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    Fighting Irish


     

    An Interview with Bob Davie

    Football head coach prepares for Purdue.

    Sept. 22, 1998

    JOHN HEISLER: Kickoff this week is at 1:37 here in South Bend. For those of you on the satellite feed there will be five minutes of highlights from the Michigan State game at the end of our interview. Our 11:30 Sunday wrap-up will Bob Davie will happen in the Joyce Center.

    Coach Davie is here. He will make some opening remarks.

    COACH DAVIE: I think first of all, seems like an awfully long time since we have played. All of us are (inaudible) these Open Dates are extremely tough especially when you come off a loss like we had at Michigan State. The bottom line is the only way you can get through this and feel better is to go play better and to win.

    It has been a tough couple of weeks. But I think in all honesty, the Open Date came at a good time for us. We were able to use last weekend and do a couple of different things.

    First, the coaching staff left Thursday night after practice including -- (inaudible) all across the country (inaudible) that gave us the opportunity over the weekend to watch our opponents play.

    It is amazing how many games are on television. It is phenomenal and I sympathize with the fans and probably with you guys who are watching those games. It is hard to watch them. It is exhausting by the end of the day. It is really exhausting when you watch, I guess, 10 of our opponents play and all ten -- that is 10 and 0. But I think you also see in the bigger picture just what a tremendous sport college football is. You watch those games and you see the emotion. You see the atmosphere. It is a tremendous game. You see what a major difference there is between winning and losing.

    Particularly you watch that Tennessee/Florida game Saturday night, just an incredible game of college football. I am sure all of you saw the Harris Pole result. I saw them last week. They came outside (inaudible) Notre Dame is No. 1 most recognized, most liked, or whatever, respected college football program in the country. That is really something I talked to our players about and our coaches about that we need to take responsibility for that because when you watch other things happening across this country, there are some tremendous places, tremendous atmospheres in college football. So for Notre Dame to have that honor, that is quite an honor and there is some responsibility that goes with that.

    We did a couple of things over the weekend; certainly watched our opponents play. I think the most important thing we have done over the last couple of weeks is settle our football team down, get our feet back on the ground. No question, the first two weeks of the season, we expended an awful lot of energy, probably the highest high you can have in beating Michigan, defending national champions. And, probably the lowest low you can have in the way we played and the way we lost to Michigan State.

    There is an old saying that nothing as good as it seems; certainly nothing is as bad as it seems. I think that is really true with this football team. The reality is we are a 1 and 1 team that has played two really good people. We were able to execute against Michigan; hang in there and momentum eventually came our way because we executed it fairly well and we played hard.

    Against Michigan State we didn't execute early. We had the punt block. We gave up some big plays. We never could rebound from that momentum. But I think the exciting thing is that it shows the potential of this football team. Second thing we did, after getting our feet on the ground was -- the reality, we need to improve as a team. We have taken the approach that it really doesn't matter if we are 1 and 1, 2 and 0, or we are 0 and 2, we have to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. That is improving as a football team in a lot of areas, finding a way to beat Purdue. So it doesn't really matter what the record is after these first two game. We still have to get better and still have to improve.

    The truth is, we are still developing as a team; still working on some of our concerns. I think the first concern as I have mentioned -- obviously, we are inexperienced at quarterback. The reason I talk about quarterback position - all you have to do is watch these games on -- when you see how valuable the quarterback is, no question it is the most valuable position in football. And, we are inexperienced there. But you also see the potential we have at quarterback with some of the things that Jarious Jackson has done. I have been pleased with his progress. I really do think he will continue to get better.

    Second thing is we have talked about repeatedly, we are inexperienced at cornerback. That may be the second most critical position in college football. We have given up some big-play, not just because of our corners but there have been times when -- but I do think we are getting better there. I do think we have some players that have the ability to develop.

    The third thing we are still developing on the defensive line. We haven't been extremely productive there. It goes hand-and-hand with why we have given up some yards passing. We haven't had a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We are working at it. We have a lot of young guys that I think have some ability.

