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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 24, 2009
COACH WEIS: We obviously have work to do but I think that we are starting to get some of the stuff figured out, and I think that our best football is still ahead of us.
Q. You had some different personnel packages.
COACH WEIS: Well, we sat down early in the week, like I told you, we would talk about the stuff on Sunday and Monday, or before Tuesday, and there were some guys that we had to move around so we can get more production.
Our tackling has not been so hot, and that was pretty -- that was a lot better today. There were not too many glaring mishaps there, and we are rolling a lot of people through.
But one thing I really enjoyed watching is with how much excitement the defense was playing. I mean, it was exciting to watch them out there make plays. When you're struggling a little bit on third down and obviously that big fourth down and long to get off the field, but there are too many positives to outweigh the negatives.
Q. Are you convinced that this defense is good enough to take you where you want to go with this team this year?
COACH WEIS: I think the defense is on the rise. I think that that's the most important thing. If we were flattened out, I probably would have a tough time saying yes to that. You know, I think that we are getting better at certain things every week. I think our best football is going to be played at the end of the year. I think that they are getting better and they are getting better and a lot of these guys are getting more experienced. Coaches are tweaking some personnel, and I think that our best football is yet to be played.
Q. We asked you earlier in the week, USC finish, you had a wildcat planned -- was that the play?
COACH WEIS: No. It's still on hold. That was a little -- we still have one. You know, we took Jimmy off the field, so it's a little different than wildcat.
But on the play right before that when we called time-out, we had a play called that had an option to run to the right, run to the left and they had them both options didn't look very good. So he made a time-out decision on his own which I thought was a very good time-out and then we went to a play we could balance off of their defense and balance off their defense and figure, get a hat on a hat and have Robert run for a yard and came up a couple inches shy.
The one decision I had made was that we are going to go for it here and I had already talked to the defense very quickly and said, okay, now we don't get in here, I don't want to have negative waves, but if we don't get him in there, if we don't pin him back -- inaudible -- but we got the ball back and scored three plays and countered to not get it in on that goal on the run.
Q. Would you talk about how they were able to take away deep plays -- because that's the way they play --
COACH WEIS: There are elements of the game that I look back and sit there and say, yeah, I didn't like.
COACH WEIS: I'm sorry but the question is just way too general. I'm willing to answer a more specific question if you'd like to give me one.
Q. I think the explosive plays have gotten worse and worst past couple of weeks.
COACH WEIS: And the passing game. But there were none in the running game -- well, there might have been one but I don't recall it.
Q. Do you have to kind of tradeoff a little bit, get better at the run and there might be some explosivity you wind up giving up or how does that work?
COACH WEIS: No, we just have to go back and watch the tape and see why they got completions first of all. You know, I couldn't even tell you right now. I'm sitting there watching the play and I see the play cover two and corner route and I see a cross route versus blitz zone three. I see what's happening; until you watch the tape and know the call and watch the tape and see exactly what happened in the game you don't really know. You have a general idea, especially for me, I'm not running the defense. I'm watching the defense. I'm not running the defense. I have enough problems worrying about what we are doing on offense.
Q. And your other Hawaiian freshman, can you talk about getting him in this late in the season?
COACH WEIS: Late in the season? It's halfway through the season. No, he's been knocking on the door here for the last movement and when Robby went down last week, and when Robby Parris early in the game and came up a little lame, the guys that were waiting in the wings were the guys that were going to go in there, and he was the guy waiting in the wings.
Q. Why were you guys able to run so well today?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that we spread them out and most of our -- any time I -- last year, a lot of times I would bunch them in and they just load it up in there and they would just pound us.
So most of the games you notice we played a very deliberate game of the line of scrimmage, spreading them out, which gave us an opportunity to, you know, get a few chunks in the running game. I thought Armando, as a matter of fact, ran especially well.
Q. Jimmy had a couple of tough outing the last two times against Boston college. What did you like about what he did today?
COACH WEIS: I told him we are not throwing the ball down the field. Now how would you line to being a quarterback that's a front line quarterback and everyone is tooting your horn and you say, we're not throwing the ball down the field. Because they are going to play deep and we are going to dump the ball off, that's what we are going to do and we are going to throw the ball on the flat, and we are going to throw it short and we are going to throw it all day long.
