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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 12, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Start with questions for the media.
Q. I read today that you said your guys are starting to get it based on what you saw after the game. Could you elaborate on that?
COACH WEIS: Well, when you lose a game, and you go into the locker room and see your team as visibly disappointed as I saw them yesterday, probably as disappointed as I've seen the teams since 2005 USC, you know that they care. And you know that they expected to win and they didn't win, which is the only reason for them to be in the tank the way they were.
And when your team's starting to act like that and starting to think like that, and starting to feel like that, you've turned a corner in the right direction.
Q. Does that make it a little bittersweet in that you know you've got something solid with these guys, despite the fact that you lost?
COACH WEIS: There's nothing that I ever look at as positive about losing, but I can say that -- I can say that as the season goes on, I think that this game will be one we reflect back to.
Q. Jimmy made a lot of plays with his feet yesterday. He bailed himself out of the pocket when he collapsed and picked up the first down. Can you talk about that aspect of the game that we don't see a whole lot that seems to be developing?
COACH WEIS: Actually he had a couple of called runs in there, too, which was a miracle in its own right. He's done a fairly good job of rushing from the pocket, and keeping his eyes down the filed and not living too dangerously by throwing the ball across his body across the field, which are some of the problems we got into last year.
Now he's thrown the ball across his body slightly toward the middle of the field. But nothing too dangerous, too risky where he tried to go all the way across. For example, that play where he pulled out and rolled to his left yesterday, and through that ball to Duval, that's a big play, leads to a score.
But even if it falls inside to Kyle or to Armando or to Duval where he just shuffles a little bit to the right and then hits the guy in that check down position, there's a difference between moving from the pocket and moving in the pocket. He's gotten better at both of them.
Q. Can you talk about how Mike Floyd has been such a nice surprise for you guys? You weren't necessarily counting on it, he's so young, but nonetheless, there he is?
COACH WEIS: I don't say that he's a nice surprise. I think we're just pleased that he's progressed so quickly. Obviously, you know, there's some plays out in every game that you'd like to have back, like everybody else. But he's had great production with a guy with his experience.
Q. How is this week different now after the loss?
COACH WEIS: We have to find out one before this game took place. But today, tomorrow, and Tuesday are big self-scout analysis first half of the season days for the coaching staff. And Monday and Tuesday's practice will be totally spent on fundamentals. The whole day on on both Monday and Tuesday will be fundamentals.
Because I'm giving the team off from practice Friday and Monday so they can get a long weekend home as the prelude to the Fall break, what I'm using Wednesday for is to get Monday of next week's practice. So we practice on Monday, I'm giving them off next Monday, which is the first day of Fall break. So this way I don't lose that day. So Wednesday will be like next Monday of a normal week.
Q. You look at the key points so far, do you see something in general how your team's doing this season?
COACH WEIS: I haven't really been able to research the stats and do self-scout analysis at this time. But from my feel of this, my feel of this is that statistically we're probably very similar at this point of the year to the 2006 team.
You know, let's throw out the 2007 stats because they would not -- we're talking apples and oranges. Now I don't know that, but that's what my feel is from where we are right now. I think that research will probably come back to show that it's probably pretty close.
I'd like to feel that there had be a large separation. But I think at the mid-year point that's what I'm probably going to find when I go back and look at the statistics.
Q. Any one area that you think has improved the most the second half of the season?
COACH WEIS: That we're going to have to improve the second half of the season? Oh, there's a whole bunch of areas that we're going to have to improve on. We're starting to get better in a whole bunch of areas in a hurry, but, you know, I think that we have holes across the board that we're going to have to improve on if we're going to make a serious run at winning a whole bunch of games this second half.
Q. You mentioned last week about the team in general that Jimmy, in particular, would be where he is right now, getting off of last year. Can you just give an example of what you think -- what is going through this second half of the season do? How is he better because of what he's been through?
COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, he was exposed to about every form of pressure known to mankind last year, because teams saw a wounded, wounded animal, and they were going for the kill. I think that, you know, as we've started to remedy that across the board, he was exposed to so many things that he would not have been exposed to. So now when they're happening, they're repeat occurrences. They're things that he's already seen, which puts him in a position to make a lot less mistakes.
Q. Talking last week he said one thing you say to him frequently is you want to be a good quarterback or a great quarterback? And that's included in everything. But can you give one or two examples of what he needs to improve the most to make the next step?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, in the game yesterday he had, I would say, two major errors. You know, the interception to start off the second half where pre- snap it was the two high safety. We rolled down, should have thrown a quick out to Michael who was wide open. You know, they gave him the first half. So he obviously would like to have that back. That goes without saying.
