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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 4, 2008
COACH WEIS: Good afternoon. Obviously Boston College is sitting in a similar situation as us, 5-3. They've had our number lately. Beat us five straight and six out of seven. One of the things they've done very well in their non-conference games since 2004, they've actually won 20 in a row of non-conference games.
Coach (Jeff) Jagodzinski there for the second year, Steve Logan came along with him as the offensive coordinator last year and they're scoring 28 (points) a game and rushing for 150 (yards) and throwing for 185 (yards). One area where they've been exceptionally good statistically this year is going for it on 4th down, which is something our defense has to be ready for because they've gone for it 18 times and converted 72 percent of the time.
As I've studied our quarters, the quarter that they've done the best this year is the third quarter, where they've outscored their opponents 49-13 and offensively they've only allowed 10 sacks (this season).
Now, everyone will say because they lost a quarterback last year when he went on to the (Atlanta) Falcons that there would be a huge drop-off, but Chris Crane has done a nice job for them. He's been the back-up for the last couple of years. He's a senior who has kind of paid his dues and waited his time.
He's not the same type of quarterback (as Matt Ryan). He's actually a guy who likes to run the ball a little bit more, not afraid to run it. They actually do run some read options with him actually carrying the ball. The other thing, if he doesn't see something in the passing game open, he's not afraid to pull it down and go with it. He does a nice job feeling pressure and avoiding the rush and getting out of the pocket and throwing the ball away when he's under duress.
At running back I think we'll probably see two guys. They're both freshmen. Probably see (Josh) Haden as the starter. He's been their starter, last week 15 carries for 71 yards. He's not a big guy, but he runs hard. He's very quick and he's also a good receiver out of the back field. (Montel) Harris is the other guy we'll see, also a freshman. He's not that much different than Haden. He's not that much different. They're not real big guys but both backs that run real hard.
At fullback (James) McCluskey is their starting fullback. He's more athletic than most fullbacks we go against. He's a good receiver out of the back field. They're not afraid to put him as a one back in one back sets when they're in the shotgun.
At tight end, (Ryan) Purvis is their starter, big guy, six-four, 260, good hands, good receiver, runs good routes. He really gives good effort in both protection and especially in the run game. Lars Anderson is the other kid we'll see there who is their second tight end.
Moving on to wide receiver. (Brandon) Robinson is their Z. He's a returning starter at wide receiver. He started every game this year. He's their most productive receiver. He's got 27 catches for 444 (yards), averaging over 16 yards a catch.
(Rich) Gunnell, he was the guy who was the returning team leader receiving yardage from a year ago. We'll see him play at Z, but more often than not he usually comes in at the slot and does a good job as a guy who catches the ball well from the slot position.
They also use another guy at Z, a real tall guy, (Ifeanyi) Momah, who is six-six, 225. And where they really like to put him in the game is in the red zone. After watching (Jonathan) Baldwin playing the other day I could see them seeing some things that happened in the game and try to use him the same way.
At X, (Justin) Jarvis, he's a junior, wide receiver who adds some size. He's another six-five guy. (Clarence) Megwa had a serious leg injury. Looks to me like he's gone, so looks like Jarvis will be the guy.
The offensive line, it's a nice composition of players. (Anthony) Castonzo who started against us last year at right tackle, he's moved over to left tackle. He's done a nice job for them transition. He's shown he's athletic with some feet. (Clif) Ramsey who was their right guard moved over to left guard in the spring.
The whole offensive line really starts with (Matt) Tennant. He's their center, most experienced guy they've got. He started 22 games. He's athletic. Reminds me a lot of Dan Koppen, to tell you the truth. There's another BC guy who I coached. He gets on the second level, he moves okay, he's a 'tries-hard guy.' Plays physical.
(Thomas) Claiborne will start at right guard for them. He was a defensive lineman and moved over to the offensive line and won the job in the spring. Another guy with good strength and physical. He has good strength, he plays physical, he's 325 pounds. As a matter of fact, that right side of their line with (Rich) Lapham right next to him, he's six-eight, 322. So they've got some big size over on the right side of their line. But the line is definitely anchored by Tennant.
Defense, Coach (Frank) Spaziani who I know very well and have a lot of respect for, defensive coordinator for 10 years, they're statistically in all sorts of categories, given up 19 points a game, which is 27th, 106 yards rushing in the game, which is 19th. Only giving up 3.2 per carry. They're only giving up 168 yards passing in the game. That's 14th. Total yards, under 275. That's 10th.