Matter of fact I saw he was 26 for 39. I thought going into the game, that's 67 percent and I thought we would be a little bit higher, because we were going to throw all dinks and dunks, but unfortunately we didn't get the back out a few times where we would like. I thought that Armando Allen would have been the leading receiver going into this game because our intent was to dump the ball to Armando; let them cover everyone and dump the ball to Armando. I wanted to wear Armando out. I told those guys in pregame today, I said, they are going to be talking about you after this game. I think they will be talking about Kyle McCarthy and Smith and Manti, but that was the intent going into the game.
Q. Going back to your fourth and goal decision, how big of a gamble did you consider that?
COACH WEIS: Not the way -- the way the defense was playing, I thought that -- first of all, I expected to score. We are only down three at the time and I think it was 16-13 we were down. So I figured it's a three-point game. If we get stopped, it's going to be inside the one--yard line, defense will stop and we will get the ball back and we will get right back there and score. So fortunately -- unfortunately we didn't get in but fortunately the rest of the thought process worked out as planned.
Q. Could you touch on Golden Tate, you keep thinking he's going to get shut down, and seems like he's getting better and better.
COACH WEIS: First of all, he's very good at making somebody miss, like even the last touchdown, I mean, it's a quick out over in the left flat where their flat defender, their Sam linebacker, he might even have got a finger on the throw, I'm not sure. Because I'm watching it happen, and from my angle, I'm looking and it's almost an interceptable ball. But Jimmy puts some zip on it; now the corner goes off so far, you get it this kid in the open field and you try to tackle him one-on-one good, luck. If you're close to him and you can make a tackle but in the open field one-on-one, it's tough. It's tough sledding.
Q. Sometimes these quick stats are not all right on the mark, but just in glancing at them your four top tacklers are linemen and linebackers. That has to be --
COACH WEIS: Hey, all right. (Clapping) What a change. Usually I come in here saying, well what do you think about your safeties being the top tacklers in the game.
So we are making some progress. That's what that means. It goes back before, I think we were making some progress.
Q. Late in the third quarter it looked like Jimmy hurt his right shoulder, hard to tell from upstairs, could you talk about that.
COACH WEIS: He had all sort of aches and pains. You know, he got torqued a couple of times, but it wasn't anything. It was just another ice bag. I told you that when I walk in there, he always looks at the mash unit so I walk through and he already had ice bags on and that was one of the several areas that were being iced down. He got torqued funny and he came up but it wasn't anything that was going to affect his throwing or anything like that.
Q. As the offensive coordinator, if a guy is struggling on defense or special teams, is that -- do you look at it as that's your decision to make a change or do you leave that to your coordinators of those units?
COACH WEIS: Personnel-wise? During the game, I would recommend; if it was a drastic change, but most of my recommendations take place on Sunday and Monday.
Q. So that was a fake field goal?
COACH WEIS: Yes, it was.
Q. Could you explain how it was supposed to look?
COACH WEIS: Well, the snap was supposed to be about six feet lower (Laughter) -- to sort off with.
Actually it was a snap to Eric, and if we got a certain look, which we got, okay, it was a walk-in touchdown if we got the certain look. It wasn't supposed to be snapped high but it was supposed to be snapped like a normal field goal attempt. I didn't see the foul off -- we'll have to wait and see. But we had three for three over there with -- you know, it was going to be a walk-in. Operation didn't run so smoothly and obviously we got called for a penalty.
Q. Now I'm going to ask you one of those naÃ¯ve questions. If BC can force you to keep the ball in front of them and go dink and dunk, why can't you duplicate that defensively?
COACH WEIS: Elaborate. Give me more on the question, so I can make sure --
Q. They can throw the ball down the field and you say BC forces you to keep the ball in front and you went in with a game plan of dink and dunk. Why, I guess I'm going to say the same thing: Why can't you duplicate what they do defensively with that philosophy?
COACH WEIS: You could. You could go into a game and just sit there and say -- sit there and play everybody up in coverage and play two-deep behind it and just try not to, you know, make sure they don't get a home run down the middle of the field. Now you do that, but you leave yourself very vulnerable in the run game so you had the team rush for 300 yards last week. If you do that, after a team just showed the strength of their team coming into this game was their rush offense, you better take away what they do the best, and that's what we did.
Q. On their first touch down, their receiver was so wide open in the end zone; was it a blown off coverage or what happened?
