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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 1, 2006
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: First of all, I'm scrambling just a little bit here because I just got back just in time to organize practice yesterday afternoon and then have practice, and then most of the coaches are coming off the road today for our banquet tonight and we have a few visits in. So we're scrambling just a tad. I didn't return with the team as you know, so I just got back yesterday afternoon.
I do have -- I have had time to give a brief review of the USC game, and I've had some time to go over with a couple of the guys in the office who have been doing some analysis for me, some big ticket items as far as the season and comparison and review.
Just a couple of things. What I want to do as far as availability for you guys is a week -- not next week, which is an unorthodox week because, I mean, we're in practice Monday morning at 6 o'clock in the morning and then Wednesday afternoon at one time. We're basically practicing every other day at all weird times that fit reading days and recruiting schedules.
The following week, we won't be practicing at all because it will be exams. So what we are going to do is the week of Christmas week, which is when we actually start for Bowl practice, I want to make availability for the press and then we'll also have a little Christmas lunch on so I can brown-nose you guys and see if you can say some good things.
But we'll do that like we did last year. But I really haven't had time to set that yet, okay. So I'll get some time to think about it and I'll get to Brian and we'll set that up.
Also, Sunday night at 8:30, we're going to make the captains available to discuss the Bowl announcement, which I don't know what that will be. Two of them will be on site, one of them will be in Green Bay looking at his brother-in-law play football. Travis and Zibby will both be here, and we will also make Brady available by telephone at 8:30 on Sunday night so they could be there.
I will also not be here as after practice on Sunday, I'll be flying out to go recruit. But I am going to be on a conference call with whoever -- with whatever Bowl we're on. So Brian can give you more details on that, so I will be on the telephone from where I want to be, and I will be on a conference call at that time. So that's just some quick logistics as far as that goes. And I'll answer as many questions as I can, although I'm not very informed on some of those things.
Quickly as it relates to our last game against USC, special teams, obviously Steve Quinn blocked that punt which led to the score, the pass from Brady to Marcus. Carl made all his kicks. We had two penalties. One was the kick out of bounds and the other was a delayed-game. Both teams, you know, sometimes I say statistics are for losers. Well, all you have to do is look at the stats and see that both teams ended up with 404 yards for the game. That's misconstrued because obviously they played better than we did. They averaged 6.7 yards per play to our 5.3 per play. Possession time was about even. We didn't start fast. We didn't, you know, we didn't finish strong. They outscored us in the first quarter and fourth quarters, which are the key quarters where we were tied the second and third quarters.
Our defense did force two turnovers; the interception by Mike and -- well, the interception by Mike and Trevor, for that matter. You know, both Mike and Mo Crum both had nine tackles and Joe then chipped in with six more and a tackle for loss of a sack. USC was 5 of 11 on fourth down and 2 of 2 on fourth down. We had two penalties, a face mask on Zibby and a pass interference on Zibby.
On offense, just about 50 percent throwing. You know, we had some production. We had three touchdown passes and 274 yards but it was too little, too late. We averaged 4.2 per rush, but obviously in that rush, that long one by Brady, that 60-yarder, we gave up three sacks, had one turnover on the Darius fumble, which didn't end up costing us because we ended up blocking a punt and scoring right afterwards, but we did have the one turnover in the red zone.
7 of 18 on third down, 2 of 6 on fourth down and we had five penalties, three false starts on Ryan Harris, I believe, and a holding and a false start on Sam Young.
As far as the year goes, there was some things that as I went through there, one of the things I was interested in the most was the number of plays we ran you know, with the clock changes. I was interested to see what the numbers were going to be. And we ran 828 plays this year versus 945 plays last year, so that was 12 percent this year than it was the previous year. That interested me because I really wanted to see where this was heading as far as the volume of plays. Because sometimes now when you start comparing stat for stat, you have to take into consideration there's 12 percent less plays at the same time.
