Interview With Coach Bob Davie

Sept. 25, 2001


COACH DAVIE: I've been encouraged since the game on Sunday as to how our players and coaches have responded. Obviously, you need to win. You need to win, and you can only ask them to keep responding and responding and responding, they need to get some satisfaction to win a football game.

But on offense, it's obvious right now, the story is Carlyle Holiday is going to be the quarterback. That by no means implies that Matt LoVecchio is the reason that we are 0?2 or that Matt LoVecchio is the reason that we have only scored ten points in each of our first two games, but the reality is that we are not scoring enough points. Carlyle deserved that opportunity to see if he can generate points.

But it's too easy of a message ?? and I don't want that message conveyed to our football team, to our coaches, to our fans, to anyone, that it is just a simple solution of changing quarterbacks. I think our team understands that we need execution in all phases, but I think we made some steps Saturday to start executing better.

I was pleased with our running game. Although, at times, we had breakdowns and that continues to keep shooting ourselves in the foot. I was pleased with some of our third down conversions passing, but we didn't get as many opportunities or convert as many opportunities as we have liked. So we did make a little bit of progress on offense. We need to take the next step, and maybe Carlyle can provide that spark by giving us an opportunity to hit more home runs or make a big play.

Defensively, I think we have been okay. Maybe you would term it as being solid so far. The disappointment has been that we have not created turnovers and put our offense in great field position. We created the one turnover against Nebraska, really. We had the ball on the plus?35 where we didn't get points. The kicking games provided two field positions for offense, but on defense, we need to get the ball and we need to get the ball in good scoring position for our offense.

Kicking game, I thought we did some things better against Michigan State. I thought our coverage was a little bit better. I thought our kickoff return was a little bit closer to what we are used to. I see some positives. I really feel like we are a better football team against Michigan State. Obviously, we are in a position to win, we didn't win.

I totally expect this to be another close game this week. I'm anxious to go down there and play. I think this will be a really a unique atmosphere for our football team. It's kind of interesting, I guess RC is a little bit spoiled. I talked to RC before the Nebraska game several times and we talked about Nebraska's crowd and he said, "Really, it's a tremendous play ?? to play, at Nebraska. They have got great fans. They are unbelievable loyal. But it's not a real loud place to play."

So, you can imagine what it's going to be like in College Station, if RC didn't think that Nebraska was a loud place to play. So we have done a lot, really, since the Nebraska game. We have talked an awful lot about our communication as a football team on offense. We have addressed some things. We are going to certainly find out if we made the positive steps. I think it's an exciting game for a lot of our players. Wee got a lot of players from the State of Texas. We obviously have coaches who have coached there and there's a lot of respect.

But there's a lot of pride on this football team. There's a lot of pride on this coaching staff. The bottom line: We've been book backed in the corner, all of us, but I fully expect that we are going to come out swinging. I've been encouraged by the last couple of days about how our team has rallied.

So, you know, even though we are an 0?2 team, and I understand where a lot of people would be down on us right now, we're playing in a hostile environment. I feel pretty good. I like this football team, as I've said before, and I think we have an opportunity to become a pretty good team.

So, John, maybe open it up to some outside calls.

Q. You said you liked what you saw from your team last week in terms of attitudes. What have you seen? What are these guys saying to you?

COACH DAVIE: I think sincerity. I don't think we have any pretenders on this football team. I've seen toughness, mental toughness that are only things that probably a coach would appreciate.

And to be honest, I saw things on that tape against Michigan State that really are encouraging to me. I saw young guys going down on punt coverage. I saw some young guys on punt returns. I saw some things on kickoff returns. I saw some effort out of our offensive line. I saw some big hits on defense. I just see a lot of things that make me feel we are a lot closer to being successful than what it may appear to be on the outside. I just have a good feeling about our team.

I think we have some older players that have been through an awful lot. I think all that is worth something. I think at some point, playing at Nebraska, getting beat up mentally the way we did, getting slapped around, picking yourself backup off the floor, I think coming home and playing a Michigan State team, that you know it's going to be a close game.

