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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 8, 2006
COACH WEIS: Good afternoon. We had a wrap-up of the first season, as we would like to say, in a nice, solid victory which gives us a nice opportunity to fill up some bumps and bruises and simultaneously work on a number of things that we'll work on Tuesday. So for now, our Stanford recap starting with special teams, we were hoping in this game on special teams, we were hoping that we would be able to dominate the special teams.
We felt that we really didn't dominate the special teams. We felt it was a wash. There were some definite pros. I felt we did a pretty good job of kick-off coverage. It was significantly improved from the week before. We averaged 13 and a half yards of return. The drive start was 22.6 versus the week before. It was over the 27 yard line.
Ryan Burkhart had a couple of touchbacks. That's always a good thing. Carl made all those kicks. That's a good thing, as well. I think George West did a really nice job in decision making on his returns. As you know, he's back there in both punt returns and kickoff returns. Although they didn't all go in his direction on kickoff returns, I felt he did a nice job for us.
I think on coverage the one guy who really stood out for me and did a nice job was David Bruton. I think out of all the players on special teams, he was the guy that stood out the best.
On the negative side, we spent a lot of time working on kickoff return this week and that work did not come to fruition. We mishandled the opening kickoff. We had a holding penalty on a 60-yard return. I didn't think we punted the ball too well. Like I said, the one holding penalty we had cost us 48 yards of field position.
Defensively, once again, the 3rd down was the key. They did have two 3rd down conversions. Sometimes that's a little bit skewed because they did have two 3rd down conversions on penalties that don't really count in the stats but they're really 3rd down conversions. So they had two plays on 3rd down where they end up getting 1st down because of penalties. But when we really played them, it was one out of 8 on 3rd down and they went for it once on 4th down and there was a stop.
So the verbiage we use, which is really an NFL term, is money down. They did a good job on the money down, which is the 3rd down.
Our big plays, I have good news to report, good news/bad news. There were two of them on the day. Obviously we all saw the halfback pass for a touchdown, that was one. And they had one run that went for more then ten yards, one that went 13 yards. That's a significant improvement over several games.
Obviously we didn't like the way the game started. It was a poor start. The first drive yielded that field goal, a seven-minute drive or whatever it ended up being. Fortunately for us we held them to a field goal when we got down there. Between that first drive and the trick play were the two big negatives.
The other negative, sometimes you have a hidden negative that unless you're really doing research, but just as I try to get four yards on 1st down when we have the ball, well, the defense is trying to keep them -- our defense is trying to keep the opponent's offense to under four yards. And usually the more times you can keep them to under four yards the better chance to get them off the field.
Yesterday, 35 percent of the time they got four yards or more on 1st down. So that number has got to be less than that.
And we had four penalties called in the game of defense, three of them were accepted because two of them were on the same play. We had two offsides by Victor, which we addressed yesterday. And on one of Victor's offsides they also called Crum for holding. That was on one of those 3rd down plays we were talking about.
And the other 3rd down play we are talking about was on the quarterback, when the quarterback threw the ball 15 yards out of bounds just to throw the ball away.
There were several players that played well on defense. I want to call out three. It's tough not to call out Victor. Any time you have three sacks and another tackle for a loss on top of it, he obviously has played some of his best games against Stanford in his career between last year's game and this year. He was tough out there yesterday.
And the other two guys on defense that I really want to call out because it wouldn't normal would be Joe Brockington and Ray Herring. For having two of those starters, replacing two of the starters and how well they played, you really didn't notice them out there, or if you did notice them, it was usually something favorable. So I thought that both Brockington in for Travis and Ray Herring playing for Zibbie (Zbikowski). I thought those two guys stepped up and played solid for us.
There were a number of guys that played well, but I thought Victor was obviously the most noticeable. I think in Joe and Ray's case, they are not as noticeable, but for me it was a big impact because it gave me confidence that they play well on defense.
For the second week in a row we scored on the first series of both halves, which is a drastic improvement than the one we had. We scored on the two-minute drive right at the end of the half, had no penalties and no turnovers and gave up only one sack. And that sack was more of a coverage sack. That wasn't a sack that was given to the linemen, or the backs for that matter.