So it's really going to be tough to be objective as far as comparing one to the other based on running less plays. I always like to go about 50/50 in a run/pass. We ended up passing it 53 percent of the time. We threw 436 passes and ran 392 runs which obviously was 49 percent of the time.
Our rushing was up from the year before, we went from 3.6 to 3.8. Last year we averaged about a yard more per pass attempt and we had more yards per game as well. Once again, I don't know if all that is based off of those yards per game, based off of percentage less; ended up playing or not, I'm not really sure at this point. I'm going to have to spend some time in the off-season and see if I can be a little bit more objective in the analysis.
Let's see, we scored touchdowns in the red zone this year, 77 percent versus 69 percent last year in the red zone. Time of possession last year was a little bit more. We averaged a couple minutes more a game, time of possession. Still we had the ball a little bit more than our opponent. Our best quarter offensively was clearly the second quarter. We averaged -- we scored 134 points in the second quarter where in all the other quarters it was all in the 80s, 85, 89 and 81 in the other quarters and we gave up nine more sacks this year than last year; 21 sacks versus 30 sacks. 21 last year versus 30 this year.
On defense, we gave up a couple points less per game. It was 22.4 instead of 24.5. Let's see, we allowed 3.6 per rush versus 3.9 the year before. A little bit less rushing per game. For pass attempt, it was 7.6 this year versus 7.7 last year. We gave up 192.7 passing yards versus 262.6 the year before.
The total number of plays was 813 plays last year, with 736 this year. Yards per play was down over a half a yard. It was 5.2 per play versus 5.9 the year before. Touchdowns in the red zone was down from the year before, it was 53 percent this year versus 56 percent last year. And ironically, our best quarter defensively was also the second quarter, you know, which matches with our best quarter offensively where we allow 47 points and we have 30 sacks this year versus 31 last year.
On special teams, we averaged 21.5 kickoff return versus 19 the year before. We allowed 20.2 for kick return which is a yard better. Last year we allowed 21.2. We were down significantly on punt return, our own punt return, 7.3 versus 14.1 the year before. So that was a big drop off. And we also allowed 12.1 per punt return versus 6.4 the year before, that was also a drop off. We punted better. We averaged a couple yard more per punt net.
Field goal percentage I believe was identical to the year before. We were 8 of 12 versus 12 of 18 the previous year. Brady's stats were pretty close to where they were the year before. Had less yards, but we had 35 touchdowns and five interceptions. The completion percentage was very, very close, of 3.4 versus 4.6, threw for more yards last year and it was more interceptions.
Darius averaged 4.9 this year. He averaged 4.7 last year. Last year he had 43 catches. This year he had 54 catches which put him third on the team.
Jeff ended up with 70 catches for 958 versus 77 for 12499 year before. Last year he had 15 touchdowns, this year he had 11. The tandem, once again for no receiving tandem, more touchdowns this year than Jeff and Rhema, they had 26 between the two of them.
You know, it's the first time I think in Notre Dame history where we have two years in a row with consecutive seasons, with at least ten guys receiving -- well, two guys, you know, where we had over 20 touchdowns with Rhema and Rhema and Jeff this year with Mo last year equalling 26 two years in a row. Rhema obviously led the team with touchdowns with 15, with his 64 catches for 885. Carlson was on track to potentially break all the records before his knee injury. He had 46 catches for 621. Grimes chipped in as a reliable third receiver with 25 catches for 312. Mo Crum led the team with tackles with 92 tackles, four sacks, a pick and a forced fumble. Last year Brendan Hoyt was our leading tackler with 92 tackles. So same amount.
