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    Bob Davie Teleconference Transcript

    FIGHTING IRISH The Fighting Irish face off against Pitt next Saturday.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    The Fighting Irish face off against Pitt next Saturday.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sept. 30, 2001

    COACH DAVIE: Well, you can see how disappointing it is. We seem to have kind of got ourselves into a very familiar pattern. The pattern right now seems to me to be: We come out and we don't stop anybody the first series of the game, and that was the case yesterday. And then at times, we do some things on offense, but we certainly don't sustain anything to any degree. Certainly not to beat the teams we are playing, particularly where we're playing them.

    So right now is a difficult time. It's a frustrating time. But if you look at the game, certainly the first drive of the game, I give A&M credit. I thought they executed. I thought they, to a degree, kept us a little bit off-balance. The first 3rd down the game, it's 3rd down and 4, they do a good job of using the cadence, getting us to jump off-sides. They convert another 3rd down. We miss a tackle. The tight end runs a crossing route and makes a great catch. Really, an unbelievable catch when you see it on tape, on a 2nd down.

    And then they come back and they run a draw on 1st and 10 from the 30-yard line. We miss a couple tackles. They have a freshman running back that I think is going to be really good, takes it in, and I mean, it's 7-0. It's not a case of us not really -- it wasn't like when he didn't play hard. It's not like we weren't prepared. There wasn't anything really from an X-and-O standpoint that you get real excited about. They did a good job executing and they take it down the field and they score and it's 7-0.

    We get the football. We come back, we get a good kickoff return and we take it to about the 40, I guess. The first play of the game we get a procedure penalty on our tight end and it's 1st and 15 and we come back and throw it. Carlyle did a good job on where he threw it. We got a couple different looks on them, three backs, they get a 15-yard penalty, as well. We take it down the field. We get a chance to respond. We throw the interception. You know, we had the smash route, I think was open. Carlyle hesitates a little bit. Probably holds on to the ball too long, and if he is going to throw the deep part of it. He should get some more air under it and throw it deeper. So it's 7-0.

    I think, you know that took a little bit of air out of the balloon, but we come back on defense. They convert a 3rd down. Then we get them, it's 1st and 10, and, you know everyone in the stadium, you feel play-action pass is coming. We zone blitz, we're in three-deep team. They run a hitch and go against three deep, which shouldn't be a play. The kid hangs a ball up in the air and I mean, it just floats up there. They have a freshman receiver that goes up and makes the play, it's about a 45-yard gain.

    They come back and did a great job on the throw back to the quarterback. I thought that was a well-designed play. They out coached us on that play. It was a great play, great call. Then, before you know it, it's 14-0.

    You know, we move the ball a little bit again. But we just -- you know we've got a couple new things going. We get them back on their heels a little bit, but we just can't sustain anything or we can't get a big play.

    Then they get the ball again about at the 49-yard line or so after the punt return and they do a good job on 3rd and 9 and throw a little jailbreak screen. It's 17-0.

    We move the ball a little bit, 1st and 10. We throw an interception. Late in the half we get the 47-yard field goal in the two-minute drill. So if you look at the first pass, they kind of nickel-dimed us on offense. They executed. You can see the game plan really was to kind of throw the quick passing game on 3rd down, run the jailbreak screen, draw or shuffle pass.

    I thought the quarterback executed well for them. I thought the running back ran well. To be quite honest, I thought we could -- I really thought we could shut them out in the second half. I told our team that. I thought we settle down. I didn't think they would score many more points unless we made some mistakes.

    Offensively, we did some things in the first half, to be quite honest. We probably wore Carlyle out early in the game. We go down there and it's -- sure felt like it 90 degrees, but a guy starting the first game, a lot of anxiety, a lot of emotion. We come out and we just run him to death and he was fatigued. As much as anything, he was fatigued. He did some good things. He made some plays for us in the first half.

    So we go in at halftime. It's 17-3, but I really feel like we had momentum, to a degree, on our side, because I thought we could, once again, kind of like last week against Michigan State when it was 10-10, I thought we could step up and you keep waiting for us to get on track. You keep waiting for something to happen.

