse, how does that affect ‑‑ I know just heard, but is it tougher playing a team like that?  Does it change or how ‑‑ is it hard to say how it's going to affect?

            COACH WEIS:  From my standpoint, the coach ‑‑ no concerns.  You can coach loose.  You know, you want to call five flickers in a game?  Go ahead and call them.  What are they going to say?  Really, you want to blitz on every down?  You want to rush three in on every down?  Go ahead and do it.
            Now, what you don't know, okay, you don't know the affect it's going to have on a team, because it could have a very ‑‑ the team could rally, or they could be dispirited.  I think as a coach from the opponent team, you've got to count on them rallying.  That's what you've got to count on.  You've got to count on it being a rallying cry.
 

            Q.  I know you don't like to talk much about the next game on Sunday but does it make it more dangerous than it would have been if he didn't know? 

            COACH WEIS:  I think any time a coach ‑‑ coaches that can coach without having to worry about any concerns or ramifications, I mean, of what would happen if you did them, I think it makes an opponent much more dangerous. 
 

            Q.  You talked about the run game last week, are you seeing signs that it's going to break through, obviously a great production yesterday; can you talk about the line's play, and also one of the players said you really challenged them to out‑rush Navy, which not a lot of people do.

            COACH WEIS:  Well, think that I that was a team goal.  It wasn't just the offensive goal, because to out‑rush Navy, that means the defense has to play pretty well, too. 
            That was actually from our team, that was the second ‑‑ after winning the game, one of the things that I felt that our team had not done a great job is rushing the football.  And also, Navy's forte is running the football.  So I challenged the team to win the rushing game in this game and they did. 
            So I give them a lot of credit, because that credit goes to the offense, but it also goes to the defense, too, to be able to win those totals in that game. 
 

            Q.  Did you see anything different from the offensive line schematically, or was that a physical attitude improvement?

            COACH WEIS:  I was trying to create an attitude with, this is how we are going to play the game.  And you know, we turned the ball over three times in the first half.  We were moving the ball some, but turned the ball over three times in the first half.  One of them is on the quarterback; two of them are on the offensive line; you're kind of sputtering; the defense is kicking their butt. I think they gave up about 20 yards of offense in the first quarter.  I mean, they are playing very well, so you get to go in at half‑time up a field goal.
            But I think the best thing that happened with the offense is that at half‑time, okay, we had plenty of time to get in there and make some proper adjustments, tell them, okay, this is what we are going to do.  We cut down the game plan to about eight plays in the second half and that's about all we ran in the second half.  We ran them over and over and over and over, and I think that when you get that type of production like they did in the third quarter going into the fourth quarter, that was a pretty good measuring stick. 
 

            Q.  I think it would be fair to say you guys have been as a staff looking for the right button to push with this offense over the last couple of games. Do you think you found one, or was it specific to the opponent or how do you view the progress yesterday? 

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I think the first thing we are trying to do is reestablish a tone on the line of scrimmage of physicality.  I think that's where it starts.  I don't think it makes a difference, anything else on offense, that if you're to the going to be physical at the line of scrimmage, then you know, you're really not ever going to be ‑‑ ever have a chance of being really consistent. 
            Look, we were not perfect in the game by any extent of the imagination, but were we running the ball for five and a half yards a carry and for over a couple hundred yards, and the first three running backs really running hard and establishing the line of scrimmage; that's a good start. 
 

            Q.  Lambert, you mentioned the ankle; is he done?

            COACH WEIS:  No, as a matter of fact it's more encouraging on Lambert.  They told me he's 50/50 for this week and for sure for next week, which on Thursday, it didn't sound as promising.  He came down off of a jump ball in practice on Thursday and now on Thursday, no one gets hurts on Thursday in practice. I'm over on the offensive field and they come over and tell me Lambert got hurt and I said how did he get hurt? Next thing you know, he's on two couches and then he's one crutch.  He's off the crutches today and he's out of a brace.   They said ‑‑ I'm saying questionable, because that's what they gave me 50/50.
 

            Q.  The follow‑up to that would be RJ's play, and he made the big play right at the end and the first play, will he come back in and start? 

