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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 27, 2009
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Jimmy's situation and what you're looking at long-term?
COACH WEIS: Actually his toe is a lot better today than it was last week at this time. Last week it was really swollen. It was really swollen, and although we had put him in a boot for a couple days, today he's not in a boot, and the swelling is down.
What we're going to do is get through this week's game and then next week of the bye week I'll just hold him for the week and try to give him a week where he can go ahead and just get that much better.
But we're in this for the long haul. There's only so much rest you can get at this time of year, and that rest is going to come next week.
Q. Do you limit him a little bit with practices this week just to --
COACH WEIS: Possibly. I'll just have to wait and see where he is. But I just know from meeting with him and meeting with the doctors and the trainers, he's far ahead of where he was last week at this time.
Q. What's kind of your prognosis for Armando this week?
COACH WEIS: I think Armando surprised me how close he looked in pregame. I wasn't expecting him to look as good as he was. He was politicking during the game to get in there. But I think that he could have played in this game against Purdue, and I think he'll be ready to go Tuesday. I don't think there will be any limitations.
Q. I wanted to clarify something. After the game you were asked about if Jimmy had been fully healthy, would you have gone with all those packages that you did. It sounded like you said no, that you wouldn't have.
COACH WEIS: Well, I certainly wasn't going to go to -- have a Dayne Crist package if Jimmy is healthy.
Q. What about the Golden Tate package?
COACH WEIS: Well, the Golden Tate package was a compensation for Armando. I put that in last Tuesday, also. We put a lot of stuff in this week, and a lot of it was injury related. Jimmy can't go, you've got Dayne; Armando can't go -- who's going to provide that quickness from the backfield? Who's that going to be? I had two choices, I had golden or I had Theo. They were two my choices.
That and the fact that you know that you're going into a game after losing Michael where people could roll into Golden, what's one way you can compensate for that? Put him in the backfield. Actually the Golden in wildcat or the Golden as a halfback was really a compensation for Armando, not Jimmy.
Q. Last thing from me, you talked a little bit about the defense, played mix-and-match cover two, I guess, with some of the blitzing packages. How do you feel about the overall progress of the defense?
COACH WEIS: Well, the rushing defense I thought was -- the rushing defense was dramatically improved. I think that when you -- what was it, 2.8 per carry in this game? They had gone in there averaging over a couple hundred yards rushing in a game, and they rushed for about 75 yards or whatever it was.
I think that that was one of the things that I was pleased with the most, especially in the second half. You know, they had a couple of carries where they got yards, and then the rest of the carries -- I mean, they gained 56 yards on three carries, and they gained 11 yards on the other 14 carries. They had a 26-yard run, a 15-yard run and a 15-yard run, and they were really the only runs that were over ten yards, and the rest of it averaged less than a yard a carry.
So I think that we made some significant progress in at least one facet of the defense.
Q. You mentioned last night something about previously you might have been frazzled there at the end. A couple players talked about the lessons from last year. How does a team learn a lesson, and how do you see it pay off in the game last night?
COACH WEIS: Well, unfortunately the only way you learn the lesson is by going through it and something good happening. Last week I thought was a turning point. I thought when Kyle made that play last week -- now, the team said, oh, something good can happen at the end of the game, and I think they really -- the composure the team showed at the end of the game I thought was excellent because normally at the sideline you could feel a deflated team, and you never felt that at all. You just felt that -- especially with Jimmy out there, and him being so confident about running the team, you never felt that way.
Q. What can that do for the team from here on out do you think?
COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, that game was on the road. That game was on the road where you won a close one on the road. I think the next time you're in that situation they can lean back or fall back on this experience, but now they've had two in a row like that where something good has happened at the end of the game for them to win.
And I think that there's turning points as you develop your team. There's turning points, and I think that these last couple weeks I'm expecting to gain some upward momentum.
Q. Just on Jimmy's toe, when you say you're in it for the long haul, is that essentially you're going to be working and managing this pain for the rest of the season?
COACH WEIS: I just think it won't be as bad to tell you the truth. I think that his toe -- like I said, he played in the game and his toe is way better than it was last week. I'd be more concerned if it was the same or worse as where we were at this time last week. I'd be even more concerned.
Q. I know replacing Michael Floyd is probably not the right word, but how did you feel like the skill position guys did, not only without Floyd but without Allen, as well?
COACH WEIS: I agree with you that you just don't replace him, but I think that we got plays made. They might not have been in volume, but like for example, Robby Parris had one catch in the game, but it was one of the most critical plays of the game. Duval had some catches in the game. So you can't really just take Michael and say, well, Michael is gone and you're just going to plug in the next guy and it's going to be equal. But I thought those guys gave a good effort for us.
Q. You said this is like a different kind of team. I think in some ways it reminds a lot of people of your first two teams in the sense that Jimmy is out there, there's a sense you can score at any time and come back on anybody, which is not dissimilar to how people felt when Brady was out there. Do you see that parallel, or are there some differences there?