    Fourth thing, we are continuing to work hard in the kicking game. Obviously the punt block, the punt that we had blocked against Michigan State jumps out at you. The kickoff return Michigan State had, mid-field when it was 14-3 (inaudible) we are better right now in the kicking game, in my opinion, than we were last year at this time.

    So the truth is we are still developing, we still have concerns, and we must execute. But if we can execute; continue to develop, I do see the potential we have as a team. The other thing we use this as an opportunity to get healthy. That is a reality as well.

    We played Michigan State. We ended up with three starters out on defense. That is a lot of experience. Not only do we have some feelings hurt, but we had some guys hurt. We probably had six, seven players that were hurt that really last week couldn't practice; may not have been able to play in a game last week, at least not play 100%. We have used it as a chance to get healthy. The guys that will be out for this game, Benny Guilbeaux will be out; Donald Dykes the young defensive back, really a setback with us, Donald would have played on special teams, would have played this week. Donald Dykes cracked his collar bone last week in practice. We were on a 1 and 1 drill. He dove out, extended to the ball; came down; (inaudible) had shoulder pads on, really unfortunate.

    I think Ronnie Nicks is probably less than 50% for this game although he did practice a little bit yesterday. And Brock Williams has a hip flexor, a concern he did not practice full speed yesterday. We are much healthier than we were a week ago.

    You look at Purdue, guys all watch Purdue play. You have watched them. It is a big challenge for us. I am really impressed with the job they have done. They are a confident football team. They were 9 and 3 last year. They are off to a 2 and 1 start having won two games, and they have done a great job. You can see their confidence because they make plays. Offensively they go up and make some catches. Defensively they have had some interceptions; return balls for touchdowns. They have attacked the quarterback at times and they have blocked some kicks and done some things in the kicking game. So they are making plays and they have done a good job; got some new faces; went out, got some Junior college transfers that are playing a role for them. They are doing a good job and it will be a big challenge.

    You look at their offense - last year I think they averaged 33 points a game, (inaudible) 460 yards a game first in the Big-10. They had success against us last year. They had success against just about everybody they played last year. When you look at it, it is a challenge because they spread the field. Any time you spread the field those (inaudible) the stakes go up because you have a chance to have a big-play or give up a big-play every time the ball snaps. They spread the field and not only throw the ball, but they can hurt you in the running game because they spread people out of the box.

    Last year I think they through 14 passes behind the line of scrimmage. That is a major statistic - talk about in college football being able to block downfield, that ball thrown behind the line of scrimmage, that is a concern. Good job with those bubble screens. I think from a defense standpoint you really have to be strongly conditioned, both mentally and physically because they give you a lot of looks, rotate a lot of players in there and mentally it wears you down and physically.

    We have had time to prepare and I am kind of looking forward to the challenge. Their wide receivers, they have an awful lot of them, spread the ball around, play a lot of them. I like their runningback -- both of them, junior college runningback No. 34, looks like he is getting better; got a red shirt freshman; (inaudible) really did some good things second half against Florida.

    Their quarterback Brees, good player, good high school player; makes quick decisions; has a quick release. And, he can run with the football which is another concern when you spread the field. Defensively, I think they have made steady improvements from last year. They play hard. Not bashful; not afraid to blitz you. They are not afraid to move that front around. They have got two defensive ends that are really good athletes. Both of them are really good players, big-play players. They have got three linebackers that really -- four linebackers all of which have been converted from different positions. Not the biggest guys, but a lot of speed.

    Their secondary, I think, makes plays, the free safety if you watch him against Rice came up; made a lot of big hits (inaudible) a young man from Boston College, and their corner No. 11 is a play-maker. So all and all, it is going to be a challenge and kicking game -- their punter is averaging 44 yards a punt. They have got a true freshman that does their kickoffs -- excuse me, does their field goal kicks, so it is going to be a challenge.