Zibby ended up on the team third in tackles with 69 versus the 71 he had last year so obviously Ndukwe and Crum's numbers went up big. Derek Landri had 43 tackles last year and 65 this year. Victor, finished the year with 42 tackles, 14 and a half of them were for loss along with ten sacks and 14 hurries and a forced fumbles ties him for third in Notre Dame history with sacks in 21, second for most sacks in the season and 13th in sacks in the NCAA this year. Mike Richardson finished with 49 tackles and four tackles for loss and five pass breakups. Lambert also had three interceptions, 37 tackles and tackle for loss and a pass break-up whereas Zibby was the leader in this category last year.
And last but not least Jeff is paced to break the school record for the best punt average per season. Three more punts and he'll qualify for the highest career punt average which he's on pace to have. He ranks fifth in the country with punting with a 45.2 average.
I can't say that I did lot of that work, but a lot of that research was done with obviously me on the road and I just wanted to try to get together a quick review on USC and the season and open it up for questions.
Q. Obviously you're pleased to be going back to a BCS game for the second straight year. Where do you fall with regard to, do you want to play -- traditionally Notre Dame always tried to play the highest-rated team they could play. Is that more important to you or is finally ending the streak of Bowl losses more important? Either way, you're obviously going to be playing a quality team.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, the first thing I want to do is win. I'm always big on winning. But I mean, I think no matter who you play in the BCS game, you're going to be playing a quality opponent. So I think whether a team is ranked third in the country, fifth in the country, seventh in the country, ninth in the country, whoever you end up playing there is going to be a team that's very good. I think no matter who you play, it's going to be a quality opponent.
Q. Would you like the opportunity to avenge the loss to Michigan?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Oh, sure, I'm sure they are really happy with me for us losing to USC right now. I'm sure I'm really No. 1 on their Christmas card list. But I would like to play Michigan; I'll play Michigan or anybody else they dial us up against. I think that would be, you know, a nice thing to have a chance to do. But I'm not politicing for Michigan or anyone else. Just wherever they put us, we're going to be happy to go and that's where I stand on that.
Q. Do you take solace in the fact that when you have lost here in the last two years, the last four losses have been against -- I mean, probably the three elite teams in the country, USC twice, Ohio State and Michigan.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I mean, I really don't take solace. I'm cognizant of the fact that we have lost to really good football teams. That doesn't make it feel any better. That doesn't make it feel any better for me, the team, to our fans. It still doesn't make it feel any better. I mean, losing is losing.
So I understand, it's better than losing to a team that's not any good, but still, I hate losing.
Q. So right now you really don't care -- don't care to have a say in anything what happens, you're waiting to see what happens?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That's right. We'll wait until Sunday until the games are picked and we're going to be happy. Whoever picks us, we're going to be happy. We're going to be happy to go.
Usually you'd be like jockeying for position saying, I hope we go here or I hope we go there. I have plans made, I have schedules made based off of the different games of the different games.
So, you know, just whichever one it ends up being, then we'll just go to that schedule. The schedule is already set as far as what we're doing. It's just based on the date and the opponent.
Q. Notre Dame has not been to the Rose Bowl since --
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: January 1. Players have to be there night of December 25, charter is leaving at 9:00. Got to be there by noon. Going to Disneyland in the afternoon.
Sugar Bowl, players have to be there by the 27th, okay, charter leaving on the 28th, 9:00, be there by noon.
So it wouldn't make a difference whether it was that, you go Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, you go all of them. I'm just saying, we have to be prepared whoever it is. Really once you know the opponent, the first thing you have to do now is it's a mad scramble to start breaking down tape so you can start doing scout reports and game plans.
But really, who you're playing isn't nearly as important right now as the logistics of where you're playing and more importantly, when. Because the dates are different by a couple of days in a lot of cases.
Q. So you get the word and you're ready to go?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That's correct. To me personally, you know, it doesn't make a difference which one we go to. I just would like for our team and for our university to be going to one of them, and I would like to go starting with Tim's first question, I'd like to go and win.
Q. After reviewing the stats and all that, do you think this team is better than last year's team?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think that I'm going to be able to give it a more concerted effort, more concrete effort when I really have a chance to really evaluate it.
