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September 6, 2008

Charlie Weis

COACH WEIS: Fire away.

Q. What did you learn about your team today?
COACH WEIS: I learned that despite the fact we turned the ball over what I would call five times, you know, two fumbles, one going in, one after a nice run in the middle of the field, and two interceptions, one bouncing off the receiver's chest, the one where we should have thrown it to the other side, I consider the botched field goal a turnover because that's points that were, you know, on the board versus off the board, they're sitting there 13-7. They make a game-changing play down on the goal line. They keep San Diego State from going in. They had a chance to put the game away in that situation. You make a game-changing play, get the ball back, basically the next two drives go up and down the field twice for scores.
I just don't know last year if we would have done that in that same situation. So I'm very happy for the players that the game ended the way it did. You know, any time you turn the ball over that many times, you have a legitimate chance of losing. And today was one of those ones where we feel very fortunate to have been able to have won the game.

Q. Defensively overall how they played, maybe Sergio Brown was out there a lot more?
COACH WEIS: That's 'cause we were in so much nickel. They were in so much we call 11 people or 20 people, which 11 is a tight end, a back and three wide receivers, and then 20 people are two backs and three wide receivers. So we're in so much nickel that we had Sergio on the field. Sergio is one that wants to be on the field as much as we can. Just got him into the mix a lot more.

Q. There's a lot of talk about a smash-mouth approach, then obviously the problems they had along their defensive line injury-wise. Did they do something scheme-wise or did you just not execute up front?
COACH WEIS: Well, they didn't run -- the number one front that they run, I don't know if they ran once the whole game. But they played tough up there. They put in a lot of three bubble linebackers, which they hadn't been doing. They played a lot of -- they had been an under team. When they did bring heat, the heat was usually from the strong side. Almost all the pressures came from the weak side, almost a weak corner or weak safety coming the whole day.
Just like we told them, This is the first day. Don't look at one reel of tape and say this is what they're going to do. There's things you have to react to. That's basically what they did.

Q. From your perspective, what happened on the field goal that went awry?
COACH WEIS: I thought the operation, the whole operation, looked bad. I don't know if the snap was any good. I don't know if the hold was any good. I don't know whose fault it really was. You know, I saw the ball. Looked like the ball was a little high. I don't know. It should have been handled properly. That's one of those ones I'm going to have to wait and get a look on.
To be honest with you, the first one, the 47-yarder that we tried, I don't think that was as much the kicker. I think the operation wasn't very good on that one either. But, once again, I'm going to have to go take a look at that one, too.

Q. Not sure what the locker room atmosphere is like afterwards. But we did see the team celebrate in the corner. How much do you think they needed that feeling?
COACH WEIS: I think it was important to them. Look, I think we have enough foresight to realize what lies ahead. The guys will come in here and everyone will talk about an ugly win. Are you happy with an ugly win? I told them, Yes, you're happy with an ugly win because it's better than an ugly loss. I'll take an ugly win any day of the week.
I was just happy for the players. You know, like I said, you make a game-changing play, get the ball back, go down and score a couple times. I think the guys were flying around at the end of the game. At the end of the game when they're playing their best, hopefully that bodes well and you gain some momentum as you go into next week.

Q. When you went to the no-huddle in the fourth quarter, that seemed to really jump-start the offense. Why?
COACH WEIS: Well, sometimes when you get stagnant, okay, when you get stagnant, it wasn't like every third down was third and 10, but you get stagnant, you're not converting, you have no rhythm going. One thing in a situation like that is you can get some rhythm going, but a lot of it's dependent on the quarterback.
So the quarterback grew up a whole bunch today 'cause he was in a situation where he's down and he leads the team down the field, you know, twice.

Q. 34 pass attempts, 34 rushes. I guess I think everybody thought you would try to pound it more. How satisfied were you with the level of pounding it?
COACH WEIS: I think it would have been a lot more run dominated if we weren't in a two-minute operation. In two-minute, other than calling a draw, basically we're throwing the ball on every down. So sequentially you tie those plays together, and there's very few runs that get into that mix.
So you take the two-minute out and look at the balance, and there's a lot heavier run than pass, which going into the game, that was our thought.