But he gets the down and ends up scoring the touchdown. So he showed to be resilient bouncing right back from that. But probably play that bothered him and me more was the strip sack fumble. Because if a guy reached down in a little bit to his right and gets his hand on the ball, but it wasn't like he got a full shot on him where he was just knocking the heck out of him. He just ripped the ball out of his hands.
So that is the type of thing whereas we progress to here, when you have the ball, you know, and the ball possession with two hands on the ball, you'd like to think in that situation, you know, we'd do a better job of taking care of the ball.
Q. You said before one of the things he does well is he calms people down and all of that. At least twice in the game he was pretty upset. Is that something that he has to work on is not letting --
COACH WEIS: You mean when he came off the field?
COACH WEIS: He should be upset. There's things that go poorly. There's times -- this kid's a fierce competitor now. There's nothing wrong with being mad at yourself when something bad happens.
It's not a question of being like that it's how quickly you gain your composure. If you noticed, every time I saw him in that state, we had a brief conversation and it was over with. And that's what really good quarterbacks do. They're supposed to get mad.
I can't tell you the number of expletives that came out of Tommy's mouth in the years we had him, and after a short conversation, it would be over with. And Brady was like that and Jimmy's like that. It doesn't take a long conversation for him to get a quick grasp of things and get back to business.
Q. They are saying that Jimmy traded plays at the line of scrimmage. Is he able to change to any play he wants or is each play if this looks bad you go with that?
COACH WEIS: There's two different things, there's check-with-me's and there's audibles. We have several plays where there's a check-with-me. It might be a run-run check, it might be a run-pass check. It all depends on that play and what the team does on defense. Then we have other plays where he can just get out of the point.
There's not a run-pass check. It's just we have a play call, and the play's not going to be any good so he goes to a different play. But that has occurred this year.
Q. Is there no limit?
COACH WEIS: No, there are things that you go to in those situations, it's just it's not part of the call. It's not like we're running this run, they give you this, you go to that. He knows he's got a certain answer to every question. So if something comes up, and he wants to go to it, he can go to it.
Q. So what do you do to get him out of the tank this week? And how would the practice week have been any different had you been coming off of a win?
COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, I think the biggest difference would have been just how bubbly they would have been. You know, they would have been a little loosey-goosey if they had won, feeling really good about themselves.
But as far as what we're going to do in practice, that's not changed. You know, you have to have a plan you have to have a plan for this week regardless of what ends up happening. We had that plan in place.
I'm telling you. I'm not talking to them until 2:30 tomorrow afternoon, though I'm talking to a lot of them by phone or by email and things like that today, because they're off today.
But my whole mantra or message with them is going to go all the way back to that last time I that pitiful feeling in my stomach which was 2005 USC. And after that game, we came in after that game and said there were one of two ways you can handle this loss. Okay, you can use this as an impetus to move forward and really as a rallying cry or you can be in the tank. That's really the only two choices you have.
So the challenge will be put to them very clearly via that analogy to move in the direction of using it as a rallying cry.
Q. Can you talk about the look that you saw in their faces yesterday? How is it? What have you seen in the past? I'm sure it wasn't indifference, but what have you seen in the past?
COACH WEIS: There's a big difference between being embarrassed and being disappointed. I mean, I've seen the look of embarrassment several times, which that's not a good look, okay, because it means that you really weren't in the game, versus disappointment. And yesterday was strictly a look of disappointment. I think that that's a big, big, big difference.
Q. You mentioned the two major errors that Jimmy made yesterday, the strip sack being one of them. When you said that it made me think that that kind of looked like a mistake he would have made last year and not necessarily this year. It looked like he had advanced beyond that.
COACH WEIS: Well, the only thing in his defense, he never saw the guy. You know, usually you can feel the guy, but he felt the guy was already pushed by him. You know, so the guy just kind of reached out with his hand and knocked the ball out of his hand.
So I don't think he was being careless with the ball, I think that he just felt that the guy was being watched by him already, and he was ready to step up and throw the ball at the time. Because he never anticipated the ball to be touched, that's what caused that.
Q. Could you clarify that Michael Floyd was trying the lateral at all? Was he trying to do that?
COACH WEIS: How would Golden know? Golden's on the far left, running the goal line. How's he going to know what we're doing?
Q. He had an opinion afterwards.
COACH WEIS: Golden had an opinion. Well, Tom, that wasn't part of the drawing in the dirt play. Really we had two options. Get in the end zone if you couldn't get in the end zone, trying to get down before the clock ran out.
