Bob Davie's Mid-Week Press Conference

Head football coach discusses Stanford, Arizona State.

October 6, 1998

An interview with:

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COACH DAVIE: If he doesn't, I think Arnez will step up there and play well. Obviously he doesn't have the experience. Boy, he does some good things in practice. I've got a lot of confidence in him. Eric Chappell has been around here for a long time. Go on with the same plan if Jarious played.

Jerry Wisne at guard. I'm not sure about Jerry Wisne. Think he'll probably play. If he doesn't, Gandy and Ritter are fine. Third guard, bit of a concern. Jim Jones, Kurt Vollers, Brendan O'Connor, walk on. Malcolm Johnson, same thing, I think he'll play. If not, really looked good last night in practice, as well.

Time to go see what kind of team we have. I think this is a big -- it will be a big barometer for this football team if we have made some progress. We're all anxious to go out there. I know the media is anxious for us to go out there. Tell by your attitude, we're going to a place that has some sunshine and golf courses. At this time I'll take questions you may have.

Q. The last time you coached against Arizona State, you were at the University of Arizona. I was curious what you remember about that time. That was really the start of your coaching career. What are your recollections of that?

COACH DAVIE: I was thinking about that driving over here. That was really the first big win that I'd experienced in coaching. We played them in 1979 in Sun Devil Stadium. If we win the game, we go to the Fiesta Bowl, end up the season 6-4-1. If we lose, we go home. We won that game on the last play of the game, kicked a field goal and won the game. What I remember is driving down Interstate 10 after the game. Ron, who is now the head coach at Illinois, Bob, who coaches the secondary at the Green Bay Packers, all of us riding home, what a great feeling that was. You always think of that atmosphere in Sun Devil Stadium, it's a heck of a place, a heck of a setting. I do remember back to that game. That was a heck of a football game.

Q. The fact that that was basically the start of your coaching career, how did that springboard you?

COACH DAVIE: Well, after that season, after that game, we ended up getting let go at Arizona. Ron Turner and I were both part-time coaches at Arizona at that time, back when part-time coaches could recruit. We ended up being let go in the spring.

I went back to Pittsburgh, fortunate enough to get hired by Jackie at Pittsburgh. In that Fiesta Bowl in '79, we actually played against Pitt when I was at Arizona.

It was a heck of a experience for me. What I was at Arizona I had a lot responsibility, even though I was 22 or 23 years old. I had a chance to recruit all over the country.

Being around Tony Mason was quite an experience. He's one of the best football coaches I've ever been around. Did a terrific job with players, terrific job recruiting.

I was proud of what we did at Arizona. Wish we could have stayed longer. I really enjoyed it out there.

Q. What is the nature of the injury to Wisne and Johnson?

COACH DAVIE: Wisne has pretty close to the same injury that Jarious does in his shoulder. It's a little more in his joint. They're a little bit more concerned about his shoulder than they were Jarious'. But he does have full range of motion. Kind of they called it a rotator cuff, from what I understand, injury. Fortunately, he's not pitching this Saturday. I think he'll be back and ready to go. Malcolm sprained his knee. I believe it's the same knee that he had surgery on a couple years ago. It hasn't swollen a whole lot. I think Malcolm will also play.

One unfortunate thing, Malcolm's grandfather passed away in Atlanta. Malcolm will be going to Atlanta Friday. Actually Thursday when we leave as a team, he'll head to Atlanta, then fly out to Phoenix sometime during the afternoon on Friday. He's going to go back to Atlanta and attend his grandfather's funeral Friday morning. We expect him to play.

Q. Has Jarious shown enough this week to even evaluate?

COACH DAVIE: I think he'll be iffy. We'll know a lot more today. He went out yesterday and ran through some things. We didn't want him to throw the football.

I think it will be day-to-day. I think he'll improve. The trainers today think he's shown improvement already. It will kind of be day-to-day.

Q. I was going to ask you also about Jarious' injury. To follow up, if you could tell me when he first incurred the shoulder injury. The next part of my question, from Arizona State's perspective, you cited all the great things about the Sun Devils, yet they've lost three of their first five games. I'm wondering what you've seen on film that makes you believe are reasons for their slow start, what you might see that you think you could exploit here on Saturday?