The fact that you don't get it done, you go through some more adversity. I think there's a lot of teams in this country right now that are probably 2?0, 3?0. All that matters is when all of the dust settles at the end. I think the culmination of all of the experiences we've had as a football team and a coaching staff, I would like to think that's worth something. There's a lot easier ways to do it, but I think our football team is going to continue to grow and I think we have a chance to have a very, very successful season. Based on some of the things ?? I don't really expect anyone else to see them, and I'm not sitting here whistling in the wind trying to give some false hope or spin some false optimism. I'm just being as honest as I can be. I like our team.

Q. Talk about what Carlyle will give you this weekend.

COACH DAVIE: Certainly, it's a difficult situation for Carlyle Holiday, but I think it's one, at least right now, he embraces. He's been this that stadium, obviously, several times. He was highly recruited by Texas A&M. I'm probably like Carlyle. I'm probably like our fans. I'm anxious to see what he can do, when he has a lot of opportunities to do it.

I think all of us have been intrigued by his ability. I think everyone that's been around him has really been impressed by the way he's handled himself with issues off the field. We've also been impressed by the way he's handled himself, the gamesmanship he's shown in practice. Obviously, this is a whole other level for him, a whole other step for him to go into there and try to function under those conditions. I'm kind of anxious to watch him play. But he's shown me a lot of intangible things that, obviously, we think enough positive things to put him in that situation this week.

So, you know, we are not going to go in there tentative. We are not going to go there in there with a limited game plan. We are going to go in there and let it rip and, I'm kind of anxious to watch him play.

Q. The Carlyle Holiday situation, is it his athleticism that he brings to the table that Matt LoVecchio does not? And the second part of the question is: If Carlyle Holiday struggles and struggles offensively and does not provide the spark on Saturday, do you go back to Matt LoVecchio? How long do you stay with Carlyle Holiday or does Jared Clark come into the picture?

COACH DAVIE: Well, I think all of those things are really hypothetical, obviously. But certainly, we've thought of those things and talked about those things. We are hoping that Carlyle goes in and makes it an easy decision.

You know, once again, I've said this numerous times. You know, I don't want Carlyle knowing or thinking that Matt LoVecchio or Jared Clark is in that bullpen and the first mistake he makes, he's going to come out. I really do want to let him settle in and let him have an opportunity to lead this football team, and we expect there to be positive results. Right now, I would say if we really struggle, it would be Matt LoVecchio that would go in the football game. Matt LoVecchio did some really good things against Michigan State. He's won a bunch of games for us, but we need a spark. We need a spark.

Jared Clark is still in the mix. You know, we are still a working project a little bit. So Jared Clark is still in the running, but Matt LoVecchio, just because he's played so much, and I think he's a talented player, would probably be the next guy in the game. When that is, that's hard to say. You know, you just have to get a feel in the game.

You know, we made a decision a year ago, after two losses with Gary Godsey and Matt LoVecchio, ironically, at this time, and it's really something that you just have to do on a gut feeling, and so we have talked about it. But we are not locking ourselves to anything. It has to be kind of a spur?of?the?moment thing during the game.

Q. Just some general thoughts on coming back down here to play where you spent so much time. And when you become a coach, I guess you know what comes with the territory, but is there any way to prepare for the way it is at Notre Dame in terms of the expectations and criticism?

COACH DAVIE: I think I'm totally prepared for it. I have a very good understanding. You know, this is my eighth year here at Notre Dame, and I've seen some unique things. I've been ?? you know, my second year here, I was in a situation where Coach Holtz had the neck surgery. I came in the office at 7:00 in the morning, coaching the defense and found out about 9:00 that at that time Coach Holtz thought he would be out the rest of the season and I was going to be the head football coach. Went out there and played that week against Vanderbilt, later in that season played Texas. I don't think many people are involved in situations where there's so many dynamics like that. Certainly, I was here when Coach Holtz resigned that last season and that was, to understate it, unique, to be in that situation.

