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    Charlie Weis Press Conference Transcript (Sept. 11)

    FIGHTING IRISH Irish head coach Charlie Weis will lead Notre Dame into Saturday afternoon's matchup at traditional rival Michigan.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Irish head coach Charlie Weis will lead Notre Dame into Saturday afternoon's matchup at traditional rival Michigan.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sept. 11, 2007

    COACH WEIS: Well, obviously getting ready for Michigan, we're facing similar situations, having started off the year 0-2. I know that Michigan didn't lose a home game at all last year, and I know they're looking to bounce back. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Lloyd) Carr. And anytime you started your season 0-2, no one's happy.

    The guy's been there for 13 years. He's won five Big Ten titles and went to bowl games 12 years in a row. Last time I checked, that's pretty good.

    They returned six guys on offense -- Coach (Mike) DeBord, this is his second year as coordinator there. He's been there, I guess in his career, he's been there a couple times. But been there for 12 years. They have a very balanced offense. They're averaging just under 200 yards rushing, just over 200 yards passing.

    We all know that (Chad) Henne is listed as not playing this week. That means (Ryan) Mallett will start for them. And we did a lot of work on Mallett coming out of Texarkana. First thing I thought was fascinating is that he's from Arkansas and went to school in Texas within the same town. There's one for you. Get off of the Michigan game. Talk about how you can live in Texarkana, Arkansas and go to school in Texarkana, Texas. He's a really big guy 6'6", 250, with a cannon arm. He can make all the throws. He was that way in high school. And I'm sure that this week, now that he's a starter, they'll have an opportunity to build the offense around what he does the best.

    Mike Hart, what else can you say about him? He was one of the five finalists for the Heisman last year, a Walter Camp finalist, two times Top 10. Actually he's the nation's active leader in career rushing yards out of all the running backs playing right now.

    Last week he ran for 127. He's run for 315 this year for over a six-and-a half yard average. Obviously, last year he was a workhorse against us. They gave it to him 31 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.

    I know one thing -- he was the only running back in the country last year to rush for over 90 yards in every regular season game. The thing about Hart is he shows really good patience. He's got good vision, good cutback ability and balance. And he certainly will break tackles.

     

     

    Now (Kevin) Grady was his back up. You know, he's out with an ACL, so we'll see (Brandon) Minor and (Carlos) Brown behind him now. Now Brown hasn't played very much because he's coming off that broken hand. He also is listed as a returner, but I think that's holding him back a little bit with that broken hand. So we should expect to see more of Minor as a back up to Hart.

    (Mark) Moundros is the fullback, and the interesting back-up to him is (Andre) Criswell, who can play both tight end and fullback. (Mike) Massey is their tight end, and I'm sure he always wants to play big against Notre Dame, being that his dad played here in '69. A guy who showed up last week who really hasn't been really involved or wasn't involved early was Carson Butler. He played their second time against Oregon, and from what I saw, he looked like a very good athlete.

    At the wide receiver position, you have (Mario) Manningham. I think he just dreams of playing Notre Dame every year as his (favorite) game. The first catch of his college career was a touchdown against us. And last year he had three touchdowns against us. He was all-Big Ten. Last week, he had eight catches for 117. He also had a carry on a reverse for 16 yards. He just likes playing Notre Dame. He has good speed. He has good hands. He can run after catch and tries to be physical as a blocker. And, obviously, no one knows better than me that they like to take shots down the field with this guy at wide receiver.

    (Adrian) Arrington -- he's their other starter. He's big as a starter, good size, second in the team in catches. He's got deceptive speed for his size. He competes in the running game, he's got good hands and he's tough. He also shows an ability to go get the ball.

    Greg Mathews will show up as the third wide receiver, and also serves as one of the punt returners and we could see two freshmen -- (Junior) Hemingway and (Toney) Clemons -- get some time in there as well.

    There are three starters on the offensive line. Everybody knows about Jake Long. Really big man, team captain. He's an Outland Trophy and Lombardi candidate, and a consensus All-American. He's a big man with good feet. I usually don't see good feet on guys as big as him. But he shows good patience in pass protection. He's showing good power, he's a solid run blocker, and I think he's a can't-miss prospect in the NFL. He's one of the better tackles we'll play against the entire year.

    Now the two guards are both returning starters, (Adam) Kraus and (Alex) Mitchell -- Kraus at left guard and Mitchell the right guard. And they have (Justin) Boren in at center and (Stephen) Schilling in at right tackle; (both) are starters for the first time.

    You go over to Coach (Ron) English, and their defense. They lost seven starters from last year's team, so they're going through a little transition, but when you finish first in the nation against a run and fourth in the nation in sacks and seventh in 3rd down defense attempts, and 10th in total defense, and 15th in scoring defense, which they did last year, that usually means you had some pretty good players. And they did, and a lot of them are playing on Sundays right now.

    On the defensive line, Tim Jamison will play one end. The other guys haven't gotten much time yet, either (Adam) Patterson and (Brandon) Graham haven't gotten much time yet because they've been playing predominantly nickel defense in their first couple of games. They've been playing nickel defense in their first couple games because both Appalachian State and Oregon spread them out.

    (Terrance) Taylor's a load inside as well as Will Johnson. What they've had to do the first couple of games is their captain on defense, Shawn Crable, a linebacker by nature, has played most of the year at weak defensive end, because he's a nickel pass rusher for them. So he's had his hand down on the ground, but he's a very, very good player. He's 6'5", 245, perfect size for a linebacker. And also, he does a very good job with speed, getting off the edge when he puts his hand down on the ground.

    Now (John) Thompson and (Chris) Graham will man the other two linebacker spots when they go to their 4-3. Now in the secondary, they returned both (Morgan) Trent at corner and (Jamar) Adams at safety. At the other corner, we've seen both (Donovan) Warren and (Johnny) Sears. They've both been in there. And at free safety, (Brandent) Englemon and (Stevie) Brown -- they've been battling it out at the free safety position. And Brandon Harrison -- he'll play when they go to nickel. They'll bring him down the slot.

    On special teams. (Zoltan) Mesko handles their punting and he's averaging 46.8 yards per punt. It will be interesting. I'm checking out this kicking situation, because (Jason) Gingell has been handling their kicking, but they've had a little bit of a problem. I think he's like 2 for 5. So (Bryan) Wright, who handles their kickoffs, might also get a shot at doing some field goal kicking this week.

    (Sean) Griffin's their long snapper. Sears and Brandon Minor will probably be their kickoff returners. Carlos Brown is listed back there, too. But I think coming off that broken hand and it's limited him a little bit. And the punt returners, once again, I think it will be Mathews or Sears.

    Q. Coach, I don't know if (Jimmy) Clausen did over time, but he seemed to be calling out the Mike linebacker with (John) Sullivan at times on Saturday. How much of that is he doing? And how much trust do you have in him making those decisions?

    COACH WEIS: Sully does it, and he mimics it. So right now I'll leave it in Sully's hands. As I told you guys before, that's one less thing. I think what happens is when Sully says who it is, then the wide receivers and everyone else needs to know who he's identifying. Because a lot of times, those guys outside can't see what he says -- 49's the Mike -- so Jimmy points out who it is and each side adjusts.

    Q. Is he trying to think along?

    COACH WEIS: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. All the quarterbacks would like for me to just have that in their hands and not have it in Sully's hands. But right now, I'll definitely go with the experienced guy with handling that assignment.

    Q. How much do you feed him now? Is he asking you for more?

    COACH WEIS: He's getting more. And he's getting more within the reasons of what I think he can tolerate. Obviously, we've gone through two games without much production on offense, so you can't sit back. You can't just sit there and take baby steps. You have to make some significant strides to try to get some production on offense.

    Q. Changing the subject a little bit. How do you coordinate your personnel with the play? For example, when (Tom) Zbikowski returned the punt inside the 10 (vs. Penn State), you tried the pass to the back of the end zone. You had your smaller receivers in there. Do you try to match personnel with the play, where you'd like to have a (Robby) Parris or a (Duval) Kamara in the game for a play like that?

    COACH WEIS: Well, we have groups where we use big guys and groups where we use smaller guys. But what happens is sometimes you can telegraph a play by just putting in the big guys when you get into that area. So you have your starters for a play. It's the first play of the series. You go put your big guys in while everyone in the free world knows if you're doing that, that's what ends up happening. So you have to calculate, you have to go back and forth so that you don't out-think yourself. And every time you do something, make it so blatantly obvious what you're trying to do.

    Q. Will there be times when you call a play where you inform your position coach that you want a certain person?

    COACH WEIS: Oh, we have plays where, for example, regular is two backs for us, regular's two backs, one tight end and two wide receivers. But I might call regular and give a number. So I might want a specific halfback or specific fullback or specific tight end or specific wide receiver.

    So let's say if I want regular and I want Duval Kamara on the field, I call regular 18. And that would know that George West would come out, and Kamara would go in, because that's how we would call the play.

    So on the call sheet, if you were going to do that when you set it up, you put that play down at regular 18 instead of regular. So when it came down to calling that play, you would call that, the first thing you do is utter what the personnel grouping is that's going into the game.

    Q. How open is the competition on the offensive line this week?

    COACH WEIS: Well, I spoke to a couple of the guys who were back ups last week and I said if they had done more in practice last week, they would have been in the game. And they were told the same thing going into this week.

    I think that you have to go by what you see in practice because you have to believe that the guys you're going to put in there are going to give you a better chance than the guys that are already in there, and they have to give you some evidence. And I've always believed that by going by what I see in practice, and if it doesn't look any better in practice than the guys we've got, then I'm going with the guys we've got.

    And they've been given that opportunity again this week. They've been told that, "hey, I'm not afraid to make a call, but you've got to give me a reason to do it." So until they do that, you don't change anything.

    Q. The pass protection issues that you have had -- how much is that limiting what you can do with John (Carlson) and the rest of the tight ends?

    COACH WEIS: That was significant last week. It was significant and we'll see if we can't begin to fix that problem this week.

    Q. Do you have to take that risk at some point and get him involved?

    COACH WEIS: Absolutely. When you don't get any offensive production for two weeks in a row, there comes a time where you have to take off the gloves and we're getting close to that time.

    Q. How are your guys holding up so far through a tough start?

    COACH WEIS: Well, if they aren't mad and embarrassed, then they're not competitors. I would hope that that's how they were. I know I certainly am. I think any time you put as much time and effort, and you feel you're credible and things don't go too well, and you don't feel angry or embarrassed, then you're not very competitive. So I would hope that that's how they feel within the realm of the team.

    Q. What do you expect from them to kind of help overcome the tough start? Do you look to them for additional leadership?

    COACH WEIS: The first thing I look for them is for accountability. I think that that's without a doubt the most critical factor. When things aren't going too well, I think the first thing you have to do is you have to be accountable. That's always been the way I've approached it, for me personally.

    I really detest people throwing people under the bus or creating scapegoats. That's one of the things I hate more than anything else in the whole world. So I always start with my own accountability. And I like to think that most of those guys have been around the horn, been around the block long enough to know that you have to start by making yourself accountable. If you make yourself more accountable, usually people follow your lead.

    Q. From an outsider's perspective, it seems like play action would be one way to slow down. Do you have to establish the run game before you can even hope to do some of that?

    COACH WEIS: Not to be sarcastic, but that would be nice, you know. That would be nice. Because I have, in the past, thrown play action passes without ever having set up the run. But usually that doesn't last very long. I always reflect back from different scenarios from my past. The one game we're playing where we have to pound a runner who didn't play in the game, and the change-of-pace runner ended up having to play in the game. We went into that game trying to throw play action passes, but they just totally ignored the play action fake and played the play action passes, and we got handled pretty well. So I think that there's a lot of truth in that statement.

    Q. The other X-and-O question -- do you continue to have to worry about bigger picture things like getting this line together and so forth? Would you ever let Mike (Haywood) call some of the plays so you could concentrate?

    COACH WEIS: No, that's not happening. What I'd be doing by that is opening up the blame to place the blame on somebody else, and I'm not -- people are going to be firing away. I'd rather them firing at me, you know?

    Q. You had written in your book last year that there were times when you called plays and the public didn't know about it. Have you called ...

    COACH WEIS: Say that again?

    Q. In your book, you talked about when you were in the NFL that (Bill) Parcells let you call some plays.

    COACH WEIS: No, it was just the opposite. We'd go into a game, and I wouldn't know when he was going to call plays or I'd call plays. That's his prerogative as a head coach. We go into a game, and he might call every play in the entire game. Then, the other times, it would be before the game and he would say, "I don't feel good about this one. You go ahead and take it." (laughing)

    So, no, I never was in that mode. It was just that it was a question of what Bill wanted to do. And when you're the head coach, you do what you want to do. But I think at this stage right now, I think that it's my responsibility to go ahead and get this fixed, and that's what I'm aiming to do.

    Q. This is a little off topic.

    COACH WEIS: All right.

    Q. Are you surprised about the allegations against your former team (the New England Patriots) this weekend? Or is gamesmanship part of what goes on in the NFL?

    COACH WEIS: I'm glad I'm not involved in that scenario at this time. (laughter) Though I have placed a couple of phone calls that said "you brightened up my day and brought a smile to my face." But other than that, I'm not touching that one with a 10 foot pole.

    Q. As you look at this team, is the ceiling you see for this team still the same one you saw going into the season?

    COACH WEIS: I think that we've lost two games -- we play 12. We've lost two games, and right now we're trying to win one. And not to be too general or too vague on that, but I think that that's going to be our goal until we get the first one under our belt. And hopefully it is this week against Michigan.

    But I think that you never, ever worry about 12 games from now. You worry about this one and this one only. So I'm only worrying about trying to beat Michigan, and I live my life under that creed. I don't worry about six weeks from now. I don't worry about eight weeks from now. I live my life week by week. I live my life day by day.

    But, I mean, I live my life in football phrases, week by week. All I'm trying to do is beat Michigan. That's all I'm trying to do. I'm really not worrying about long range. I'm not worrying about long term. I'm just worrying about trying to win this one.

    Q. In terms of (Duval) Kamara and (Golden) Tate, can you just evaluate what you're seeing from them?

    COACH WEIS: I think they're both different players with huge upsides. I think that they definitely bring great athleticism to the wide receiver position. They're different players.

    One of them is one of the fastest, if not the fastest guy on the team. And the other one is probably one of the best athletes on the team. So we're fortunate to have those two guys here in the program, and I think the future for both those guys is extremely bright.

    Q. When people look at the offensive line, they say why is that so difficult to fix? Is it because there are so many moving parts or so many different people involved that it's not always coming from the same spot, the problems?

    COACH WEIS: I sometimes ask the same question. There are some questions that are easier to fix, and some questions that are harder to fix. There are some things I don't understand either. But once again, it's not all just the offensive line. What you end up doing, by qualifying that too much there, is you put the onus all on them.

    Have they played great? No, they haven't played great. As a unit, they haven't played great. So what my job then to do is to keep on working to find a way to fix it. They have to be part of it given that accountability prospect that I talked about before, and I've got to be part of it, too.

    Q. Last thing for me -- I know you can't text recruits anymore, but when you talk to them, what do you tell them about what's going on with your team? What kind of position do you take?

    COACH WEIS: I'm a very honest, straightforward person. So I talk about the game, talk about what happened in the game. Depending on who they are, I talk about "hey, what are you doing Saturday after Friday night? Can you get your stuff on to go make the trip to Ann Arbor?"

    I mean, look at it from their standpoint. They're watching that game, too, and saying, "hey, I can play." So if there is a silver lining in the recruiting aspect and you're a young man who is already coming or thinking about coming, you just watched the game. All these guys want to go to a school where they think they have an opportunity to play. And I think that most of them, based on the evidence they have after the first two games, would like their prospects.

    Q. Coach, what was your reaction when you first became aware of the comments that Mike Hart made about guaranteeing a win?

    COACH WEIS: I think Mike Hart is a fierce competitor, and I think he's trying to fire up his team. And I think you take it in its proper perspective.

    Will we bring it up to the team and say "hey, he guaranteed a win"? Yeah, we'll say that because anyone would. But in reality, I think that Mike Hart is trying to be a leader. I think that's what he's trying to do. So I think Mike Hart is doing what any leader for a team would be saying.

    Now obviously, now, he's going to get the ball because they're going to give him an opportunity to help back that up. And it doesn't make any difference what he said or what we say. It's when they give him the ball, can we stop him? So that's what we're going to have to try to do.

    Q. What do you tell your own team about making comments that may be used as motivation?

    COACH WEIS: I prefer not to ever hear that comment coming out of my team. I prefer not to hear that. But that doesn't mean he's wrong saying that to try to fire up his team. Every team has its own personality. I'd prefer that to stay in the locker room. If somebody wants to say that in our place, I'd prefer they did it in a setting right here for me.

    Q. You've had some good success (recruiting) in California since coming in here. What's it like going there, and how do you recruit them?

    COACH WEIS: All depends on the player and the position. There are players at certain positions that you have a better chance, and there are players at certain schools you have a better chance at.

    There is a whole methodology in recruiting. Like when you go into California, and we send one or two coaches to hit the whole state, you have to pick your spots. You can't go after everyone.

    And you have to pick the guys that you think that could fit the Notre Dame mentality, and have everything that comes with that package. Then you go all out for them. Even if you lose them, once you find those people, you have to go all out and see if you can go get them. And so far, we've had some decent success there.

    Q. You talked about the significant strides you hope to make this week. And last week you said you weren't sure how much of the offense on Wednesday you were going to have in. How much did you have in and how much at this point are you ready to open up as much as Jimmy (Clausen) can know now?

    COACH WEIS: We had minimal in. I wouldn't say the least I've ever had, but it wasn't very much. And, well, we believed it was enough to be able to manage the game. But the problem I have is I have a Catch-22. I would rather not open it up. But you have to open it up, you have to open it up to give you an opportunity to score points.

    Because I'm aggressive by nature, you have to make sure in that Catch-22 we're talking about, that you don't hang the quarterback out to dry. But at the same time, you put the team in position to score some points.

    Q. After looking at the tapes, is there any bright spot can you see in the offensive line? Is it something good that they're doing regularly that you see?

    COACH WEIS: I think the center (John Sullivan) is playing excellent. But that comes with being a fifth-year senior. He's playing good in the games, he's been a great leader. He's been very good at making calls and everything like that. But this is a process that we need to speed up.

    Q. You know every game what the coaches saying, and on campus, other students hear what's going on. Is this a good game right now? Because if they're down for anything else, no matter what, a Michigan game is always a game you can get up for?

    COACH WEIS: Yeah, it's a definite plus that you're playing a team with the quality of Michigan and with the tradition of Michigan. Throw on top of that that the situations are mirrored.

    Our players are cognizant of the fact that their players are going through the same thing we're going through. And I think that the team that stays together the best and doesn't finger-point and accepts accountability and handles adversity will, in all likelihood, be one that plays the best on Saturday.

    Q. Is it important to get momentum early, with both teams being fragile?

    COACH WEIS: That would definitely help. Not to be sarcastic but that would definitely help, especially with a couple of touchdowns early. Because when you're essentially pitching a shutout, I think what ends up happening when we talk about playing a complimentary game, I think that one thing the offense and defense will feed off is the energy of the other one when the other one's doing well.

    The defense is playing well, and the offense isn't playing well. I think then the defensive players start pressing more, like they've got to make a play. They've got to make a play. They've got to make a play. And just like everyone, they have to go out there and just do their jobs and play. And we have to give all the players evidence that that's going to pay off.

    Q. I know you talk to Jimmy (Clausen) a lot, but (do you talk) just about making sure he doesn't turn it into the two hot shot freshmen and two top recruits going into each other?

    COACH WEIS: We won't be throwing it 50 times, if that's what you're saying. That's not what we're doing. But if you're at this isn't going to be about (Ryan) Mallett and Jimmy, I think that in both cases, it's about two teams rich in tradition that are 0-2 right now trying to get to 1-2.

    I'm sure that's what they're talking about, and it's certainly what we're talking about. It's not about who can win the duel between freshmen quarterbacks.

    Q. Can you tell us your game plan for Armando (Allen) a little bit?

    COACH WEIS: I know Armando's a very good athlete. He's mature, for a freshman. He's a very mature player. He'll always be a significant part of what we do.

    Q. Is that the biggest change you made week one to week two? Being more part of just a singular package?

    COACH WEIS: Actually (Armando) played good in week one. Just didn't give him the ball as many times. Think he touched the ball for 25 yards. I don't remember exactly what it was. But three touches for 25 yards or something like that. I think he had some production even in the first week. He just got more touches in the second week.

    Q. The offensive line -- I think you mentioned the other day about putting them in a better position to be successful. Could you kind of expand on that? What would that be, exactly?

    COACH WEIS: Well, there's two ways of doing it. One is continued X's and O's. But as we've talked about in this press conference today, one of the concerns is if you get too conservative, then you can help protect them, but you don't move the ball, you don't score any points. So, that's the Catch-22 we're talking about before.

    And the other one is you make it even more competitive with the players you have on the team. But I forget who asked the question before about offensive linemen and playing more guys. And I think really you're in a situation right now where people in practice got to give you evidence. For you to do anything, people in practice got to give you evidence to make you want to do something. So, we're still not at that point.

    Q. You had mentioned your focus is to beat Michigan, and beat Michigan only. Doesn't it extend beyond that, considering they've given up 1,000 yards to Spread, dual-threat quarterbacks this year. Would you consider that at all this week?

    COACH WEIS: Well, Jimmy (Clausen) is starting at quarterback, and I don't think he's running a 4.5 recently. So I think that we have to do is we have to game plan based on what our guys could do. Could Demetrius (Jones) ever be in the game? He certainly could. But Jimmy's our starting quarterback.

    Q. Just a follow up on something already asked -- would you consider Armando (Allen) a 1-C now? Or is he ...

    COACH WEIS: He's right in the mix. I would not consider him a back up. I consider him right in the mix with the rest of those guys.

    Q. And is it tough when you have no game tape, really, on any running back making any positive gain to really evaluate what they can do in a game? Especially when two of them are young?

    COACH WEIS: Yes. If all you were doing is going off game tape, the answer to that would definitely be yes. You're not just evaluating off game tape. You're evaluating off every touch they get every day in practice as well. So there's more, much more, to the evaluation of a player than just what happens in the game. It's how they handle the game, but not just how many touches they get in the game.

    Q. On some level, you have to admit this is about as unlikely as Michigan -- 0-2, struggling on offense, struggling on defense, two rookie quarterbacks. This is as unlikely as it gets for the two teams?

    COACH WEIS: I'm not worried about Michigan. I'm worried about us. I just remember we're 0-2, and I'm going to do a better job this week.

    I can't worry about what's going on at Michigan. They've got their own set of problems. I like to control mine. I think that's what I'm trying to do. I would, in no way, say anything disrespectful against Michigan. I have too much respect for Michigan and Coach (Lloyd) Carr.

    But I do know one thing -- we need to do a better job, and that's what we're going to try to do this week.

    Q. 0-2 -- this still can be a great game as far as college football is concerned. Will the pageantry that normally is Notre Dame and Michigan still be there, despite what it looks like record wise?

    COACH WEIS: Just give me a win. You want to sign me up now, we'll start getting ready for Michigan State. I'll take one right now, we'll move on to week four.

    I think you have two of the most storied universities in college football, two of the most winning programs in college football. Right now, they're both sitting at 0-2, trying to do the same thing and that's win this Saturday.

    Q. No matter what, some someone's leaving 0-3. That's got to be dangling somewhere, isn't it?

    COACH WEIS: Hopefully that's not us. That's not what you're preparing for. You just try to leave there 1-2. You're dealing with 0-3, but you're prepared to be 1-2.

    Q. What category of penalties are you most concerned about? Is it the pre-snap ones, or the frustration things?

    COACH WEIS: The false starts and delay of games are things that are intolerable. You can't have false start penalties, and you can't have delay of game penalties. That accounts for 6 of the 14 right there.

    Now after that, for the second week in a row, we've had a flagrant personal foul that just that's not an intelligent play. So there's no tolerance for that either. Now there are things that happen in the course of the game. I'm not saying a holding penalty is any good.

    You know, going down there hitting that guy. David (Bruton) was there, but he's a little shorter, it's a late fair catch signal, he's going down there. At least he's making an error trying to make a play. Even though I don't like the outcome, it's for the right reason that he's making a mistake, not the wrong reason.

    I think that will be a point of emphasis -- it was with the team on Sunday. It was with the coaching staff today. And we're going to make it a major point of emphasis in everything that happens in practice this week because you can't have efficiency with that volume of penalties.

    Q. The flagrant penalties -- how do you specifically address those? These guys want to win, and their frustration kind of builds up?

    COACH WEIS: Privately. That's the best I can say.

    Q. Just a follow up: Did you ever get an explanation why six seconds ran off the clock after Trevor Laws recovered the fumble at the end of the first half (at Penn State)?

    COACH WEIS: I asked that very question. They said I was in error, at the time. I told them we lost time on the clock. And they said, no, I must have misjudged. Amongst all the other mistakes I made in that game, you can maybe put timekeeper on that one as well. (laughter)

    Q. Back to the question asked about recruiting -- obviously, the players look at that and see maybe an opportunity to play right away. But do you feel like you have to kind of massage their egos a little bit about the situation here and tell them it's not as bad as 0-2 looks?

    COACH WEIS: I haven't gotten that. I've talked to everyone here in the last two weeks. September 1 was the first day we could call them. Though I haven't talked to every single person yet, the ones I've talked to I have at least emailed. It's been a very positive "hey, I really can't wait to get there."

    No one's happy when their college loses, because you know all the high school boys are getting all over them. But they're not here yet, so they can't take the accountability when they're not here yet. But actually, it's been pretty positive.

    Q. How much different is it when you're in the NFL and you can waive a guy or cut a guy, as opposed to here when you're 0-2, these are the guys and this is what you have to work with?

    COACH WEIS: Even in the NFL, you don't waive guys and cut guys too often, because they're getting salaries, and you have to pay for them and their salary caps. And there aren't too many guys that get cut in the middle of the season in the NFL. Just doesn't work like that very often.

    But in response to the really nuts and bolts of that question here, that's why you keep on striving week by week to improve the problems and get better. There were strides on defense last week. There were some minor strides on offense, especially in the passing game, last week, but just not good enough.

    You never can be content, and obviously we're 0-2 and who could even utter the word content. But I think that I'll let you know when I think we've made significant strides on offense. After two games, I couldn't say that.

    Q. Coach...

    COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, what's the weather in Myrtle Beach today?

    Q. 93, warm.

    COACH WEIS: Oh, okay. Thanks. Way to rub it in. All right, now go ahead and ask your question. (laughing)

    Q. Just looking at the last four years of quarterbacks finishing in the top 20 in pass efficiency. Going into those seasons, they had averaged 16 games playing quarterback before they have the breakout season. Do you think in game experience is the good predictor?

    COACH WEIS: Well, Brady (Quinn) lost his first four starts. I hope that's not a predictor from when I went back and checked. That's not what I'm rooting for. I do think that experience at the quarterback position is invaluable, but at the same time, I don't think you can use that as an excuse for your team losing.

    Q. Coach, you talked about the fifth-year seniors earlier. Have you seen anything from them through the average during the early seasons that they kind of lift the team up because they've won?

    COACH WEIS: Say that one more time. I'm sorry. I didn't hear the question.

    Q. You talked about the fifth year seniors earlier. Have you seen anything from them showing accountability or leadership during the start?

    COACH WEIS: I think that, off the field, these guys have been great. I think they've been invaluable to our program. And I think the best part is they're the ones that feel about as bad as I do. They came back here, they didn't have to come back here. They all had graduated from college already, so they came back here to get something done. So I think that any time it's that important to you, usually you care. Usually you're the ones that help resolve the problems.

    Q. It seemed to me that you guys were in the 4-3 (defense) more against Penn State than you were against Georgia Tech. Is that true, and what can be read into that?

    COACH WEIS: No. As I explained, this defense last year when we were putting in 3-4 personnel -- I explained that a 3-4 defense gives you the versatility to knock down an end on either side. It's just what every team in the NFL that plays a 3-4 does. You can reduce it on one side, reduce it on the other side.

    3-4 is just a personnel grouping. Doesn't mean you don't play 4-3 defenses. If you watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play this week, they'll play under most of the game and they'll reduce their weak side end. It's just part of the package in the 3-4 defense.

    Q. You obviously, have been around a long time and evaluated talent and done all those types of things heading into the year. At what point or what level did you kind of see maybe some early season struggles coming this year?

    COACH WEIS: At what point?

    Q. To what extent? Did you see any of this coming, the possibility of 0-2 where the offense would struggle to this extent?

    COACH WEIS: Well, I knew that we were fairly inexperienced. And I knew that the quarterback situation was a little bit unsettled. But that's still not an excuse for no productivity on offense.

    Q. Did you ever imagine to be struggling this much in the ground game? And in week three, if you struggle again, where do you go from there?

    COACH WEIS: Well, I think that the most important thing is that you can't worry about week four. You've got to worry about week three. And my answer to the question is I'll address that one after we're done with this one.

    The flip side of that -- what if it goes great? I'd like to think that that's the way I'm looking at this, rather than looking at what's it going to do. I don't believe I set up a game plan with my coaches for failure. When we put the game plan in, we intend to have success. So I'd like to think of it in a more positive light.

    Q. Are you looking for Travis Thomas to really step up? Or are some of these other guys showing some flashes in practice, and you're kind of hoping that maybe this is their opportunity to take that role?

    COACH WEIS: Well, Travis, I know one thing -- he's going to play well on special teams this week. That I can tell you, because the one thing that we can't afford is one of our captains, who is really the captain of our special teams, to make an error in judgment. Everyone saw that. That's no big secret. And I would expect starting with that, before you even get to running back, I would expect a big day out of him on special teams.

    Q. How was your slow start? Some players still wanted to come and play for you, but did that have any negative effect?

    COACH WEIS: What was the question?

    Q. You said players already wanted to come in and help build the program. Has (the slow start) had any negative effect?

    COACH WEIS: It hasn't had any effect on the guys that have already said they were coming. Now, we're still involved with a few other guys and we'll see how it pans out.

    But remember, you've played two games at this point right here, and I think that one of the things that always comes into play when you're dealing with a prospect in recruiting is they all want to play. There isn't one prospect out there that doesn't want to play. And when things are the "rose colored-glasses" view of that is when they look at something like that, they see an opportunity for them to be able to play.

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