Okay. In the red zone people aren't scoring touchdowns. They've only scored touchdowns 42 percent of the time, and they've got 21 sacks this season, which is 28th in the country. So they're statistically up there in a whole bunch of different categories. Last week, for example, they had three interceptions and two sacks against Clemson.
Now, their defensive line starts with the two big bodies inside. I think that we'll talk about their ends but it all starts with -- they play eight guys on the defensive line, but (Ron) Brace and (B.J.) Raji, these guys are big guys, they're both well over 300 pounds. They're very good against the run. They're big physical players, and one of the reasons why they're playing so good on -- solid on defense is because it all starts with those two guys up front.
Giles will handle their left defensive end. He got in there after Albright hurt his neck. So he took over for him and Ramella, he's on the other side and he's probably as athletic a guy that they're playing with and he plays hard.
Now, at linebacker, the guy who is their big adjuster in all they do, which gives them a lot of versatility, is (Mark) Herzlich. You'll see him all over the field, plays physical. He's a good tackler, smart, tough, runs to the ball. From what it looks like to me, he looks like a leader on that defense.
(Mike) McLaughlin, and (Robert) Francois, he'll play their will. They lost Brian Toal, was a big loss for him. I've known the Toal family a long time, so I wish Brian well. His father is a big high school coach from Jersey that I have a lot of respect for.
Their secondary, I'll name a bunch of guys, which is unusual because we don't usually get into this. But, first of all, it starts with (Kevin) Akins. Now, he starts as their boundary corner, but when they go to nickel he moves inside to linebacker, which is a very unusual combination. And he also, when they run this odd package, he's the guy that will walk all over the place. So he's six-two, 224, starting at boundary corner and they don't ask him to back out of there a lot of the time. He plays a hard corner. He's physical and he'll hit you. But he gives them a lot of versatility. It's interesting how he goes from corner to an inside guy when they go to nickel. When he does that, Rollins will come in for him.
At the field corner, they'll play either (DeLeon) Gause or (Donnie) Fletcher. At strong safety they'll play (Marcellus) Bowman or (Paul) Anderson. And Anderson really is going to start at free safety. It's him or Wes Davis. There's three guys that play. Anderson, Davis and Bowman handle the two safety positions.
Coach (Don) Yanowsky, he handles the special teams. Biggest problem we have is their punt returns are averaging just under 15 yards a punt return. (Steve) Aponavicius, he handles their place kicking. (Billy) Bennett is the kick-off guy. Didn't play last week. Not sure of the details why he didn't play last week. I don't know if he's playing this week or not. When he didn't kick off last week, Aponavicius handled one kick off and (Ryan) Quigley, their punter, handled the rest of them.
Their holder is Billy Flutie, also back-up punter, and long snapper is (Jack) Geiser. On kick-off return they'll use (Jeff) Smith and (Montel) Harris. Smith has a reputation as an All-American type kick-off returner and (Rich) Gunnell will handle the punt returns.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Charlie, going back to the Stanford game, which you guys won, it seems the offense has had trouble grinding out first downs, keeping the clock running in the second half. What's the issue with that? Is there anything, any, I guess, specific reasons why?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that when you're running things on offense, it isn't just grinding it out and the running game. I think the complexion of how a game goes has a lot to do with how you call a game.
I mean, sometimes as you're grinding it out and getting first downs or not getting first downs, you're content with playing a field position game. Other times you're just, you know, saying the heck with that, we don't have to play a field position game.
But the complexion of games sometimes changes as all of a sudden -- let's say you're shutting the team's offense down and all of a sudden they start kicking it into gear. The complexion of the game, there's ebbs and flows that happen in a game. So I think each game has its own set of circumstances that come with that.
Q. You'll hear fans or media get frustrated about, quote, being too conservative, sitting on a lead. But there's reasons why you can't just go bombs away, right, when you're up three touchdowns in a second half?
COACH WEIS: You can definitely go bombs away. But when you're up two or three touchdowns, what you're trying to do is do whatever you can to score another one. But do it within -- doing it within the team element, you know -- when we've gone into every game, what we do is devise a complementary game plan that intertwines the offense, defense and special teams, and you come up with what you feel you're going to have to do to win a specific game and try to play the game accordingly.
Q. Do you kind of know going in maybe what if you're up two touchdowns, you know second half we can keep passing on this team or this is a team we can run on, do you think those things through?