COACH DAVIE: The first question was about Jarious. He hurt the shoulder sometime in the first half against Stanford, and he continued to play. It was sore, it was stiff during the game. Got progressively worse.

It really affected him Sunday when he woke up. So it was sometime during the Stanford game. Even Jarious himself is not sure. When you watch the Sun Devils, you see what college football has become. They're a talented team. But they've played some good teams. You watch the Washington game, it's a heck of a football game. I think it ends up 42 to 38, a game that Arizona State easily could have won.

Then they go to BYU, probably suffered in a way a reverse maybe what we suffered when we went up to Michigan State. They went to a tough place to play at BYU, got beat by a good football team on that night, Brigham Young.

Then you watch them against SC. In my opinion, we have to play both teams, but SC -- Arizona State really could have and maybe should have won that game. They're up 17-7 at halftime. SC blocks a punt, gets an interception.

You know, it's kind of what college football is. It's week to week. We know ASU is a good team. ASU knows they're a good football team. Heck, I can't sit here and answer why they're 2-3. But my opinion is it's kind of what college football has become. It is every week a block punt here, interception here, they had a couple punt returns called back because of penalties. It's week to week.

Q. I was wondering, you were mentioning about their corners. Given the size of Malcolm and the other receivers that you have, given what Randy Moss and some of Minnesota did with smaller corner backs, do you think you might utilize the size of your receivers more by throwing those high balls to them this week?

COACH DAVIE: I think at some point you do have to throw the football down the field against Arizona State. They're going to get up there and crowd you. You look, I think SC threw the ball down the field ten times and completed two. They completed two big ones.

Certainly you'd like to throw the football down the field and try to get a big play. It's not really our style of game, though. Our percentages haven't been quite so good on the big plays.

It's something that we will have to do. But I'm impressed with their corners. Just because they're not the biggest guys, they match up pretty good and they do a great job. They're physical on you. They jam you and they hold you up at the line.

It's something that they believe in and it's something that they do every day against good receivers in practice. But I do think we have to throw the football down the field.

Q. It seems when teams, whether they're in college or in the NFL, when eastern teams go west, they're always fighting some kind of lethargic feel on game day. I know you're going out a day early probably to try to correct that, get their body clocks on the right time. Any explanation or theory as to what happens there when teams get slow starts from the east when they go out west?

COACH DAVIE: You know, I don't really know. I just know from my experience, just last year in going to Stanford, going to Hawaii, which is even more extreme, it seems like it's the second day that it kind of catches up with you.

We've gone on Thursday. It seems like Friday you feel good, bounce around. Then Saturday you're a little bit tired. What we've tried to do this year is move up our departure schedule and get out there earlier on Thursday to get them just more acclimated.

In the past, we've gotten in late Thursday night. Last year we got into Stanford probably two or three o'clock in the morning South Bend time. I think you wake up the next day and feel good, but Saturday you may be a little bit sluggish.

I think particularly when this game started at 12:30 in the afternoon, we want to leave out of here early. We're going to leave here about four o'clock our time, get in about 6:30 Phoenix time. Hopefully that will help the situation. We'll go practice a little bit Friday at their practice field.

Certainly I've kind of noticed the same thing you have. We're trying to take steps to solve that. That's why I talked about this football team (inaudible). We started even Monday morning, usually meet at seven o'clock in morning with our players. We didn't do that this week. We have our practice time cut back to the shortest amount we can, get our work done.

We're trying to take steps to resolve that.

Q. You mentioned getting off to a good start is important. Certainly last week did you that. Anything in particular other than executing better that you did? Simplify the play list, script it, something?

COACH DAVIE: We have been scripting our plays offensively early in the game. First game we got to stay on our script, because the first game we haven't fallen behind so fast. I think it's like anything else. Probably not a whole lot different. I just talked about going out there a little bit earlier, all those steps. A lot of times all those things are overrated. It always does come down to guys making plays.

Against Stanford, we had some guys step up and make plays. But certainly as a coach, you try to put them in the best situation, prepare them the best you can to be able to step up and make those plays.

If it means being more rested, if it means starting practice like we're going to start practice again this week, a full speed work offense against defense. If it means a simpler plan where there's less chance to have mental breaks early in the game, mental busts earlier in the game, certainly all those steps we're trying to take.

