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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 7, 2008
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Good afternoon. Off to North Carolina who has been off to their best start since '97 and ranked 27 in the AP poll. They're 4-1. Very close to being undefeated after a tough home loss against Virginia Tech. Coach Davis has been there now for a couple of years, one of the best coaches around, having coached on both levels with a high rate of success.
John Shoop's offensive coordinator and also the quarterback coach. His second year as the offensive coordinator there. Came over from the Raiders. They're averaging over 32 points a game. And they're really showing that they can pound people by running the ball like last week, they ran 146 yards, 33 attempts for just under four and a half yards a carry.
I'll get to three running backs here in a minute. Obviously T.J. Yates got hurt broke his ankle against Virginia Tech is out for a while they settled in on Cameron Sexton who played against us a couple of years ago. He stepped up for Yates. He's done a decent job. He has a strong arm. Spreads the ball around. It's led him to two wins since he's been in there.
I mentioned I would get back to these running backs. They play three of them and they all have a little different style and seems to me like sometimes we'll just go to the guy with the hot hand and go ahead and play it.
Greg Little has been starting every game. North/south downhill runner that runs hard. Has good size. Good size and speed. Below his shoulder, he'll run over you. He's a very good athlete. And they have a very good change of pace in both directions from Greg, where Greg's the guy who has been starting every game, they can go to the smaller, faster guy and on Draughn who had a great game last week. He was a safety that converted to half back. Last week he had 19 carries for 109 yards.
He's a smaller, faster guy that's got great quickness make you miss ability. And then you go the other way. And they put Ron Houston in there who is 250 pounds, and he's a big body. They definitely use him in short yardage, but he's your hammer/slammer running back. So they have three different styles of running backs, and they can kind of feed all of them.
They play with two fullbacks, both Rome and Elzy both show up. At tight end, at tight end Quinn is their big guy, the six-four 260-pounder. Pianalto will also play. He'll play some regular tight end, but they use him more as their move tight end.
We have a group of three wide receivers that's probably as good as we've seen all year between Nicks, who is their X, who runs well and makes big plays and has good hands and not only does he have good hands but he has strong hands because he goes up and gets the ball.
Brandon Tate, I'll talk more about him as a returner here in a little while. He plays in the slot in the three wide receiver sets. I'll talk about his return yardage here in a couple of minutes. And Brooks Foster is their bigger wide receiver, who still runs well and he's got long arms and good hands. And they'll even use him some on reverses as well, as well as being one of the better gunners we've gone against on the punt team they'll line him up over there on their right side. He's a tough guy to block.
On their offensive line, there's a little bit of a state of flux. I'll talk about more than five guys here. Jolly will be at left tackle. At left guard, you know, we have two different potential guys here. Pelc started last week against Connecticut. Bishop has been the starter, but he had a thigh injury. And I really don't know which one of those two guys are going to be in there. That will be one or the other. And just like at center. Stahl didn't start last week. He played a lot in the second half. But Dyer started last week. So one of those two guys will be at center.
And at right guard, Darity started but he left last week with a stinger. He's supposed to be okay, with Reynolds at right tackle who is definitely by far their most experienced and biggest time lineman out of all of them.
So there's a little bit of state of flux with a couple of the injury situations they have right there. But they're really solid with the tackles and they have a little movement going on with the inside guys.
Everett Withers is their defensive coordinator. He's also coaching the DBs. They're only giving up 19 points a game. That's 14th in the country. The same as us. One thing they do do, though, they lead the nation in interceptions. They've got 12 interceptions. So that will be a challenge for us. If you're going against a team that gets that many turnovers, usually some bad things can happen.
Last week they only gave up 12 points against UCON. And starts with their front four, they got A.J. Wilson and Robert Quinn starting at the ends. Quinn is a true freshman who has been impressive. And then inside you've got Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas who are both big guys. Marvin is more the three technique, more of a three technique but both these guys are big and very athletic.
Speaking athletic, they're probably as athletic a set of linebackers we've ever gone against. They're all three athletic and run well and a solid group. Bruce Carter, big and athletic, plays physical and runs well. Paschal, the middle linebacker. Some people think because he's six foot that he's undersize. He's not really undersize. He's 230. He's active and runs well and gets downhill. And Sturdivant plays the will. They're very athletic at linebacker.