I thought we played fairly consistent for a good portion of the game. We possessed the ball for about ten minutes both halves of the game. Brady completed 73 percent of his passes. That always gives you a good chance. We rushed for over five yards of carrier rush and for over 200 yards. That always gives you a good chance.
And on both sides of the ball, both defensively and offensively, we had single digit mental errors, which is always critical. On the negative side, let's start with, I go for it on 4th down around midfield. I thought that was a crummy play call. I had confidence our defense would stop them. And I told the defense before I made the play, I was calling the play knowing that they would stop them. They, fortunately, bailed me out. But I probably should have punted in that situation or gone with a call I originally had ready to go dialed up. So that was a bad decision by the head coach.
We got into the red zone four times and only scored three touchdowns. It's never good when you get down to the red zone and don't score touchdowns. We're going to have to work on two areas of concern, some straight ahead inside runs. We missed a couple of seam balls on the day, so we have to work on those. Our straight ahead inside runs, not our misdirected ones, but our straight ahead inside runs, we converted over fifty percent on 3rd down but we were shooting for 60 percent because our stats have been so low this year. We were shooting for a really drastic improvement. So we were pretty close, but it wasn't good enough.
Brady completed 73 percent of his passes, Darius was rushing for over 150. John Carlson played a solid game, spectacular touchdown catch.
The whole offensive line, it was easily their best performance of the year. But because I don't like calling out all five at the same time, I'll pick one that probably played his best, was Dan Santucci.
Let me go back to both the spring and training camp where we actually felt Ray was on the verge of really challenging to be a starter. And then Ndukwe drops a bunch of weight and he pulled away from them, because the Ray we had last year versus the Ray we had in the spring, it was pretty close. But we got a new Ndukwe which that helped separate those two guys.
I think Ray has been in the position where we've had confidence that he could play. And then I think the fact that he stepped in relatively unnoticed, well, it's not unnoticed when he had about nine or ten tackles in a game. So that's not unnoticed. But I think he had a nice solid game. And it's always good when you have another young guy that you can play in the game and know he's going to be around here for a while and start getting in the mix more, which helps the team for this year and also bodes well for the future.
Q. Heading into the bye week, are you pretty happy with where the team is so far?
COACH WEIS: I am going to do a statistical analysis of that tomorrow. I'm going to spend a good portion doing a statistical analysis of that, and I'll be able to give you a more objective analysis of that on Tuesday. Today, I just spent my time between just the Stanford game, by the time I've watched offense, defense and special teams and had recruiting appointments, it's already been a full day. So I haven't had time to really spend much time doing it. That's going to be one of the three things I talk about on Tuesday.
Q. The way yesterday's game went, is that alone a good place to be?
COACH WEIS: I think that was a nice solid game, but not without holes, a nice solid game but not without holes. I think it's always good when you can play a solid game and have plenty of things to be able to critique the players about. But at the same time, you know, come out of the game healthy with a nice solid win, it gives you an opportunity -- like I had a plan A and plan B for this coming week that allows you to do plan A and not plan B. And plan B would have set me back in the long range, but it would have gotten -- there's two sides of the coin there. So like I said yesterday, I think the word that I used was content, and I think that's the appropriate word.
Q. Walls had the nice kick return yesterday, not his fault there was a holding. Talk about what he's doing well.
COACH WEIS: He's got all sorts of ball skills. He has a chance to be a dynamic returner and he's going to be a heck of a corner at the same time. This will be a big week for him because he will get a lot of reps this week in practice.
Q. And last week, had you been planning on spending any time this week watching any baseball? Does the Yankee loss hurt you guys at all in terms of preparation?
COACH WEIS: Well, it will probably help the preparation of football. I'll have a little extra time on my hands. Baseball season is over, right? It ended yesterday.
Q. With Zibbie's injury, you mentioned the helmet-to-helmet in the last game, was there something that was lingering before that? Was this an old injury?
COACH WEIS: No, that's what happened. Everyone was making a big deal of it being a concussion. It wasn't a concussion. It was the fact he actually hurt his shoulder. Hitting his head hurt his shoulder. Like I said, if I would have left it up to Zibbie, he would have played. For those who know him, that's the way it would have gone. That's why I didn't leave it up to him.