Right now, I think we he did was spurt out a bunch of numbers. I think that's all I gave you right now. I haven't really had time to study the answer to that. And I don't have a gut feel either, otherwise I would say my gut tells me such and such, because I like to go on objectivity, not subjectivity. But I don't think at this time I'm prepared to give that answer yet.
Q. If you win the Bowl game, would it be easier to pick this team?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think that would be -- that would be something we didn't get done last year, and I would think that that would make it a lot easier to give that answer.
But I still, I think I'd still want to go back to -- the answer to your question on the regular season, first of all, not including the Bowl game. Obviously you win the Bowl game, it will be better than we had last year.
Q. Do you look at it all, a few times you're playing -- do you start looking at them at all yet or is that a waste of time at this point?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well I'm recruiting right now really. So I'm in full-speed recruiting mode. That's what I'm into right now.
Now, we're practicing, but you're practicing without an opponent at this point. So you're practicing -- last year, remember I said how I thought that I had to do it different this year than I did it last year? Last year I thought that I did two drastic things last year. Either we practiced and practiced real hard, or we had long layoffs.
So what I'm trying to do is practice more steadily but shorter periods of time. So we're not out there, like yesterday when we practiced, we only had three coaches here because everyone else is on the road and I just flew in, and the graduate assistants. So yesterday was a nice short practice, but a lot of it has to be group when you only have that many people in like we did yesterday.
Q. And the Heisman stats are all in. Can you talk about what you think Brady's chances are and do you think that he should be?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: To be honest with you, I think Troy Smith will win and I don't think it will be close.
I'm prejudiced toward Brady Quinn. You know, he's my guy and I'm always going to support my guy. I think that Brady Quinn, it all depends on, once again, on what the criteria is for that award, which I don't think anyone knows. I don't think there's any established criteria for the award. Troy Smith happens to be the best player on the best team, or the most valuable player on the best team, that's undefeated. It's tough to argue with that.
I just think that I can't imagine as I said earlier, you know, if the criteria was who is the most valuable player, you know, which one player -- it's just like picking in baseball, picking the MVP. You know, which player means more to their team than anyone else? Like Derek Jeter, he got ripped off. (Laughter). But which player means more to his team than anyone else? I think if that question were posed, Brady Quinn would win it. But with that being said, I don't think that's the way it will end up going.
Q. Do you think one thing Brady will be remembered for is he brought Notre Dame's quarterback passion back to a glamour position?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think that he's made it easier for us to recruit quarterbacks because his play has gotten everyone's attention.
Q. You said you're not going to politic for Bowls, but pigging backing on the question about Heisman, do you feel like it's part of your job to get those guys out in front?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, put it like this. That next Thursday when Jeff's down there in Orlando with Brady, I'll make sure that I'm there with them supporting that. I know that John's up for the Mackey Award as well. And I'm always going to be -- I'm so biased, though. It's really -- I'm probably about the worst person in the world to ask because I'm so prejudiced towards my guys.
You know, I'm just not an objective person when it comes to guys that have given me their blood, swear and tears. I'm always going to be supporting them, especially when I think they are good. Like in Jeff's case, I think he's good.
Q. When it comes to Bowl prep, what do you feel like you learned last year that didn't work? You touched on it a little bit in terms of changing the schedule.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Yeah, I'm not sure if they were stale, flat or what. But I know we have a whole different schedule and a whole different approach. I've had a whole year to try to right that wrong and we're going to -- we're doing a bunch of things different this year than we did last year.
Q. Did you start re-evaluating that after the Fiesta Bowl?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: After I sulked for a while, I started to evaluate it, but I gave myself some sulk time first.
Q. And just kind of coming out of the USC game, that's pretty hard-hitting, how healthy are you guys right now?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think everyone is pretty good. I think, you know, Ndukwe, we went -- we thought we had Ndukwe had some problems, bigger problems with his knee than he did. We went in and cleaned up his knee but what we thought was wrong wasn't wrong.
