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October 29, 2008

Jimmy Clausen

David Grimes

BRIAN HARDIN: Good afternoon. This is Brian Hardin at Notre Dame. We have David Grimes and Jimmy Clausen at the front table. We'll start with questions.

Q. David, give us the weekly health update. I think you declared yourself ready.
DAVID GRIMES: Pretty good. I talked to Coach (Weis); told him I wanted to give it a go this week. He said, 'We'll see how you move around in practice,' stuff like that.

Q. How did you feel yesterday?
DAVID GRIMES: Felt pretty good. Ran around a little bit, be involved. I felt pretty good overall.

Q. After four or five weeks of running no huddle, how do you feel it's coming along?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I think it's going pretty good. I think we're executing real well. Linemen are doing a great job of pass protecting, as well as the backs. Receivers and tight ends are making plays.

Q. What's different from a more conventional system?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I think it's just a faster pace. You're getting the play call from the sideline. The guys have wristbands on. I think it's just a faster pace. I think we dictate how the speed of the game's going to go.

Q. You say you get a signal from the sideline. You kind of bark things out?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah. Get a signal from the sideline, tell the offensive line the protection, the backs the plays, relay it out to the receivers.

Q. Is it harder to run on the road with noise or other complications?
DAVID GRIMES: The crowd is against you, making noise, screaming, but it's not that difficult. We just come in a little closer so we can hear the call and line up accordingly.

Q. Jimmy, talk about the job Mike Turkovich has done protecting this year.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: He's done a great job. Coming in from last year, it was between him and Paul Duncan. They battled it out throughout spring ball and camp. Turk's done a great job this whole season, just like the rest of the offensive line. They've done a great job.

Q. Talk about just how important that position is in general for a quarterback. You've been trying to develop some continuity together. How big is that left side overall?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: It's real big. When you have a right-handed quarterback, the blindside is always a position that's real big for the offensive line. Same goes for a left-handed quarterback; the (right) tackle is real big.
But, you know, he's done a great job this whole year. You know, hopefully they're just going to keep getting better each and every week.

Q. Jimmy, for the road, do you have different hand signals in case it is too loud? Is it all verbal?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: We have some hand signals that we use. Like David said, most of the time they just come in a little bit closer so they can hear the call.

Q. Have you had to use hand signals yet this year?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: In different situations we have.

Q. With James Aldridge, have you seen a difference in him over the past few weeks, maybe confidence level, anything like that?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: All I can say about James is he's just running real hard. In practice you can see it. Especially in the games, you know, third downs, fourth-down situations, goal line, James has helped this team tremendously the past few weeks.

Q. Is that more of a relief for you? You guys have struggled to convert those third-and-shorts, second-and-shorts, fourth-and-shorts. Now you're having much more success. Does that ease the burden a little bit?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: It obviously does when I don't have to either throw it or run it or quarterback sneak to get a first down. You just hand the ball off to James or whoever the back is at the time and let them get the first down.

Q. Jimmy, Coach Weis was talking yesterday about the offense. What was it about the second quarter that you didn't do quite as well as you did in the first and third?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I'd say I was off rhythm in the second quarter. It's hard when the offense is in third-and-long situations, fourth-and-19 situations, where you have to throw the ball in order to get the first down. It was different than the first and third quarter when we were dictating whether we're going to throw it or run it. So the defense did change.

Q. David, Michael Floyd (indiscernible) and set the new freshman record. Can you talk about how great an achievement that is for a wide receiver to be playing so well and achieving such great things?
DAVID GRIMES: I think it's great, you know, just as a football player, some of the things he's accomplished. But for him to just be a freshman, it just goes to show how hard he's worked, what kind of person he is, what kind of athlete he is.
With Michael Floyd, the sky's the limit for that kid. He's displaying his talent.

Q. Jimmy, is it more a matter of at this point you guys expect him to do great things than being surprised at what he does each week?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, you know, we expect everyone to perform at a high level. As you can see right now, Mike's performing at a pretty high level. It's helping the team out a lot.

Q. How nice of a target is he for a quarterback?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: He's a great target. You know, he's about 6'3", 6'4", a guy with great hands that can run, stretch the field, so...

Q. Talk about right now being 5-2. Obviously being in a good position moving forward for the rest of the season. Now you're back at home, looking to protect the home field like you've been doing all season.
DAVID GRIMES: I think this is a better situation for our team, being we're 5-2 and our next game is at home where we've won all our home games. We feel most comfortable here.
So, you know, this is an ideal situation for us.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, you know, same thing. We're in a good spot right now. We just got to keep pushing the pedal, get another victory on Saturday.

Q. As an offense, seeing a team give up 54 points last week, as a quarterback seeing a quarterback throw six touchdown passes against the team you're facing, what goes through your mind when you see something like that going into this week's game?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: when I saw it, I was kind of surprised because Pitt's defense is one of the best defenses in the country. If you watch the tape, they gave up a few long passes for touchdowns. In previous games, they didn't do that. Their defense is real good.
We're just going to have to do what we do, drive the ball down the field, put touchdowns on the board.

Q. Are you guys more looking at it as something you don't expect that could happen again, that last week was an odd week from them, compared to what you can normally expect to see from that team?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I think it was an odd week for them. But this is college football; anything can happen on any given day. We just have to be prepared for Saturday, hopefully come out with a victory.

Q. Do you suspect maybe Pittsburgh was looking to you guys last week against Rutgers?
DAVID GRIMES: To be honest, not sure. But, you know, I don't know. I really can't answer that question. I think it's a question for Pittsburgh. There could be some speculation around here, but we're not worried about that. We're confident in our guys.

Q. Jimmy, from what you saw of them on tape this last week, dramatically different from anything you've seen previously in the season?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, previously they've been able to stop the run, stop the pass. They're a real physical defense up front. Their secondary likes to come down, play the run. The two corners outside are pretty good.
To see what Rutgers did to them surprised me a little bit.

Q. Coach Haywood was saying yesterday Pittsburgh blitzes 22% of the time, which probably by today's standards is a little bit low.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, that's low.

Q. Do you look at that as when you're blitzed you're under pressure but there are a lot of things you can gain by that? What is a better advantage for you: a team that doesn't blitz as much and sits back, or one that you can take advantage of by their overaggressiveness?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: It just depends. To be honest, I think it just depends on what play is called at the time. When teams are blitzing, obviously there's going to be holes open to be able to gash them in the run game or throw. But if they're not blitzing, I think you can do the same exact thing. There's not going to be as many holes in the passing game.
It's just different in different situations.

Q. David, when you study an opposing team's secondary, what are some of the characteristics or telltale signs you're looking for?
DAVID GRIMES: First just what particular coverages they like to run. Do they like to press? Inside leverage, outside leverage. How aggressive they are. Do they like to play physical or, you know, play a shadow technique? That's pretty much it.

Q. What are you looking for, Jimmy?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I first start off by just watching their coverages, what they like to do up front, blitzes. I try to study the linebackers and the corners and safeties just to see what they like to do, what their tendencies are in different coverages, stuff like that.

Q. Golden (Tate) obviously had some chances to run the ball last week. What strikes you about Golden's ability to do so many different things?
DAVID GRIMES: Obviously Golden is a tremendous athlete. I guess our coaches think when they can get the ball in his hands, it's best for our team. So, you know, Golden is a play-maker. I'm up for him having the ball in his hands.
BRIAN HARDIN: Thanks, everyone.

End of FastScripts

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