At DB, we've got Hemby and Burney as the starters. Obviously Burney was a returning starter at quarterback from last season where he started every game as a red shirt freshman. Charles Brown is the other guy who will play at corner, but I've seen him more as their nickel back when they go nickel. Strong safety, Goddard leads the country with four interceptions and Williams at free safety was the first-team All-American, freshman All-American and started every game as a true freshman.
On special teams, Coach Lovett handles their special teams and helps out on defense. Brown will handle their punting. It's interesting, Wooten kicks off for them, but they use both Wooten and Barth to kick field goals. And I'm not sure why. They both kick in all situations. Whereas Wooten will kick off and kick field goals. They'll use both Wooten and Barth. House is the long snapper. And Dyer is the short snapper. And let's get back to, last but not least, some of the starters that are returners.
Tate, the punt returner and kick-off returner. He's the NCAA career leader. Averaging 27.7 yards a kick return. With a long of 56. He has three touchdowns in his career. He's just as explosive as a punt returner. This guy is a problem. He is a problem.
And when you're kicking away from Tate, it's not really any big bargain, because you're kicking to Nicks, and he's pretty darn good as a kick-off returner too. I think they're good on special teams. I think they're solid on offense. I think they're solid on defense, and I think they're well coached.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Start off with special teams. I think the Bruce Carter kid has blocked three punts, how much of a concern is that and can you at all scheme blocking wise against a guy who has that capability?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, we have to definitely give him special attention after he did it. But the irony of it it wasn't even on a block. Three times last week they're setting up a wall return and three times last week he beats this guy, beats this guy three times on the exact same thing.
So any time a guy can beat a guy one-on-one three times, you definitely better give him special attention. But it wasn't on none of those attempts was it on an all-out block.
Q. I guess you didn't get an up front view of these guys last year but they do have a lot of youth that's permeating that roster. Are there some at least broad similarities between them paying advance and as you say your guys paying advance last year?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I could see a lot of things where these programs are heading into the same direction because there's a lot of young, good athletes that are getting into the mix young and that are producing.
And obviously we're two different schemes and all that other stuff. But as far as personnel goes, I mean they've done a nice job recruiting and they're not afraid to play the young guys. And I'd like to say that's very similar to how we think.
Q. Any update on the kicking?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: We'll resolve that here probably today. And when I do, I won't hold you on that. I'll tell you where we are.
Q. And I guess with Will, is there anything new on that?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's having a hearing here this afternoon. I'm not expecting at the hearing they're going to sit here and say, okay, this is what it is. But as soon as I know, you'll know.
Q. The role of James Aldridge has kind of developed on this team. Seems like you would like to use him as a fresh guy in the second half. Is that accurate, is that what his role is going to be?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Actually, we talked to James and Robert yesterday, that Armando has kind of -- is a little separate and distinct from the other two guys. So the first thing that James has to do to get on the field a little bit more is be better than Robert. So we've told both these guys that yesterday, that we have one guy that's kind of featured at one thing and these other two guys that are kind of battling out because it's really tough to get three guys enough carries in the mix.
You still can get them involved, similar to what North Carolina is doing. You still can get them involved. But everyone wants more touches, as you would imagine. So we just want to try to be as competitive a situation as we can to get the best guys out there.
Q. He came in here as probably the -- I think he was the highest ranked recruiting service as a player in that first class of yours. I guess how has he handled -- when he talks to us, he seems a cheery disposition: I do what it takes for the team. What have you seen from him not just this year but the last three years?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That's never wavered. He's not being a phony when he talks to you. In other words, he's not touting all day long and coming to you and putting on a cheery face. He competes for those other guys and he roots for the other guys. And, of course, he'd like to be the one getting the majority of the touches. But right now that No. 5 is playing the best.
Q. Have injuries slowed him from early on at Notre Dame?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Through his career, maybe. But that's not a factor right now.
Q. Do you keep in mind keeping guys happy, do you try to keep guys happy, get guys four or five carries or six carries?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No, we're just trying to win a game. I'd like to keep everybody happy. But, most importantly, it's all about winning a game. You can't in the course of a game be worrying about things like that. The only times you could worry about that is when worry about it is a nice word to have is when you get the luxury where you could do that at the end of the game and I'm not exactly expecting that to be the case this week.