I think Michael was trying to score. I think that's what he was trying to do.
Q. What when you say saw it on tape, any thoughts on it?
COACH WEIS: I could be like a lot of other coaches and sit there and whine about everything right there and give my analysis of how.
Here's what I thought had happened. I thought they pulled him down with three or four seconds to go. We were then going to spike the ball. When we spiked the ball they had 12 guys on the field. So even if there was one second to go, it would have been a 12-men on the field penalty on them, and we would have gotten one more play.
Okay, in reality, what happened is they got buzzed. This is from what I understand. They got buzzed before we spiked the ball and ruled that the ball was out and they recovered the ball, and that was it.
You know, what good does it do for me -- I mean, I sat there and watched the play 50 times this morning myself. In none of those 50 times did I have the answer to the test. I mean, was it out? Was his shoulder down? Was his shoulder down? To this time, I don't know that.
The only problem I have with that is if I couldn't tell after watching it 50 times and the ruling was that he's down, then, you know, maybe there's a TV copy or something that has a better look at it than what I watched.
But I'm not going to sit there and whine about it and take away from their win and our loss. I'm just saying from my perspective, I just find it tough to believe with as little evidence as I was able to see, that there's enough evidence to overrule it.
But you could flip back a minute and a half earlier. You know, you go the other way, you can go a minute and a half earlier where they have that catch that is a non-catch and say was there evidence that the ball is out early or not? I don't know that either, you know.
So there's nothing I can do about it after the fact. It's just rationally thinking, I have a tough time imagining how it could have gone the way it did.
Q. It seemed like there was some confusion there as far as what they were looking at? Can you talk about the difference between the replays in college and in the NFL?
COACH WEIS: First of all, the replay in the NFL is handled by the referee on the field. So when you saw that whole pow-wow of North Carolina's whole staff around the referee, really it was irrelevant that they're all around it because they can't talk them into or out of anything. They're just being told by upstairs what's happening.
My biggest complaint in not particularly with this game only, is when you have split crews handling the field versus the replay. So you have a Big East crew on the field, and you have an ACC replay official, okay? Just like if we were -- you know, just the opposite. If it's a Pac-10 crew on the field, it's a Big East replay official.
You know, there's a lot of times where, you know, they just don't seem like they're in sync. Whether I like it or not, I think that probably the best thing would be to have that replay official work in conjunction with his crew, you know. So there's a lot less of these yip-ups that happen in these games.
Q. Can they look at anything?
COACH WEIS: Yes, they can look at that. When you review, once you decide to review anything, anything can come up from that review. So once you review one thing, something else could come up. But there's only certain things that can be reviewed.
Once again, they're buzzing it, so there isn't really anything that I could do about it. They buzz it. We're just getting ready. We were on top of what was going to happen here. We knew if Michael got tackled, it was going to be a first down and we're going to have to go up there and spike the ball to give us one more play. That we did know.
So my guys were on top of that. They knew that Michael was short. They were at the line of scrimmage ready to spike the ball and they did. And if they hadn't been buzzed, they would have found there were 12 guys on the field, and we would have had one more play with a chance to win.
But according to them, they had the buzz, and why am I to second guess that?
Q. David Bruton wasn't out there on special teams, is there a reason why?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, he had tweaked his hammy or his calf earlier in the week. So we had to decide where we were going to protect him. We decided if we were going to protect him, we didn't want him long stride on kickoff coverage and punt coverage, so that's where we he protected him.
Q. You compared this team to '06 maybe as an identity?
COACH WEIS: Can I just interrupt. What I said is when I go back and look at the numbers, which I have not looked at one bit at this point, but after the next three days we'll look at the numbers. I feel that's probably about where we are at the halfway point.
You know, I'd like to think at the end of the year that it would be greatly to our advantage this year than it was in that year.
Q. To the point that this team could be better?
COACH WEIS: I would expect the statistics, statistical analysis via Tom over here, I would expect the stats to be better at the end of the year.
Q. You're not one to say a whole lot surprises you. But when you look at this team at the halfway point, has anything surprised you about this squad?
COACH WEIS: I just feel disappointed for the team that we're sitting here with two losses at the halfway mark. That's really what surprised me. Everyone else's expectations were lower based off how last year went. But I'm disappointed to be sitting here at 4 and 2 right now, very disappointed.
Q. I'm sure you'll get into this more during the week, but how do you feel about your run defense right now and its ability to hold up when a team really commits to pounding the ball?