Q. Can you elaborate a little bit about your routine?
COACH WEIS: I really want to get into it on Tuesday, like we said before. But just to give you just a basic gist of the week. On Tuesday when I meet with you I'm really going to talk about three subjects. I'm going to talk about self scout. That's going to be one. Two, I'm going to tell you the rundown for the week. And I'm actually going to tell you what we're going to work on, on the three days that we're practicing. And then the third thing we'll talk about is basically the plan for recuting without getting into who the recruits are and who is going where, just a basic mode of attack, because we're sending seven people on the road on Wednesday to go out there Thursday and Friday. So we'll talk about those things on Tuesday.
Q. Not to get into Tuesday's subject matter, but is the bye week necessarily the mental cutoff in your mind in terms of whether you're going to use somebody?
COACH WEIS: Well, I've talked to several of the players already. Like you're talking about, we talked to a number of the guys and -- I'll give you an example, like Aldridge. I told Aldridge even if it was five reps, if I had an opportunity to put him in the game, I would. I had an 8-play package for him if he got in the game. I had an 8-play package that wasn't like the ones we ran yesterday, that weren't just the ones we ran yesterday, as if we were playing in a game for real. That situation just didn't present itself. But several of the other guys, what I don't want to do is use them -- I don't want to use them just to mop up time if it's going to burn. We don't talk about Richards here, but there is a fifth-year possibility. I think we're down to ten people, I think. I think it might be down to 10 of the 28 that haven't been in the game yet. I might be off, but I think that's close.
Q. Do you feel this is a better team than last year's?
COACH WEIS: What I want to do is I want to study that tomorrow, because I'm going to compare where we are this year at six games to where we were last year at six games. I want to look at the opponents too and see the quality of the opponent you're playing. It's been a pretty tough first six games.
If you go back in hindsight, go back and reflect, some of the teams we're playing -- it looks to me like Georgia Tech botched it. Everyone was saying they are a pretty good football team. I'm going to spend tomorrow, it's going to be my analysis day, and I'll be able to give you a better feel for where we are in regards to that after I go ahead -- I don't like to go by feel on that, I really want to go by numbers.
Q. Not to ask a Tuesday question, but where do you see this team -- what areas do you see that you have a higher team?
COACH WEIS: Obvious, on offensive, it's 3rd down conversions. We're closing in on that forty percent range, but not too long ago we were at 27 percent. We'd like to convert over fifty percent. I think we have been good in the red zone, and I think we've been crummy on 3rd down. In a couple of games, the Michigan and Michigan State games, we were blown away with their running game and I'd like to be more balanced. But at this time I still have a lot of work to do as far as research to research where the problem areas are.
Defensively, I think the big play has always been a bit of an Achilles heel. It manifested itself one time yesterday in the game on affect pass.
But I think we're just -- I think we've been exceptional on 3rd down. So that's the flip side of the coin. The one constant, though, is that we need to do a better job on our return games and our kickoff return and our punt return. We've been investing a lot of time and strategy and that and we're just going to have to keep working on it because we need to see some fruits of our labor.
Q. Is one of the areas you're pleased with so far is the depth?
COACH WEIS: That's one of the areas where I get more encouraged all the time, mainly because we've got a lot of veteran guys playing on this team. We have a bunch of fourth and fifth year guys playing. So as you start to play more and more guys, you know, especially guys that have a year left, two years left, three years left, where you can get them in, and four years left -- well, three years left after this one -- get them indoctrinated into your system and play them with some level of confidence, that alleviates some concerns that you have down the road.
Q. Is there any one player that comes to mind that performed better than expected?
COACH WEIS: Not going into this season, but I would say the guy, from the day I stepped on campus to this very second, the guy who is currently on the biggest rise with me has to be Lambert, because when I got here I was afraid to put him on the field. It was a new system. He was struggling with it. He had all sorts of athletic ability, but now the more and more he's out there, the more confidence I have in him.
Now, it wasn't so long ago when that 86 from Michigan was going by him. It wasn't that long ago. Now he's out there and no one is even noticing. I'll knock on wood on that one. But I would say from when I first got here to right now, that's one of the guys who you've seen make some significant progress.
Q. Are you disappointed you haven't had more of a chance to throw?
COACH WEIS: I'm not going to throw too much in that situation anyway. I know people get upset with me that I don't like doing that, but I don't like doing it. They talk about quality wins. I think when you play solid offense and defense and the game is never really much in doubt and you play it with no turnovers and no penalties on offense and only a few on defense and you're one on special teams and you play pretty solid and come out of the game relatively injury free, going into a bye week, that's a pretty good day at the office.