COACH WEIS: You do that some at halftime, but there's the feeling in the game whether or not you've got the team reeling or not.
I'll give you an example. Like I'm not rehashing last week's game that much because I'm off to Boston College, but last week on offense they had 71 yards of total offense. So you're coming in at halftime. They're sitting there with 71 yards of total offense. You're feeling pretty good about your chances, just as long as you keep on doing what you're doing.
And all of a sudden the momentum starts to go the other way, then you have to go ahead and react accordingly.
Q. Coach, you talked a little bit about how BC's had Notre Dame's number. How far back do you go with his team or does it not apply because you only go to last year or what?
COACH WEIS: I go back to last year. That's it. That's as far as I go back. We played them last year. I thought it was a competitive game. We had some games last year that weren't competitive. This wasn't one of them. They were a really good football team last year with a lot of veteran guys playing for them. I thought with you slugged it out good with them, but that quarterback made a few too many plays.
Q. Any thoughts on the rivalry between the two schools?
COACH WEIS: Just that I lived in New England for nine years. I lived up there. And I know that there's a lot of very similar compositions in the schools. I have a lot of respect for Boston College, and I know that they'd like nothing more than beating Notre Dame. And conversely we'd like nothing more than beating them just the same.
But I know that living up there for nine years, I think that you could see that this would be one of the ones that they've got a big asterisk on their schedule.
Q. Any thoughts after the game about the next 24, 48 hours being crucial, how do you think that went?
COACH WEIS: You need to ask them. It might not have been very pleasant. I think that yesterday morning probably didn't start off too well for the fellows. Okay. But by yesterday afternoon I think things were on track. It wasn't a good start of the day.
Q. A little off topic, have you heard from Brady since he --
COACH WEIS: We chatted last evening, yes, we did.
Q. How about with today being election day, do you talk to the team at all about what that means to the country?
COACH WEIS: I will probably address that briefly. I think that it's important for me to not show a political favorite here, just talk about the importance of elections.
But right now the election I'm worrying about is going up to Boston, going up to Chestnut Hill to see if we can't do some damage right there.
I've already casted my vote.
Q. Is this BC defense the best defense you've faced up to this point?
COACH WEIS: Statistically, it's not close. They're a lot different than a lot of the teams we've played because they've shown statistically they're good against both the run and the pass. Normally when you go against a team, they're statistically -- you know, if they're good on defense, usually there's one side that they do the best. Like they'll shut down the running game. And everyone has to throw against them.
But people have had trouble running against them and people have had trouble throwing against them. So I would say they're definitely the most balanced solid defense that we've gone against.
Q. You obviously already have a road victory, but this one's a little bit different. What's the point of emphasis this week heading back to the road?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that this will be a very hostile crowd on Saturday night a little bit after 8:00, and could be a little rainy and looking at the weather report, and giving all those students from Boston College a whole day to prepare to be ready for that game and it's a small stadium and it's right on top of you, it's kind of like "us against the world" mentality, which I think that that's the way the players are going to have to go in there.
Q. I know you don't talk about injuries and I'm not asking for an injury report, but just wonder if Jimmy Clausen got banged around a little bit Saturday, did that impact him, say, in overtime when he missed on a couple of throws?
COACH WEIS: He's on the injury report every week. So it's a whole litany of different things. But was he banged up? Was he banged up during the game? Sure, he got sacked one time, though. I mean it wasn't like he got hit a whole bunch of times.
I don't think that that had an impact on us winning or losing.
Q. Pittsburgh's defensive line seemed to do a better job of rushing Clausen in the overtime. Did you feel your offensive line wore down a little bit with the extra time on the field?
COACH WEIS: What play are you referring to?
Q. I'm not referring to any specific play. But they started putting more heat on Clausen in the overtime period.
COACH WEIS: I don't think the offensive line wore down. I don't think it was that type of game. We threw the ball and ran the ball pretty close to the same amount. We threw it a little bit more than we ran it. I think we threw it 44 times, ran it 30 some times.
I don't feel that they were worn down, no.
Q. You said what one play, there was a play where they had a three-man rush and got to him or made him step up and vary his throw.
COACH WEIS: I don't remember exactly the play -- I'm not being evasive. I just don't remember exactly the one you're talking about. If you told me I'd probably remember. But I just don't remember it.
Q. Just following up on your Chris Stewart report on Sunday, where does that --
COACH WEIS: He had an MRI yesterday that we'll get the results back from today. I would imagine -- just from looking at him, I would imagine he'd be gone for a little while. And based off of MRI it could be when they come back he might have to get it scoped.