Q. How satisfied were you then with your ability to pound the football?
COACH WEIS: I'm satisfied that the team came back from a 13-7 deficit. Getting into the fourth quarter, you're down six points at home, everybody in the Notre Dame world, Here we go again. Methodically go down the field, get a quick score, get the ball back, go get another quick score. I think for that I'm very happy.

Q. You said you wanted a fast start and you wanted to see execution in all three phases all the way through or you would be displeased.
COACH WEIS: I think we looked like a team that was playing their first game. That's what we looked like. I think we weren't executing very well on offense. You guys probably know it better than me, but I think we were like two for eight on the third down in the first half. Now you're not sustaining any drives, and you're turning the ball over three times in the first quarter. In a situation like that, you know, offensively, before you go to defense, offensively you'd have to say you're very fortunate to win.
Now, defensively, okay, I thought we were running around pretty good, but we gave up a couple big plays. Right after the turnover by Armando, you know, we said, Okay, now you're going to get the ball back.
First play right out of the box, they go down there and get to the one yard line, go ahead and run it in. Then they ran that corner route. They ran a couple corners last week for touchdowns. It isn't like this quarterback can't throw a corner route because we have evidence of it last week alone.
But at the end of the day, you know, you throw a special teams, because there was good and bad in special teams, too. You block a punt. That leads to a score. You have a return, that helps you. But on the flipside, you have a penalty. You have a penalty that sustains a drive there. When it's fourth and four, a little exotic motion across, you jump into the neutral zone.
I mean, penalties come into play, too. We had a couple penalties that were really unnecessary, some that happened in the game, some just were unnecessary. So between turnovers, okay, and penalties, I think we have a lot of work to do.

Q. Would you talk about the play of Golden Tate and Michael Floyd.
COACH WEIS: Well, let's start with Golden because, you know, he's been, as we've talked, most of you guys that are here every day, Golden has become much more of a receiver this year versus a runningback playing receiver last year. Whether it be a go route where he keeps running now, his routes at the tops of breaks, running slants, I mean, he looked like a receiver, that's what he looked like. He has very good ball skills and very good speed. I thought he really stepped it up for us today.
Michael has a world of ability. Just the more he gets on the field, the more production we'll get out of him. But I thought that was obviously a huge play, you know. That's the type of thing he can do, he can go up and make those plays. For a freshman to be able to come in and make a play like that, that's pretty good.
He's in the two deep now. The intent is for him to get on the field more anyway.

Q. We saw a lot of changes in you over the off-season. The first thing we noticed today was you deferred to the second half. Is that a game-by-game thing or something that's part of a change also?
COACH WEIS: I think in the first two years I was here, I thought our offense was going to carry our team. So the more times we could get the ball, get on top of the opponent, I thought it would give us the best chance of winning.
I'm now at a stage, I'm looking at this team from a whole-team perspective. I think you have to give the defense a chance. You have to make a statement to the defense to let them know, Hey, fellas, I'm counting on you. That's why I did it.

Q. We didn't see James Aldridge today. Is there something wrong with James?
COACH WEIS: Well, no. The intent was for James to get some reps in there, too. The problem is we were off the field so much in the first half, you know, the intent was for all three of those guys to get into the mix in the first half, okay? But we're off the field so much, it seemed like anyway, I don't know how it plays like, offense is sitting on the bench for a half hour every time we turned around right there.
In the second half, what minimized his opportunity to get on the field that is when we go two-minute, Armando is our guy and Robert is our other guy in two-minute. That's what kept him from getting on the field.