It will, as it always does, come down to guys going out there and making plays.

Q. If Jarious doesn't go or can't go a whole game, do you have to change things for Arnez? Can he step in and run the whole package?

COACH DAVIE: I think he can. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I think he can. I think the big question with Arnez will be just his presence, vocally. Can he get up there and be loud enough with that snap count, can he be assertive enough? If something goes wrong, how is he going to respond?

There's no question ability-wise, composure-wise, intelligence-wise, he's got a lot of tools. I'm comfortable with Arnez. He just hasn't been under the gun much.

He's a lot like Jarious. He's a very even-keeled person. Just a great young man. I've got a lot of confidence.

We won't change anything as far as our game plan. They're very similar players.

Q. Your thoughts on the match-up between the Irish defense and the Arizona State offense?

COACH DAVIE: Well, I'm concerned. They've got a lot of weapons. First of all, that runningback, No. 21, he's a threat every single time he touches the football. I think he's rushed for 110 yards, averaged 110 yards a game. He's tough to tackle. We've had some problems tackling, particularly on the perimeter, particularly in the secondary. I'm concerned about tackling No. 21 first.

The second thing I'm concerned about is the big play potential they have at wide receiver. They're balanced on offense. They run the ball first, they throw the ball second. They're not a team that's going to take a lot of sacks. They do some quick passing, get the ball in the hands of their weapons, running back and their receivers. I'm concerned.

Our defense has given up over 400 yards a game. I think we're improving. That's why I'm anxious to see us this week. I'd like to think we're making improvement on defense.

Purdue ends up -- Purdue is a heck of an offensive football team. Play have played a bit better be we thought. Played a little bit better against Stanford. We showed some signs of being decent on defense. This will be a big test for us.

Q. How do you feel the season has shaped up so far in the first four games?

COACH DAVIE: I think pretty good. We went into this, the first four teams we played beat us last year. Certainly those first four teams had a lot of players coming back. We're 3-1. I think we'd all like to be 4-0, but I think we're satisfied being 3-1. We're proud of this football team, the way they bounced back after the Michigan State game.

Going in, we knew those first five games, because the first four beat us last year, then going out to play Arizona State, was going to be a heck of a challenge for this football team. When we started this season, we really approached this season in the spring. We took spring practice, we took fall camp. We said we'll prepare for the first two games, Michigan and Michigan State. That was kind of like a season for us, those first two. Then we had the open date. Then it was Purdue, Stanford, Arizona State. We have another open date.

So this is kind of the third game in that second season for us. It's the first one away from home in this second season. It's a critical game for us, particularly because we have an open date next week, I think.

Q. When you left Arizona, you were a young coach at the time. Were you concerned what happened there would hurt your career?

COACH DAVIE: Yeah, I was. No question I was. That's why even though the charges were dropped against me, dropped against the other assistant coaches, I chose to go ahead. My wife and I chose to go ahead and pay that money back just because that didn't follow me. I really went for about 18 or 19 years where I never heard anything more about it. Yeah, I was concerned.

Q. Do you feel like you were lucky in that regard?

COACH DAVIE: Lucky by means of what?

Q. I mean, that things really quieted down and you moved on and progressed I guess at a pace that you had hoped in your career.

COACH DAVIE: Oh, I think so, yeah.

Q. And has your career gone as you expected? Are you head coach at the time you thought, when you got in the business?

COACH DAVIE: Well, I think to become a head coach, you have to have a lot of good things happen. You have to be fortunate. You never know. You never know if you're going to get that opportunity.

Certainly I am pleased to be the head football coach, feel very fortunate to be the head football coach.

Q. I was looking at the overall series when you began with an opponent for the first time. Notre Dame's overall record is pretty impressive, losing three times. What do you attribute that to? Is it tradition and mystique, where the other teams are overwhelmed a little bit?

COACH DAVIE: What you're saying is the first time that Notre Dame plays an opponent?

Q. Correct. Being this is the first time Notre Dame has faced Arizona State.

COACH DAVIE: You know, I don't really know. That's a tough question to answer. I don't really know. Notre Dame has won a lot of football games over the years. Notre Dame has had a lot of good football players.