    You know, we come out in the second half, we get the first ball. Tony Fisher gains nine yards on the first down. We have it 2nd and 1, a chance to kind of have a -- try to throw the ball, make something good happen. We drop the ball over in front of our bench. No excuse.

    Then it's 3rd and 1. They jump into a short-yardage-type defense with regular people. They come up over the top, smack the quarterback, the ball flies out. We don't make the 1st down. No excuse for that.

    We punt the ball. They kind of drive the ball, you know make some 3rd downs. Some different things happen. They hold the ball for a while. You know, as the thing unfolds in the second half, we took -- to be quite honest, we get worse on offense, not better. You know, we throw another interception on 1st and 10 and it's still 17-3 in the fourth quarter. We have a young guy, comes in on the punt, Rocky Boiman is out of the game with a slight knee injury. A young guy comes in, just blocks the wrong guy, didn't block the punt. It's 24-3 and the game is over at that point.

    So I think it's a pattern. It's a pattern. You know, what I see right now is that we're playing okay on defense. We're playing really pretty hard on defense, but we are not creating any plays. I mean, there's no interceptions. You look at A&M, their strong safety goes up and makes a great play on the deep ball on the interception. Their own guy, the ball is batted, he makes an interception, 17 points, that's about what it's going to be week-to-week in college football, but we are not making enough plays on defense.

    Special teams, we did have one kickoff return. Didn't get much out of the punt block. We tried to block some punts. Didn't get much there. Punt coverage is a concern. Joey Hildbold is hitting the ball, but getting way too much yardage on returns which is a concern, and it's certainly the blocked punt.

    So, special teams, although, it is not terrible, it's not good. Probably quite honest right now, as you can see, the biggest problem, the biggest problem I really believe is offensively. We are kind of a hit-or-miss operation. We don't seem to have much banked fundamentally, or even scheme-wise, right now that we can do, that we can execute at a high level or get our players into a comfort zone with. You know, sort of a little bit scattered about right now. You know, we're pretty conservative, but we don't execute and that's not a good trade-off.

    If you are going to be conservative like we were last year, you know, we ended up the year about 80th in total offense in the country, but we didn't turn the ball over. We converted 3rd and shorts and converted in the red zone when we had an opportunity. If you are going to be as conservative as we are, then you'd better execute at a very high, high level and we are not doing that. There's a lot of soul-searching going on.

    I think, certainly, we invested in a lot of things in the off-season and in spring football and summer camp offensively. Maybe the way the Nebraska game went, we talked ourselves out of some of the things that we spent so much time doing. You know, we go out there and we were all just so disappointed with the way we played. Maybe we panicked a little bit, and, you know, kind of became so conservative because of what happened out there.

    But right now, particularly on offense, I don't really feel good about anything. I thought Carlyle gave us a spark, but honestly, when you come in and do some different things in the game, you hope to make some yardage early in the game and that's just what we did, just like they did on us. But once a good defensive team settles in, you are not going to surprise them with anything, and we're just unable to execute.

    I think when you look at it, the thing that's so disappointing to me is how many just plays where there's no chance, just no chance. We look like a poorly-coached football team, and that's hard for me to swallow and hard for me to say, but that's what I see.

    I just think offensively, there's way too many plays where it looks like a Chinese fire drill, either because of busts, because of throwing the ball where you're not supposed to. I mean, it's a conglomeration of things.

    So, that's where we are. I don't worry near as much about being 0-3 as about how we are playing being 0-3. I understand, just like any other coach in the country would understand, you know, when you play in Lincoln and you play in College Station -- R.C. Slocum has been head coach 13 years at A&M and he's never lost a non-conference game in at College Field. I understand going into Lincoln and College Station are difficult places to win, but I'm disappointed in the way we're playing, disappointed in the way we're playing. So I'm going to take some questions.

    Q. First of all, physically, how is Carlyle, and secondly, is this offense, are the kids just having a tough time grasping it, do you think- Are things too complicated, even though you say you might be too conservative- What's at the end of the tunnel here?