            COACH WEIS:  I'm on the RJ bandwagon right now, and it is not just because that's how he's stepped up.  Here is a guy, a freshman, really not afraid of anyone, and that's a really tough position to say that at.  You know, you go against so many good players out there or bigger players or faster players, there's a lot of physical skills that go there; you know, he just goes up and lines up and plays.
            You know, his cockiness turns into confidence, and whether it be that early play in the game or the tackle for the loss for ten or 11 yards or that jump ball for the end of the game, there's no doubt in his mind that either he was catching it or no one was catching it.  I really like the way he's playing.
 

            Q.  A couple of plays from the first half, the quarterback, was that an audible? 

            COACH WEIS:  No.  What happened is he got an odd look in an odd spacing look where he didn't feel that from the front that they had there that we would have been able to get the play off that we had designed. 
            So he was trying to ‑‑ we had a call at the line of scrimmage, where he could run the ball, if he got on odd look and he got the look that he saw and didn't think that we ‑‑ the pass was not going to be sufficient. 
            So he tried to get the run, just way too short on the play.
 

            Q.  And also the wildcat, I don't know what you guys call it? 

            COACH WEIS:  The only problem is Golden was supposed to run that ball outside. When you go back and watch that play, that play was designed to go around the corner with Asaph, so Asaph was running around the corner and Golden was about eight yards inside of him. 
            When you have a guy like that in there. Try to get him to the edge. However when he came to the sideline, I just asked him next time we put him in there if he would run to the edge.
 

            Q.  Also curious, you guys came out at the end of the first quarter, the clock runs out and seems like that element of surprise is gone. 

            COACH WEIS:  That's okay, because if you see how they lined up, okay, and then they were over there talking about it, okay, we knew exactly what look we were getting when we went out there.
            It would be one thing if you were anticipating a look where you would not be able to get it blocked, okay, but that wasn't ‑‑ that wasn't really what happened on this one. 
 

            Q.  Speaking of Blanton, have you had another freshman with that kind of confidence or a rookie in the NFL that matched that type of confidence?

            COACH WEIS:  Even a guy like an Asante Samuel who is playing for the Eagles now, he doesn't have that same ‑‑ as brash as he's become as a player and a corner in the NFL, he was not like that as a rookie. 
            I remember Ty Law; as brash as he was in the league, he was not really like that as a rookie.  I'm really interested to see how this kid is going to go over the next four years, because he's backing up his mouth, which that's a good thing to see.  I really like him out there. 
 

            Q.  From watching the tape, what did you see from the on‑side kicks?  Did he not handle it as well as you would like? 

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I'll go over all three of them.
            The first one Robby batted the ball out of bounds forward, and you can't blame that on him.  We told him to bat the ball out of bounds; unfortunately when he hit it went forward, so it's a penalty on him.
            The next one although it was a good kick, we were very passive at the line of scrimmage.  So the guy at the line of scrimmage, unless the ball is hit on one hop to them, are supposed to go be blockers, so they didn't, either. They didn't attack the ball or they didn't attack the blockers, okay, so they get the ball on that one.
            Now, the last one, I do have a minor gripe on, because they flew a flag on that play, which I'm going to have to find out why they picked up that flag, but the guy ‑‑ they blocked Robby before the ball went ten yards and threw a flag for that.  But then they waived off the flag. 
            So I'm going to have to kind out from Terry why exactly they did that, because what they can't do is they can't ‑‑ guys going to catch the ball, they can't block him before the ball goes ten yards. 
            So I just have to find out what happened. But the kid hit two perfect kicks but still, I think our lack of aggressiveness on the front line had a lot to do with, you know, their success and our failure. 
 

            Q.  I guess you would like ‑‑ don't you tell the guys, step forward and make the play; come out and make a play and end the darned game?

            COACH WEIS:  I don't know if you watched me, but not after the first round, but after that one, I went into the huddle and said those words almost verbatim. Might have been a few adjectives in there, too.  But it was about doing exactly the same thing.  It was about being aggressive and attack the ball and go get this and get out of here.  But it was more of the same.
 