I don't know that there would be any one specific thing or one specific reason other than just Notre Dame's overall winning percentage. I think Notre Dame does have the highest winning percentage in college football right now in Division IA. That probably just parallels that percentage more than the specifics of the first time teams have played in series.

Q. Could you comment on the play of Kory Minor?

COACH DAVIE: Well, Kory had a great summer for us and for himself. I mean, probably (inaudible) ten pounds, came back at 245 pounds, just in great shape, had great quickness. Had an excellent training camp. Then he had the misfortune of spraining his ankle. He rebounded from that and then had a turf toe injury. He's just now I think getting healthy again.

I think you'll see Kory Minor start to play the best football of his career as we get into this season now because he's just now getting healthy.

I give him a lot of credit. He's fought through some different things early in the season. We've used him in some different situations early in the season. I really think the best is ahead of him as we kind of progress through this season.

Q. Can you take a step back and tell us what it's like to be the coach at Notre Dame?

COACH DAVIE: You mean today?

Q. Yes.

COACH DAVIE: I don't really sit back and take a lot of time to be quite as philosophical as what everyone might want you to be. I think what you realize as you kind of go through this is just how important Notre Dame football is to so many people.

I think you also realize that you're going to take some hits, just comes naturally with the position. I think that's all part of it. I think it's the best coaching job in the country because so many people care, and because everywhere you go, people show up that live and die Notre Dame football. But certainly with that, as in anything, there's always some trade-offs.

Once you're through all that and through all the philosophical part of it, coaching football is coaching football. Trying to find a way to line up and stop No. 21 this week is what it really does come down to, putting the best teams you can put on the field Saturdays.

That's what I've concentrated my time on, put most of my thoughts into, is putting the best football team on the field I can.

It's a tremendous place, certainly a unique place. But in a lot of ways, you know, coaching football is coaching football. The players are the ones that win football games, not coaches. That's one thing that's consistent everywhere across this country.

Q. On the flipside, can you just kind of touch upon how frustrating some of the things off the field have been to go through?

COACH DAVIE: Well, certainly it's been frustrating. When you first become a head football coach, you want everything to be perfect. You quickly realize that some things are out of your control. Not everything you can control.

But you also learn to realize there's things you have to deal with. Actually, I've taken pride in that. I think this football team has taken pride in the fact that we haven't become overwhelmed with the things that we can't control, and we have been able to focus.

I think back to that first press conference we had when we started this season. Certainly all the issues were the off-the-field things that happened. I knew at that time if we could jump out 3-1 or if we could jump out 4-0, certainly the word would be that we handled those distractions well.

If we didn't start out 3-1 or 4-0, the word would be that we didn't handle those distractions well and that was the reason we didn't win enough games.

I don't know that any of that's really realistic or accurate. The reality comes down to just building the football team and taking care of the things you can take care of. But, yeah, those things are frustrating, but you choose not to spend a whole lot of time, a whole lot of focus on them.

Q. Along the same lines as the previous questions, you hear the stuff about the age discrimination suit, stuff you don't normally associate with Notre Dame football. I guess as a follow-up to that, how important do you consider it a part of your job to try to keep Notre Dame on the sports pages and off the less desirable parts of the newspaper?

COACH DAVIE: Well, certainly it's a big part of my job. Once again, there's only so many things you can control. A big part of my job is educating these players on all issues. We do that. But at some point, just like when that game starts, players have to play. There's some point where players have to make decisions.

It comes down to these players and young guys making the right decision at the right time. Certainly a big part of my job and a big part of my responsibility is to educate them, educate them on all the pitfalls out there, how vulnerable they can be, and also educate them on how many people suffer, not only on this campus and in this community, but across this country if they don't make the right decision. That is a big responsibility, and one that I take seriously.

Q. Excuse me if I'm repeating, joining a little bit late. Dan is one of the coaches that has been at both schools. I'm wondering what you've heard about him taking over as coach?

COACH DAVIE: You know, I really don't know a whole lot of specifics. I've met Dan. Dan sends me some notes on occasion. I don't know enough specifics of Dan's career at Notre Dame to comment a whole lot on it.