So you know, he's walking around with a brace but he's all cleared up and he'll be ready to go. He's just going to need a little time to when you go in there and scope a little bit.
But what we thought was wrong, fortunately, it wasn't what we thought it was.
Q. I know you haven't spent a ton of time with the players since leaving California, but you had kind of mentioned after the game that you're glad you didn't have to play this week, just the emotions of the game, how they kind of bounced back from that at all, are they still --
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Yesterday was a very sharp, crisp practice. But I think that part of that was by design because they knew that they were not going to be out there for any more than five consecutive plays. See, I think at this time of year, one of the big benefits by playing in a Bowl game is you could start to evaluate your younger personnel.
So yesterday, everyone on the team got even reps from practice, so we ran things three-deep where you normally run one-deep. So we went three-deep at offensive line, three-deep at defensive line, three-deep at linebacker, three-deep at wide receiver.
So it gave you an opportunity, and as I explained to a lot of the younger guys, hey, fellas, we're only running a limited number of plays on offense and a limited numbers of fronts and coverages on defense and we're doing that so we can start evaluating some of the younger guys before we get a Bowl opponent and before we get an opportunity to break down the tape and get into game planning. They have multiple plays where they could go ahead and start, you know, developing in our own system, not on carded plays where you're running on show team.
Q. You were obviously very pleased with the academic progress of this team, comment a little bit about John Carlson being named Academic All-American?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That was sweet. That was probably one of the best moments of the week. I never understood to be honest with you these Academic All-American teams. I don't know what that criteria is, either, because with the number of kids that we have, that have such good grades, I don't know why there have been so few from Notre Dame. But I guess it has a lot to do with both how well you play as a player and how good your grades are. But there's guys that, you know, has a 3.6 grade point average and he's not happy with it. You know, if he's not getting 4.0, he's not happy.
So it's really, really refreshing to see a guy that excels that much in both the classroom and on the field. We're proud of him.
Q. You mentioned the recruiting trip across country recruiting trip you made, how did that go, and do players ask you about the USC game and how do you talk about that?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, it's a very -- see, I used that, the old reverse psychology type of deal. I said, well, that's why we need you. That's an easy one. That's why we need you. And they respond to that very favorably. They understand what you're saying. You're saying, you want to come on board, let's go. This way, it won't be 44-24. We need players like you.
I thought that we were very well received. And one thing, you know, I think you guys know me well enough that by the time he woke up that next morning and Jack's probably the only one who has seen me because I had to say to do the TV show. But I don't have time to be in the tank because when you're the head coach, you just don't have time to be that way. Because you've got to lift up your coaches, families, the players, the alum. I mean, I had to go to a breakfast in southern California on Sunday. That was really at that time the top of my list of things that I wanted to do and have a thousand Notre Dame fans all in the tank that I had to lift them out of the tank, too. But I think the recruiting trip went as well or better than expected.
Q. You mentioned getting a look at the younger guys today and yesterday and tomorrow.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That's right. And Monday for sure again.
Q. In terms of just a quick eyeball on them yesterday, was there anybody that maybe surprised you, down on scout team that went, wow, he made a jump since I've seen him?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I'm very encouraged with our young offensive linemen, and it a good thing because we're going to need them. Because we've been playing this senior leading offensive line with the exception of Sam, and I was very encouraged with their -- remember now, in a practice, you've got -- you have a hundred guys out there, you only have a few coaches. You really can't notice too many things, but we went on an extended 9 on 7 period where it was just inside run the whole time. Obviously got a good few of that and then went into an extended team period.
So you know, I wouldn't -- I'm not singling out any one individual and the fact that -- and Ray Herring, I can tell you on defense, you know, in our pass game he was the one guy who was the biggest pain in the butt out of this coverage, so that was encouraging, too. I'm sure I can start citing a bunch of individuals, but I would rather talk about I was really interested to see the development of the young, offensive linemen.