Q. Did the Big East officials get back on you on the illegal substitution question you had?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: They're not aware of that rule. That's all I'll say.
Q. And did the Pac-10 comment on the muffed punt or did they address that?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: From what I understand, all they said was they got it right. From going back and watching it, there are two issues. And, look it, I'm not going to get into a he said/she said on this game because that game is gone. But, number one, the guy clearly interfered with Armando having an opportunity to catch the ball. And, number two, the ball didn't hit Armando, the ball hit the other guy. That's clearly interference if the ball hits the other guy.
So all I can tell you is from what I read and they read that the call was right.
Q. And you can't return a muffed punt; is that correct?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: No.
Q. So it would have been down there regardless of whose ball it was?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Right. But it was our ball and they had the call right.
Q. Has your offense -- I mean, I think I know the answer to this. But has your offense evolved a little bit differently than you anticipated; you were kind of forced to get away from the running game and suddenly looks like you've stumbled upon something or you've expanded with something with your no-huddle that seems to fit your quarterback the best?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think it fits our quarterback, but it also -- part of this has been some of these young players playing so well. You're not exactly counting on Michael Floyd to play the way Michael Floyd has been playing. We didn't know Golden Tate would play the way Golden Tate has been playing.
Kyle Rudolph now, throw him into the mix, too. So before you even talk about the guys up front and Jimmy and the running back, we knew what we had with David Grimes. But some of these other guys' play put us in a position to have to tweak what we do and give us the best chance.
Q. How much credit does Jimmy Clausen get for putting them in more advantageous situations?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Almost all of the credit. I think that in this offense, in this offense that we've been running the last few weeks, really, the burden is all on the quarterback. That's where the burden is, because you've got to make good, quick decisions, and you've got to be an accurate passer.
It's not just the throwing game, it's also the running game. You have to make decisions based on what you're seeing out there. In the last two and a half games where we've really went sort of into this mentality, he's done a very, very nice job.
Q. Would you say the no-huddle fits him best and that's the way to continue to proceed forward?
A. I don't know if it's just the no-huddle that fits in the best, I think more spreading out, letting him see, making the defense spread out seems to play into his strengths.
Q. Just kind of following some of those questions. Is this maybe the biggest challenge he's going to have since maybe the first couple of games of his career just because of the way North Carolina's secondary plays?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I think that each week is -- what he's going to need to do this week is he's going to have to be patient. And that's a little different. Most of these teams, percentage-wise. I'm not sure what percentage North Carolina will blitz in this game. But for the year it's been a lot lower than most the teams we play against because they believe that their front four can get to the quarterback and pressure the quarterback. And that allows them to just play coverage with everyone else.
And when teams are playing coverage, which is what they've been doing most of the year, it forces a quarterback to be more patient. And that's where you're really challenging a real quarterback, will you be patient enough to take what they give you rather than wanting to sling it down the field every play.
Q. Kerry Neal is a guy who grew up right around there. How has he involved as a player and where has he continued to improve?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: First of all, from when he's got here until now, he's become a bigger, more physical player at the line of scrimmage. When he was in high school, his forte was just get on the edge and pass rush.
But he's become a bigger, more physical player that can hold up on the line of scrimmage.
Q. Is he guy, talked to Jappy, and he said maybe he's not as instinctual as some of the other guys you have, where he has to study a little more. Is that accurate?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I wouldn't know exactly the answer to that question, but I do know he has very, very good strength. Sometimes you look at a guy and you have to see what his strength is. And I think that sometimes being able to play with power can overcome some things where they weren't as natural as another guy playing the position.
Q. Something you mentioned Sunday about Paul Duncan. What's exactly going on with him?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's just had a nagging hip since training camp. So it's still nagging.
Q. Is that why Nuss is on the depth chart, or has he just played his way up there?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: If in doubt I'll play the healthier guy. Just have to see how it goes. It's not because he's played himself out of the mix. It's because, if I have to play a healthier guy, I'll play the healthier guy.