    I think the challenge for us is obviously bounce back and to play better, but there is certainly a lot of football left. As I said, we are 1 and 1. We have played two good teams. I said before the season that regardless of what happened in those first two games, I expect this football team to make steady progress and improve as the team went on because we do have some young players in critical positions and I still feel the same way. So there is an awful lot of football left. At this point I will be happy to take any questions.

    Q. Coach, since you have been rotating the defensive front this year to keep players fresh, do you think given Purdue's tension to strike quickly on their scoring drives that this will be its greatest test or the fastest legs on defense are going to meet the fastest legs on offense?

    COACH DAVIE: Well, I think rotating the defensive line has helped us. Because it has kept -- kids obviously have been fresh, so physically it helps you a little bit, but it also helps to you develop more players, more players get a chance to play. I think that is critical against Purdue. Last year, really we got worn down early in that game. The drive early, I think probably their second drive of the game they took it 99 yards on us. From that point of the game we never really recovered.

    I do think we are a better conditioned football team and I do think it helps us rotating our defensive linemen. Obviously the concerns a little bit more in the secondary, because we do have two injuries back there with Benny Guilbeaux and Donald Dykes, but we do have more players at this time that we had last year. I think that will help us.

    Q. Just quickly a follow-up on Purdue's defensive side of the ball. They shut the quarterback down pretty much 'til the end of the game last week even though he did get his numbers, but can you just kind of comment on what a decent job they did against one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country?

    COACH DAVIE: I think the thing you see with their defense is that they are opportunistic. They come up with plays. You look at Rice ends up going for a two-point play to tie the game, make the play. Certainly Florida at times moved the football on them, but they came up with an interception. So they are that kind of a defense. They are opportunistic. They have got some good athletes that jump around and can make plays. They have made steady improvement. So I am impressed with their defense. They play extremely hard as does their whole football team.

    Q. What are your thoughts about the possibility of Notre Dame joining the Big-10 in the future?

    COACH DAVIE: The way I see it we are in that Big-10. We play Michigan, Michigan State and now Purdue. I haven't really put a whole lot of thought into that. I am not trying to be evasive, but obviously that decision is in the capable hands of Mike Wadsworth and Father Bill and (inaudible) and all the people that will be making it. So, I see it as a win/win situation for us as a football program either way. But I am totally comfortable in the role we are right now as an independent - NBC contract, with the Bowl agreement, and the second tier Bowls, with the Big East, I am really comfortable with where we are. No, I haven't put a whole lot of thought into it to be quite honest.

    Q. I wondered if you could talk about some of the progress maybe you have seen from some of the freshmen. I know last week was a chance for you as a coaching staff to take little closer look at who might be ready. And then since you are part of the Big-10, could you just -- having played and prepared for Michigan and Michigan State in consecutive weeks, talk about that matchup this weekend; what you saw and what you might see this weekend?

    COACH DAVIE: Well, the first question on the freshman, this is really a strong freshmen class. One good thing about last week, with the injury, we did have an opportunity to really look at a lot more young players and kind of break it down on offense. Arnaz Battle, we like. We like Arnaz Battle. He continues to show improvement. He is a very steady young man. He has a bright future. Tightend John Owen, contributor already as a freshman, starter on the punt team. He will be a starter on a couple more special teams. He is a good football player.

    The two receivers, Javin Hunter and David Givens both will play this week. Javin Hunter has made progress. Like to get him in the football game. We have got a couple good offensive linemen Jordan Black and Ryan Scarola as well as Jeff Roehl shown some progress, also Tony Fisher. Tony Fisher has made a move. Tony Fisher will probably get in this football game against Purdue. So we have been impressed with the freshman on offense.

    On defense, Donald Dykes was a young man that is going to be a starter on special teams. Unfortunately he had the collar bone. Tony Weaver starts for us as a true freshman. Right now our most productive defensive linemen; probably our best defensive linemen right now. Rocky Boiman is a young man that we moved from safety. He was a high school safety from Cincinnati that we moved to linebacker. We are excited about him.