    COACH DAVIE: The first thing, Carlyle is going to be fine. He was in this morning and he's going to be okay. I really think it was as much fatigue as anything.

    To answer your question about the offense, we're going to find out what it is. We're going to find out today. I feel like I need to give them more direction than I've given them. I take the responsibility for that. We need to have more confidence in what we're doing and we need to say this is what we are, and that's what we are.

    I think it's a combination of things. We haven't done a great job coaching. The intentions are well, but, you know, we haven't gained any confidence. We haven't generated any confidence from what we've done, and I think the players have to be accountable. There's been some things shouldn't have happened from a competitive standpoint, from how we've executed.

    So across the board right now, it's time for us to really do a lot of looking in the mirror, with what we're asking the players to do and what the players and how they have responded. I'll tell you, this though: The intentions -- intentions are well-intentioned, but that doesn't get you much at this level of football. Your intentions are supposed to be good. We've got to get some things solved. You know, we need some direction right now on offense, and I'm going to provide that direction.

    Q. Assuming that Carlyle plays Saturday, if you were defensive coordinator designing a game plan for your offenses, I'm sure you would load up the box with as many players as you could and make Notre Dame beat you with the passing game. If that's the game plan that you are expecting, how does the offense combat that- How do you attack that?

    COACH DAVIE: Well, I'd probably do exactly what A&M did. I've watched A&M defense for a long time. I don't know that I've ever seen a more simple game plan on defense. So I would sit back and make us execute, make us sustain something, and I'm sure that's exactly how teams are going to play it. We haven't had real sophisticated defensive looks against us because we have not been capable of making people panic very much. They have kind of sat back and made us play. That's the frustrating thing. There's a lot of things that you take for granted offensively, that when you get certain looks that you are just going to execute. You know, yesterday it was just cover three, three-deep. A bunch of times we had a walk-out linebacker and one back where you just felt it was stealing, running the football, but we don't execute. We don't execute well enough to take advantage of anything.

    You know, to be quite honest, I thought Carlyle threw the ball a couple of times well. There are a couple of times he looked disoriented and rattled and kind of -- kind of flipping (ph) around back there, which I think he's going to get better at with experience.

    But to answer your question, I would play us where you line up and make us beat you on offense. Don't give up a big play because it doesn't like right now we are going to generate a big play on our own. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of explosiveness, so that -- create a bad play on defense. Just sit back there and see if we can make a play.

    Q. Obviously, you put Carlyle in there for his ability to make big plays. Obviously, the other team knows that, too. Do you think he's going to have prove that he can throw the ball effectively, consistently, before he's able to make those big plays with his feet?

    COACH DAVIE: But I do think he can throw it. You know, he underthrew the deep ball on the interception. We had the double-post route. He just under threw it. We had it just where we wanted. They were an eight-man front trying to stop the run and he underthrew it to No. 48, made the great interception on him in the 2nd quarter. I think he can throw it. I think we've got to provide him maybe a little more diversity of scheme, particularly on 3rd downs. We've kind of gotten ourselves kind of into a -- you know, I'm not sure what we are on 3rd down. I think we need to provide -- (inaudible).

    Q. What's the status of -- Rodamer, Carlyle Holiday, David Givens, Rocky Boiman?

    COACH DAVIE: We are pretty beat up. We are pretty beat up. I don't have that whole report here with me right now. Rocky Boiman is the biggest concern. He played yesterday with a knee. They are going to MRI him. I didn't believe they did MRI him. They are waiting to look at the results. You know, it's not a ligament or anything like that. There may be some cartilage damage in there. But hopefully, he's going to be okay. They are pretty optimistic about it right now, but he was struggling yesterday.

    David Givens really couldn't finish the football game. He took himself out. I think he's getting better.

    Then from that point, we've got some bumps and bruises. Donald Dykes had his shoulder last week. He played with that shoulder. It's a little bit worse.

    Carlyle, I think is going to be fine.

    We've got a couple linemen, Sean Mahan has a bid of an angle. Jordan Black has -- I believe it's his back. I hate to guess on that. I don't have the list with me right now. We've got some guys.