I've seen a lot of things and I'm totally prepared for it now. I've got a lot of on?the?job training. And it is a unique place. There's an awful lot of dynamics when it comes to Notre Dame football. But, you know, my thought coming up Saturday at Plymouth, pulling up into the Basilica on the bus, looking at Golden Dome and all that was going on this weekend with the pep rally and all the things, there's not a better place in this country. And I promise you, there's a bunch more easier places in this country, but there's not another place like this.

Obviously, there's some negatives that come with anything that's worth having. There's always going to be negatives. It's not an easy place, but it's an unbelievable place.

So, I kind of rambled on, but to answer your question, I think you really have to be here to be prepared for it. I think it's a different place. It's a different place. It's not necessarily a feel?good place, it's a grinder place, but I'm kind of a grinder.

The other part of that question was, how does it feel to come back to College Station? It felt pretty good, until I heard my wife told me the other night ?? she got a phone call and she said, "Tom's Barbecue is now out of business." One of the small pleasures of life I was looking forward to, being an 0?2 football team, coming down there and playing in front of 84,000 Aggies in 95 degrees, 100% humidity, at least I could go to Tom's Barbecue. But now that's out of business, so I'm not nearly as excited.

Honestly, it's exciting for me. It's something I've thought about for a long time. I've got special feelings for Texas A&M. I've got special feelings for that stadium, to come back to a place in your career when you are the head coach at Notre Dame, I'm proud of that and that's something ?? as big a hole as we are in right now, we are an 0?2 football team. We are backed in a corner. I'm going to stop and say I can be darned proud of what we've accomplished and I'm looking forward to this. Not many people have the chance to experience nine years at a place like Texas A&M and not many people have the chance to experience eight years at Notre Dame and be the head football coach. So I don't have take any of that for granted, and I look forward to the competition of it. I'm jacked about coming into that stadium, I'm jacked about hearing that crowd and I'm excited about the football team we are bringing in there. So I am excited about it.

Q. Earlier today in an interview, RC was saying that he's almost in a way looking forward to when your series with each other is over, because when you all visit and talk, when it comes to football, there are certain boundaries and limits ?? how do you feel about that?

COACH DAVIE: You know, I think we have a special friendship that goes beyond football. It goes beyond some of the things that we play each other and you don't know somebody. We realize that one of us is going to win and one of us is going to lose. To be honest, I kind of enjoyed it. I like the competition of it. I think it makes for a unique emotion. And especially to come back to Texas A&M to play. You know, in some ways, I'd like to keep playing them, just because I enjoy playing against a football team like that and fans like that. So, you know, I'm not really glad it's over. I kind of enjoyed the series, to be honest.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: I think it differs a little bit. Matt has been there. Matt is experienced, so I don't think you put Matt in there just to put Matt in there. I think if Matt comes in, it will be more of a situation where Carlyle is struggling. So I think it's kind of a different situation.

I think Carlyle deserves the opportunity to stay in there. And let's face it, with a new quarterback, playing for the first time, as many snaps as he's going to play, there's going to be some ups and downs. Hopefully, the ups are going to far outweigh the downs and his explosiveness can make up for mistakes. It's not going to be a quick hook, but certainly, winning the football game is a priority. So we'll just have to kind of play that by ear. Like I said, I don't think you'll see Matt LoVecchio unless you need to see Matt LoVecchio.

Q. Talking to players, it seems like the players have confidence in Carlyle. How much did that weigh into your decision? You don't want to stick somebody in there if you feel like the rest of the team doesn't really believe in them.

COACH DAVIE: I think what we see is there's not been too much emphasis put on who is the quarterback. That's where I really ?? I toyed with the idea after the Nebraska game of going with Carlyle Holiday as the quarterback, but I didn't want it to be such a simple solution for our players to say that, "Well, the only problem we had was who was the quarterback." That probably was the least of our problems. And I didn't want to send out a signal of saying, "You know what, this is a cop out or a safety net." This was not LoVecchio's fault. We needed to improve in so many ways to win, it doesn't matter who was the quarterback.