            Q.  Looking at the stats, Clausen has 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, which is probably pretty typical for a second‑year quarterback.  But there's got to be a fine line between wanting him to be confident like a Blanton on the offensive line and be a bit of a swashbuckler, but also being cautious.  Is it difficult teaching a young kid that fine line?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, I helped out a little bit yesterday based off what they were doing early in the game.  Like I said the first interception, that was definitely on him.  The next time he's getting hit, he's getting hit just as he's throwing the ball. 
            But I think that when you get into a game like that, see, the MO that some of the teams that we've been playing recently is, let's back off, let's back off and make them nickel and dime us; or make them have to run the ball, because they don't believe that we'll have the patience to go ahead and run the ball. 
            So, you know, that's basically what you sit there and say:  Fellas, calm down, this is what we are going to do, this is what they are doing and this is what we are going to do.  Sometimes in a game like yesterday, the answer was, to run the ball, and that's basically from the half‑time on was basically all we did. 
            It wasn't taking the ball out of Jimmy's hand.  It was if they are going to play rush three and cover two, that's what you should do.  
 

            Q.  Does he feel conflicted, like does he feel like he doesn't know when to be more aggressive and when to pull back, or where is he emotionally with that?

            COACH WEIS:  First of all, I think he's unselfish.  So like most quarterbacks that would be upset that we are were not throwing the ball more, no one was happier in the locker room than him with the running game, and I think that's a good sign to see. You always want to see a quarterback after a game like that; that even though we won the game, they are in the tank because we didn't have a lost production run‑wise; I saw no evidence of that.
            He knows based off of how different teams play, there's different ways that we are going to attack them.  But I think it was important yesterday at half‑time for us to do exactly what we did.  I think that that's why we came out and went touchdown, touchdown, field goal to start off the second half. 
 

            Q.  Navy's final drive yesterday, they called that extra time‑out which you realized and everyone else seemed to realize; I don't know what the protocol is there, like in basketball, is there any sort of recourse you have in that sort of situation?

            COACH WEIS:  Well, we went and did some due diligence on this today, and the only thing that we can figure out is there's some ambiguity around the time out that was called around Jonas's fumble, okay.  There's some ambiguity on that one. 
            So the question is, whether or not there was a charged time‑out or there wasn't a charged time out.  So even though a time‑out, they made an announcement that I didn't hear, the time‑out came off the board, some people think that we are watching TV, that they said, there will not be a charged time‑out; and therefore, there should not have been a time‑out come off the board, even though at the end of the game, there were no time‑outs left on the board, technically according to the officials, there was still one left. 
            I had never got an explanation where the one left came from, but when we did our research today, that's the only thing at this time that we could come up with. 
 

            Q.  Mike's play, a really big play, can just talk about what a great player he's developed into for you guys? 

            COACH WEIS:  And he had about two or three tackles, too, and came darned close to recovering that one kickoff, too. 
            Here is a guy that, you know, keep on ‑‑ every game, whether it be as a gunner on a punt team, a cover guy on the kickoff team, now rushing the punt, you know, there is hardly any games that we play where all of a sudden he's not in the stat sheet as one of the guys on special teams that's producing. 
            He's a perfect example, he's a perfect example of what a guy with an over‑sized heart can do.  I'll take a bunch of Mike Anellos any time.
 

            Q.  Seems like the kind of kid you love to coach; is that fair?

            COACH WEIS:  Seems like he should be playing for Navy, doesn't he? (Laughing)  I'll take Anello any day of the week.  I'm telling you, he's my type of kid.  Don't tell him that, though.
 

            Q.  Just because he came in here as a walk‑on, like a regular student, like you did, for example, does that make it kind of fun to step back and watch when you're not thinking about everything else?

            COACH WEIS:  You know, we had this conversation earlier this year when I put him on scholarship.  And he said the last thing he ever thought was going to happen to him when he walked on was that he would actually be out there getting significant amount of time playing.  He just loved the game so much, he just wanted to be a part of the football program. 
            And look at the positive residual effect that's happened for both the Notre Dame football and for Mike Anello, because he did. 
 

            Q.  (No mic).

 COACH WEIS:  Reword the question differently, but the answer is probably yes.

 

            Q.  (No mic).

            COACH WEIS:  Why don't you request him this week, and why don't you request to speak to him this week and ask him that question? 
 

            Q.  (No mic). 

            COACH WEIS:  Oh, he's already said he wants it?  Okay.  I can't talk about those subjects. 