COACH WEIS: I think that there's some parallel there. I mean, I don't know -- I can't exactly compare the team to 2005 myself, but I do know one thing: When your quarterback has taken over as the leader of the team and the team has confidence when he has the ball in his hands at the end of the game something good is going to happen, that's a good thing. In my experience, I've had that situation before with other guys, and it usually bodes well for how the team reacts at the end of a game.
Q. The last minute of the game, really about the last 40 seconds of the game, Jimmy Clausen during Purdue's timeout when they called it, what was he like on the sideline? Was he fired up or was he calm? What was the conversation like, and what was his demeanor?
COACH WEIS: You mean when they called the timeout what was his demeanor?
Q. Yeah, he comes over and you guys were talking.
COACH WEIS: Well, he knew in his mind he was going to throw a touchdown pass, he just didn't know to whom. Actually when we ran the ball on 2nd down, if we didn't score we were going to clock it. We didn't have any timeouts left because we knew what play we were going to go to on 4th down. We were going to clock it and just spike the ball and put our personnel in and call the play on 4th down.
After the timeout it gave us an opportunity, because we had a different personnel group on 3rd down than we did on 4th down. It gave us an opportunity to regroup and call the two plays, and if the first one didn't work we'd go to the second one, which that's what we did.
But he wasn't -- he says, what are we going to do? What if we do this, what if we do that? I said, relax. So we went with one play on 3rd down, and no one was open, so he threw the ball away, which was a good decision on his part. Instead of trying to -- there might have been a tight window he could have thrown the ball into Duval as Duval ran a return over there on the right and started to pull to the right sideline, but instead he didn't take that chance and threw it away instead of forcing it in there. And then he came back and we had a little spin move over there on the left-hand side on 4th down where Kyle was running a similar type of route over on the left side with Golden over the top of him, and I guess they had communicated before they went out, I guess Kyle was asking for the ball, and Jimmy said, "Well, you'd better be open then."
I think Kyle was either going to catch it or have a hole in his chest, because there was a lot of heat on that throw.
Q. Is his demeanor in that situation different than it would have been a year ago?
COACH WEIS: His demeanor is totally different, not even a little different. He's always been a confident kid but not with the air of confidence he has now. It's not just his confidence, it's everyone's confidence in him. You know, so it's a combination of his own confidence and the people that are playing with him.
Q. You have confidence in him?
COACH WEIS: You bet I do.
Q. You may or may not be aware of the difficulty that the media has in engaging in conversation with your defensive coordinator, so I ask you this question: How difficult is it to convince him, a guy that's had great success being ultra-aggressive with his defense, how difficult is it to get him to dial things back a little bit?
COACH WEIS: That's his call. Look, I have total faith in Jon Tenuta and with Corwin and Randy and Brian and Kinnon and all those guys, but because Jon is dialing them up, because he's the one that's making the call, let's not all of a sudden because some things start working give Weis any credit. This is Jon and the defensive staff deciding that they had to put a couple wrinkles in here to get a little bit of balance, and I think that especially when a lot of those coverages they went to were bluff-and-blitzes, I thought it was a nice change of pace.
Q. How receptive was Golden to moving to the offensive backfield?
COACH WEIS: Somebody told me he tried to take credit for that suggestion, but needless to say that wasn't his idea. But he loved it. When we brought him out of high school, that's what he was, he was a running back.
But I explained to him that Armando is out and I want to get the ball in your hands, and I'm a little bit concerned if you go into a game and they just roll up into him the whole game he won't get very many touches. So I'm going to have to on a weekly basis find ways to get the ball in his hands.
Q. Duval was called for a couple illegal formations. What's that about?
COACH WEIS: In looking on tape, it looks to me like they might be right. We got called three times for not being lined up on the line of scrimmage. And that should never happen because the receivers come up and they always look at the ref to say I'm on or I'm off to make sure that they're lined up legally.
Like on Golden's touchdown, Golden was the one they were calling off the line of scrimmage. So he goes, he looks at the ref, and then he's off the line of scrimmage, and he might have been off enough for them to call that. But we throw a touchdown -- that's the one time we get in the red zone that we have to settle for a field goal and don't get a touchdown was that one right there. So Duval twice was supposed to be on the line of scrimmage, and they just felt that he was bowed back too much off the line of scrimmage.
Q. This may be ignorant or naÃ¯ve, but when you get in a situation where you wanted to clock it, spike the football there, is there not a way that you can actually utilize that down and call something, hand signal something in from the sideline so you can try to -- so you actually have two shots at the end zone?
COACH WEIS: Well, we have that -- first of all, we can call two plays, but because we really knew the play that we were calling on 4th down, I mean, we were more concerned -- we were trying to run it in. We thought that they were going to be in this cover red seven, which they were. They were in the coverage we thought they were going to be in, and we thought a hole was going to open up and we were going to walk right in. And if we didn't, rather than try to rush a play on 3rd down, we wanted to make sure we got the right -- because we were going to change personnel for this play on 4th down. So when you're changing personnel there's a time factor that comes into play.