COACH WEIS: They were running wheel routes on both sides, so their No. 2 receivers on both sides, it was the back on their offensive right and then receiver on their offensive left but they ran real routes so the outside guys came in and the inside guys ran out and we didn't get to -- I don't know if we got to the wheel on the other side, either, to tell you the truth.
But when they ran the wheel right, we didn't get to them.
Q. I know you've been working with these guys, they have been working hard, quite honestly they looked pretty lost out there half the time.
COACH WEIS: Well, let's see, we gave up 16 points, right?
COACH WEIS: Well, usually give up 16 points on defense, you're usually going to win.
Q. Every other week it's been 30 to 35.
COACH WEIS: Agreed. I agree with you 100% --
Q. Are you happy with your pass defense?
COACH WEIS: No, there's going back to Brian's comment before. Am I happy with ten explosives in the game? Absolutely not. But until I know the call and know what the coverage is and see the routes and until I see those things, I'd be unprepared to critically analyze the answer to the question.
Q. Did he get a finger on it?
GOLDEN TATE: I don't know what happened. I saw Jimmy throw the ball under the route and it was just -- it was a good throw and I guess the guy just couldn't get to it. I don't know, I got an end zone down --
Q. You didn't have confidence it was going to get by him?
GOLDEN TATE: I knew that the corner was backing off of me, but I didn't know that, you know, I guess the end or the linebacker was coming under me. And he usually doesn't make those throws but he had confidence in his arm that he could get it by and he did and it worked out well.
Q. Did you think the DB or corner --
GOLDEN TATE: The DB was off of me like he was pedaling and backpedalling so my only worries was the linebacker who came out.
Q. You turned it back, but what I'm saying it instead of just going straight for it.
GOLDEN TATE: It's just my nature. I always want to make more than just a catch. As it worked out, it starts in practice and in practice I'm trying to do different things and it worked out today.
Q. Talk about just having another huge day. I think the defenses are going to take a few away, but catching over a hundred yards again.
GOLDEN TATE: To be honest I just heard the catches, it seems like I only had 50 yards if that. I really don't see it that way. I just go out there and I trust our coaches' game plan. We have great game plans every week and I know that Coach is going to find a way for me to get open, even though I didn't get very many passes in the first half their linebackers are dropping where my routes were coming into. So you know, I just opened it up for the running back and we made adjustments second half and coach gave some different plays to give me the opportunity.
Q. When you are not scoring at the goal line why didn't the team panic?
GOLDEN TATE: The story of our season, the game coming down to the last five minutes. We were still up -- were we were down by three. Down by three, we've got a great freshman kicker who we have tremendous confidence in and we know if we got it around the 30-, 40-, 50-yard line, he's going to hit it. So we just never panic and we know that we have got experience; we have got experience; we have got experience and I think that's what it comes down to.
Q. Is it easy to stay patient during a dink-and-dunk day?
GOLDEN TATE: It's tough, but I've been there. Like last year I knew I was going to get rolled up on and it just gives other guys opportunities like Tillman made catches up here, two big catches for us. Goody came up, Duval uses his big body and steps up on guys, and whenever that happens, I know that other guys are going to make plays and I know they can.
GOLDEN TATE: I mean, I understood when he went out for the second time in my career, I was going to have to step up. Last year I faced it, last year I guess in the middle of the season also.
Last year I was just one of those guys that pretty much run past guys and I didn't understand the concept of cover two and cover eight, and this year I understand it. I understand it's not about the goal. I think I just understand, you know, defenses and route running.
Q. Are you guys going to be that much better when he comes back?
GOLDEN TATE: Absolutely. Any time you can get one of the best player in the country back, that's definitely to your advantage and I'm excited for him to come back.
Q. What does it mean to break through -- inaudible.
GOLDEN TATE: It was huge, but story of our season is playing guys tough, playing them close and pulling the offense.
Last week was a tough loss for us but we came back in, I understand that this is the other Catholic school in the nation that has a pretty good football team, so we need to, you know, worry about them this week, so we did. We did a great job focusing on practicing and preparing and I think it worked out for us.
Q. Can you talk about the streak --
GOLDEN TATE: Yeah, it's huge. It's huge. You know, our record is better now. You know, we have got to come in and enjoy tonight, enjoy tomorrow in the film room but we have to get ready for Washington State now.
So, you know, unfortunately the win lasts about a day and the loss lasts seven days until you play again. So just enjoy tonight and come ready to play.