So I think we have handled it in a way that I think we're gaining confidence on offense, believe it or not, and I think we realize there's 11 other moving parts out there, 11 other positions ?? 10 other positions that are extremely important. So I don't think there's as much emphasis as there would be last night on the media. I've never seen anything like it. I thought I got along with you guys pretty good. That's a good ploy: I mention he's the starter and all of a sudden 22 guys swarm Carlyle and I'm standing by myself. That's a pretty good deal right there. I don't think there's quite as much intrigue on that story with our team as there is with the media or with the fans.

So I don't think ?? it's not as dramatic, I think. I think we have confidence in him. He's a stable guy. He's a leader. He's been there for Matt. Matt will be there for him. It's a pretty good chemistry right there.

Q. If you name a new starting quarterback each week, you can get that crowd of sportswriters shifting back and forth.

COACH DAVIE: I don't have any sportswriters to talk to if that's the case.

Q. The fact that Kevin Rogers, obviously, he had great success with Donovan McNabb at Syracuse a quarterback, a roll out quarterback draw, quarterback?on?run kind of guy, how much does that go into this decision to go to Carlyle, who is more along those lines?

COACH DAVIE: I think we've recruited in that direction. Obviously, with Matt LoVecchio, Jared Clark, all guys that can throw it, but they can run it, as well.

Certainly, Kevin is probably more confident with a guy that can do some things with his legs, to the degree that a Carlyle Holiday.

You know, Matt is a guy that can run, too. I think that's where sometimes this thing kind of gets ?? takes on a direction that Matt LoVecchio is not a real good athlete. He's a good athlete. Carlyle Holiday is a guy that's explosive as they come running the football, but Matt can run, as well. So it's not like we have to change schemes and all of the sudden go to a different scheme. We have all of those different moving parts within our scheme.

To answer your question, Kevin ?? yeah, all of us would like to have a quarterback that could take off an a quarterback draw, quarterback run or on the option, and take it to the house.

So I think, yeah, that's why Carlyle is going to be to the quarterback. You need to generate big plays and right now, we are not a team ?? I think we can be pretty good throwing the football. But we are not going to trot out there and just win throwing the football. I think that's obvious to everyone.

So how do we ?? with the running game that we have, how can we become more dynamic? And I think it has to be either the quarterback creating plays on his own or predetermined runs with the quarterback. That's where we are.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: Dwight had a big hit. Knocked the guy head over heels. Shane Walton did a great job on punt return. Dwight is on kickoff coverage. I thought both those guys did a good job. That was encouraging to see.

Q. Any other young players that are looking to break into the special teams?

COACH DAVIE: We're going to hold on. We would love to use some guys. I just hate to use a guy for just a special situation.

Q. What was your reasoning keeping the team in the locker room during the pregame festivities?

COACH DAVIE: Really, there was no decision to make. And let me say this ?? I didn't realize that so much was being discussed about all this. As I said, we are kind of sequestered over there and I didn't realize this thing had taken on such a big issue. I'm really disappointed that it has. I think it's really unfortunate that such a positive weekend and a positive thing could be somehow take on the spin of being positive for this group and not positive for this. I think it's unbelievably ridiculous that this thing has taken on a life of its own, and let me say why.

This has nothing to do with Michigan State coming out there. I think that's tremendous that they did. But, you know I've always been someone, it's more what you do when nobody is watching that's really important. And let's think back a second. Two weeks ago when that tragedy happened on a Tuesday, that ?? I probably found out at 10:30. We knew at 11:00 that morning that we were not practicing as a football team. Even though we were going to play a game Saturday, we were not going to practice as a football team. Here is a football team that thinks that they are going to play a game, doesn't practice. They come back at 3:00 in the afternoon for a mass on campus with 7,000 other students. I don't know what percentage of teams in this country practiced or didn't practice, but I bet you could count on one hand who didn't practice that day, the teams that were playing a game.