Q. Did Walls play much at cornerback yesterday? And is that just a situation where you have got a guy like Lambert and you've got a guy like Ferrine who have been in the system that are more familiar with what you're looking for?
COACH WEIS: I think what we want to do is get through yesterday's game with more veteran players, because we knew that our whole emphasis for this week was to take like Darrin and Raeshon and get them a zillion reps, and get them a zillion reps at a high speed, because we'll be doing offense against defense in those periods. We won't be doing it off of carts. So now they get things -- not only do they get the reps, but they get them at full speed. I think sometimes when you try to rep guys, and you run things off of carts, you don't get them at the same pace the game is played at.
That's why this week will be significant, and it will be significant for the guys that go against them at the same time. All those guys who get those reps against them, it will be big for them, as well.
Q. Do you have any more guys that can kickoff?
COACH WEIS: No, we've run the gamut. That's it.
Q. Does Burkhart have the edge now?
COACH WEIS: He's settled in as the guy we're going to use. Now, of course, to quote an old mentor of mine, "I reserve the right to change my mind." I think right now him hitting those couple of touchbacks, his confidence is starting to come along. There's never been a question with Ryan of leg strain. The question has been of confidence. Right now he can kick it a long way, it's just getting him to kick it consistently a long way. As you'll see, one long drive to the left, the next one is six yards deep in the end zone. You have got to live with growing pains, but I think we're moving in the right direction.
Q. You said you have not been happy with the return game. Can you pinpoint what's happening there. And return game, is that more of a physical thing, is it more of a discipline thing?
COACH WEIS: No, it depends. There are about three or four different things that come into play. One starts off with communication when handling the football. Obviously that was the first one of the day yesterday. That's the biggest problem, the hold time and the whole kickoff gets messed up when we start off with that. But whether it's a penalty that's caused by not being in position at the right time or whether it's the wedge not getting their block or whether it's a mental error, there are a number of different reasons for a breakdown. We felt like we've eliminated a lot of them, but it still seems that -- here are two examples yesterday.
We mishandled the one return and then we had a penalty on another return. There go your two kickoff returns right out the window.
On punt return, although George did a nice job, there was a guy in his face every time he goes to catch the ball. Part of the reason was, we were playing kind of safe to make sure we played against a trick play in case they wanted to use some kind of a gadget on the punt. What we didn't want to do is give up an easy one on something like that.
Well then all of a sudden those guys initially outside are singled. So now the gunners are singled. They're down and they're right in his face. Some of those punts were high and short. I think George did a nice, solid job. Now, that's one unnoticed thing that goes in the game. We don't use Zibbie there, we didn't use Grimes there. We used George there. You basically didn't even notice he was out there because he was making good decisions and catching everything and Travis. The only one time we had practiced Jeff back there in plus ten, so they got to the fifty yard line and we put him back there just to catch the ball, which happened the one time he went back there.
Q. You've been beating yourself up on that 4th and 2 call, but I thought at the time, my reaction was you were trying to make a statement with your offense there, we are going to pound it in there.
COACH WEIS: Unfortunately, you're right. That's what I was trying to do. It's great when it works, but when it doesn't work, you have to take the hit for it, because it could have been, what if they go down, take that field position and go down and score a touchdown.
I wasn't saying the statement, though -- you're partially right because I wasn't saying it just to the offense. I was also making a statement to the defense that I have confidence that if the play doesn't work, you will be able to stop them. When I said they bailed me out, that part of it did come true. So you're really making a statement to both sides of the ball at the same time.
COACH WEIS: First of all, for me, through the assistant coaches, that's how it's presented to these guys. We don't change the game plan because somebody else is in there. Like Joe Brockington has got the same things that Travis would have had if Travis was playing. And Ray got the same things that Zibbie was practicing all week at practice. We didn't like all of a sudden on game day say, Okay, I'm not going to with Zibbie, we're going to change it because Ray is there.
I think the players know there is an accountability factor. If they are No. 2, they better be ready to go because they are one play away from playing. And I think that's the whole attitude in the whole place. And I think everyone feels that way.