But I don't want to be premature in what I'm saying, but just looking at him it didn't look like he'd be ready for a while. So that just means we move Trevor (Robinson) up and let's go.
Q. Speaking of Trevor, can you talk about why he's been able to play as a true freshman, what's brought him to that point, and then kind of as you look, project into the future what you see him getting better at?
COACH WEIS: First of all, he's a good, young football player. But here's a perfect case, not that I'm a big supporter of mid-year guys, but I think the reason why he's in position to be more competitive as a freshman is the fact that he had gone through the spring, and that kind of gives you a jump-start.
Now, when you're coming into training camp it isn't like you're hearing it for the first time. Now you're hearing it for the second time. And I think with his athletic ability, okay, together with the fact that he was here in the spring, I think that gave him a chance to be much more competitive as we led him to the fall.
Q. I wonder how Jimmy's good cop/bad cop session went and knowing again that the kid is sort of on the injured list every week, do you have to be careful how much bad cop is in there knowing that you are getting pretty good effort?
COACH WEIS: Not yesterday.
Q. How was Brandon Walker in practice, when he came back to practice?
COACH WEIS: He was already better by Sunday. Psychologically he was already better. He had already gone through it. We had the conversation on the field. Had the conversation in the locker room.
As a matter of fact, I only called one player on Saturday night when I went home. The one player I called when I went home Saturday night was him, to tell you the truth. I'm not in the big habit on Saturday night after a loss to call up everyone and ask them how they're doing. But he was the one person I did.
But I think Brandon will be fine.
Q. Following up with a Brady Quinn question. Is there something that you can share about that conversation, something that he said to you or that you said to him?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I'll give you one a little anecdote. He said, 'well, it's the same as every week. I prepare the same every week.' I said, 'hey, Brady that's a bunch of garbage; you can tell it to someone else who wants to hear that stuff.' I go, 'you can say you're preparing the same every week, but it's the one thing when you're the back-up, the other thing is when you're the starter,' which is exactly what I said, 'you can tell somebody else that wants to hear that.'
Q. When you spread out in your five-wide, it's been good for you now. It's been a change-up a lot of times. Is it possible to do that throughout a game?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, the only problem is when people -- there's two things that teams do that put a little extra thinking when you do this. One is you go five wide and they just bring six guys. You've got five to block six. And it forces you every time you're out there, you're going to have to be ready to throw the ball quick, and you're going to be ready to get the quarterback hit.
And I'm not really big on getting the quarterback hit on free runs that often. Number one. Number two, what a lot of teams do on the complete flip side of that is they just rush three guys and they drop eight. So now you've got five guys out there, but like you'll see in the last couple of games, you saw it in North Carolina. You saw it in Pitt. Now they're in five under three deep.
So now the windows to throw the ball become that much smaller, too. So those two extremes are the things that you have to guard against.
Everything in between becomes throw and catch. But those are the two -- when you're practicing, you can't just line up in a four-man rush every time because that's not what people do on every play.
Q. And because you don't have a running quarterback, is that why maybe it works better as a change-up than as your bread and butter?
COACH WEIS: Because what a lot of teams will do when they get into that is when they go a three-man rush, tell them to pull it down and go. That's not really our deal.
Q. Curious about the dynamics of the play calling. After the game you said you would call formation and then Coach Haywood would then put in a play. Is that how it goes for the entire game? Are there different circumstances?
COACH WEIS: When we go no-huddle it goes that way. And all's that is is to go ahead and get the guys lined up.
See, when I can quickly -- when he looks over, right when the play is over and I give him a formation, now Michael has time to look down to that formation and decide what play he's going to run and the guys can kind of go to the right areas, can get to the right areas while we're waiting for the play to come in.
Remember, when we're going no huddle and it's not two minute, there's not a sense of urgency at the time. So it's just trying to get everyone kind of lined up to the right spot while we're waiting for the play to come in.
All it does is expedites getting people lined up so that once the play, once Michael does give the play to Ron and then Ron signals the number of the play in, now everyone can get ready to go.
Q. Why is it that you call the formation? Is it just to expedite things?
COACH WEIS: It's just to push them to get them to get lined up. There's only -- wherever the ball is, there's only a couple of formations we line up in. We might line up in one of two formations. If the ball is on the right hash mark we're either going to line up in a two-by-two to the right or three-by-one to the left. That's the only two formations we're in.