Q. I was hoping you could expand a little more on Jimmy's sort of development. Last year at this time the quarterback situation was obviously unsettled. And what level, did you have any doubts, big picture thinking with Jimmy, or did you just know it was a matter of time?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I thought that he was a bit pigeon-holed by what we were doing. And what we were doing was based off of how we were playing.
And I wouldn't say it was going very well. And it was across the board. So it wasn't just a quarterback position. It's the offensive line and the running backs, and you're under duress. And do we have the hops and sight adjust all coordinated. There are a lot of things that came into play. It was kind of a group effort, a group effort growing process. And what you really have to do is you have to do less. And when you're doing less, you know, that doesn't bode well for your chances for success.
But what happens, as we've gotten better across the board it isn't just the quarterback position we've gotten better, we've gotten better across the board. We've gotten better at almost every position. And as that's happened it's allowed you to do more and more with everybody. And so he's grown leaps and bounds, but he's getting a lot of help.
Q. You mentioned the last two and a half games the light switch really seems to have popped on for him. Is that basically overall improvement? Is something going on with him?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I'd say the light switch came on for him when he sat those couple of games last year, to tell you the truth. I think that's when the switch went on. Because you're in there. You're going through a growing process before you're really ready to go. Now you get a chance to sit back for a couple of games and kind of watch the stuff. And you get to see things that maybe you didn't see when you were out there under center. I really think that's where it started, I think the couple of games he sat out last year and came back I think that was the beginning of the maturation process.
Q. Did you throw him into the mix too early or were you glad he had that experience when he did sit out?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I'm glad right now. I'm glad I'm not going through the growing experience right now. There's no way, there's not a chance in the world that we would be 4-1 if he wouldn't have played last year. Because those things you're talking about he already experienced. And it's not just with him. There's a whole bunch of other guys that you would have liked to have not played but I'm glad they did. Because those guys right now, a whole bunch of them, are helping us.
Q. I find Jimmy different this year than last year, just in dealing with him and watching him, the way he carries himself. Have you seen that as well?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: What I've seen differently, last year he was just a freshman quarterback that happened to be in the huddle. Now every day and every practice he's become more and more of a vocal leader and a leader by example and tough and trying to do the right things and getting annoyed when he does something wrong.
I mean that's a good sign and the players see it. And now he's not just that California freshman quarterback. He's truly a leader on the offense. David Grimes does a great job as the captain. But Jimmy is doing a great job leading this offense.
Q. Jimmy has done a good job at the line of scrimmage getting in and out of some things. How limited will that be this week going on the road in a hostile environment?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: You'll definitely have to factor noise in. I think that you never can go into a game and not factor in noise. It's a lot different playing at home when the crowd's letting you run your operation than when you're on the road. So that will be factored in.
Q. What do you think he got out of the Michigan State experience that will help me?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think that the most important thing is the Michigan State game, when we got down and we started the origin of this package right here, you know, moving the ball was not the issue. Just finishing it off was the issue. And I think that that's where he is now. He's more into finishing off things where before we just started them, we didn't finish them.
Q. As far as Greg Little goes, I don't want to ask you to throw a kid under the bus, but can you explain what happened there with him?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's a really good player. He's from his home state. Any time you're involved in recruiting, any time you're involved in recruiting, the toughest thing to do is to get a guy to leave his home state. We're a national recruiting school. And at the end of the day he felt more comfortable staying home. And, hey, do I like that happening? No, but at the end of the day the kid wanted to stay home. Who can really shun a guy who wants to stay home. That's what he ended up doing.
Q. I know you mentioned the kicking situation. What's the process of that? How many people are involved in this competition?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: It will be over by tomorrow. Let me just wait until tomorrow, because in the past I've left things so gray it's been a big guessing game and everything. Let me just get through it and I'll come back to you and I'll answer more directly tomorrow. Okay? Fair enough?
Q. The last couple of games Jimmy has shown an ability to kind of move around inside the pocket. Is that something that he learned this year or is it something that he didn't have a chance to do?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Actually, he's been doing that all year. It hasn't been the last couple of games. It's been right from the first game. He's shown an ability to shuffle in the pocket and get out of trouble and not hold the ball and throw the ball away when it's time to throw the ball away and very seldomly has he forced the ball into a situation or thrown across his body.