So we wanted to make sure in a matter what that we got an opportunity to call that play.
Now, I would have called it on 3rd down if I had to, but because we got that extra down, we figured we'd try one play and then go to that play on the 4th down.
Q. Last thing, two guys that didn't make the trips here, Wood, who did go -- I think you were asked about him two weeks ago and you said he made the trip. Well, he didn't make it this time.
COACH WEIS: Well, he didn't make the trip. It wasn't like anything he did bad or good. He just didn't make the trip.
Q. And Brandon Walker?
COACH WEIS: He didn't make the trip, either.
Q. Three critical 3rd down plays in the last three weeks in the final minutes, and it's almost eerily familiar, it's a pass to the right sideline that you guys run, and I'm just curious, on all three of those plays, with the guy you threw to, was he the first read, and was there any special reason Robby was in there last night as opposed to anybody else?
COACH WEIS: Let me answer the second part first. In the last couple weeks we've thrown the ball to Shaq on the sideline, we've thrown the ball to Goody on the sideline, and we got into two-minute in this situation. We were concerned with the same thing that anyone else would be concerned with, that if you had a nuance throw, a nuance throw, not a speed throw or route, because we have total confidence in those other guys, we wanted to go with a burly veteran in that situation. So that's why he was in there and it ended up paying off.
And then as far as the play goes, similar to -- somebody asked me a question before about Dayne and Jimmy, and when Jimmy is in there, Jimmy, almost all these plays are full-field reads. That means based off of the coverage that tells him where he's going. Whereas when Dayne is in there I try to cut the field in half where all his throws are going to one side or one area based off of what the play call is rather than what the coverage is.
So on that play -- it ended up being the first read based off of how they played their coverage. The coverage dictated to throw that come back over there on the right-hand side.
Q. It's obviously not a blessing to have Michael Floyd or Armando Allen missing but guys like Bobby Burger, Theo Riddick, especially on the road, are you quite pleased knowing they're probably going to go into next week with a lot of confidence the rest of the season?
COACH WEIS: I think I've already had confidence in Bobby as a blocker; now he's become a legend in his pass-catching ability. But I was happy for him there to get that big 1st down for us.
And Theo, when Golden was in the game as the wildcat, Theo is now the motion guy. I think Golden kind of likes somebody else going in motion all the time instead of him. But Theo had that big run, and he also had a critical block in Golden's touchdown run because the two guys that sprung him were actually Theo and Dayne on Golden's touchdown run.
I think it's good for them, and I already have confidence in them, but now they'll have more confidence in their own ability, I think, which is more important.
Q. Do you have a better idea where Manti is most comfortable on defense after three or four games now?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I think one thing we need to do both in practice and in games is just play him more. The only thing, when you have a young linebacker you'll go through some growing pains, but I think that you'll see him just playing more. We talked about that today. I think as the year goes on, you'll see his playing time just increase more and more.
Q. Can you just talk about the wild nature of those last three games? You kind of touched on it last night and earlier about how mature the team has become, but to have three games in the last three weeks to go down to the final minute, can you talk about how wild it's been?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, it's not exactly utopia where you have to play like that, but I think that the most important thing is, people can debate on the status of a team, but the bottom line is you're 3 and 1 and you're 3 and 1 for a reason. When you get into those games at the end of the game, you'd like to think that you're going to win every one of them, but it just doesn't play out that way, and probably deservedly so. But you'd like to be in a situation where you're up more than one score and you're not in that hold-your-breath mentality.
But the critical factor more than anything is the fact that we've gotten back-to-back wins, one at home, one on the road, one by the defense, won one by the offense, and I think that that bodes well for the future of this team.
Q. As for Jimmy, obviously the numbers aren't like the Hawaii Bowl or anything like that, but was this his best performance considering what he was going through?
COACH WEIS: I think it was certainly his guttiest performance, and I think that -- I got more text messages last night from NFL people saying that same thing, good to see a quarterback with some guts. The word might not have been guts, but I got several of them last night on the way home because I got a bunch of friends that are all pulling for Notre Dame, and they were impressed.
Q. I don't know if it's too early to tell, but with what he's going through, do you anticipate maybe having him be in a similar situation on Saturday with having to use Dayne again?
COACH WEIS: We'll be ready for that situation. I'm hoping that we're not sitting here on Tuesday with two completely different game plans. I'd like to think that you have a package of plays, not this game plan for this quarterback and that game plan for that quarterback. It would save me a little time.
Q. Real quick on the TV broadcast on that wheel route, they said it was McCarthy, a misread on his part after the game --
COACH WEIS: No, that's incorrect.
Q. Could you, I guess, talk about what happened there?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, let's just say that a couple times they had run a similar play in the game. It was a linebacker in coverage, and similar play in the game where the linebacker closed ground to him, and therefore they didn't throw it. And this one we didn't close ground to him and he ended up being wide open. But it wasn't McCarthy. They might not have known what the coverage call was on that play.
End of FastScripts