Q. A couple personnel things. Is Carlson still in his rehab rest phase?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's actually going to an upper. Today is the first day that he's getting closer to getting ready to play. Because he was wearing a brace that they only let you have so much movement of the brace and then they loosen it up to give you more movement and more movement. So today is actually the first day that they are actually starting to loosen that baby up enough where you can start doing things to get ready to play in the game.
I would say without exaggerating he looks on pace to be able to play in the Bowl game and I feel fairly confident of that.
Q. One guy that won't play in a Bowl game but that's been injured all year is D.J., is he ready to give you some looks in practice?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's actually starting to run around some. I wouldn't have his first hit be the last game of the year, I can tell you that. But you know, I think D.J. has put himself -- done a nice job on his rehab and has put himself in a position where, you know, he's going to be vying for being a contender here in the spring.
Q. You have Gerry Faust speaking to night at your banquet, why did you choose him?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think no one is more passionate about Notre Dame than Coach Faust. I think sometimes everyone is judged just by wins and losses, not by their passion for Notre Dame. And anyone who has ever been around Coach Faust knows that there's no one any more passionate or loves Notre Dame any more than Coach Faust.
Q. The offensive line, if you could have solved that completely, you would have done it earlier this year, but when you look statistically, that's one of the big drops on the team from 38th in sacks last year to maybe 91st or around there this year, with sacks allowed. Can you put your finger on, you've got some good individuals there; can you put your finger on why as a group maybe they didn't perform to their expectations?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No, because sacks are not always on the offensive line. And I think that when you do that, you know, when you sit there and evaluate sacks, I think sacks, and pressures, for that matter, have to be studied together, because sometimes a pressure is just this far away from being a sack. Or an intentional grounding penalty that does not go down as a sack, is just like a sack for all practical purposes.
So I think what you have to do is you have to take all those sacks and pressures and intentional groundings and study them together. And then take each play, let's say there's 50 of them, there's say there's 70 of them, only 30 recorded sacks and go and analyze what was the cause of each one of them. And once you've done that, then you can give the answer to the question. Did a tight end blow a hot; quarterbacks looking to throw it but they are bringing two strong, you don't have it picked up and the guy is not looking so we don't throw it; did the quarterback hold it too long.
I don't think you can just sit there and say that, you know, the offensive line is -- because I don't know in those 30 sacks how many of them belonged to the offensive line. I'm sure it's not anywhere near a 30, by the way. It's not anywhere near 30. It's not even close. I know that's how many we had but I'm sure nowhere near 30 belongs to the offensive line.
Q. Last year at this time, you said you were going to really make a point and hammer home to the team about the Bowl losing streak and maybe that's something you would re-evaluate. Is that kind of taboo this year?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That's a good question. It won't be taboo, but I probably won't make it like the end-of-the-world-type of mentality. The one good thing is that it is the last game. So there's nothing to save after that. It's just like the USC game but you have over a month to play so there's nothing to say then.
This is the final game. There's no more -- you know, there's no more games after that. So I think that you still have to magnify the importance of the game. But what you don't want to do is have the team walk away, you know, feeling too high or too low just based off of one game. But I think it would be a great thing for us, for our team. I think it would be very important for us and our program to walk away with a win.
Q. How much effect since 1994, there's only been one year where Notre Dame actually ended a season on a winning note.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: This is only my second year here. I don't worry about what happened before I got here. I mean, I really have no control over anything that happened before I got here.
Alls I know is we ended up losing in the Fiesta Bowl and it ruined my off-season. That doesn't mean I took it out on anyone else, but that was the last taste I had in my mouth. If you would have said we ended up the game against Stanford with that touchdown, and that was the last game of the year and that was my last memory, I would have say I had a nice off-season but I didn't.
So I think that right now, I would like to have a nice off-season.