    Clifford Jefferson will get a chance to play a little bit this week, I think. We have also moved Terrance Howard to safety. David Miller, our place kicker is starting to make a move; looks like he is starting to get used to kicking without the ball on the tee. I hope I haven't missed anyone. But this freshman class is extremely talented and it is crucial for us to go out and recruit this (inaudible) freshmen class and I think you will see more and more as they progress.

    When you look at Michigan, Michigan State, that is going to be a good football game. Michigan State I think is really talented, extremely talented on defense. Their front 7, I was very impressed in our game. We got behind a little bit. They were able to get up the field and use their athleticism. We had a hard time on offense with the crowd noise, our offensive linemen were (inaudible) beat off the punch a little bit. Michigan State was beating us off the ball, but they have got great quickness on defense and I think they are really a good defensive football team. Offensively I think they have really strong receivers - those two wide receivers. They have got a heck of a runningback. So, it is going to be a great football game.

    I think Michigan State probably has a little bit of momentum coming off the win against us, and then going into the Open Date, Michigan has won a bunch of football games; I think it will be a great game.

    Q. How do you feel about your special teams play coming into this weekend?

    COACH DAVIE: I think we have made improvement in special teams. The punt block against Michigan State was really unfortunate as I mentioned earlier. That just shouldn't happen. That was critical in that game. Then the other mistake was when it was 14-3 we had kicked a field goal and I really felt we can get back in it. Scott ran the kickoff back to our side of the filed. So we had one breakdown in kickoff coverage, but we have also had some incredible efforts in the kicking game. Lee Lafayette has done some great things. Tony Driver has done some great things. Our kicker kicked the ball probably that -- I guess it was from the 25 yard line, or the 20 yard line, kicked the ball, Hunter Smith kicked the ball out of the end zone. Got good punt coverage; good kickoff.

    Our kickoff returns, Darcey Levy almost broke one. So across the board, we have shown improvement in the kicking game, but the punt block was devastating. We all saw what that did for the momentum in that game. I think we are getting better in special teams. We have spent a lot of time at it. The young players are really starting to step up and being able to help this football team.

    Q. As important as it is to have a bunch of defensive linemen to shuttle in and out, are you going to be able to get them in and out between players; doesn't Purdue run their offense pretty quick?

    COACH DAVIE: A good point. I think -- that is the one thing about shuttling guys in. But if you watch Purdue, they have a lot of players coming on and off that field as well. But it is a little bit tougher for defensive linemen - (inaudible) That is a little bit of concern. I think you have to be careful where the ball is on the field and what half the ball is on because there is some times when that ball is down at the far end of the field on the other half, it is 100 yards to just to get them in there. (inaudible) I think you bring up a good point because Purdue is a little bit more of a fast-break type of offense. We are going to be careful how we do that.

    One thing with our games at home with those TV timeouts, we usually have an opportunity to slow things down a little bit.

    Q. What about Purdue's defense, what do they bring to the table that you have to worry about, especially this week?

    COACH DAVIE: I think big plays. They have got some big-play performers in those defensive ends. Corner No. 11 gets his hands on a lot of ball. The free safety will hit you. They move the front around. They are going to be moving that front a lot. They are not afraid to blitz. I think you have to watch giving up the big-play against Purdue's defense; you have to get -- where they have to just execute down after that. Don't give them the big-play.

    Q. Following the Michigan State game first thing you said in an interview (inaudible) did you just feel at the time that that was the way to handle it or did you look at it as you should have done some things differently in preparation for the gauge?

    COACH DAVIE: Well, any time -- I was speaking from the heart because any time you have that kind of a breakdown, it is 42 to 3 at halftime, you have had a blocked punt, given up big passes, you have had two personal foul penalties on defense, out of frustration; you have had things on offense where you had a couple of penalties because of crowd noise. The kicking game, -- they run the kickoff, it was just a total breakdown. So start pointing fingers, you better point it at yourself because it is your responsibility.