There's a lot of things -- it's part of the growing process. But there's a lot of positives that have come through with the experience of last year. But he's been doing that, started working on that in the off season, spent a lot of time with that. And it's paying off and showing up in almost every game.
Q. Is that a skill for quarterbacks where they have to learn it or is it something where most quarterbacks don't?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: You have to learn it and you have to feel it. There's two things. I remember talking to Marino about this years ago. Marino was not very athletic as you know but he very seldom got sacked because he would take that little slide step to get him out of trouble, be able to throw the ball. Not every quarterback is a 4-5 quarterback that runs the read option like everyone is going. So I think it's important for those guys to know how to get themselves out of trouble.
Q. The feel part it, is that more natural and instinctual, or is that something you can learn?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: You can study it, but you still have to feel pressure and feel where you should go when that pressure is coming. Do I step up? Do I bail out? Do I roll away from it?
One of the toughest things for people to understand is, when you've got outside pressure, okay, from both edges, the safest place to go is forward. And you know that's not what people are usually thinking, but think about it the pressure is up and outside of you, the easiest place to go would be straight ahead.
Q. In addition to Neal, you have Blanton and McNeil from North Carolina. Can you just talk about those kids and have they seemed pretty jazzed about going back to their home state?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I know Raeshon was at 16 tickets looking for more yesterday. He was trying to scrounge up everyone he could get his hands on, because I had that conversation with him yesterday.
Just like we were talking about Greg a little while ago, I think any time you have a kid who gets one of those rare opportunities now to go back to their home state to go play, I mean I think they'll be really fired up. They'll be really fired up to play because there will be a lot of family and friends that don't have to travel all the way out to South Bend for a game. They'll be able to make that short trek over.
And they'll all be involved in playing and Kerry and Raeshon and Robert, they'll all be involved in playing and they're all pretty excited.
Q. Just looking at both team's depth charts there's almost the same number of freshmen and sophomores in it and they're really good players at both programs. Are you running into them a lot more in recruiting with Butch there?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: In certain areas we do. In certain areas. Any time I'm hitting any one in that Atlantic coast area region right there, they're around. And they're a contender. They're always a contender. They do a nice job in recruiting. Very really aggressive and they're pretty good at it.
Q. I know you talked about Butch. You've gone against him a lot at different levels and so forth. Just your impression of what he's done as a college coach?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: You look at his track record. He's been at the top of the college world. He's been at the top of the pro world. He's had a lot of success in coaching. And both as a head coach and, for that matter, as coordinators as well. This guy really knows what he's doing. He's a tough guy. His players play tough.
And I know that that's what we're going to face when we go against them this week.
Q. Switching to Jimmy. You used to talk about sometimes your meetings with Brady on Friday night and so forth. In terms of Jimmy with your new role, does that still happen? And how are those going?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I meet with Ron and Jimmy early in the week. For example, this Friday, this past Friday Ron, Jimmy and I sat down and had a little powwow and watched all the practice tape from the week just to talk about things, ironically, one of the things we talked about was check-downs and there's the first touchdown pass.
So hopefully that little powwow that the three of us had had a positive residual effect. It isn't a pressure situation. It isn't like you're coaching every little technique on every play. It's just you're watching the coverage and saying hey don't force the ball here. Or why didn't you throw the left? Why did you throw to the right? Just listen to his rationale and then telling him when you agree with him or telling him when, well, you can't really do that. You have to do this instead.
Q. I know you had to give some things back to make this move to the kind of the more centric head coach position. But when you first came in you said I have certain areas of expertise that I always would like to hold onto. Would this quarterback thing, is that something that you're not willing to give back and that you feel like helps you?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I wouldn't say I'm not willing to give it back. I think for me not to be utilized in this capacity would be a bad thing. So I do not overstep my bounds with either Ron or Michael. But I think they welcome this, as do the quarterbacks.
See, I don't just meet with him. I meet with Evan separate from Jimmy. And I meet with Dayne separate from both of them at different times of the week. So there's different processes for each guy. With Evan, I'm getting him ready to go as the back-up quarterback. With Dayne, I'm trying to develop him in the system. So when Ron's worrying about the fundamentals and techniques and what plays we're putting in that day and writing the quarterback notes to get them through that daily thing, I'm more the big picture. Rather than that play, I'm more the big picture coach when it comes to the quarterback play.