So then Michael will have a list of plays of the two-by-two to the right and three-by-one to the left and pick from them. So it's really my active role is just to help them get lined up quicker while he's picking what we're going to end up doing.
Q. So he's not handcuffed by necessarily because --
COACH WEIS: Oh, no. There's a big volume in both those formations. And there's runs, play actions, drop-backs and both those formations. So that doesn't get your hands tied behind your back.
Q. Have you tweaked anything with Coach Haywood as the season moved along? Are you basically using the same process you were for San Diego State when it comes to discussing plays?
COACH WEIS: Everything is the same except for when we go into the huddle. When we go into the huddle, which we do a lot, like when James (Aldridge) is in the game and we're just pounding away, now it's just huddle calls. Now everyone goes in the huddle, we huddle, and he gives -- once again, give Ron (Powlus) the number of the play and Jimmy just calls the play.
Q. In a huddle does Coach Haywood do the formation and --
COACH WEIS: No, every play that we have, okay, has a formation and a play. So if he wants play 43, that's the play we run. He wants to put it in left formation, he'll say flip 43. And then it will be in left formation. It's a very simple process. Been doing it for the last 20 years. So it's not that difficult.
Q. Washington obviously is fairly easy win, obviously when you look at the scoreboard and whatnot. The tougher games, do you interject more? Do you try to stay clear? Does it make any difference what's going on the field as far as your role?
COACH WEIS: I'm pretty much the same in every game. It does make a difference whether it's a tight game or it's a big game one way or another. I'll say, hey, I'll say, you've got to reel them. Like if you're running the ball and you just ran it four times in a row for 10 yards a pop, I'll say, you know, you've got them reeling, but if you're throwing the ball all over the place, go ahead, keep doing it.
Q. As far as scripting plays, how much input do you have? Is that all Coach Haywood?
COACH WEIS: When you're in no-huddle there's hardly any scripting of plays. Scripting of plays is only related to when you're huddling. When you're no-huddling -- because you don't know where the ball is going to go, therefore those formations we were talking about, you don't know if the ball is going to be in the right hash or left hash or in the middle of the field. Therefore, you don't know what formation is going to be up. So therefore you can't have a play dialed up next.
Q. Can you give us an idea of what made yesterday morning unpleasant?
COACH WEIS: What made yesterday morning unpleasant? Well, I'd already decided that the best thing to do -- normally what happens on a Monday is a Monday the previous game gets carried over from the morning into the afternoon before you start really get going on the next game.
And I felt the best thing to do would be to get the previous game out of the way in the morning so that by the time we came here in the afternoon you weren't dealing with a previous game anymore. So I was the one who took care of the previous game. And then in the afternoon the assistant coaches got to get working on the next game.
So I was the bad cop.
Q. So it was more in talking about the game, not necessarily the drills they had to do or the --
COACH WEIS: No, it was the talk about the game, very clearly. It was the talk about the game. The drills were a side bar. They were irrelevant in comparison to the start of the meeting, let's just say that.
Q. You got a sense in the afternoon that the team was -- put Pittsburgh behind them?
COACH WEIS: You could tell very clearly that we had moved on. Because I also -- when you do something like that, also the assistant coaches were -- under my guidance were, say, okay, fellows, I've already taken care of that stuff. Now let's start dealing with the things that I was talking about by getting a team ready to go against Boston College.
So what I didn't want to do is me hammer them and them hammer them and it prolonged into the day and now you leave here on Monday no better than when you left on Saturday.
But that was not the case yesterday.
Q. And was there one message in general to them you're saying what you need to get behind you?
COACH WEIS: Yes, the message is it's not okay. You know, you lose a game and the people come to you, 'God, that was a tough game. Four overtimes, that was a good game. God, it was close.'
Well, from my standpoint, the message was it's not okay.
Q. Is that kind of a year ago that would have been okay, maybe. It's never okay to lose, but is this an idea that it's playing good is not good enough, winning is what has to be?
COACH WEIS: I'd say that that's a fair question. I'd say that's what it's all about. The second part is a fair question. Would it have been okay last year? It wouldn't have been okay last year either. It wouldn't have made any difference between last year and this year. But from here and now, it's definitely -- it's definitely a valid question and the answer would be yes.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the play of David Bruton this season?