    To answer your question, as far as preparation, that is always a tough thing. I think preparing that week -- I talked to our players last night. We said all the right things. We talked about putting the Michigan game behind us; that we were 1 and 0 last year at that time, no more back-slapping, all those things were the right things to say. But it didn't work. But the responsibility is with me, so the preparation didn't work. And I had just think, Tim, when you have that kind of breakdown, there is no one else's responsible for that other than me (inaudible).

    Q. Who is Bobbie Howard and what does he mean to your team and what does he (inaudible) --

    COACH DAVIE: Bobbie is really a positive person. It is hard to get Bobbie to say anything bad about anyone. If you ask Bobbie about the preparation, Bobbie isn't going -- Bobbie is just a positive person because of the way he has been raised. If you have been around his mom and dad, you can see why.

    Bobbie is a guy that goes out and takes care of his business and stays focused. He doesn't put a whole lot of thought into outside things and outside scenarios. He is really a focused young man. He is that way academically and he is that way football-wise with. It is not -- it would be a chore interviewing -- he is not a reporter's dream, I promise you that. He is not going to be the most quoted guy, but he is a really solid, solid honest person. You know exactly what you are getting every time. I think that is why he is a good captain because of the way he performs.

    He played the whole Michigan State game really on the (inaudible) really took him off the punt team, he was starter on the punt team. Had him off the punt team; ended up hurting us. He has gone out and played and practice everyday with that knee. That says a lot about him. You are right, he is not going to be the most flamboyant guy (inaudible) --

    Q. (inaudible)

    COACH DAVIE: He was a starter on the punt team and had to come off the punt team while he -- now that he is healthier (inaudible).

    Q. (inaudible) --

    COACH DAVIE: This is a big game - no question about that. Of course they are all big, but this is a big game. There is no getting around that. This is a big football game. Our football team knows that. Our coaching staff knows that. It is a big game for Purdue as well. So I think you don't worry about winning the game. That sounds maybe contrary, but you worry about playing well, worry about executing. You worry about playing 100% (inaudible) -- you know, it is not winning the game as much as just playing as good as you can play.

    Q. (inaudible) Different approach? How are you preparing for the game?

    COACH DAVIE: (inaudible) it is a big game because it is a big game. We are 1 and 1 and Purdue is a big rival. They are a good football team. And you know, we haven't approached it any different. It would be hard to approach it anymore than we have approached them in the other one. We have prepared as hard as we can, and as thorough as we can every week, so to answer your question we haven't approached it -- (inaudible) --

    Q. Why do so many coaches use freshmen as backups primarily on coverage team and other special teams?

    COACH DAVIE: Because I think you want 100% of that player's attention. I know when I was a young player, to have the opportunity to get on the field, that coach had my attention in that area. A lot of times, no matter how much you say it, no matter how much you make an emphasis on it, if a player is a starter at a certain position, there may not be as much emphasis with that certain player on special teams (inaudible). What we try to do is evaluate each player.

    For instance, a Bobbie Howard is a Bobbie Howard whether he is on linebacker and is third and one on the one-yard line or it is Bobbie Howard (inaudible), he is going to approach everything exactly the same, but that is not always the case. I think you want players on there where 100% attention is given. A lot of times on special teams it is not just athletic ability. It is want-to and it is technique and it is a lot of other things.

    I think you evaluate each one on an individual basis. I think there is a place for starters if they are going to be 100% committed (inaudible).

    Q. Other thing is having been sort of familiar with the Purdue situation right before you took over Notre Dame, how surprised were you at their turnaround last year given the current level (inaudible) -- how would you compare their talent level with Notre Dame's talent level overall?

    COACH DAVIE: It is hard. That is always a hard question to compare talent levels. I know going in and being involved in that Purdue situation last year, I know their administration felt they had a lot of good football players coming back. I am not saying anything that Joe Tiller, I am sure, wouldn't agree with. That they felt that Jim Coletto had done an outstanding job and that they were close to getting over the hump. And I could see that. They had a lot of good players and they felt their schedule was favorable the next couple of years. But they have done a tremendous job. That scheme on offense adds a lot, let's be honest.