Q. Again, when Brady was here you talked about how quarterback-dependent or quarterback-centric your offensive system was. When you saw Jimmy on film for the first time or the first couple of times, what was it about him that you went, okay, I want to know more about this guy?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: First of all, he was clearly the leader on their team. You could see that on tape. Second of all, he was accurate. And from all the physical skills that you can judge, more than arm strength, more than anything else, accuracy is one of the biggest things. If a quarterback has a great arm but isn't accurate, what difference does it make? He can't get the ball there. The kid was accurate.
And then besides having composure, he seemed to always be thrown into the open guy. So, therefore, even in high school he had a concept of how to read coverages. So it didn't take long. I mean you put his tape on, it did not take long.
Q. You mentioned the other day that a number one team would be winning on the road. Is there's something you can coach to being better prepared to be on the road aside from what you do normally?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I might prod them a little bit, Tom, saying, well, maybe we shouldn't even go this week. Maybe we should just stay home, eat hot fudge sundaes or something like that. I think they'll get challenged on this one pretty well. I think that, no, they know that it won't be -- they know everything will be in jest, because they're on the same page with me already.
We talked about it at 6:00 Monday morning. We talked about it at 2:30 Monday afternoon. We'll be talking about it at 2:30 this afternoon. We'll be talking about it after when practice has ended today. It will be the main theme of the entire week. Can you win on the road? Hey, look at it. We know we're going to get their best shot right out of the gate. And we know it's coming. So you better be ready.
Q. Looking back to the Michigan State game, was there something that you saw that maybe you didn't do as well as you have at all the home games?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: The only thing I was really disappointed in was us trying to figuring that we could run the ball and establish the line of scrimmage by the offense and us not getting it done. And then we talk about winning a turnover ratio and we end up losing it 3-1 in that game. And we missed a couple of field goal opportunities on top of it. Look it, we didn't deserve to win that game. But if you really go back and review the bidding, you're minus 2 for the game on turnovers. Come out of the gate and you don't control the line of scrimmage, then you start moving the ball throwing it all over the place, okay, but at the end of the day you turn the ball over twice in the red zone and you miss a couple of field goal opportunities in a close game, you're probably going to lose every time.
Q. Talking in the past about us against the world. Does it take a certain mentality and you have to wait and see if the players or enough players on the team have that mentality to be successful?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: I think that the team's confidence has been growing every week. And I think every time you win another game, you add a few more guys on the list. And I think that you're getting to the point now where there's enough guys that are thinking the way you do. And the more guys there are on that list, the better chance you have.
Q. You mentioned the other day just how this put you in the rankings if you win here. They were talking down there yesterday I believe about this being a reputation game. Do you think both teams are similar on that, that there's a lot to prove in this game for both teams?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I think that we can't really worry about what their mantra is on this one right here because we have our own problems to worry about. But I think let's be objective. You're going into a bye week after this game. There's absolutely nothing worse. Nothing worse than going into a bye week coming off a loss.
On top of that you've got two programs that have both lost just one game. Well, one team's going to be sitting in a lot better shape after this week. Whoever wins this game is going to be sitting in a lot better shape than the other team.
So we're just trying -- we understand how good North Carolina is. And we have a lot of respect for them. But we're going down there. This is not a pleasure trip.
Q. You mentioned a few weeks ago that Golden Tate makes you laugh. Wonder if Pat Kuntz makes you laugh, cry?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: More laugh than cry. I've had my share of hardship with old Patrick. But it's tough not to like this kid. This is like one of those guys that if I were in college here at this point I could see this would be probably one of my boys if I was in college right now. I could picture that. I would probably be abusing him all the time. But it's tough not to like being around the kid.