COACH WEIS: Every time you turn around he's making 10 or 15 tackles, or has an interception or in the red zone he's made a bunch of plays in the red zone, whether it's strip sack fumble or -- for example, a play that a lot of people didn't even make a big deal out of, but Raeshon (McNeil) intercepts the ball and runs the ball down the red zone but then he gets strip sacked, and who is there to recover it? David Bruton.
Even though he didn't make the interception, there he is down the field and when the ball's laying on the ground -- because, after all that, and, okay, once Raeshon gets strip sacked when he's running with the ball, they could get the ball back and now the score at halftime is 10-3 instead of 17-3.
Q. I think back in August you said that when NFL coaches talked to you, he was the one name that came up the most often. Is that still the case?
COACH WEIS: There's not a doubt.
Q. Frequently this year or a couple times this year you mentioned that Golden being the fastest guy on the team. Golden said David beat him in a race and David said he's been pleading with you coaches to acknowledge that fact but you won't do it. Just wondering -- why you want to set him as being the fastest guy?
COACH WEIS: David is going back to his days when he was 180 pounds when he got here, when he was a track guy playing football. When you see David this week, you tell him he's now a football player that used to run track.
Q. He said he beat Golden in a 40-yard dash this summer and Golden said he did.
COACH WEIS: I can just tell you when you go on the field if Golden is running, he's running by David, just so you know that (Laughter).
Q. You mentioned how Boston College this week, big asterisk, it's a red letter day whenever Notre Dame comes to town. There's been a popular theory especially prevalent when Tom O'Brien was the coach, that this game is bigger to Boston College than Michigan, USC, big rivalry, only so many names but Boston College, this is significant. How do you match that type of intensity?
COACH WEIS: We're trying to change that this week. We have to, like you say, and that's definitely a fair -- that's also a fair statement. When you're playing all those games that, teams that you play year in, year out. Home and home and you have those games all the time.
But I'm putting a lot of importance on this game with the fellows this week. I don't think it's going to be -- by the time we play there, I don't think it's going to be any more important to them than it is to us.
Q. The disparity in tackles, the two safeties, David (Bruton) and Kyle (McCarthy), both 70s, over 50, is that an indictment maybe on the run defense or is it just everything is so set up that they end up cleaning up?
COACH WEIS: When you're a blitz zone team, which is what we are, when you're a blitz zone team, the down safety the is the guy who is in position to make most of the tackles. Because the guy who rotates down to a three deep side is usually the guy who doesn't have a hat on him and he's in the action.
Usually they can get a hat on everybody else, but the guy who they usually don't get a hat on is that safety. So he's really in the position -- he's in the best position to make a play if action's coming his way.
Q. Is it still too much of a disparity to be comfortable with that?
COACH WEIS: No, if you're going to block seven with seven and he's the eighth, he's the unblocked guy. That's why you do this defense. That's why you go ahead and bring a blitz zone. That's why when they blocked those other guys the one guy who rotates down is the guy who is unaccounted for. And in this defense, the guy who is probably going to be involved in the mix the most is going to be the safety rotated down to where the pressure's coming.
Q. Pitt used the Wildcat formation, something so popular even in the NFL running game?
COACH WEIS: Against the Patriots. I caught it.
Q. Even Bill Belichick got beat on something like that. What makes it so effective? From the untrained guy it looks like it's straight through the tail back?
COACH WEIS: It's really simple. You gain an extra blocker. You gain an extra blocker. If you think about it, the quarterback is the main ball carrier, which in our case is not the case. But the quarterback's on the field but he's outside. Somebody has to cover him. Even though he's not going out for a route most of the time, somebody has to -- so that's one guy you have to go cover a guy who is not even going out for a pass.
So really what you've done is you've gained an advantage because you've gained an extra blocker, because really football is played 11 on 10. There's 11 defensive guys and 10 offensive guys because the quarterback, unless he's going to carry the ball, which we don't do very often, they're one up on you.
But if the quarterback is now detached and the quarterback, the acting quarterback is actually the lead ball carrier, now it's 11 on 11.
Q. Would it be less likely that you would be able to use this because perhaps you don't have the running quarterback out there?
COACH WEIS: Oh, no, if we wanted to take Jimmy, go put him outside and snap the ball to Armando, one of those other guys, we could do that. I kind of like the ball in Jimmy's hands, to tell you the truth.
Q. Kind of following up on some of the questions about Jimmy before, has there been a point this season where he was so banged up you considered not playing him or pulling him?
COACH WEIS: No, there's never been a time this season where he was so banged up we wouldn't play him.