Floyd, Smith Out Two Weeks

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Charlie Weis said freshman receiver Michael Floyd and sophomore linebacker Brian Smith will miss the last two games of the season after suffering knee injuries in Saturday's 27-21 win over Navy. The Notre Dame coach said both players could return in time for a bowl game.
"It would be unreasonable to see either one of them play the next two weeks," said Weis, who described the injuries as "strains." "It's a four-week deal."
Weis said cornerback Terrail Lambert, who turned is ankle during Thursday's practice and did not play against Navy, is "50-50" for Saturday's game against Syracuse at Notre Dame Stadium. 
The senior corner may have trouble winning back his job, however. Weis lauded freshman backup Robert Blanton's performance against the Midshipmen.

I will post the entire press conference transcript as soon as its available.

A Win is Not a Win

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"A win is a win." That's what several players said after Saturday's 27-21 win over Navy. It's the same thing they said after an unimpressive season-opening win over San Diego State.
 
Isn't it about time for players and coaches to hold themselves to a higher standard?

Instead of patting themselves on the back for hanging on to beat a team without one player they would've recruited, maybe players and coaches should hold themselves accountable and admit they didn't play their best and that they will need to do better to become the team they want to be.

Even athletics director Jack Swarbrick got in on the act. "If I don't want the fans to go with the ebb and flow each week, in terms of their reactions, then I can't either. And I don't," he told AP after the game. "You try and evaluate things on the totality of what you're seeing and what we saw here today was as a good a 20 minutes as we've seen this year."

So, there you have it. How best to assess Notre Dame's current situation? They are congratulating each other for playing good football for 20 minutes against ... Navy.

Good grief.

I spent a lot of time covering the 49ers dynasty in the past. Steve Young was never --- ever --- satisfied. He's sit in front of his locker after a 31-10 win over the Rams talking about what was wrong with the offense, what they needed to do to get better. Players set the standard on that team. Maybe that's why they were so successful for so long.

If Irish want to be great again, they need to forget about outside expectations, start jacking up their own, internal expectations and admit that barely holding off Navy isn't good enough. 

Navy Pregame Entry

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M&T Bank Stadium is one of my favorite stadiums on earth. Press boxes are on top of the stadium and sometimes even in the end zone at most new stadiums. This is the exception. The press box is at the top of the first tier of seats so you're sitting right on top of the action. Huge video screens in both end zones are a nice touch, as well.

it has stopped drizzling and it appears the sky is clearing. Balmy here. Long sleeves and/or light jackets only.

WHY I PICKED ND TO WIN 28-17.

The best answer is they made me. My bosses like me to pick a winner ever week.

I just think Notre Dame's athleticism will prevail. The Irish were too young and inexperienced to exploit the physical mismatches against Navy last year. This year, however, Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and Co. should make enough big plays to ensure a ND win. 

Could Notre Dame lose this game? Sure. If they come out flat like they did last week and allow Navy to play its game, if Jimmy Clausen forces balls into coverage and the result is turnovers, the Middies could post back-to-back wins for the first time since ... (I've got to look it up) ... 1960 and '61.

If that happens, I truly believe that coach Charlie Weis would be in serious trouble. 

UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 11, 2008


Charlie Weis


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 
Notre Dame coaches and players often sound like robots while answering media questions. The occasional exception is a breath of fresh air, which is what made defensive coordinator Corwin Brown's recent rant a welcome diversion. Brown spoke with passion while summing up the state of the program. 
Hopefully, he'll be encouraged to do more of the same in the future. Nothing wrong with letting the media --- and by extension the fans ---- know how much you care.
"Sometimes when you take a certain guy and you put him in the right puzzle, it fits," Brown said. "That's what we're trying to do here. We're trying to put the right puzzle with the right guys with the right coaches. Once you work at that and everybody figures it out, that's how you win. We got a bunch of good pieces here. We're just putting it together. But it's here.
"The difference in this year and last year is, last year we weren't in the game like we [are now]. Everybody's talking about, well, you're playing this competition level. No. Just about everybody we play, we're in the games. We've got a chance to win those games and we expect to win them. It's a little thing here, a little thing there. 
"I've been around winning teams. I know good people. Good places. I know that. Do I know it all? Absolutely not. But I've been around enough good people and I've studied enough good people to know what it takes for guys to win. I know we've got good players here and I know we have good coaches and I know we're on the right track. 
"Do we always do it? Absolutely not. But we're making progress."

UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 4, 2008


Charlie Weis


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? 

Q. Yeah. 
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 


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From the Boston Herald.


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."


BC notes


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


Charlie Weis


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 



ND-Pitt Report Card

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So much for my halftime analysis from Saturday's game. I thought those first-half plays were the turning point in the game. In the end, they weren't even included in my game story. Crazy.


A brief report card from Notre Dame--Pittsburgh. 

Quarterback: This is a tough call. Jimmy played pretty well. Some of the problems he had may have been schematic. They also could've had something to do with Pittsburgh having a better defense than Washington. He made some big-league throws, though, and was good enough for Notre Dame to win. B

Running back: Armando Allen picked up some tough yards, especially in overtime. The problem is, the running game still seems to be more of a complementary part of the offense than a staple. Allen had 86 yards on 19 carries. Robert Hughes and James Aldridge averaged 3.1 yards per carry. That's not good enough. C

Receivers: Michael Floyd and Golden Tate are incredible talents. Tate's catch --- after the ball had been tipped by two Pittsburgh defenders, no less --- for 47 yards was a highlight for the ages. Floyd is developing into more than a freshman sensation. He's a go-to guy in one of college football's emerging passing offenses. How good will these two be next year and perhaps even the year after? A

Offensive line: Another tough one. They only allowed one sack. Clausen was hurried three more times, according to the official stats. The running game was solid but could have been better. B

Defensive line: LeSean McCoy rushed for 169 yards and got better as the game went on. His 18-yard run in the fourth overtime set up the game-winning field goal. No defensive lineman had a sack. Ethan Johnson had the unit's only hurry. C minus

Linebackers: Most of the comments made about the defensive line could also be said of the linebackers. Kerry Neal and Steve Quinn each had sacks. C

Secondary: Pittsburgh quarterbacks (four different players took snaps from center) twice overthrew wide-open receivers. Raeshon McNeil had two picks. He also gave up the game-tying touchdown to 6-5 receiver Jonathan Baldwin with 2:22 left. That's a tough matchup for the 6-0 McNeil, but still ... B

Special teams: Coach Charlie Weis was right when he made sure nobody blamed Brandon Walker for the loss. Yes, he missed a 38-yard field goal in overtime. But he made four field goals in the game, including a 48-yarder in overtime and seven straight overall before missing. B

Coaching: I still can't figure out why Weis went for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield. The logic baffles me. It seemed like Pittsburgh did a better job making second-half adjustments, as well. Weis, the offensive guru, needed to find a way to get his offense in the end zone in overtime. He couldn't. C minus
Pittsburgh had a second-and-5 at the 26-yard line midway through the second quarter when LeSean McCoy, trying to find a running lane where there was none, reversed field and ended up being dropped for a nine-yard loss by Kyle McCarthy. On the next play, Pat Bostick --- one of four players who have taken a snap as quarterback for Pittsburgh thus far --- tripped while dropping back on third-and-14 and lost 5 more. So, instead of having a makable field goal in a 3-3 game --- at the time, Pittsburgh's Conor Lee was three field goals shy of becoming the Panthers' all-time leader --- they punt. 

Huge, huge blunder.

The Irish have more playmakers. That was obvious enough in the first half. The biggest play came a few minutes later when Golden Tate hauled in a Jimmy Clausen pass that was twice tipped by Pittsburgh defenders for a 47-yard gain. That set up the first Jimmy-to-Michael Floyd touchdown that made it 10-3. Bostick's interception, and Raeshon McNeil's patient, 47-yard return (before he fumbled. David Bruton recovered) set up a second Clausen-to-Floyd connection that gave the Irish a 17-3 lead at the break.

From what we've seen of Pittsburgh's offense in the first half, the lead might prove to be insurmountable. 

How good if Floyd, by the way? He's running that 12-yard out route over and over and Jimmy is hitting him every time. He has seven catches for 81 yards at halftime. 

Sightings: Jon Bon Jovi is on the ND sideline. Detroit manager Jim Leyland was in the press box eating a hot dog at halftime. The longtime Pittsburgh resident was wearing a Notre Dame hat and sweatshirt.

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