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September 27, 2008

Charlie Weis

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You mentioned last week when you watched the tape you didn't see the line of scrimmage move in your favor against Michigan State. Obviously it was a lot different in the third quarter of this game. How did that come about?
COACH WEIS: I think as I told you guys last week, I think that the offensive front took it personal. You know, the line of scrimmage was moving the wrong way last week.
At the end of the day in the running game, no matter who you're going against, if the line of scrimmage isn't moving in the opposite direction, the running backs are not going to make any yards. So I think that they took it personal. I think they did something about it.

Q. Joe Tiller didn't think that there were any major adjustments as far as how you ran the running game in the third quarter. You just controlled the line of scrimmage?
COACH WEIS: No, I didn't coach. I think what happened is I've been waiting for the right opportunity. Obviously in the first three games, the first route of the first quarter it's been a mid-run offense. We really haven't done anything.
So it's 14-14 at halftime, and basically I told these guys the most important job of the entire season here. Because that game could obviously have gone either way at that point. For us to be able to take the ball right down the field and score, it kind of put us, you know, with the momentum in our favor and carried it through right into the fourth quarter.

Q. I guess no more questions about third quarter scoring?
COACH WEIS: Well, it will be another quarter they'll ask about. But the third quarter was a good one for us.

Q. Last week obviously their kick-return game had been very strong. Burkhart on all 7 kicks went to Sheets. Was that the plan?
COACH WEIS: Here's what we said: It's sort of like what we were talking about the offensive line. I think the kickoff coverage has been good all year long. We're tired of hearing, Who are you going to kick it to? Are you going to kick it to Sheets, are you going to kick it to Tardy? They've been pretty good all year. I think collectively between Ryan's kicks and the coverage team down there, they were kind of on a mission to make sure that field position was established by the kickoff coverage.

Q. Best game easily Jimmy's played at quarterback?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, yeah, he was solid. He got sacked one time just because we got beat inside on the spin move. But he made good decisions. Threw the ball away. Made some really nice throws. As a matter of fact that one I thought was a touchdown to Kamara, because it seems like every ball we had a chance of making the play on. I thought he had a good day.

Q. Your receivers are obviously very good, the young kids. But is Jimmy going to be the kind of quarterback who makes his teammates even better around him? Is that where we're going?
COACH WEIS: I think it's going. It's working both ways here now. He's making them better, but all of a sudden you've got Michael, you've got Golden and Duval and David, and you've got Kyle getting his first touchdown. Getting that under his belt, too. And throw on top of that those runners, and you know you end up being a pretty good day for those guys.

Q. You didn't have any sacks today you had an intentional grounding. But it seemed like Painter would get off rhythm at times. How did you feel overall about the defense?
COACH WEIS: We knew going in there were going to be a lot of quick throws. If you notice he was hitting those slants and those hitches. You know, he had a whole bunch of them. They got some yardage.
But, fortunately, we weren't giving up very many big plays. Though they were getting yardage, they had to work their way down the field. There weren't very many big chunks. It was one big chunk, but weren't too many of them. I think at the end of the day, it gives you an opportunity to get off the field.

Q. With the tight end situation, you didn't go too tight very often. Think you had Trevor Robinson out there just kind of a patchwork until you find out where things are going?
COACH WEIS: I think that we'll wait to see how it goes. We'll go week by week on that and see what happens. You know, if we get players back that are ready to go, we'll put them back in there and go. We'll just have to wait until that happens.

Q. You've been playing a lot of freshman. Ethan Johnson had a lot of downs in there and gave you big lifts early?
COACH WEIS: That was a huge play. I'm going to have to hear about it probably for the rest of the week. You know, he likes to talk.
But there are a bunch of freshmen that got action. Darius Fleming, I saw him out there on drill on defense a whole bunch today. That was probably the first time I've seen him getting significant reps out there.
But that play by R.J., that was, you know, we hadn't scored yet and thankfully they ended up missing that field goal. It could have been 10 up and early. But that play get it's to a tie ballgame, and really settled everyone down. You know, not that anyone was losing their composure, but that was a big play. Especially when an interception goes to the house.