    I think the biggest concern right now would be Rocky Boiman and then probably Donald bike. I think we'll get Glenn Earl back this week, which I think will help us.

    You know, we've got some bumps and bruises. One of the things that's been obvious, the same guys have played, we've had no chance to get guys out of the game. They played a lot of snaps already in three football games.

    Q. And the other question I had was you mentioned that it seemed like perhaps Carlyle had gotten a little fatigued. We know that he's a very athletic quarterback. Was part of the fatigue -- he said yesterday that perhaps he put a little bit too much pressure on himself, and he really wanted to win it for the seniors. Being put in the situation that he was in, do you think that compounded that?

    COACH DAVIE: I think it's a couple things. You go to College Station in September and it's 90 degrees -- we are practicing last week, you've got full sweats on. Coaches are wearing winter jackets. I think it was in the 40s or 50s. We have not had much heat.

    I think the second thing is you've got a young quarterback that has not started a game yet. There's certainly a lot of emotion.

    And then what we did with him. I think, as I mentioned, we did a little too much with him early. We just put it all on his shoulders, which -- that's fine down the road, I think to do that. But in that situation, we just got him gassed so early. I think he's going to be fine. He's a well-conditioned athlete, but that's the first time he's been in there.

    Q. Could you discuss the offensive line part of the -- you called it a "Chinese fire drill," I think, the way it looked out there?

    COACH DAVIE: We didn't look that way all the time, but we're certainly not as oiled up as we need to be. You know, we had some -- once again, you know, it's not one thing. There were some positive things. But far too many busts. Far too many busts, to be honest. Far too many busts. Not one guy, in particular. But just we don't look like an oiled-up operation, and that's our responsibility as coaches.

    Q. Last week you put in Carlyle. What can you do at this point- How can you fix things in one week?

    COACH DAVIE: We have to. We have to. You know, and there were -- once again, there were some positive things. We moved the football. I think we are encouraged by what Carlyle brings. But I think, you know, we just have to sit down as coaches and really lock in to what gives us the best chance. You know, what are we- What are we- I think we've got to hard facts to address. We've got some things. We've been non-productive on offense and we've been discombobulated on offense and we've got to address that. We've got to have a plan.

    Q. Do you plan on getting more involved in the offense than you have?

    COACH DAVIE: I don't want to make that too dramatic, but certainly, I've got a responsibility to provide some direction, because as of right now, you know, Kevin Rogers will be the first one to tell that you we don't have much going right now. We don't have much going.

    I think we still have some potential to do some good things. You know, we've done some good things in the past. But right now -- right now, we don't have much happening. We've scored two touchdowns this season. One came after a blocked punt and one came after a punt return. So it hasn't been much happening.

    Q. You mentioned around half-time when it was 17-3, if the offense could just get on track -- were you surprised that the offense didn't get on track based upon the previous seasons?

    COACH DAVIE: We all feel the same way. You keep waiting. You keep waiting, but it's just not happening. You certainly feel like the energy and the emotion and the "want to" is there, and the chance to do it is there. But it just hasn't come. It just hasn't come, and what I want to make sure is that we are giving our players -- once again, they are accountable as well, but as a coach, if you're worth a darn as a coach, you take it upon yourself. I want to make sure that we have a bank of fundamentals and a bank of confidence in the things that we are going to do. You know, what are those things that we know that we can do.

    You know, defensively, we are not a great defensive football team. We are not a great defensive football team, but we are what we are. You know, we are going to go out there where our kids -- our kids understand what they are going to play every week and sometimes people are going to step up and make plays against us. But by and large, I think there's a lot of confidence in what we're doing.

    Right now on offense, I don't think there's much confidence, and it's been well intentioned, but the bottom line, it hasn't happened right now. So, you know, we've got a lot of areas to get better at. There's a lot of things to improve in.