Q. Have you enjoyed San Antonio?
GOLDEN TATE: I've enjoyed San Antonio for baseball. Is that where the River Walk is? I haven't really been on vacation there. I know it's fairly hot out there.
Q. Compare this year to last year.
GOLDEN TATE: I think it's just experience and coach talked about it in the locker room that we are finally rubbing off on them, that northerner mean guy, we are finally developing the attitude. We are not, you know, right now we are all nice guys but when we get on the field, it's about playing ball. We are not the happy-happy guys on the field.
So I think, you know, just experience as far as I'm concerned is helping us out a lot this year.
Q. You talked about your fellow receivers that had good days today, what does it mean for the team to have that many receivers that can make plays?
GOLDEN TATE: That means that we are defendable and I'm going to get covered up a bunch until Mike gets back, we have guys stepping out, even Robby went out for the majority of the game and Duval comes in, Roby Toma makes some catches. Goody comes in and makes catches.
So it's exciting to know that you have other guys who are capable of making plays or not and that's why they are here, to catch the ball and make plays and they are capable of doing it.
GOLDEN TATE: Absolutely not. I haven't heard about any of these stories, I show up every day ready to practice, ready to play and prepare for the next game. I'm not sure what they say outside our locker room, but as far as we are concerned, he's going to be here for a while.
Q. How amazing is it -- do you think one of these days it's going to be a breakout?
GOLDEN TATE: It's keeping people at home and making sure they continue to watch the game. I don't know, I can't tell you why, but it says a lot about us. We don't give up. We do not give up. We will play until that clock it's 00:00 in the fourth quarter and says a lot about us that we will not give up and continue to play.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I got banged up a little bit. Kind of put me in an awkward position, I was laying on my shoulder but I'm all right right now.
Q. Did you see Golden's play today?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Golden stepped up, once again and that's what we need out of golden, all of the guys on the team, especially the receivers, they all stepped up, whether it was Duval, Roby Toma, Robby Parris was banged up from last week; John Goodman; they all stepped up today.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, it did. That's what they were trying to do is get under Golden, play over the top and luckily it went in Golden's hands.
Q. It did?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, I saw it right when the ball was coming out of my hands, I was just praying it would go to Golden.
Q. How good did it feel --
JIMMY CLAUSEN: You know, it felt great. If you look back at what happened last year, it was pretty much the same defense this year and last year I was just trying to force balls. You know, that's something Coach Weis said to me going into the season is just take the check downs, take the check-downs. And I think that was probably the biggest learning experience that I've had, being at Notre Dame, being a quarterback is just taking what the defense gives you. If you saw what they were doing, it was pretty crazy stuff, rushing two, dropping nine and I had to take my check down because of the defensive tackles and I was getting in and out of there on the rush and I had to scramble and pick up as much yardage as I could, or throw the ball away; so it was a big win for us.
Q. Was this game more scheme and really that much different that you guys are compared to last year's game, for the kind of team that you guys are and why you didn't panic? Was it more of a scheme difference that made the difference from last year, 17-0?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: No. I think it was just taking what the defense -- from my standpoint, just taking what the defense gave me. They were rushing two, dropping nine, obviously you have to run the ball first, and then just drop the ball down to the backs underneath routes and like I said, use my feet and scramble or get a few yards on my feet.
Q. What were they able to do that took Kyle out of the game? We didn't see many screen passes out of you guys today.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: We really didn't have any screen passes in the game plan. You know, Kyle got taken out of the game just based on what they were doing defensively. You know, they were dropping a lot of guys in the coverage and trying to get pressure with two, three guys, and making us take the underneath stuff, and that's what we had to do.
Based on coverage, that was the route they were giving us the whole game.
Q. Did you guys comeback --
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Fourth and one, the ball in my hands and get one yard, and that's what Coach Weis wanted to do and I am with him a 110 percent, but luckily the defense stopped him and we were able to score.
Q. This keeps happening every game, the end --
JIMMY CLAUSEN: You know, Coach Weis says he's getting old and tired of it, but I'm getting old and tired of it, too. We are going to keep trying as much as we can to do during the week to get better, get prepared better and go out and not have these close games any more.