Q. And in the pro game, there's sometimes such a big deal made about the extra week and preparation for the Super Bowl. Here you have four weeks, did that have any effect last year at all in the game preparation?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I think that I went to several resources last year to ask them how they did it. You know, guys that had won Bowl games so that I could use them as a resource. It didn't work, okay. So we're trying it a little bit different this year, and I think that we're trying to keep them sharp and crisp and not stale, not burning them out; and at the same time being cognizant that exams start here, exams start here in a little over a week and I think when exams start, other than the fact that they are going to work out with Ruben on Tuesday and Thursday of exam week, you've got to let the kids be students.
Q. That was the last point, with the second week of December so much devoted to the exams, could you ever see a scenario where it's realistic that a playoff that earn always talks about, played in December, as it is in the division I AA level? Is that realistic?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: You know that's an interesting question because I don't know logistically when they would really do that. I don't know if they would do that like the I AA does it or not. I know that, you know, Notre Dame, you'd better come here to be a student. Exams take place that second/third week right there. I think they are right now, I wouldn't know even when they do it, if they did do it, because they might use the regular Bowls as the first round. That's probably what they would end up doing. It's just that I think that even though there's a lot of should we or shouldn't we with the playoff, I think they are still a long way away of going to a vote on that.
So what my opinion of it is or what your opinion of it is really doesn't matter.
Q. How much do you tell the players to watch or focus on the SEC Championship Game at all?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: None.
Q. Why is that?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: How do we know we're playing in the Sugar Bowl? How do I know that? I mean, don't worry, we'll have them ready for whoever we play. Remember now, we've got a long time before January 3 if that's when we play. Whoever wins that game, you know, the Florida/Arkansas winner, they will watch the Florida/Arkansas game and about six other games on top of that.
So they will have plenty of time, plenty of time to watch their opponent. I mean, they don't need to do that. Actually what they need to do, we have recruits in this weekend they need to help get those recruits to come in here, that's what they need to do.
Q. Is anyone in charge of watching that game on your staff?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No.
Q. You had the banner up before the season, "9-3 is not good enough." Obviously 10-2 was not the goal. Does that make this a disappointing season?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, makes me at least not stupid. You know, because at least we had one more win than 9. Okay, am I happy at 10-2? No, I'm not happy at 10-2. We deserved to lose the two games we lost, okay, but I'm not happy with it. But at least it's not 9-3. As my wife pointed out to me, thank God you won ten or else you'd really look dumb right now.
Q. But that does in your eyes show signs of progress?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Signs of progress. I would like to have thought that I could have done a better job than that; I would have liked to have thought.
Q. Other than wins and losses and the statistics, how do you measure the strengths of your program if you say you've been here two years, you're obviously building something, what do you look at?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I like the foundation of our program. I like the foundation of our program. I love this team this year. But what happens is you have so many guys walking out the door this year, you know, after just a couple years, you're going through a team in transition, and I think that the thing you have to be very careful of is to make sure your team doesn't use that transition as an excuse. The logical thing for people to do at this point to say is, well, you know, he's only been here for a couple years and you had all these guys going out and they are going to go through the post-Brady Quinn and everyone else years. And I think you have to make sure you do not give them the opportunity to sit there and have built-in excuses for not being successful. I think that that's the task at hand at this point.
Q. That being said, obviously you've got a highly-tauted quarterback coming in, were you cognizant to prepare them all year for what they would be facing next year?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I will be spending a good portion of my time in the springtime making sure that whoever our starting quarterback is, when we kickoff next year against Georgia Tech, we'll be ready to go. I would feel very comfortable and confident to respond to you and say that person will be ready to go, whoever that may be, I have no clue. But I think that they will be ready to go.