COACH WEIS: Well, what did they rush for a little over 100 yards yesterday? When it looked like they're guessing you, at the end of the day you look at the stats and they averaged under four yards per carry. That's still 3.8 a carry. Are they making some plays? Yeah, they're making some plays. But at the end of the day they seem to hold up, hold up, and eventually make a play.
You know, I don't know what exactly they are, but I think that they average about 3.8 rush for a little over 100 yards or whatever it adds up being. Usually, eventually, they make it a key play to keep them from scoring.
Q. This week with the fundamentals and the techniques, is there an opportunity for you to give some work to guys that maybe don't play a whole lot?
COACH WEIS: Not only is there, they're going to get an opportunity. We'll hold some of our older guys. Not all of them. It's not going to be like in the past I've held the whole first squad. That's not happening. Okay. But we'll hold know Mo Crum, we'll hold David Bruton, we'll hold Pat Kuntz, and we'll hold David Grimes. There's guys that we'll hold.
But whether guys are banged up or whether we just want to give them rest, we'll hold some guys. But there are a lot of first team reps and a lot of guys who are down because there won't be any show teams this weekend. It will be all offense against defense.
Q. Is there any individual that jumps out?
COACH WEIS: The next two days, Dayne will be slinging it all over the place for the next two days. His arm will be sore by Wednesday.
Q. I'm curious, you have first and 10 on the 30-yard line, and 30-something seconds left. I've got to think at that point you're feeling good about it. What about the next three plays bothered you the most?
COACH WEIS: Well, there are two different plays in the next three plays. One was a vertical, and one was a high-low option route/in-cut. I think that in that situation if we could have gotten half of it first half of it first it would have been easier to be throwing to the end zone from the 15-yard line rather than throwing to the 30-year-old.
So if anything, I'd have liked to have gotten halfway home a little earlier so we weren't in the situation like we were at the end where you're trying to throw and get the ball down close there with a couple of seconds to go.
Q. You've talked about how advanced Mike Floyd is at this point. How limited or unlimited is what you can count on him to do versus what you want out of any receiver?
COACH WEIS: We've exposed him to a lot. Now it's not perfect. But I'm telling you what, he plays a lot closer to a veteran than he does a young guy.
I've been very impressed with his mental capabilities and his polish for being a young guy. As I said, it's never perfect, but he's far ahead of any expectation I would have had for him mentally.
Q. I think he returned, if I'm not mistaken, he returned kicks and stuff. Is it too early to put some of that stuff on him whether it's returning kicks or doing other things in the offense, or is that something you can foresee happening at point this year or what?
COACH WEIS: Actually, we do practice him on punt returns every day. He is one of our guys that is repping him the most right there. We just haven't gotten to that spot yet. He hasn't worked on kickoff returns, but he hasn't worked on punt returns.
Q. Just lastly about Floyd, I know you worry about some of the freshmen getting the prima donna attitude, and that's probably the reason why they don't talk to us repeatedly during the year. How does he handle this sort of thing? When I talked to him even in high school he seemed sort of pretty low key. Is he just kind of going along here?
COACH WEIS: He's very humble. But he has -- he's got quiet confidence. But he's a very humble kid. He's very level headed. He's a great kid. I mean, it's tough not to like this kid. You know, he'll never act like a prima donna, no chip on his shoulder. I've been very impressed.
Q. I know John Goodman hasn't played. How has he progressed kind of running on the scout team, and what's he kind of done over the past six or seven weeks?
COACH WEIS: Actually, he's been one of the guys that's I've been very pleased with on the scout team. Now both those two young receivers, both John and Deion have made significant progress from the beginning of the year to now.
This will be a very interesting week for them, because they're going to get a whole bunch of reps with the big boys this week because those guys have earned the right to be into that mix. I've been very pleased with John's progress.
Q. I'm guessing plan now is not necessarily to play with either one of those guys at this point this year, right?
COACH WEIS: At this point they'd be sitting at 7 and 8, you know, as far as the numbers go. So, you know, at this point they'd have to get into that top six before I'd be thinking in that direction.
Q. Nate Montana didn't travel. I know you had said at one point he might be the guy to close out a game if you really needed that. Do you have see a point where that would have been him at this point on the road?
COACH WEIS: No, that would have been Evan at this point. I think that Evan hasn't gotten any time yet, so what I made the decision is the guy that really needs to get a little work in case something were to happen to Jimmy, the guy who really needs to get the work would be Evan, so I'd want to get him every rep I could possibly give him.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.
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