Q. For about the past month you kept saying fast start, fast start. You came out, it was a pretty slow start. Why do you think that happened? How surprised were you that that did happen?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, I can go back and just answer that question again that I just answered. The two-for-eight on third down, five turnovers in the first three quarters. I mean, that has a lot to attribute it to on the offensive side of the ball.
I mean, that's pretty telling from being stagnant, which I thought it was. I mean, if you're not converting on third down, you're not staying on the field, the opportunity to go ahead and move it is just not there.
What was the last part of the question?

Q. How surprised were you you were off to a flat start.
COACH WEIS: I wouldn't say flat. I thought we would execute better in those situations. I thought we'd take care of the ball better in those situations. I thought we'd convert on third down.
Turnovers are something, we've been going full speed for a long time, so it's not like these guys haven't been getting hit because they have been getting hit. We've obviously got to do a better job of taking care of the football.

Q. Can you talk about the way Jimmy responded when you put the game on his shoulders there late.
COACH WEIS: Well, I think it's kind of piggybacking on Mike's question. I think there came a point in the game, about the third quarter, where I felt that the tempo had to be changed. We had to change the tempo of the game because I felt, you know, from looking at it -- from the big picture, looking at offense, defense, special teams, I thought we had to change how everything was going right there. I thought going into the two-minute operation kind of changed the tempo of the game.

Q. And you guys were 1-for-5 in the red zone. Talk about those field goal attempts.
COACH WEIS: Well, we fumbled the ball on the one on two yard line. That's one of them. We threw the interception that I talked about previously, too, where they rotated down to the left-hand side. We would have liked to have thrown the ball to the right-hand side. We threw the interception to Duval. I'd have to go back and look at the other ones. They were the ones that were blatant to me because those two turnovers were the ones that stuck out to me the most.

Q. Mike call all the plays today?
COACH WEIS: Yeah. Only time I got involved is helping him speed up the two-minute process.

Q. That's why I was asking.
COACH WEIS: I worked with them during the two-minute operations. I got involved with those guys. The only reason is because we send every play in by wristband numbers. Two-minute we don't do it that way so we can speed up the whole process.
So that's the one thing. We would talk some through, then go ahead and signal so you could run everything at a lot faster pace.

Q. So you were not calling the plays then?
COACH WEIS: Oh, no. I said, I was assisting in the process when we got to two-minutes.

Q. How do you think he did? Was it not tough at all for you to keep hands off in a close game?
COACH WEIS: Well, if you ask him, he's going to say he did terrible because that's the way he's been bred. He's just going to say it was awful.
I think right now, you know, the way the game turned out at the end, it's a perfect learning experience for a play caller. Because as miserable as you are with all the things that went poorly, you know, at least you're miserable with a W instead of an L. I think it's a lot easier, just like constructive criticism with the players is always easier after a win.
I think for him, I think he'll evaluate himself very hard on this one right here. But I think as we transition through, I think he was very calm. The 40-second clock didn't come into play. Getting personnel groups in and out. I mean, he didn't turn the ball over himself now. I mean, you don't lay the ball on the ground, throw the interceptions. Might look a little bit different.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: The best part is I look into their faces. Sometimes you look into players' faces and it doesn't look pretty. Well, they don't look pretty anyway, okay? But you look into their faces and you see I wouldn't say a scared look, but it's like a this isn't going very well look.
I basically for the majority of guys that were actually playing in the game, you know, that's not the look we were getting.
So I was still confident that things could work out. You can't see that because you're not just turning around looking in their faces. But I never felt, even during the stretches that things were going badly, that anyone was panicking.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: I think the better answer to that will go as you go forward. I think -- I would answer that question and say the jury's out on that one. The jury's still out because, you know, obviously utopia would be you come in here, go up and down the field, you win 100 to nothing. Guess what, it didn't play out that way. You have an opponent right there trying to do everything they can to try to win. They came darn close to doing it.
I think what happens is what do you do with this now? Do you come out next week against Michigan and turn it over four times again? What happens there? Do you convert on third down better in the first half than two-for-eight? I think those are the questions that are yet to be answered.
Thank you.

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