Q. Last thing, the kick by Walker later, just to give him some confidence and so forth?
COACH WEIS: Also to get it to a three-score game. But I told him, you know, I didn't talk to him after the miss. You know, Brian talked to him. I didn't talk to him after the miss.
But after he made a couple extra points I just walked over to him and said, Look, you're going to have to make a kick here in this game. It's just like taking the extra point. We've seen you kick balls 50 yards in practice. Just believe you're kicking the extra point and let's go.
That was a big kick for him and a big kick for the team, obviously. But I think just as important it was a big kick for him knowing that when he had an opportunity to kind of put the game away, he made a big kick.

Q. How pleased were you with the balance of the run and the pass today?
COACH WEIS: I think going in that was definitely the intent to try to get along that way. We figured that this game had to end up being somewhere in the 50-50 mix. Didn't know, you know, whether or not the 50-50 was going to come heavy pass early or heavy run early.
But I know one thing we weren't going to do is play on our heels the whole day. We were going to be aggressive in our play calling. I think that was a very critical factor that we wanted to make sure whether it was run, whether it was shots, regardless of what we were doing, we weren't going to sit back and let them dictate the tempo.
I think that last week, okay, when we came out deciding we were going to smash mouth it early, I think that Michigan State dictated the tempo, and we weren't going to let that happen again.

Q. A general question, in your opinion the difference between 3-1 and 2-2 for your young improving team is what?
COACH WEIS: You'll have to ask that one again. I'm befuddled by that one. The difference between being 3-1, and 2-2?

Q. There it is.
COACH WEIS: We've won every game we've played at home this year. Your schedule this year had you play four out of the first five at home. The fact that you've taken care of business in the first three games, you know, is one of the things we had set in the off-season to try to do.
I think the fact that we had another big win, and we have another big game next week, the confidence continues to grow in that situation. So I'd say it's huge.

Q. You held your team accountable in different ways coming out of last week. How do you feel like they responded to that?
COACH WEIS: I think that at the end of the day, at the end of this game this team we're playing against is pretty good. And I think that you play against a pretty good team and you slugged it out and you're sitting there tied at the half.
But I think the promising thing was how they came out in the second half and the game could go either way. Remember now, it wasn't in the too distant pass that we would go in the tank.
So the response they had in the third quarter, I think was probably the most significant part of this football game.

Q. Armando today looked like he did as a junior in high school. Was that just him finally figuring it out like what's going on?
COACH WEIS: I think Armando had a big day. We were getting on him pretty good I think. In his career I don't know if he had a 15-yard carry. He had over five of them in the game. I said, Where you been. You could have taken a little pressure off of us in the running game earlier to take some of these runs. But I thought he had a nice day for us.

Q. What areas do you see for improvement thinking about the next game, Stanford, and the rest of the year?
COACH WEIS: What areas of improvement. Well, if you rush the ball for a couple hundred yards and threw for 375, and scored a bunch of touchdowns and scored 38 points, I think that we're going to see out there on offense probably could have got on top of them a little quicker earlier in the game.
But I think overall, we'll start breaking it down in three components. Overall I was pretty content with how the offense played.
Defensively going against a formidable offense. We knew the quarterback's really good. The running back's a pain in the butt, too. Okay, we knew that, and we knew we were going to give up some plays. And I think our defense all year long has hung in there and hung in there and played hard. I think the one thing we have to do is make sure we don't give up the big play.
Last but not least on special teams, probably one of the signs of the kickoff coverage which I thought was outstanding, probably the happiest moment of the whole game was Brandon Walker making that field goal to make it a three-score game. So I think it's a combination of all three of those things.

Q. I was just wondering if today for the first time for a long period did you give it a look at kind of what you thought this offense was capable of and what it could do?
COACH WEIS: That's a fair question. I think that we're capable of running the football. And I think we're capable of throwing the football, and we're capable of picking up the blitz, okay. We're capable of making some plays.
But you know capable doesn't mean anything. It's until you actually show it, until you actually do it. I think today is a good day. It's a good day from that aspect because it's not making plays in practice. It's making plays with 80,000 people at Notre Dame stadium, so I was content.