We come back Thursday and Friday after we find out we are not playing. We don't practice Thursday and Friday. We go into the next week. We have a pep rally on our campus. When I find out we are having the pep rally, first of all, I don't go to the Dylan Hall pep rally because I didn't feel comfortable Thursday night for me to be out there at a Dylan Hall pep rally with a bunch of students without putting things into the proper perspective.

So I waited until Friday at the luncheon, and I asked Father Mark Poorman (ph) to come to the luncheon. Before we even got up at the luncheon, I wanted Father Poorman to get up and put the weekend, the luncheon, the pep rally, the game in proper perspective, which I thought he did a tremendous job. We take our entire football team: Ties, sports jackets, in front of 13,000 people at a pep rally. I speak. I ask Father Poorman to come up, put it into context what this game means, what this weekend means. He says a prayer. Before we go to Plymouth we come back and we go to pregame mass. We walk over to the stadium. We do just what we do always do. We pray about that game. We come out into a stadium, and it's a great scene. I don't see how any of this in some way would be perceived as a positive or a negative based on the way our football team and our university reacted to this situation. There was no decision.

Because of logistics in our stadium, because of the difficulty in our tunnel coming out, we're in a situation where before the game, ironically, we have one of their players knocked our quarterback and there's a 15?yard penalty. Logistics in our stadium with the tunnel and all that is a major problem. We had a group of players on the field that we had to run through to get out. We had both bands ?? we had NBC, the logistics of it, there was no decision to make. We were staying in the locker room and make it as simple as we could make it.

So I'm really disappointed that somehow, this could be spun into a negative for one team or another team, based on the way our university and our team handled this situation. That's just my opinion. I think it's totally ridiculous that this is even an issue. I'm speaking from the heart. That's how I see it.

So, where's the question? I mean, I'm just curious how this could become an issue.

Q. I don't know because I'm not taking a stance. I was just asking you whether you were involved?

COACH DAVIE: I just explained it. Because of logistics, a decision was made, that both teams would wait and come out at the proper time. We would be queued out by NBC and run through a group of former players onto the field. That's the last I knew of it. That's the last decision that was made right there.

Now, since this point, it's probably been explained what's happened, and I just tried to explain how we've handled the situation since somebody knocked on my door and said there was this tragedy that just happened in the World Trade Center. So that's the issue.

Q. I'm not seen coming from that standpoint. I'm just curious to know ?? I'm just curious to know, did you think that you wanted your players to experience the emotion of what was going on in the stadium beforehand?

COACH DAVIE: To me, it was more a question of logistics because our players, as far as the experience and emotions and putting things in the proper perspective ?? here is a football team that I think the emotion of the situation on Tuesday when they didn't practice, and going to a mass with 7,000 students, I think a football team that go to a pep really where there's 12,000 people and a vice?president at the university gets up and gives a prayer, I think a football team where Father Doyle leads us in prayer before the game, they are experienced in the emotions of the situation.

Now, maybe if they would not have handled it or not seen it or we had not provided information to them or not on a campus like Notre Dame where they live it every day, maybe that would have been tremendously important to me.

But what was important to me was following the plan that had been established based on logistics, because we had handled this situation with nobody looking since the moment it happened. It was of no issue to me, to be quite honest.

Q. Just to change gears here a little bit, when you are trying to work in some of the younger wide receivers now, what is the challenge of working them in? Is it to adjust mentally, to the speed of the game? Is not knowing all of the plays? What are the challenges of the coach?

COACH DAVIE: I think first of all, the challenge is, you know we probably won't be able to reach this challenge, to get some big?play capability that an Arnaz Battle has. We are not going to get that back for probably four or five weeks. I don't think we have somebody with a capability. With Givens not playing Saturday, that was difficult for us with both those guys out.