Q. How do you practice that accountability so number 2's feel more like 1-A's?
COACH WEIS: The way you do that, in practice, you don't make wholesale position changes. You don't send in a whole second unit. You send in one guy at a time. So you send in one offensive lineman, you send in one defensive lineman. So really what you're not doing is saying, Okay, the 1's you just got eight reps, now the 2's come in for four.
You start putting in one guy at a time. We call them like 1 and 1-A's. We're not afraid to put Travis Leitko in for Trevor Laws. He just goes in there. That's just where he plays so he goes in there.
Q. No disrespect to Stanford, but if you're playing Michigan or USC, would you expect them to have played?
COACH WEIS: With a bye week coming up, it still would be a tough decision. I would probably still err on the side of safety again. I know it's a subjective question I didn't really have to think about too much. It would put a lot more pressure on me to make that decision if it were that way. Not to be condescending either, but at the same time I'm concerned for the next season. I'm concerned for two weeks ago or two weeks from now when we kick it off against UCLA, too. I have to look at the big picture. I have to carry this all the way out through November. I think that you have to keep that in mind when making those decisions.
Q. When you go over the negatives every week and just looking at what you said today about the past week, do you get the impression they're getting more focused?
COACH WEIS: Yesterday that's true. The last couple of weeks that's true. Every week, that could go either way every week. We've been really trying to put an emphasis on being more consistent across the board. I think that we're making some strides in that direction, we're making some strides, because you're at the halfway mark. You just wrapped up your first half of season, now you have two weeks off, and then you're going to kick it off all over again. What you're hoping is, you're hoping you're carrying some of that consistency and starting off way ahead of where you were three weeks ago.
Q. You mentioned mental errors every week. Can you explain how you go about tracking those?
COACH WEIS: Well, mental errors, first of all, position coaches when they watch the tape are the ones that have to give a mental error for this or that. It might be where you might see what looks like a poorly blocked play, for example -- let me put it on me and the quarterback, it's always easier to give an analogy like that. We identify the front by pointing out who the middle linebacker is.
So if Brady calls the wrong guy as who we are blocking the front as the middle linebacker, we could turn somebody completely free. So if he does that, that happens on a play and you might say, well, somebody missed a block, well, if could be we called the wrong middle linebacker. Conversely, there are times where everything is perfect and the guy just messes up and doesn't block who he's supposed to block. And all of a sudden you see some guy coming completely free that had a guy assigned to block him.
Sometimes it's on coaching. I consider a problem with the quarterback on me. I consider that on coaching because that's my responsibility to get that communicated. But there's things that happen in a game and you say how does that happen. And if you were sitting in my staff room and not in the press room I would ask you the same question. I would like to know how it happens also. But mental errors are things that we like to be into single digits, because you would like to think if we were taking the classroom teaching to the field, there wouldn't be a large volume of mental errors.
Q. You obviously want to eliminate those, but what's a number you can live with?
COACH WEIS: Single digits. I think if you have single digits -- that means from all the reps in the game, if you have less than ten on that side of the ball -- there's going to be mental errors that happen in a game. It could be by formation, by front, it could be something different that you weren't counting on seeing. There are going to be problems that come up. But I believe if you keep them to less than ten, usually you won't have killed too many plays.
Q. Do you hope to expect those to decrease as the season goes on?
COACH WEIS: Sometimes it's created by the difficulty of your opponent, not necessarily how good they are, but how much stuff they do. The more an opponent does, the more possibility that you're open for mental errors to occur. But that's one thing I can tell you, I'm sure, without even having done statistical analysis, not only are they on a decline from this year, but I'm sure that they're greatly on the decline from last year.
Q. There's been talk about the punt return team. Can you talk a little bit about how much pressure on the punter can help the return game and whether or not you have been satisfied with the pressure that you've been getting on the punter?
COACH WEIS: Well, the problem is, when you put pressure on the punter, you're usually not blocking the guys that are running down field. That's the problem you have. You can either come after the punter -- it isn't like the NFL, who the only guys who can go down field before the ball is kicked are the gunners, here everyone can go down field. As soon as the ball is snapped, everyone can go. If you're rushing people and they don't get there, that's how many guys can be running free down the field on the punt returner. So you have to be very calculated in how many you can rush, because when you rush him, you have no one to block for that returner. He's on his own. So you better get there because you're hanging him out to dry when you're going ahead and bringing him.