Q. Someone you have to pull back every once in a while?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Absolutely. But the thing is you can say whatever to him. It isn't like one of those guys, you know how we talked about certain freshmen you say something to them they go into the tank. You can say anything you want and he gets it. And he feels bad about it, too. It isn't like you say something and it doesn't have a positive reaction. He cares. So when you say something to him, it matters.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about his move out to the end and how you think he's done out there? The move out from defensive end.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's been very disruptive. He has a very high motor. He's very disruptive. We know he's tipped a whole bunch of balls. He's been doing that for two years. But sometimes we misconstrue how many tackles you get with how disruptive he's been.
He's done a nice job -- he's been in the back field a lot. He's been disruptive.
Q. You talked about Kerry a little bit earlier. Could you just talk about your recruitment of him? That seems like it was a pretty quick, ideal scenario from your standpoint; is that true?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, when we got involved with him, Coach Lewis had that area. And we got down there. I was a big fan of their program. I was a big fan of his coach.
His coach was very open minded towards Kerry being recruited nationally as well as regionally. And that always gives you a fairer chance. When you go in there and you get -- I wouldn't say it was necessarily just support from the high school, but a fair chance to get in there and fight it out recruiting and Coach Lewis did a nice job. And we got involved early. And he got out to see the place. He just fits in very well with the players and with the student athletes here. And it was a very good match.
Q. I've been told, and please correct me if I'm wrong here, is that you actually watched some film of him early one morning, called the school. He called back and literally committed within a few hours; is that the way it worked?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: That's pretty much how it happened. It was very early in the morning. And when the coaches got -- that I watched the tape. They dialed me up with a handful of guys. He was one of the guys who stood out. We came in. I told Coach Lewis to get ahold of his coach and let him know we were offering him a scholarship and things went down very quickly. That's correct.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about where you are in the big picture right now in terms of I guess restoring the elite status of the program and how kind of this team fits into that.
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, I think that every week is another step. I think that we've obviously played very competitive football all year long. Obviously we're 4-1 and lost one game that we had an opportunity to compete to win.
I think that we have a long way to go. We have a lot of holes we have to fill. There's a lot of things that we have to get better at. And we're a team that can't come to any game that we play and just show up and think we're going to win.
We're a team that if we don't come and show up and play solid, you know, nothing good's going to happen.
Q. As a follow-up, was there a specific obstacle there that you encountered that maybe you weren't expecting early in your tenure?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: The one thing that was new to me and the local guys here know this because I've told them a whole bunch of times, but last year I played a lot of freshmen and sophomores who aren't used to the same type of coaching that juniors and seniors are.
It's a little different breed when you've got 18 and 19-year-old kids that are playing. They just don't -- they haven't been weathered. So this year I was in the off season I spent a lot more time being around these kids, which I hadn't done in the first couple of years here because I felt that I had to have kind of a grass root type of evolution with our team.
I think because of that we have a lot better understanding of each other, and I think it's provided a positive residual effect.
Q. How much do you recruit the state of North Carolina, like if you look at your defense, you've got several North Carolina natives over there. How much do you all come in here and how hard do you try to recruit this state?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, we don't go after every kid in the state. But every year we'll go on to North Carolina and we'll go in after a handful of guys and try and come out of there with a couple. There's plenty of great football players in the Carolinas, but in North Carolina specifically there's always a handful each year that we'll get involved in and, look it, we know we're not going to win out on all of them but we're just trying to come in and get a little piece of pie.
Q. How has Neal played for you this year, Kerry Neal?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He's been playing well, playing a lot. He's on the field all the time. He can play in our regular defense and nickle, and he doesn't have to come out off the field. And he's a nice, solid player for us.
Q. Coach, just one more question about Jimmy. I remember last year John Sullivan helped him out with a lot of things during the game, like identifying the mic linebacker. Now that he's taken over those things, does he feel more of a personal responsibility like this is his team?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: Well, he just knows that's something that he should be doing. That's what the really good quarterbacks do. They kind of control the front as well as the coverage, because a lot of times quarterbacks just come out here and they just worry about is it cover three or cover two. Well, that's not the way this thing all works. I think it's really important that he can come in and do exactly what you're talking about. Forget about check with mes and the audibles and all that stuff, just being able to run the team at the line of scrimmage without needing anyone else's assistance. The team definitely knows that he's the guy in charge.
Q. Did he start doing that at the end of last year or in spring?
COACH CHARLIE WEIS: He started doing it after the last year was over.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts