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    Charlie Weis Press Conference Transcript - Michigan State Game Preview (Sept. 15)

    FIGHTING IRISH Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis touched on a variety of topics during Tuesday's press conference with the media at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on the Notre Dame campus.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis touched on a variety of topics during Tuesday's press conference with the media at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on the Notre Dame campus.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sept. 15, 2009

    COACH WEIS: (Joined in progress) As a matter of fact they have been in the red zone seven times this year, and scored five touchdowns, really was the number I would go by, the one stat, really getting touchdowns from getting in the red zone versus field goals. The average runner, five yards a game, 138 yards rushing and they have been getting up -- they outscored their opponents 45 13.

    So playing pretty good, and it starts with their quarterback, Cousins. Well, they actually play both guys. Cousins is their captain, who has had big numbers who is 13th last week for 164 yards and then touchdowns. He's done a nice job and has a strong arm, throws a deep ball, is poised. But even though he's playing well, they are playing nickel, as well, and he comes in and usually in both games, I think he's come in in the second quarter, they have just put him in there and he's done a nice job of running the offense.

    So they have been playing two quarterbacks. At running back, it looked like at training camp, it looks like Ray won the job at running back with Caper being his primary backup. So Ray, he runs hard. Caper is a true freshman who emerged as the second back. And I have seen several guys in there, but Edwin Baker is another guy who we can see in there in this game.

    At fullback they have a versatile fullback who plays fullback in Hawken who plays fullback, but he moves around a lot, giving them a lot of the versatility along with the multiple tight ends they have because they do play three of them. Two are kind of similar both Gant and Linthicum are kind of similar type of players, run well, good receiving tight end.

    And they have a bigger body, freshman, by the name of Sims who is a 6-5, 270-pound guy when they want to get bigger in that position. They return with three experienced wide receivers, or where they get numbers from starting with Blair White who is also a captain, a senior captain who is a leading receiver after the first two games with 16 catches for 270 yards with a couple of touchdowns. He has definitely developed into a big wide receiver and he's smart and tough by the looks of the way he plays. He starts as their Z, Cunningham starts as their X. He catches the ball well. He has good hands and well I think if you combine them with Dell, who is a true junior, who has not played yet this season because of a shoulder injury, he's listed as day to day there, but I think there's a good chance that we could end up seeing him this week.

     

     

    Martin has been the third wide receiver so far this year from what we have seen. And on the offensive line, Cironi returns at left tackle and foreman who is at left guard, he's a big, physical kid. Smith sprained his knee in the first game and didn't play last week. He's their three year starting center. If he can't go, Steve Beck would go, but we will anticipate that he will do all he can do go. But the same thing, they have a situation at right guard where they play both Dean who got banged up some in the last game and McGaha. You could see either one of those guys at right guard and months over at right tackle.

    Defense, Coach Narduzzi has done a nice job with their defense. He played tough against us, 64 rushing yards per game,2.2 per carry, 225 passing for 6.2 yards for pass attempt at 73 attempts, so they are only giving up 289 yards of total offense a game and getting off the field a third of the time, two thirds of the time on third down and they have six sacks.

    The defensive line starts with Anderson. He's their defensive end, usually anticipate he will be on our right most of the time, although, you know, he has played on the left before last year. Honorable mention Big Ten last year and led the team in sacks. Opposite of him, Neely will play. He played a lot last year. He emerged as the starter for this season. Inside their nose tackle, Wilson, is the returning starter and it really was disruptive in our game when we played them last year. And at three technique, it will be either Worthy or Pickelman.

    At linebacker they return five of their top six guys from last year and that starts with Greg Jones, he moves to the middle. He plays more of a outside linebacker last year but he is the key to their whole defense. He is a really, really good player. He has had nine consecutive games with at least ten tackles. The last one he had 15. He runs well and makes a whole bunch of plays and runs sideline to sideline. He is somebody you're going to have to account for on every play. The other linebackers, Gordon a returning starter, he will play a strong sideline backer; and Denson, who is a good athlete and runs well will play the weak side linebacker; and Norman, he's a freshman, he's played a lot of the first two games, and so you expect to see them him in there, too.

    They are also experienced at defensive back, boundary corner, Rucker, he's played in 21 games, and the field corner, he started the last couple of weeks. The starter from last year, Weaver, he's not starting, but he's obviously a third guy they get into the mix over at the corner. Behind Fortener, they take care of the safeties, they are both very similar players. And the other player, Kendall, Davis Clark, we'll see him especially in nickel, he plays their nickelback even though he is listed as a down the line corner for them. He does start for them and all their nickel situations.

    Coach Tressel, yes, the son of the running back coach, the nephew of the head coach of Ohio State, he coaches the linebackers but he's also the special teams coach where they have really excelled is in their punt return. They are averaging over 14 yards of punt return and their net punting is just about 44 yards. So when the opponent is punting it, net average is only 27.2 so you see their gaining some of that hidden yardage they have talked about very often.

    Swenson, his fourth season as the place ticker, second team all Big Ten last year. He also kicks off. But Conroy also shows up as a kickoff guy. Vince will handle the punting and he's a holder for the punt team. Shackleton is in his third year as the long snapper. Kickoff returns, it should be Winston and Jimmerson, and on punt returns, if they put a true returner look, it will be Martin and White. They have just put one guy back, will put Martin back, and when they put two guys back, White will be the other guy back there with them.

    Q. Any word on injuries?

    COACH WEIS: (Michael) Floyd didn't have any knee injury. He had 15 stitches in that knee, so what we will do is practice him and just not have him do monkey rolls and try to keep him off the ground and try to keep the cut from opening up this week. And also we will do all we can.

    But we told him he's from Minnesota and we gave him the hockey analogy; that if you get 15 stitches in a hockey game, usually you're out about five minutes and you're back in there. So we have been playing the Minnesota angle with him all week long. But fortunately he is getting around pretty good.

    The problem, one of my bigger concerns, is this campus, like every other campus, I'm concerned with the swine flu; in that we haven't had any firm cases of it, but because it's running around, all of the high schools and colleges around the country, that's all a concern of mine, and you know, kids can come down at last minute and get sick. Knock on wood, we continue to be relatively healthy.

    I would put (James) Aldridge not out, but I would say doubtful. He's going to run around some today. We will have to test the shoulder out. But I would still list him as doubtful for the game. Other than that, you could bring somebody up that I might be forgetting -- Armando is good. Bruised ego but other than that, I think should be just fine.

    Q. You talked the other day about talking with Coach Tenuta about the run defense. Anything you can talk about today that you can do this week?

    COACH WEIS: I think that there's definitely a plan in place. But you know I think that's something I wouldn't want to elaborate too much on. Today we are going to have to take a period where we go full speed offense against defense, and when it's the defensive playing time, you know, it's going to be offense running plays against him, trying to pound right at him.

    So that will be the point emphasis, when it's the defensive feature of this live period.

    Q. I know practice is just starting for the week, but can you talk about what you have seen from the players thus far?

    COACH WEIS: I actually talked a little about it on Sunday but I thought they did a very, very, very good job Sunday. And there was tons of players. Monday was the players' days off, but there were tons of players just stopping by to check in yesterday, that, you know, in an unusually high number. So obviously they had gotten the message across, like quit feeling sorry for yourselves, let's go to work.

    So there are a lot of guys around anxious to look at tape or having some meetings on their own with a group of guys. So I think it was -- they have done a nice job.

    Q. Getting back to the swine flu you were talking about a minute ago, is there anything you can do?

    COACH WEIS: Well, when a guy -- first thing we do, first thing we do is if a guy gives any symptoms of being sick at all, we, A, get him tested, but B, keep him away from everybody else, because that's really the No. 1 thing that you can do.

    I don't know if we've had any cases, documented cases, but I'm concerned. I'm concerned, because in any university, when you get thousands and thousands of students living in close proximity, I watched last week and I saw that North Carolina lost a couple of guys that were not going to play in the game against UConn. I don't know if they were last minute, but you always worry about it, and all of a sudden it's Thursday and one of your better players, or any player, comes down with the flu, they are out for probably three, four days once they are out.

    Q. Has anyone been sick?

    COACH WEIS: Oh, no, nothing -- I have more coaches with sniffles than I do with players, but they will be the first to tell you that maybe I don't care enough about them or something like that. But they have been sucking it up and pushing through it right there.

    But saying that, knocking on wood, so far, so good.

    Q. You mentioned you are well aware of the losing streak at Notre Dame --

    COACH WEIS: Yes, I am.

    Q. Is that something you bring up?

    COACH WEIS: Yes, I will.

    Q. How do you say it?

    COACH WEIS: Well, you know I always have a team Top 10. That will be very high up on the team Top 10.

    And probably the best point I can make, Tom, is to say, do you think this team is going to come in there after losing last week feeling like they have no chance to beat you? Well, the last six times they have come in here, they have done it. So they have plenty of evidence that they have done it. So I'm sure that they intend to come in here and make it seven in a row. I'm sure that's what their intent.

    Q. The live look at practice today won't come in the third period --

    COACH WEIS: That's a very good deduction.

    Q. Whenever a team plays more than one quarterback, it's a matter of different styles or guys that are similar. How would you compare and contrast these two guys?

    COACH WEIS: It's interesting. It's interesting. They are both playing well, but the first guy is playing -- he gets such good production. That's what surprised me. Not that they are both playing well, but that the first guy, I think he's, what, sixth in the country, something like that in his rating. So he's been very, very efficient in how he's doing it.

    But I think that they believe that there's not such a wide discrepancy between one and the other. I see it's potentially separating it more and more with Cousins getting more of the actions. I can see that happening. But to this point, they have kind of, in the same spot, second quarter, gone ahead and made the change.

    Q. And in terms of their style of offense?

    COACH WEIS: The second guy is a little bit more athletic, but I don't think that they have really -- it isn't like all of a sudden they go to change all of their running plays and become a different mentality. I think they both just run the offense.

    Q. Talking about the shift along the defensive line ... on the outside looking in, there's always a knee jerk reaction that if things don't go well with a couple of players early in the season, you make wholesale changes. From a coach's perspective, how do you draw the line between saying, "okay, this guy is out of the lineup and we will go to him," or trying to make your good players even better?

    COACH WEIS: Well, we are doing that with a few. We are already doing that with a few players and we do it on both sides of the ball now. So let's not just isolate just the defensive line, because that's the subject that you're talking about.

    The one thing you do -- let's say if I took one player on the defensive line and put him out and put somebody else in. Well, the perception would be that, A, that we are making him a sacrificial lamb; that all of the problems are coming because that have one player.

    So what you have to do is then put it in practice and you put the other guy where he might get two thirds of the reps or three quarters of the reps, now he might get half the reps and get the other guy ready to play, an equal amount or more based on what happens in the next game.

    It's important when there's some problems to solve, to not just take one person and isolate that, well, we are going to take him out and all of a sudden all of the problems are solved. It's a team game and I think that, you know, I think that that takes place in all across both Bronson at both positions. But because of the subject matter of the defensive line, that's basically how I've handled that.

    Q. Speaking of the offensive and defensive lines, Kapron (Lewis-Moore) was a guy that you had some high hopes for and I think he was awfully nervous, you had mentioned in the first game. Is he kind of making strides?

    COACH WEIS: Yeah, he's settled down. The thing is, the last game was so much nickel. So he becomes just a rotational player in nickel; whereas, base defense, he's a foundational player. You know, so he's an inside rotational player in nickel where an every down player on base defense. That's the only reason that we cut down on the volume of reps in the second game versus the first game.

    Q. With Shaq (Evans), what kind of things do you talk to him about after what unfolded in the final seconds? You did have a catch from him early and he seemed to be playing well for you in practice.

    COACH WEIS: Yeah, he made a few catches in the game. It all comes down to making sure that what you do in practice, is the same thing do you in the game. It's really no different. You know, you're running -- like in that case, you're talking about Eric, you run the comeback, run the comeback. If that's the route you're going to run, just go ahead and run it.

    You have to be consistent between practice and the games, and I think that especially a young guy, that's one part of a learning curve that sometimes you take for granted; that if they did it then, they do it the exact same thing in the same situation. Sometimes it doesn't play out that way.

    Q. I already have seen a lot of freshmen running around. Just wondering ... we have not seen Cierre Wood. Just your thoughts on him and what you've seen behind the scenes?

    COACH WEIS: Well, we travelled him to the game. We travelled him to the game. So obviously that wasn't just to take him on the trip. You travel him to the game just because he's getting closer.

    But as I said, back in training camp, probably this past week is the if I recall official evidence you guys got of what I was talking about with Armando (Allen). Not that he didn't play good in the first game, but you know, we as coaches, we don't make those comments about, it's Armando's job to lose without having visual evidence. And with as well as he's playing, you can see that means the volume of reps for all of the other guys is going to diminish because you're going to want him on the field as much as you can have him on the field.

    So like in the past, you might be rolling people through, but now you've got a guy who is playing really well and you don't want to give it to him too much and just wear him out but at the same time, I can't think of one play that I really want Armando off the field on.

    Q. The last thing I wanted to get into was a little bit of follow through. You said Sunday about sending things into various conferences ... do you ever get feedback, when you send those in, do they give you feedback back from there that?

    COACH WEIS: Yeah, they always do. And I think that's really just a private matter, they give you the feedback and you move on. Sometimes, whether you win or lose, you send in plays. So you just don't send in plays when you lose because when you win, you send in plays, too.

    So after the Nevada game, I sent in three plays and they definitely agreed with me with one, one was questionable and they disagreed with me on one. Every game, you send in 15 plays. It's just more for confirmation on what your thoughts were so that you know the next time the situation comes up, you're better prepared. I've moved on from there. We are on to Michigan State and that's where we are going.

    Q. Early on, even when Brian Smith doesn't have a particularly productive game, you can't help but notice the guy. What does he bring to that team?

    COACH WEIS: Well, Brian Smith plays the game with passion. He plays the game with passion. You know, sometimes people look at him and they want to know whether or not we have players that play with passion. Well, you don't ever have to worry about Brian Smith playing the game with passion.

    You know, that's -- to me, that is an asset. Some people can misconstrue some of his passion as a negative point, but I'll take a guy that plays with passion over a guy that doesn't play with passion every day of the week.

    Q. Obviously Brian gets so passionate, there are reports coming out he was doing some jawing with some of the Michigan guys. It has happened in the past. How do you react? Do you just let him go and do his thing and let himself get fired up or is that something you are concerned about?

    COACH WEIS: I didn't see it. I would have to have witnessed it myself to be able to comment on it because to me, if I don't see it happen and don't know what's being said, then it's just hear say. I'd have to witness it.

    Q. Is there such thing as a player being too passionate?

    COACH WEIS: Doubtful. I mean, you are talking about a guy who is living on the edge versus crossing the edge? There's people who cross the edge. I mean, you would think that when you play this game, it's that important to you; you would like to think that.

    Now, I also think that there comes times when people lose control, but that -- we are talking about passion. I doubt that there's such a thing where you could be too passionate.

    Q. What's going to be your approach to solving three holding calls that happened last week?

    COACH WEIS: Well, I think the first thing is what a couple of the guys told you about that I was riding them pretty hard last week in practice, that would be a good place to start.

    I think the best place to fix any problem, whether it be stopping the run or not to have holding calls is practicing, practicing on every play. I shouldn't have to be riding them. I don't wait till halfway through practice to all of a sudden say, I don't like what I'm seeing. It happens pretty quick, because I'm standing right there now and I'm standing right in the middle of that stuff.

    I think that their attention for detail is one of the easiest west ways to avoid things like that is attention to detail. I think that the monitor will just keep on growing every week.

    Q. When you talk about the ones that ... if he was just pushing the guy, it wouldn't have been a hold, is that what gave the idea the official to call it? Is it technique on something like that? Is it the position he's in?

    COACH WEIS: Sometimes a penalty can be bad luck. It still could be a penalty but it could be bad luck. Like I said we are not going to go into penalties, complaining about penalties now, and isolated cases. Sometimes you have a guy, one of your teammates chips a guy on to you and now all of the sudden, the guy who weighs 240 pounds and you weigh 320 pounds, they get thrown to the ground, and you know, because the positioning, he was on your outside and now he's on your inside and now he's going to the ground. It's just sometimes, you know, it's a bit unfortunate. That's what happens.

    Q. Kind of following up on what Tom talked about, about ten months ago you emphasized the bowl losing streak. You said you maybe you overemphasized it and there was some tightness the first two times around; is there a way to maybe overemphasize the streak at home against Michigan State?

    COACH WEIS: No. I think that what I need to do is use this as a point of emphasis, an emphasis for this week to get them focused to the matter at hand. You always look for the things each week, you go from mistakes from the previous week, you go from the positives from the previous week, but there's always a couple of, you know, trigger points that in each week, it's a different set of circumstances.

    But this week, you know, you can say, well, Michigan State, they just lost to Central Michigan on the last play of the game. So they are going to be down. Okay. That's one way of looking at it. The other way is they have won here six times in a row, why would they not expect to win this time?

    So it's been a very easy teaching tool. I don't think it's going to be overemphasized and I don't think it's going to be elaborated on like, you know, this is some 50 year -- 50 years of bad luck. I think it's just something that's an attention getter and I think that it will -- I bet you if I asked them right now, how many of them knew how many times, until it's reported, I bet you half of them wouldn't know. Now they will know, because I'll be telling them.

    Q. The defense was maybe a question mark this year, but the one area that was not was probably the secondary. Obviously Forcier had a tremendous game. Was that maybe more a by product of his scrambling abilities? What was your assessment of the secondary?

    COACH WEIS: I think any time you make plays moving from the pocket, you know, when plays -- a lot of the original plays break down, okay, it gets things out of sync. And I'm going to give you an analogy from nothing related to Notre Dame.

    But I know that any time that we were getting ready to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, we wanted could keep Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket, because any time he moved from the pocket, he was going to make a big play. Because when you move from the pocket, now all those zones that you're playing in, they all change.

    So where he's moving, you know, the quarterback did a nice job of moving from the pocket and in the pocket, and now all of a sudden, those same areas where you are may not be the areas where the ball is going any more. And that's not making an excuse for them making plays. That's just telling you the reality of how coverage zones change based off of where the quarterback goes, in the pocket versus out of the pocket.

    Q. So is it tough that way to grade just how the secondary did based on broken plays, perhaps?

    COACH WEIS: For me it's easy, I come over and say what did they do good and what did they do bad. Corwin is one of the toughest graders we have, so just gave a minus on everything. So it's pretty easy for me because I have a guy that I trust -- that I trust with that responsibility.

    Q. Barry (Gallup), when he replaced James Aldridge, there was an impression that he was just filling in, but he nearly took a kick back.

    COACH WEIS: He did a really nice job, and you know, what they did is they figured that Theo (Riddick), who had had one kickoff return in his college history, you know, was back there with new guy, so they kicked in a new guy, saying the new guy did pretty well.

    As a matter of fact, a couple of his returns, not only did he get good yardage, but he got more yardage than it was blocked for, because some of that yardage he got just by making a couple of guys miss. I thought did he a nice job.

    And he also did a nice job because he was the communicator back there. Like I said when I put James back there originally, I don't like the young guy being a communicator. So even on the first one you that he would like to bring out, Barry got there in time to keep him in the end zone, he was about five yards deeper right off the bat in the first one. But I thought Barry did a really nice job for us.

    Q. In addition to the six game home losing streak --

    COACH WEIS: Thanks.

    Q. -- the history of some really close games. Is there a reason why these games always end up copping down to the last minute or so?

    COACH WEIS: Well, I think the two teams like playing each other. We like playing Michigan State and they obviously like playing us, too. We have a lot of respect for their team and we know they are a tough, hard nosed team and know they always have been and always will be.

    If you follow the lead of their head coach who I think is a pretty darned good head coach; I think you know one thing when you play Michigan State, they are going to show up. You never have to worry about whether they are going to show up or not. They are always going to be there. And we'll be there, too.

    Q. In the past, talking about streaks and history and some of the last couple of years with younger teams, you wanted no part of it and said that streak doesn't have anything to do with this team. How do you decide when to go to a streak and history point and when to avoid it?

    COACH WEIS: Going back to Lou, the thing is, it's an attention getter. You know, this isn't to harp on -- they weren't around for all these games. But this gets their attention.

    Let's say if Michigan State would have just won 45-0 again in the second game. Well it's not going to take anything to get your attention. Two blowout wins in two games, you know, you have to be ready to go. Sometimes players can be falsely impressed by when they pick up and look at scoring and say, oh, they just lost to Central Michigan. It isn't that way.

    As soon as they take a look at that score, next thing, you say, fellas, how many of you guys know the last time Notre Dame won at home against Michigan State. It gets their attention in a hurry. It gets them back focused, back on track, as we say, which I think is a critical factor to make sure right off the bat they understand, hey, this is what we are dealing with this week.

    Q. With Jonas (Gray), obviously a difficult situation for him on Saturday, how do you get his confidence back and not to be callous about it, but do you have to worry about it this week?

    COACH WEIS: Yeah, we'll put him in a lot more today, more reps than he normally would get on a Tuesday, because I think that it's important to get somebody back and get them in the flow right off the bat. What you don't want to do is not, you know, let this procrastinate and go on right there. Today he will get more reps than he got last Tuesday, and it will help Armando (Allen) get a little bit more rest at the same time.

    Q. Between (Eric) Maust and (Ben) Turk, do you revisit that this week, or is that an overreaction there to a couple bad plays?

    COACH WEIS: We actually revisit it every week. You know, last week, we gave Ben half the punts and he was behind the other guy. Just because he has not played doesn't mean we wouldn't punt him so. We'll do it again this week like we did last week.

    You know, it's no different than when we were talking about the defensive line before. I think that you have to be ready to put other people in there, but you practice them half the time and one guy shows that he's better than the other guy, regardless of the last punt, you know, trust me, I saw it, too. But you have to look at production, too, and I think that tells the story.

    Q. Going back to something you mentioned, Roethlisberger getting out of the pocket, this might be inferring something from what you said, but if it is better to keep a guy inside the pocket and you're blitzing him all the time, doesn't that put him in a better position to make plays, or am I not understanding that?

    COACH WEIS: Not necessarily because usually there's fewer lanes and you have more guys coming. So that really comes into play more when there's a four man rush than when there's multiple rushers. I mean, from my experience, that's been the case.

    Q. On a team where people see marquee stars, Kyle McCarthy still seems to be under the radar. You talked a little bit about what his contributions are?

    COACH WEIS: I think one of the reasons why he's under the radar is because he doesn't make very many mistakes. You know, usually in the secondary, you're noticed when two things happen: Okay, one, when you make a big play; and the other one, when a big play seems to be missed by you. They don't see just the every down, just Steady Eddie, smooth sailing type of thing.

    And I think Kyle's been this way now for two years. He was like this last year, too. Seldom miss a tackle. Usually in the right spot. Okay, comes up with big plays. Okay, the interception the other day led to a score. Okay, now you see, he's just a solid football player.

    Q. Is it a matter of transformation or just the guys in front of him are being stopped?

    COACH WEIS: I think he was behind Zibby and just kind of grew and grew and grew and waited his turn and then he started playing a lot more after Zibby hurt his neck and he played more and more, and has turned into a really good football player.

    Q. Is Duval (Kamara) getting close to 100 percent, good blocking down the field, but is he at a point where he can run down the field now?

    COACH WEIS: Oh, I think that he's right there. I think he can go vertical down the field right now without too much of a problem. I think even in the first game, he could go down the field without too much of a problem. Just didn't practice as much leading into that game. But I don't think you'll have to worry about him getting down the field. I think we could do that now.

    Q. Is he in a situation now where he's in a more slot role or is it because (Michael) Floyd and (Golden) Tate have locked down the role on the outside?

    COACH WEIS: I think that between Duval (Kamara) and Robby (Paris) and a little bit of Shaq (Evans), you know, like the first week, Robby got more of it than Duval and the second week Duval got way more of it than Robby.

    Q. You mentioned a response to a point of emphasis on the passion that Brian brings to the game. Is that a problem for other players? Do they not bring enough passion?

    COACH WEIS: No, you have to play within your own personality. Not everyone has the same personality. Yours is different from mine, is different from Tom's. We are all different personalities. I think that you have to be you. You can't be a phoney. But he's a guy who wears his colors. He shows it. Not everyone's personality is like that.

    We just talked about Kyle McCarthy. You don't notice him very much. He's just as passionate as Brian, but he's not outwardly like that. But you look in his face, you know that his passion is just the same. He just doesn't show it the same way. So just because the guys are not hooting and hollering doesn't mean that they are not passionate. I think that each guy is going to do things within their own personality.

    Q. But as you read this team and you're trying to get them more focused during practice and have better practices, how do you fine tune that? Is it an individual thing where you have to fine tune it with each individual?

    COACH WEIS: I forget who asked the question earlier, somebody asked the questions about captains and leadership. It was an early question on.

    When I'm the one jumping on them from early in practice, that means the problems are being addressed and not being let go, which that's what happens. Okay, it becomes that much better when I don't have to do it. When they start doing it, that's when you know -- that's when you know that, okay.

    And I think that I've continued to see more evidence of this team being like that as we have gone through the summer and training camp, and it's been getting better every week.

    Q. Can you just talk about the weapons that Jimmy has in the passing game and have you been around anything like that before? I mean, obviously you coached Tom Brady --

    COACH WEIS: Yeah, but we didn't have receivers like this. I didn't have Randy Moss and a couple of these other guys. I used to have solid receivers that were good players. Hey, Jimmy is doing a heck of a job, but he's getting time to throw; he's doing a nice job. He's getting time to throw and the defensive coordinators have to decide to pick their poison.

    If they want to roll the one guy, if they want to roll the other guy, if they want to put heat on the quarterback, if they want to let you throw it to the tight end, let that halfback just have the ball and run free. I mean, it's down to the point now with the skill players that we have, in conjunction with the offensive line giving the quarterback more time; it presents a problem in the past.

    Q. Can you talk about what you've seen with Ethan (Johnson) in the middle?

    COACH WEIS: I think Ethan has continued to grow as an inside player. I think some of the guys on defense are a little frustrated; a little frustrated because they have -- the games, the style of play in the first two games, has been at least, at least somewhat unconventional. You don't just get up there and line up a play. These first two games have been assignment football games, especially teams that run options like that.

    I think that this game this week is going to be a little bit more of a conventional game where, you know, a little bit more of the smash-mouth mentality that I think you'll see this week.

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