Q. What went on with your exchange after the game with --
JIMMY CLAUSEN: To be honest I was just going up to him to say he's a heck of a receiver and if you saw out there, he was making plays left and right, and he's a real good talent. I was just going to say good game to him, and he was just a little frustrated I guess. I was just trying to say good game to him.
Q. Golden said the corner kind of jumped the route, does that speak to the confidence you have in him or what did you see on the play?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: No, it wasn't the corner. It was the Sam linebacker that was trying to under cut the route. But I have faith in Golden and obviously he's a playmaker and I was just trying to get the ball in his hands and just let him catch the ball and make someone miss.
Q. The double coverage without Michael --
JIMMY CLAUSEN: You know, whatever coverage they are in, whether it's brackets over him, playing cover two or man-to-man, I'm trying to get him the ball as much as I can because he is the playmaker of the team, and you know, that's my job is just to get the ball to playmakers and let them do it.
Q. At any point did you think maybe to pass back -- the same linebacker?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Oh, no, it was a touchdown and we'll go with that.
Q. Were you concerned that maybe he was going to jump it?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: To be honest, I saw him as soon as the ball was coming out of my hand and as soon as I saw him, I just was playing that it was going over his head and I had enough on it to get it to him.
Q. What happened on the third down play, looked like you were going to go --
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Golden was supposed to throw a block for me but he didn't throw a block. No, I don't really remember what the play was but pressure came or whatever and I was to get in the end zone and luckily, I didn't get in but luckily the defense had a great stop and we got the ball back and went down and scored.
Q. How big was this win?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Oh, it was a huge win. Another streak that we have broken, and I'm just really happy for this whole team and especially the defense. They have taken a lot of heat in the past few weeks and they really stepped up for us today.
Q. Did you think in that last pass that you through that it was intercepted?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: No, I didn't think so. I thought he would tip it or -- that was the only thing, that he was either going to tip it or Golden was going to --
Q. The last throw you actually made in the game.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Well, it got tipped at the line of scrimmage, because that's what happened. I was trying to get the ball to Kyle on his outside shoulder and the ball got tipped on the line of scrimmage.
Q. The Boston College coach was lobbying after the game for to you leave early, quite a compliment.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, you know, Coach Spaz is one heck of a coach, and Coach Tetuno knows him really well, and I spent a lot of time with Coach Tetuno and trying to pick his brain. They did a heck of a job. Like I said they were just trying to make me throw the ball down the field and make a mistake; and that's something I learned a lot last year, losing to BC.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: You know, I'm not really worried about that right now. I'm just worried about this team and I'm really happy for this team, breaking this streak of six losses and getting a victory tonight.
Q. Did you throw that many out-patterns all week during practice, and did you know this was going to be outside the field and not the middle?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: Yeah, we knew they were probably going to make adjustments during half-time to try to stop it and came close to stopping it.
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I just asked him in the locker room, I said how many catches did you have, five picks and I guess he had seven. He stepped up big time for us like all of the receivers did and I'm really happy for those guys. Every time I get them the ball they are making plays.
Q. Were you bummed when he said you were going to dink and dunk?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: It's hard, you always want to throw the ball down the field but I'm just going to do anything I can to help the team win and whether it's running the ball the entire game or throwing check downs underneath stuff; that's what I'm going to do to help this team win.
Q. Why wouldn't everybody do this to you? Why wouldn't everybody watch the BC tape?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: It's just what their philosophy is, what their defensive coaches like to do. To be honest, that's what Coach Spaz likes to do.
Q. Do you feel like the game will jump start you for the second half?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I think so, just coming off a tough USC loss and BC has beaten us six times, it is special for this team and I think it is a big win for this program and this university.
Q. There have been a lot of stories written this year about Coach Weis and his future, are you distracted by that at all?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: No, there's -- we are not paying attention to anything like that. Coach Weis has put us in a situation to win every single game and he expects us to win and we expect to win, too.
Q. Do you feel like you should? Is that just as important to win those games, that even though they are tough, obviously, you know, you need to win them and they are at home after a tough loss last week, you really had to win this one, didn't you?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: You know, we expect to win every single game, but that's what we are thinking about, expecting to win and going out there and you know, trying to make it happen.
Q. Expecting the dink and dunk; that a sign of maturity, that when you were younger you might have been reckless or reluctant to do that?
JIMMY CLAUSEN: I think so, and last year trying to make plays down the field and this year, that was the key is just dink and dunk and just give us a chance to win.
End of FastScripts