    I know when Joe Tiller was hired, I'd watch Wyoming over the years and I'd watch those WAC teams enough to know that that was going to be a problem. So they have done a good job and they have gone out and supplemented their talent with junior college players that have helped. To compare their talent and our talent, I don't know, I think that is -- I'd rather just stay away from that. I don't think I know enough about their players (inaudible) --

    Q. (inaudible) -

    COACH DAVIE: I think any time you can bring players in that have two years of experience and they are your backups and they are your starters by the second, third, fourth game as compared to freshmen coming in, there is probably an advantage there, just on maturity and on having played the game for a couple more years. So I think that is probably an advantage -- (inaudible).

    Q. Could you expand a little on the importance of this week as far as restoring confidence and setting a tone for later weeks in the season?

    COACH DAVIE: Yeah, I think I mentioned Purdue is a confident football team and they should be. And I think we have the potential to be a confident team, but some good things have to happen. You have to get started. What helped - even it may seem insignificant - was that we were able to come back in the second half against Michigan State. I know there is a lot of different ways to spin that, but we were able to come back and we finished the game playing hard and had some degree of success. So you look at it, we are not going to let one half of football - block punt, big passes, breakdowns that were of own making - I give Michigan State all the credit.

    We are not going to let one half of football wreck everything that we have worked to build. I think the way the game finished at Michigan State even though it may seem insignificant to some people, we have got something to build on because of that. I think you can talk about confidence all you want, you get confident when you are out there just preparing and working hard and you feel good about your preparation and you feel good about how hard you have worked and we are taking that approach. But, it is. Confidence is a big part of athletics, certainly a big part of football.

    Q. (inaudible)

    COACH DAVIE: Because you lost the last game, yeah, I think you look at the bigger picture. We were able to beat Michigan in the opening game. We were able to come back in the second half of the Michigan State who is a really talented football team. And it is significant though because you are coming off a loss to go back out and get things going in a positive way. (inaudible).

    Q. To go against a Purdue defense or offense, I am sorry, that has completed 14 of 26 passes behind the line of scrimmage, do you approach them -- almost to let them complete the pass and then get them or do you go against the pass? How does that defense --

    COACH DAVIE: It starts with everything - you have to evaluate how much pass-rush you can legitimately get if the ball is going to be thrown that quick. But also when you look at all those different screens, you try to have a technique in which the top (inaudible) you try to figure out which formations they are coming from and how they are doing it. It is like anything, you try to solve what the problem was. But it is a different kind of offense. I mean, there is a lot of short passes that turn into big gains. That is the thing about spreading that football field. It takes obviously (inaudible).

    Q. Talking to Jim last night about just the offense against Michigan State. How do you guys go about (inaudible) a game where you said 99% of the time against Michigan ran on first down and that we didn't want to do that this time and we wanted to show them we can -- where does the philosophy start? Is that like a Sunday morning type of thing (inaudible) --

    COACH DAVIE: I think that is all week. I mean, that -- and I think really Jim does an outstanding job as does our offensive staff. One thing you have got to be careful of is not to give people too much credit. We are coming out the Michigan game, felt like you probably had to throw the ball more than ten times.

    Jarious needed to have some success early to get his feet on the ground. We threw the curl, the first play against Michigan State come up with two tightends; get them in the coverage, we want to throw the curl; the guy is wide open. Jarious throws the -- overthrows the ball. Now you come back and you are going to still run the ball on second and 10. (inaudible) we got behind so early that everything gets thrown out of whack. So you can't just look at it statistically and say, well, you threw the ball 32 times against Michigan State and only 10 against Michigan, you should have only thrown it ten times against Michigan State. It doesn't work that way, the flow of the game. Going in, so much of it is based on X and Os and what you anticipate, -- sometimes what -- you know they are going to be in certain formations; you try to take advantage of that. And what is frustrating is when you do get it matched up the way you want and all that preparation went into it, but it still comes down to execution, still comes down to (inaudible) but that is a good question. That is a complex question of how you come up with those game plans.