So that is going to be tough for us. The next step is we've got some young guys, and I've put Ronnie Rodamer, Lorenzo Crawford, Omar Jenkins and Carlos Campbell, four of those guys all in that category. It's probably a combination of things. I think playing in a game, making a catch in a game. The next step, after like Omar made the catch, is spinning out of there and making a play after he catches it. I think they know what to do. It's doing it in the game and stepping up, and now instead of just oozing and feeling your way, now that you are in the game, making a play in the game.

But I think they all know what to do, and I think Ronnie Rodamer is a little healthier now. He's had that knee problem. There's an opportunity for him to play. Omar did some things, Lorenzo. We have some guys. We just need to get somebody to step up and do it in the game.

Q. I know probably even after really good offensive weeks, you get all kind of suggestions on plays to run and so forth. But I'm just curious, with tight ends and fullbacks, they seem to be disappearing in a lot of offenses. They have not been used a lot in years ?? the first couple of weeks this year. Is that a trend we'll see come back to football with tight ends and fullbacks being part offenses and is that something you would like to utilize this year?

COACH DAVIE: We would like to use the fullback a little more. We are a team that's ?? we are a two?back team. We do a lot of one?back stuff, but I think we are still a two?back team by and large, and that's how we are going to win.

Against Nebraska, because of scheme of Nebraska, we did almost exclusive one back and tried to spread them out because we didn't feel that with two backs in the back field, you didn't have as much opportunities as much as we have reached them.

I thought Tommy Lopienski played pretty good Saturday. I thought he did. I thought he played fast. I thought he made a nice catch. How many times he gets his hands on the ball, that's tough. That phase of the game has kind of been eliminated, but I think you will see him get his hands on it a little bit.

At tight end right now, I think we are not ?? we are not real ?? we have good blocking tight ends. Those guys will tell you, you know they are not the kind of guy who is going to run about catch seven, eight balls a game for you, but we are going to play with the tight ends in the game for blocking purposes.

Q. If you think back at what your five?year plan was as a coach coming in, you can remember all of the things that you dreamt about and you wanted to build this team into and also, has that changed significantly over the years as things have happened?

COACH DAVIE: No, I don't think so. I'm not going to go through the whole foundation of the thing. I think we have a lot of things that are foundationally pretty strong right now, from academics to character of the players to recruiting to retention of players. A lot of those things, I feel good about. It's winning. It's winning.

I don't think there's any coach in the country that five years ago would have become the head coach at Notre Dame who have looked at that schedule in 2001 and said, "Man, I tell you what, all we've got to do is get a foundation and we're going to win a bunch of games in 2001." It's competitive. I mean, it's competitive. So, I mean, I feel good about a lot of things. I said that all through the off?season getting ready for the season: We've got to win. It's a battle. It's a battle to win playing the teams we play. Just like Saturday, it's 10?10, back and forth in the 3rd quarter, fourth quarter all of a sudden we make a tackle, boom, it's a touchdown, we have an opportunity to go down. We make mistakes, we don't execute a fake field goal and we lose 17?10. There's been a bunch of games like that. I feel good about it, but I also know the bottom line is winning games, and we are in a battle.

Q. Can you comment on Irvin's start at Bowling Green?

COACH DAVIE: Can't even get through to him now. I called him for some advice today. Can't even get through.

I think it is tremendous. I think it's tremendous. And he ought to enjoy every bit of it and appreciate those wins. The only thing I worry about Irvin, don't take those wins for granted, man. There's something about ?? there's something about, you've got to feel bad before you feel good.

He's a great coach. He's a great guy. I could not be happier for him. Could not be happier. I think he's done a tremendous job.

I remember watching Temple a year ago. Watching Temple, we watched them against Boston College, we watched them against Pittsburgh, we watched them against Navy, West Virginia, Temple is a good football team. Temple is a good defensive football team, and I didn't hear any results on how they scored, but to put 40 points on Temple, doing a heck of a job.