With that being said, is there any benefit to that? Yes, absolutely. But the problem comes in that Catch 22 you're in, is knowing that punt returner is going to be on his own.
Q. Talk about what you're going to be doing today? I know Sunday the team usually goes over the films. Do you have a little extra time to go over the films because of the bye week?
COACH WEIS: This is a Normal Sunday for us. They are going to have a normal. Monday, there's no football responsibilities. And they'll be in Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, different responsibilities based on who they are. I'll give them a long weekend and break next week, for the rest of their free world but not for them.
Q. To play Sam Young, can you go over what you saw of him in the tape?
COACH WEIS: Well, I thought the offensive line played the best game they played this year. I could have picked any of the five guys as playing solid, but Santucci stood out, but I thought Sam played -- I thought every guy on the offensive line had a solid game in this game.
When you rush for a couple of hundred yards and have no sacks, basically, accredited to the offensive linemen, and the quarterback got completes for over 70 percent of the passes and had plenty of time to throw, it's a pretty good day at the offense.
Q. Victor, you talked about how important he was in the game, but how important is he off the field, maybe on the practice field and in locker room?
COACH WEIS: Well, he was the on-the-field captain for the game yesterday. With Travis not playing and Zibbie not playing, I basically told the officials, even though Zibbie and Travis were going out for the coin toss, he was going to represent us on penalty situations. So obviously I think -- if that's what I think of him, because I'm a point net person in that situation, and when I talked to the officials before the game, I said just look for 95, he'll handle all the communication. Obviously I think he is very positive, both on and off the field.
Q. You have got a Heisman-caliber quarterback who, at this point in the season, his favorite receiver in terms of catches is the running back. How much of that has been in evolution of what you've seen and also what do you expect defensive coordinators getting ready for you guys to do?
COACH WEIS: Well, if they want to keep on playing two Tampa, and what two Tampa is, is just a little football talk. Monty Kiffin was a defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and years ago he put in a form of two cover, where the middle linebacker runs to the middle of the field to take away the big scenes where everyone was attacking cover two. So everyone everywhere calls it Tampa, Tampa two or two Tampa. They call it that way in the NFL and they call it that in college.
Well, the one void in Tampa is right over to center. So our whole feeling is, we'll look down the field to see if we can throw it down the field, if not we'll dump it right there. If they play two Tampa, we'll continue to dump it right there.
Q. And if they don't, I guess that's when John Carlson gets open. Talk about him.
COACH WEIS: He's really helped out the whole passing game because he has been the guy that attacks the middle of the field for us. Yesterday I thought he was really close to a couple of home runs down the middle of the field. And one time he was getting mugged, just absolutely mugged. It was on the play -- it was almost like poetic justice, because that's when Ndukwe got hit with a personal foul out of the bounds on the third down scramble. We were trying to throw the ball to Carlson and he couldn't have been getting mugged any worse that he was on that play. So he's looking at him, waiting for him to get free but he's not.
Johnson has been solid for us all year and his confidence continues to grow. I just wish that when he would dive for a ball, he would try to catch it one both hands instead of one.
Q. You talked about how Georgia Tech looked like a pretty good team. There is a poll voter who still has them ahead of Notre Dame. As someone who votes every week, like yourself --
COACH WEIS: I just don't understand how you could do that. I didn't understand how Virginia Tech could have been voted hire than Georgia Tech in the polls. I don't get it. I spent a lot of time working on these things. And after the beating that Georgia Tech put on Virginia Tech, how could Georgia Tech not be rated higher? I don't know how that works sometimes. I don't know how anyone, based off of the fact that we went on the road and beat them there, could vote that way. I just don't understand that. But that doesn't mean I don't think they are good, because we vote them -- I can tell you, in our poll, Georgia Tech is rated a lot higher than the real polls and higher than a lot of the people because we think they're pretty good.
Q. [James Aldridge and Munir this season]?
COACH WEIS: It was good to give Munir time in both the first half and the second off. That and the fact that Darius had a pretty big workday again, with 25 carries and another five catches, you know, another 30 touches. I think Munir, getting him in there and getting that change-of-pace runner in there was good for Munir and good for Darius at the same time. I think it was good for both of them to get Munir some playing time and getting him some touches, and at the same time keeping Darius relatively free.