    Q. Could you say how much accountability is on the coaches right now and how much is on the players right now?

    COACH DAVIE: I'm not going to get into the whole deal and get into percentages how much is on the players and how much is on the coaches. It starts at the top. It starts with me and I'm the head football coach of this team. I'm disappointed and discouraged. I've said what I've said about the defense, but we just don't seem to be getting better right now and that's disappointing. If I'm a fan sitting out there watching it, I'd be disappointed. I think there's some legitimate reasons right now for concern, and we've got to step up and we've got to get some things corrected and get better. We all keep waiting, but it's not happening right now.

    Q. From the perspective of the players, how fragile do you think the team is?

    COACH DAVIE: You know, I don't worry about that as much. I'm around these kids, and I know how much they want it. I don't worry about that. I think we've got unbelievable kids, I really do. I think we've got unbelievable kids. That's why you feel such a responsibility as a coach, to give them a plan to win with. You know, there's a reason that we are not making plays, and you can't sit back and say, "Well, you know, their freshman went up there and made a play and our senior didn't." That's coaching, to me. There's a reason we are not making plays. There's a reason we are not making plays. It's a bottom-line deal in this profession, and we've got to provide a way, through the way we practice, through our scheme, through something that provides our guys an opportunity to make more plays, because I believe we have good players. I really do. I believe we have good players.

    Q. It seems to me that you lost a guard and tight end, but most of the offense is pretty much the same people that were doing it for the last couple years.

    COACH DAVIE: Yeah, I knew -- I got a pretty clear picture of where we've been and where we are. You know, I knew it would be tough to win like we won last year. You know, let's look back -- if you look back and you look at the statistics of the season, it was a remarkable, some of the ways we won, with some different things. You know, what you hope to do was improve -- improve and become, you know, a little more dynamic offensively, and we haven't done that.

    You know, we are still -- you look at Carlyle Holiday yesterday, he's still a freshman. He's really a freshman what it comes down to it. It was the first game he played. We're still young in some areas, I guess.

    Overall, I degree with you. You've got the backs back and you've got some good receivers back and you feel like you should be farther along and a little better than you are, and I think we all see that.

    But once again, I also understand, you know, the challenges. I understand who we're playing and where we're playing them and it's not that -- it's not so much being 0-3, it's how we've played. It's how we've played. And that's why, you know, if I thought we were playing good, I'd tell you, but right now, we're not playing good.

    Q. The way last season ended -- inaudible -- you start 0-3 all of a sudden you're right back?

    COACH DAVIE: I don't worry about that. I grind it. I never felt whether there's a contract or not a contract. I'm all about ball. I'm about taking that tape and looking that tape and what kind of team are we. I don't sit back and look at the big picture of all those kind of things and feel real good about this or real bad about that. I get my enjoyment by feeling I'm coaching my ass off, and when I feel I'm coaching my ass off is when I take that tape and I look at it and see we're getting better.

    I don't pay a damn bit of attention to what people on the outside say, because I understand none of them know. I've got tremendous confidence in my abilities, and I'm pretty perceptive when it comes to things, and that's why I'm telling you right now: We're not getting it done. We are not getting it done.

    Are we a great team- I don't know that we are a great team. I don't know that we have a lot of playmakers and big-play ability right out there, but I know we are better than what we are playing right now and we owe it to these kids to get it back on track.

    Q. Does it matter if taking a lead against somebody, do you think that would help?

    COACH DAVIE: A lot of things would help. You know, it would probably help being 3-0 like A&M was yesterday it. It probably would have helped playing McNiece (ph) and Oklahoma State, but it is what it is. It is what it is. You know, certainly, there's no margin for error. All those things, all those things are factors. But there's no excuses. There's a bottom line to it, and you've got to get is soft. You've got to come up with solutions. That's why there's a lot of grinding going on right now. There's a lot of things that make it a difficult situation. But, there's no excuses because of that. You've got to solve the problem.

    Q. Is 47-year-old Bob Dave more disappointed than 74-year-old Joe Paterno?

    COACH DAVIE: Probably about the same. I was talking to go Bob Griese before the game, and he says, "You know, Joe Paterno is out there practicing every day, loves the X and O's, loves the football part of it. He's a ball coach, bottom line." We probably feel about the same.

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