Q. Considering how much of an unknown Courtney Watson seemed like he was No. 1 ?? just because somebody had to be No. 1, how do you sort of evaluate his first two games as a starter thus far?

COACH DAVIE: Really good. I think Courtney Watson, he has stepped up. I was really concerned in camp, not because Courtney was not athletic enough. Just from a maturity standpoint, was Courtney going to be a guy that just down after down could focus and concentrate and take the beating in there? And he is ?? he stepped up. I think we've got a ?? I think we've got a really good player in Courtney Watson. I would say he's one of the highlights ?? if not the highlight of the season thus far.

Q. From a maturity standpoint, could you point to some of the things you saw last year that left that question open?

COACH DAVIE: Just from a guy that had been a tailback in high school and a defensive back in high school and a basketball player in high school, and all of the sudden he's a linebacker. And I don't mean a maturity from how he approached things necessarily off the field. I'm just talking about a physical and mental maturity to stand in there in the middle of 300?pounders down after down after down. He is kind of an edge player all his career and high school and now all of a sudden he's in the middle of it ??and Anthony Denman was the man. He stepped up and had been through the same evolution.

I was just concerned about Courtney particularly with Nebraska some of these teams Michigan State looking at you right off the bat. We went in there with 265?pound tailback. He's 225 ?? he was a 202?pound guy when he got here. So just from a physical maturity, down after down, he had not done that before. That's a huge transition. But I'm excited about Courtney. He is going to be really a good player.

Q. From a technical standpoint, he said one of his weaknesses in defense is when he has to attack the offensive line ?? from a technical standpoint how would you evaluate him now?

COACH DAVIE: I think that's really mature of him to see that he gets smothered a little bit, and he tries to make a lot of plays and bounce around plays instead just running through sometimes and knock the linemen back into the block. There's times this year where we have gotten creased from some runs, and instead of just knocking the blocker back into the block, he wants to come around and make a play. So we are a little bit soft and wushy in there. So we have to get him to put the hammer down a little bit and knock the blockers back into the block.

Q. Talk about the team having chemistry and able to bounce back, but coming out of the locker room on Saturday. The team was obviously dejected, but almost to the point where some were a little dumbfounded, looking for answers and things like that. Something happened between now and Saturday, and then why was the team able to come back, because you seem to be pretty confident going into this week?

COACH DAVIE: Well, because I think, you know as I started our meeting yesterday, I said the worst thing there is, is to lose. Don't ever, ever, ever get to where you bounce back too quick after losing. And I don't care, it doesn't matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter how much security you might have, how many games you've coached or how many years you've done this, it gets worse. It doesn't get easier, it gets worse. So don't think that, "Well, I'm going to go on and do something else and this life isn't really that important because I'm not going doing this two years from now."

Losing is the worst thing. So the fact that they felt awful, you'd better worry when they don't feel awful. That's when you start worrying. And I know how this loss devastated this football team. I know exactly how it has devastated this team and I understand how with human nature, that's when all of those demons start coming out. Whenever it gets hard on somebody, that's when those demons start coming out. Understand, that's all part of it.

But I like how this team felt bad. That make sense? I like how they felt bad. I like how it hurt. I know there's a lot of pride. I know there's a lot of pride.

So I think that's a good thing. I think that's a good thing. And there's a point, you know it's kind of like Jimmy Johnson said, you ask him why he got back in coach being and he said, "It's because you miss those wins and all those celebrations." He said, "What I really missed was how awful you felt when you lost, and then when you come back and win." It's an enormous difference between winning and losing and you don't ever take that for granted, and that's something I've learned as a head coach.

After all is said and done, it really doesn't matter what anybody writes about the game. It really doesn't matter what anybody's opinion is about the game. I could care less. All I care about is what it feels like walking off that field with those players and what it looks like when you put that tape on. Losing is the worst, and that's why those kids feel that way, because I feel that way.