Q. As you know when Coach Holt here -- (players changing positions) -- do you see freshmen on this year playing different positions a year from now?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I can see a couple, not many, but I can see a couple tweaks in the positions. Not at liberty to talk about them now but I have some thoughts of my own. But I haven't had time to evaluate that more concretely and then talk about it with the staff yet. But I could see a couple tweaks, yes.
Q. And what's your timetable for the guys who have a year of eligibility remaining?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Those meetings started today. They will be ongoing.
What we do is through this weekend, I'll address each one of those guys. Now, they don't come to an answer in most cases. It's just the pros and cons of, you know, going back and forth both ways and we'll handle that very expeditiously.
Q. In terms of being a recruiting in that situation, when the senior says, "I just don't know what to do, tell me what to do," do you just stay out of it and say, that's your decision?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No, I tell them the truth. You know, I tell them the pros and cons of going or staying. I tell them the truth. Even from the head coach's perspective, I tell them if I were a friend what my perspective would be; from the head coach's perspective; and then I also give it to them from the perspective of an NFL employee.
I tell them what, if I were a coach or a scout in the NFL, here is what my advice to you would be. So I give them three different answers, and the answers are all different, none of the answers are the same.
So there's the head coach at Notre Dame, why wouldn't I want everyone back? That was a good player. Okay. As an NFL scout, almost every time, they are going to say, go back. Hardly any of them will ever say, come out. They will just consider the fact that you'll benefit from being there for another year. And the boys are all saying go, out, go play in the NFL. So that's the torment that these guys have to go through. That's what's weighing on their mind.
Q. Do you put them in a position where you have first-year NFL players talk to them, if you really want to know what it's like, call this guy?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No, I actually tell them what their draft status is. That's even more scary. Because a lot of times their opinion of themselves and what reality are, are not one and the same. So I tell them, here is from the research, we have a few guys that are involved in this, and we work this from different angles, but for the research we have, here is where you're viewed at this point and it's almost always significantly lower than they thought it was. Almost always, not always.
Q. In terms of Bowl preparation, one of the things you were concerned about is not revealing the game plan to the team too early, where do you stand on that this year?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: We're going to ease them into it in phases this year so we are actually practicing stuff that we're doing, okay, but at the same time, not getting where you give them everything in the beginning, but not give them anything either.
You know, I think that -- I thought they were too drastic last year, like you're saying. I think that -- I think there's a lot more logical way to do it than I did it last year. So we're trying to use logic this year.
Q. So Sabin is not going to get a call from you this year?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think he gave me good advice based off his program but I think our guys can see through that. I think that -- so I think that it's really important for me to sit there and say, okay, we're going to give you the first phase of this instead of trying to give you everything in three days, spread it out and give it -- in little pieces and practice for less time but just on those phases so you can kind of work into it so that nothing gets stale.
Q. Would you be remiss if you didn't change it? Do you feel obligated to change it because you did come out flat or whatever? You didn't come out --
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think that you'll still get the same information. It's just how they are going to get it. I'm trying to get shorter, brisker practices, and I think that when you have shorter brisker practices I think that people fly around a lot more. That's what I want to be doing at the start of the game. I want to be flying around at the start of the game and I think the only way you do that is by practicing to fly around and the only way you can fly around is if you're not going for a long period of time.
Q. Are you disappointed the second year is not clearly better than the first year?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: The answer to that basically is I still have to figure out, I want to look at how the number of plays affected the stats. It isn't the stats that alone that I'm concerned with. It's how the numbers and plays affected it.
You know, because I think there was such a drastic change in the rules as far as the timing of the game, I want to see how much that 12 percent difference, you know, and volume of plays, makes a difference for us and with other people to see, you know, how it was if it was unilateral, was it just us or if this was like kind of a trend across the NCAA. Because I think that once you're all -- you have equal footing, I think it would be a little bit easier for me to come up with an answer.
See, I think that initially, we were not very good at this, but then I might look at, say, basically that's the trend with everybody. Then I won't look at it the same. So I'm going to wait and see what it is first.
End of FastScripts