    The reality is we have to run the ball to be successful. We cannot get way behind. We do have the ability to throw the football. But that is really not our makeup is to play catchup; try to come back fast. Unfortunately, against Michigan State, we got caught in that trap. So, throwing it on first down or not throwing it on first down, the way that whole thing is going to fit is not that big of an issue. It has been the balance of things that is in context of how the game goes, what the scenario of the game is. But we have to run the ball. There is no mistake about that.

    Q. (inaudible) I commented on our radio show that I thought that was (inaudible) inordinate amount of time (inaudible) coming off a game such as Michigan State. Then I backtrack a little bit and I wondered outloud whether (inaudible) I am still not clear in my mind what that three day -- what happened with those three days?

    COACH DAVIE: First of all, you have to give them two days because you have to give them a day off a week so we came back and we went -- what I wanted to do was come back the Sunday after the Michigan State game. I wanted to show that tape to our football team as quickly as we could show it. Because I wanted to get that tape watched and I wanted to take our time in that tape and I wanted to go through every play. We brought them back Sunday after the Michigan State game to watch that tape.

    We practiced Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, full pads. We had to give them one day off that week so it had to be either Friday or Saturday to give them that day off. Now we have to give them one day off this week, so I had to give them Sunday off. See what I am saying? What we did, I gave them Saturday completely off for last week; gave them Sunday off for this week. Friday what we had them do was come in, lift weights. (inaudible) So they really -- it was in our best interest just have them lift eights Friday for a couple of reasons. One, it is hard to practice more than four straight days in full pads. Two, wanted to get the coaches all out recruiting. Didn't want to take that whole weekend (inaudible) I think we had a good plan. I hope that cleaned it up for you. (inaudible).

    Q. You see the No. 1 team in the country trailing at halftime and two Top-10 teams lose to Tennessee by one point, UCLA struggling. Is the picture so muddled and the championship run this season that it is going to be impossible to figure out all season, does it give you some hope maybe that if Notre Dame goes to where you want to be, you can get back in that picture?

    COACH DAVIE: I think it is muddled. I think that is another thing you see watching these games. I mean, anything can happen on a given week. We talked about that a lot. That is why the premium is on execution. It is just down to executing every week. You see that -- I mean, there is a million scenarios each week that come up. Yeah, I think it is going to be -- I think there is some -- that is why I say we are a 1 and 1 team, played two good teams and there is a lot of football left. But for us to go get in the middle of something we have to play better.

    We have to execute better. There is the old saying, there is not a team on our schedule that we can't beat. There is not many on there that you just say we are going to go out there and (inaudible) that is how it has become. It is going to be a week-to-week situation. That is why when you watch these games on television, when you only play 11 of them, that is why you see there is such a huge difference between winning and losing. There is some unbelievable emotion in college football, life and death every time you go out there, and -- but it is intriguing. It is hard to pick them now.

    Q. Could you comment on Tony Driver, he got a lot of publicity last week for missing one practice. Has that all been revolved to everyone's satisfaction?

    COACH DAVIE: It has been revolved in my mind. I think that, you know, it is unfortunate that it became such a big story, but I can understand why it did. Because he did leave. I think he left our campus Monday at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We talked to him. We were with him all morning. He left at 2 o'clock and he got back Tuesday at about 3:30 or 4 o'clock, so he did leave. I understand why that became a story. It is kind of unfortunate with all the emotions and all the things, I think when you are involved in it as closely as we are, you guys realize this too, how many different things are going on (inaudible) -- it is amazing.

    I thought that watching the Tennessee/Florida game Saturday night, those guys are out there just playing their heart out in that atmosphere; got those two states just heavily involved in those games, think of all those other things going on in those young men's mind - they are young men. And the homesickness issue, there is the academic grind on them, and there is a lot of things going on and that is why I didn't overreact to that, but I did take it serious because he left. I mean, he had enough problems that he felt he needed to get away. I think we can work through that. In fact, I know we can.