Q. And obviously you're going back to Boston this week. Your feelings on that since you did spend a decade there?
COACH WEIS: Well, both my kids were born there. Relatively close to where we're going to be. I've got a lot of memories there. A lot of good memories there. I've got some bad memories there, too, going through the problems with Hannah we had there. Trust me, there's a lot of bad memories there. Going through a bad operation. That doesn't bode too well for my memory banks early.
But I have a lot of close friends there. And I've let them all know that I won't be seeing them because I'm not going there to go hang out with my boys. I'm going there to help our team beat Boston College. That's one thing they don't get; you come into town, they figure you're just going to have all sorts of free time for them. It just doesn't work out that way.
Q. One more on the safeties. Kyle (McCarthy) and Dan (McCarthy), how are they similar? How are they different? They look like they're practically clones?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, they do look alike. Dan is more free safety-ish than Kyle. He has very good range. Kyle was a little smaller when he first got there. So when Kyle first got here, they were almost exactly the same as far as body types and everything. Now, Kyle's gotten a lot bigger since he's been here. So he's become more of a strong safety type than a free safety type.
I think one of the things that they're really looking forward to about the potential possibility of actually some time in the future being on the same field at the same time, I think that fires them up a little bit.
Q. How realistic is that? I guess it's more on Dan progressing at this point.
COACH WEIS: I mean, one guy's got to be able to -- has to apply for a fifth year and come back and the other guy's got to earn himself some time. Could I see that happening? Could I see both of those things happening? Yeah, I could see both of those things happening.
Q. Did they play the same way, the same attitude?
COACH WEIS: I know a lot more about Kyle now than I know about Dan. But they both had quarterback background too offensively. Both of them did. And both of them have very good instincts in the secondary.
Q. And has anything Kyle done, the way he's produced, like you said a lot of the defense is set up for the safeties to produce the way they are, but has it been more than you expected in some ways?
COACH WEIS: I think he's proven to be a very sure tackler, coming in, that's the big question, what are we going to do with safety. And I think he's shown to be one of the better players on our defense, to tell you the truth. He's been a very sure tackler. And the communication between him and David Bruton I think has been exceptional.
Q. Coach, you mentioned a couple, I think it was last week, and this was talking about being ranked. You said to be ranked you have to beat the better teams on your schedule. And forgetting about the ranking for a minute I'm wondering beating the better teams on the schedule are you kind of running out of time. Does this game have some added importance in that way in that to make that statement there aren't that many better teams left, I guess?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that, first of all, I think that if you just, you know, revisit like the North Carolina game and revisit the Pitt game, I mean the bottom line is being close just isn't good enough.
And I'm almost happy that we're playing Boston College this week after last week's game, because it gives the team another opportunity, as you're implying, but it gives the team another opportunity right off the bat, right after that four over time loss to go on the road and beat a good team.
Q. You also mentioned that you were going to go back early in the week with your own coaches and look at some of the things you did well, you do well, and maybe try to simplify and do more of that and maybe eliminate some mental mistakes. This is kind of a weird question, but do you feel like there's enough things you guys are doing well? Offensively, are there enough different things? I know the five wide and Jimmy throwing has been real successful. But offensively and defensively my question is do you think you have enough different things to hang your hat on?
COACH WEIS: Absolutely. We have a couple of young receivers on the outside that are getting big production. Quarterback's not getting sacked very much. The running backs, the running backs when they're carrying the ball usually are getting pretty good production.
Quarterback, knock on wood, the quarterback goes through the game throws it over 40 times has no picks. Defensively, pretty much kick their butt in the first half of the game. They go and scheme you a little bit and get back into the game. You get to overtime. Defense holds them without a score for four overtimes and the offense doesn't score a touchdown.
I mean, there's plenty of stuff just from that game alone that you could sit there and pick good and bad and I think that one of the things we did as a coach was to tried to harp on the good and just get rid of the bad.
Q. Okay. I guess my point was maybe misunderstood, or more than likely I didn't phrase the question very well. I meant the passing game and young receivers and the play makers have emerged there and Jimmy has been a strength week in, week out. There's something there. And I just wondered if you feel like there were that many other just absolute staples week in, week out, things you can count on and build around, because that's what I got a sense that you were talking about today when you were talking about simplifying a little bit?
COACH WEIS: No, I just thought that in the last game I just think that there were just too many -- I wouldn't say mental -- there were too many mental errors from my perspective. Now mental error to me might be something that's more particular than you would think.