Q. You've mentioned how you've got some freshman now. Do you set up the rest of the season so you can evaluate their progress even though they don't see the field this year?
COACH WEIS: What we do is, the first half of every practice we don't go to show teams, we stay in offense and defense. So those guys continue to be coached by their position coaches in the first half of the practice. So we always continue working on fundamentals and techniques and one-on-ones as a group. Then at the halfway mark we break and then we go to show teams.
The other thing, by the way, we set up the show teams this year where Shane Waldron takes care of the offense and Jeff Burrow takes care of the defense. We, on a daily basis, go every morning when we meet at 7:00, every day on a daily basis we go over the updates on offense and defensive players on the show team. I watch them because I watch the tape on both sides of the ball, but I do that so the coaching staff can hear that so-and-so is having a good day or so-and-so is just going through the motions, so the position coaches can stay on them or pat them on the back, depending on what the situation is?
Q. You were talking before about Walls. Is Ferrine and Walls really close right now or is Leo past him?
COACH WEIS: Obviously, for this game, Leo would be better suited to be with the guy right now. We're at the stage right now where we have two weeks to really zone in on what everyone could do. I think that's what our goal as a coaching staff is, so I think it would be pretty premature to say one guy is ahead of another guy.
Q. Your philosophy is to play the best player, but are there other positions you are considering reopening again?
COACH WEIS: I don't know. I don't know of anyone on the offensive line in danger of losing their spot. Tight end, quarterback, wide receivers, they look pretty set. Defensive line, it looks like we've been rotating the right end some, I guess that position is open for a starter. But the other three guys, they look like they're cement. Brockington's health is stock. I don't think it's going to move Travis out. It might give Brockington more time.
Q. You said the quarterback identifies who the middle linebacker is. What goes into that determination, because obviously it's not the guy designated?
COACH WEIS: Any time you're watching a game on TV, and let's say you're watching a pro game today and you watched the quarterback point at a guy. He's letting everyone know from the offensive linemen to the tight end to the wide receivers where all the counts are starting from. So for example, that designation of that guy being a middle linebacker has an affect on side adjust, not just the running game, but that would trigger a sight adjustment for the wide receiver so you get past plays on everybody because it has a lot to do with what everyone is assigned.
But at least in this offense, and it's true in every offense, it comes in recognition after you talk about the front four. Let's assume there are four guys rushing already. After you talk about the front four, the other ought to start with one person, and that person is whoever you designate as a middle linebacker.
COACH WEIS: No, because you're running and passing. He might be out in the middle right or middle left, but he's somewhere in the middle. It's not like you're calling a guy out there the middle linebacker. It's one of these guys in here somewhere. We've been doing this for decades, and no way does that have any impact on them knowing it's a run or pass, it's just getting everyone on the same page.
There were times in the early '90s when I actually would be on a team when the center would call it. The problem with that is the wide receivers couldn't see who they were pointing at and they wouldn't know when they had a hot or sight adjust because they wouldn't see where the point was.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: Yes. Like he'll say Mike is 54. So the linemen won't turn around. You'll see him pointing, but he's saying to those guys the number of who the guy is, as well. And all of a sudden you might see him pull back and walk up to the line of scrimmage, and he'll say, No, Mike is 55. And it might be so he's got the guys blocking the line the way he wants them to be blocking them.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: High 90s, I would say. The one or two I would question from the 70 some snaps, he'll have a rationale, sometimes it will be just missed it, okay. Sometimes it will be he just missed it, but other times he'll give you a reason. And even though you don't agree with the reason, his reason will make sense.
So I don't consider that the wrong call, I just disagree with what he did do. But if he gives -- just like sometimes when he throws to a certain guy, I'll say, Why did he do that? As long as the explanation makes sense to me, then I don't consider it wrong.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: I would say high 80s to low 90s. I mean, it was up there. I would say he would be right, probably nine out of ten times and now he's very seldom wrong, very seldom.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: Well, it's usually him or him. It's usually one of those guys, and it's usually two of the guys that are in there. Based off of what you have, and like I said there's absolutely no chance at tip off. Everyone knows you're doing that, but they have no idea whether you're running inside, outside, play action or drop back.
I've actually scouted teams in the past that actually just point when it's a pass. As long as you do it on every play, there's never a tip off.
End of FastScripts...