    Q. Problems that Jarious has had with his accuracy in game situations, I guess he will be (inaudible) looks like it is a situation where maybe he is a little bit different quarterback in these game situations than he is in practice? Maybe a little pumped up; that is why he is overthrowing receivers? I know there was an issue about his arm position (inaudible) --

    COACH DAVIE: There is a couple of things. I think Jarious shoulder comes up high at times. Sometimes his left hand comes off the ball. And he is one-handed all the way with it. He is a guy that hasn't played a lot that is now playing a lot of football. And I think you are going to see continued improvement with Jarious. He is pretty consistent in practice. He does some tremendous things on the practice field. It is just getting him to be consistent. But I think he can get there.

    We have spent a lot of time talking with him. (inaudible) as long as you have that kind of attitude with the kind of ability he has, I think he is going to continue to improve. Because what happens, as I said many times, that the quarterback position, there is so much riding on it particularly on our offense with the options and the different things we are doing; for us to be successful, he needs to play well. And I think he will continue to improve. But the bottom line, got to do it out there when the lights are on and he realizes that and I think he will.

    Q. How do you feel watching TV last Saturday when all of your opponents were playing well and winning and did it ever get to a point where you thought about turning the TV off?

    COACH DAVIE: Whether they won or lost really I made a joke about that, that is not really much of a concern (inaudible) I watch Stanford North Carolina obviously, Cincinnati, watched Purdue, so it is not that much of a concern to me as it is, did they win or lose, have to play with the Dog a little bit (inaudible). It was a tough week on the Dog last week. Not only did we lose to Michigan State, but then he bit the tossles off a new pair of my loafers (inaudible). It was a bad week for Reggie (sic).

    Q. You talked about the importance of getting in after Michigan State and taking a look at the film. How long a time was there (inaudible) hanging over from that and what do you do to get them back in a positive state of mind?

    COACH DAVIE: You don't bounce back from that in a day. We talked about watching that tape Sunday and getting that all behind us. It doesn't work that way. That was -- it was devastating. You go in there, it is 42-3 at halftime. It just takes some time. That is why I say I think it is fortunate that we didn't play last week; that coupled with the injuries that we had (inaudible) but I think you bounce back by working hard and correcting the mistakes you made and in the game like that, there were so many things that were evident that we know we can do better and then you set out a plan to go try to get better at doing them. The thing you see is that there are problems that we can correct - that we can get corrected through hard work. (inaudible) --

    Q. At what point in the high school level can you actually make contact with the student, game 1? (inaudible) were your coaches out talking -- (inaudible) --

    COACH DAVIE: We are in an evaluation period right now so there is no face-to-face contact. Actual date for that is December 1. It is strictly an evaluation period of watching high school teams and watching (inaudible) what we try to use was -- we used this week more for kids that we already had had some contact with, that were in our summer camp and we were following up on their progress or they have been in our camp, so, we still cannot contact them in person.

    Q. I was curious is there any advantage in seeing them play instead of watching the videotape or film where you can watch slowly, forward, backwards?

    COACH DAVIE: That is the point I made, most of the kids we went out to see we already know. There is a little bit of them knowing you are there and how important they are to you because you can't evaluate off (inaudible) even though it is an evaluation period, I think there is some public relations gained from having coaches out. But we weren't out really just chasin needles in a hay stack and evaluating as much as we wanted to get out there and have them know that we were in their high school and at the game.

    Q. Where do you get the leads for the thousands of kids across the country?

    COACH DAVIE: That is a huge job. That is a huge job. There is a lot of different areas, you know, through recruiting, through our own identification. That is a never-ending job finding those kids. That is something that we feel like we are doing a pretty good job on now. Combining their athletics with their academics. We have got it organized pretty well right now. (inaudible). JOHN HEISLER: Thank you very much.


     
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