Q. For those of us not from Texas, tell us about Tom's Barbecue.

COACH DAVIE: Well, it's a place that ?? it was a place. It was a place. They only have plates there. What they do is they just take like newspaper, and they just put newspaper on your table and then they come out and they just put like slabs of brisket and pickles and cheese, and they just dump some sauce right on that newspaper. So you just sit there, dip that stuff in that sauce, and, you know, maybe it was a health sanitation deal that kind of got them out ?? now that I think about it. Maybe it not such a great place. (Laughter).

It's a heck of a place. It's one of those places, my kids were little and we'd take them in there and we'd eat a bunch of that stuff, and, you know, kind of hoping it was still open.

Q. How do you plan on rotating the running back in this week? Are you going to have a system for it or play the hot hand?

COACH DAVIE: That's a good question. I think Tony Fisher really ran well in this game last week. I thought he started ripping it. I thought Julius, with the returns ?? started to feel Julius. I would say it's Julius and Tony ahead of Terrence right now a little bit. Both of them are going to play, probably the hot hand. Julius gets those returns. You talk about punt and kickoff returns, that's a big part of it right there.

Q. There was a big drive last year where Tony Fisher ?? and the next series Julius came back in. Are you planning on keeping Tony in on those situations now?

COACH DAVIE: I think what was disappointing about that is we ?? it wasn't so much that. It was where you second?guess yourself a little bit is we ripped and ripped and ripped and then we ran an option and lost six yards on first down. I don't think it really matters which one is in the game, to be quite honest from that standpoint. Those kids, I don't think that really matters. It's more of a: Who is the most energized at the time, because they get beaten down a little bit and neither one of those guys have practiced that much. They are finally back to where they are practicing every day now from a snapping standpoint. Let's face it, one thing we have not talked about, it's cold out there today. Trust me. Trust me. It will be hot and it will be sunny and it will be humid when we get down there.

Q. As a sophomore, Tony seemed more involved in the passing game. He caught that big pass against Michigan. We have not seen him involved ?? is that something you want him to get involved?

COACH DAVIE: That's a good point. Something we have done is we did a lot more regular personnel on the field, like fullback and tailback, creating one?back sets where we put the tailback out there in one back. What we try to do, because we have more receivers now, getting into those one backs, we put in three wide receivers, sometimes four wide receivers in the game.

So now with the injuries the way they are, you may see a little more of that, where those tailbacks become receivers a little bit more. That's really a good point and that's something we were really good at here a couple years ago, of getting that ball in his hands in the passing game.

Q. Did your daughter win Homecoming Queen?

COACH DAVIE: She didn't win. She didn't win. But she did great. She did great, yeah. Thank you.

Q. With the situation at wide receiver now with Battle being out and Givens limited, did that affect your decision to go with Holiday to provide you with the big?play ability?

COACH DAVIE: I think it did. That factored into it. You are start ?? you start saying, "Where are we going to get the explosions? Where are we going to get those three plays that Michigan State had of over 30 yards? How are we going to get them?" You come to face the fact that you may have to get them with that quarterback taking off and doing something or some big plays that way. So, yeah, I think it did.

Q. You mentioned before that you did some things ?? worked on some communication things, and you also said you had problems with that at Nebraska. What are some of those things that you've changed communication?wise?

COACH DAVIE: I think first of all, you're kidding yourself. You're kidding yourself if you think you are going to get up there and change things at the line of scrimmage. You can forget about that in that stadium. You are probably kidding yourself if you think you are going to hear the snap count, so you have to work on some silent snap counts where everybody is going off of the football. It's that kind of game.

The first thing is, how do you get off on the ball on offense. Normally you are on the snap count. Normally this is a game where you are looking at the ball. And the second thing is, don't try to check things, particularly out of the shotgun with the crowd noise the way it will be.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...



Shop Now


Gear Store

Get your Official ND Gear // Shop Now »

St. Joseph Health System Nissan Delta Canon Visit South Bend Mishawaka Vivid Seats