For example, if a quarterback is in the shotgun and he catches the ball and takes one step, there's a certain timing route that goes with that. When he catches the ball and takes three steps, there's a different timing that goes with that. I'm just using that as an example of making sure we're more on mark to make sure we're all on the same page so everything works out whether it be the running game or passing game.
And that would be true on defense as well. You know you're bringing a lot of pressure. You're bringing a lot of heat. And even when you don't get to the quarterback, you gotta make sure that you're in the right spot, because in the first half you can hold them to 71 yards, and then the runner starts breaking through on the second half. You're really playing pretty much the same defense. You have to go back there and sit there and say, well, what did we do different, which really wasn't a whole heck of a lot, and how are they productive in the second half versus the first half, and then go ahead and fix it accordingly.
Q. This is somewhat of a timely question, but because you're playing BC and I work in Boston, it makes sense for me to ask, but right now in your first three plus seasons here, has coaching Notre Dame since you left the Patriots -- has it lived up to what you thought it would be and does anything stick out as not surprising or something that you did not see coming?
COACH WEIS: I love coaching at Notre Dame. I loved my coaching experience at New England as well. But I think that I'll always just -- and I'll always have a bunch of good friends and people I respect at New England, especially in the Patriot organization. But I think that this is my alma mater and this is my home and this is my life and I'm happy to be here.
Q. Is there anything about the job or just in general that has surprised you?
COACH WEIS: No. I wouldn't say surprised me. Like these guys are all sitting here in front of me kind of know this answer, but I'll give it to you. The big difference, you're in New England. Bill's the man, and it's his program and you just follow his lead because that's the Patriot way. Here, you're the man. And one thing that happens at Notre Dame, or I'm sure this is true at most colleges, you wear a lot of extra hats in addition to being a football coach.
It isn't just about coaching football. There's a lot of other facets that you have to deal with. So when you're an offensive coordinator just dealing with half of the team with the Patriots especially with a bunch of good players that are winning championships versus being the head man here where you're wearing a lot of hats, that's quite a difference.
Q. And how much better of a handle do you have on that now as opposed to, say, even maybe two years ago?
COACH WEIS: A ton. It's a ton different now from when I first got here. There's a lot of things as you grow, as you grow and continue for years and years, keep on looking for better ways of doing things. And the one thing you have to be willing to do is you have to be willing to change and listen and change and go in a different direction, if there's a better way of doing it, that's the way you gotta do it.
Q. This is probably old news to the guys there, but how is your knee doing and how does that affect you on a day-to-day basis?
COACH WEIS: My knee's doing crummy, thanks for asking. But I'm actually going to in the near future have an MRI and find out exactly the extent of where we are and if I'm getting it fixed. I already have a couple of tentative dates that I would get it fixed. But the problem is you have to go right on the road recruiting as soon as the regular season is over, boom, you're on the road recruiting, so you really can't get it done as expeditiously as you would like to. So we'll just have to wait and see and find out exactly what the results are first.
Q. And I guess sort of aside from the pain it causes, does that affect you on a day-to-day basis? Is it hard to do your job because of that?
COACH WEIS: No, as a matter of fact, it doesn't really do much other than the fact that when I'm up and walking around, you know, there's no sense of whining about it, it's just the way it is. It is what it is.
Q. Have you ever been the good cop after a loss?
COACH WEIS: Have I ever?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I actually have been. But not as the head coach. I've been in that position where, whether it be Parcells or Belichick, just goes in and they take care of the bad side and you have to do the damage control.
But I think it's important, when we go back to what I said the other day about the psyche of the team, what you couldn't ever do is let them leave on Monday not already having moved on.
So by breaking up the day the way we do on Monday it allowed the morning to be the time to get that out of the system and then in the afternoon time to move on, because if not they leave on Monday and they come in on Tuesday and we're in the exact same position we were on Saturday.
Q. This team seems very confident going into North Carolina and that's the reason they were down coming out of it. Considering what's happened two of the last three games, do you feel like this team's confidence is kind of at a shaky point?
COACH WEIS: No, I'm happy they have Boston College. They're looking forward to playing Boston College. If it were another opponent, I'd be a little bit more concerned. But Boston College has their attention.
Q. Trevor (Robinson), does he remind you of anyone you've coached here or in the past?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, but not that you guys would know. Reminds me a little bit of Steve Neal, but you wouldn't know who Steve Neal was so that doesn't help you out too much.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
End of FastScripts