Q. Could you also talk about the contributions your freshmen made today? You touched on it briefly, but when you look from the receivers on defense and interceptions there, it was a coming out party, it seemed like?
COACH WEIS: Well, let's start with R.J. That was probably the biggest momentum changer early in the game. Making that interception and taking it to the house. I mean, there's a guy that a few weeks ago wasn't even playing yet. Now he's starting to get out there and now he's making plays.
Michael Floyd, what they did in the game is they rolled into Golden, which we kind of anticipated that's one of the things they might do. But with the production we've been getting out of Golden. So they rolled into Golden and kind of puts you okay, well, Floyd's the guy to go to. So the guy on the other side has to step up and make some plays when that happens.
So we don't care who catches the football, to tell you the truth. Just as long as they're throwing it and catching it.

Q. Two weeks ago you beat Michigan felt pretty good about yourself, everybody did. Then you go to Michigan State last week and don't play well. Now you come back and play well. Is it just a process with a young team now? Where do you go from here to make sure the Michigan State thing doesn't happen again if you take a step backwards?
COACH WEIS: I think one of the critical factors was they saw how many plays in the Michigan State game could have changed the game. They saw a whole bunch of plays where you make a play here. Let's talk about the interception. Incomplete, interception to Duval in the red zone. You throw it up there.
Look, I don't know at the end of the day whether it's not a touchdown for us. I'm not really sure. I'm not sure. When he comes down if he doesn't have the ball when his toe touches the ground. I'm not really sure. But they end up calling it. They call it an interception, it's their ball.
But that one play you put 7 on the board in a game that's a one-score game, you know, who knows.
But I think that the team had plenty of evidence and constructive criticism this week of things they could have done differently, okay, against Michigan State, so that they didn't leave with that bad taste in their mouth. And I think that they grew from that this week. I think that's an important factor when your team can see these things and can grow from it.
Now of course my comment is the same thing you'd expect me to say. And that is what are we doing now, fellas? And I ask the same rhetorical question you would ask in that case. Are we going to take it and get some momentum? Are we going to become a level of consistency or be inconsistent?

Q. The way your offense ran today with the shotgun, was that just more conducive to Armando's style of running as well?
COACH WEIS: Well, it opened up running lanes. But still at the end of the day the line still has to go that way. Because whether you've got a tight end, three wide receivers, a tight end and five linemen in there, you still have those six guys helping to block at least six, and if the line of scrimmage doesn't move that way, then you're still not in for a good day.
I think that it spreads out. It opens up -- once you get a crease and you get the line of scrimmage moving that way, it opens up some bigger creases. And that's what led to those multiple 13-plus runs.

Q. Hardy had a big day against you guys. Seems like every time you play Purdue, there is a guy. Is that just the nature of their offense, that it takes away a lot of their offense, and one guy has a big day?
COACH WEIS: I don't think that Painter is pigeon holed into who he throws the ball to. I think he's a very good prospect at quarterback. He'll be playing a lot, a lot of football after he leaves this level right here. And I think he's going to throw it to the open guy.
So he obviously found a guy that he felt that he could go to, and got the ball in the hands of a guy that made a whole bunch of plays for him today.

Q. You've talked to us before about what you call explosive plays, runs for certain yardage, passes of certain yardage. I don't know how many you had today, but it seemed there were a bunch. How pleased were you with that?
COACH WEIS: Offensive production comes down to making big plays. When you're just nickel and diming it all the time, you're getting three yards, four yards.
I'll give you an example. Probably the biggest play of the second half was the first pass from Jimmy to Grimes on that corner route, because it changed field position. They kicked off. I think we got the ball on the 18-yard line. So that now the momentum could be in their way. We come out on first play. He had stayed on the corner route, and now we're past the 40-yard line, and now field position had changed in one play. So I think that's just the way that goes.

Q. You said this jokingly about Allen, where have you been? But do you feel you've been waiting for this game from him and maybe has he turned the corner?
COACH WEIS: I think that Armando is a very good football player, and a game like this could boost his confidence even more because he knows he's capable of doing it. I think that, you know, the best part about this is that now I can set a bar. Say well, look, I've seen you do this. Because every time the bar is raised, you want to pass that bar? I think that's what I'm going to try to do.

Q. You've won four games in a row not going back to last year. Without taking anything for granted, do you feel you're starting to build back that home-field advantage again?
COACH WEIS: Well, we feel for the first time in a while we're starting to feel comfortable here and kind of feeding off our crowd and feeding off our students. When it gets like that and you feed off the crowd, well, you have to give them evidence to cheer. You have to give them evidence. That's what happened today. And that's the way the game went.

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