Q. In connection with the Notre Dame mystique, Coach said yesterday that -- one of the things he's thinking about this week, he's never had a chance to walk out on the field and shake the hand of a Notre Dame coach. It's almost like they're talking about it as a privilege to play Notre Dame. I wondered, are you kind of armored against that simply because everybody in the country gets up to play Notre Dame, at least you're used to it?

COACH DAVIE: I think that's all part of it. You certainly look at our schedule. You don't see a whole lot of easterns or westerns or northeasts or southeasts on that schedule. That's one thing.

Second of all, the reality is that you're going to take everybody's best shot. I saw a statistic, I think 102 of our last 106 games have been sold out, that means home and on the road. So certainly you're going to take everyone's best shot.

But I think that's something that you come to realize here, that's something that you come to deal with. It's something that you really take pride in.

I think that's all part of it. I'm not sure about shaking the head coach of Notre Dame's hand, how exciting that is, particularly when I'm the head coach. But I do realize that we do take people's best shot.

JOHN HEISLER: We'll take some questions from people here in person.

Q. You said we're going to put it on the players to win the game. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

COACH DAVIE: What I don't want to do, I think you get to a point in the season, going back to the spring, you kind of are what you are, you get into a rhythm. I don't want to do anything in the game, in this particular game, that we haven't done.

In other words, we'll put it in the hands of the players. Don't try to just outcoach or outscheme the other coaches in a game like that. I'd rather put the emphasis on execution, much rather put the emphasis on the players being comfortable, doing things they've done before. Particularly with a short week, we are leaving Thursday, there are some distractions.

I think you have a great plan, give the kids the best opportunity we can, let them have success, put it back on them, go out and play.

Q. You talked about the aggressive defense. 50 tackles for lost yardage. What do you do offensively to counterbalance that?

COACH DAVIE: I think the first thing, Michigan State, we had a problem with the crowd noise, in that style of defense, where Michigan State beat us off the ball. I think we did a little better job against Purdue with a different snap count, certainly can try to control that a little bit.

I think you've got to scheme them just a little bit to not allow them to get up the field. Probably most important is not fall behind in the game. They can just rear back and come down. It's a combination of things.

The biggest thing is stay in rhythm so you can stay in your game plan where they can't just sink their teeth into getting up the field on you.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: They've had some turnovers. Hopefully that's something we've done a better job on defense of. We've given up a bunch of yards, but we have created some turnovers. That's something every week we try to make a big emphasis on. That's something we have talked about.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: I don't think so. Having similar style quarterbacks really helps. Arnez is totally capable of doing the same things. I don't think we will limit it.

We're not going into this football game with a whole lot of checks. We're not going to do a whole lot at the line of scrimmage. We're going to stay with the game plan we have.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: Well, I'll get some of those copies of newspaper articles. I didn't realize it had become such a huge issue.

No, I'm the same. It's early in the week. He's made progress since Sunday. I'm still confident he'll play. I think he's ready to go.

Q. The problems in kickoff coverage, any specific approach that you're going to take this week?

COACH DAVIE: We have a bit of an Achilles' heel there with the kickoff coverage. One thing, we don't always get the ball kicked where we want it to be kicked. Also we've had some problems on kids getting out of their lanes. It's kind of a combination of things.

Yesterday what we did at practice, we spent the bulk of our time, first part of our practice was punt coverage, then right into kickoff coverage. We're going to do that every day. Punt and kickoff coverage is critical this week.

A lot starts with where the kicker kicks the ball. Hopefully we can kick the ball out. If not, we may have to directional kick it some, you try to pin them.

The problem you have is they have two good returners back there. They're really explosive. Something we've worked on.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: That's another thing. You have three options. You can try to pin them, you can bloop it or you can scrim it. You have three different things rather than just kick it right down the middle to them.

Q. Talking about letting the players play, handing it over to them. Have you seen things in the first four weeks or four games that make you feel more comfortable with the talent level of this team so you can make a statement like that when you're playing a team as talented athletically as Arizona State?

COACH DAVIE: Yeah. Once again, I don't want to make too big of an issue about the statement of "let the players win it." By that what I'm saying is don't take it out of their hands by trying to do too many things or doing something new or game planning too much. In other words, go and let them execute the things that you've seen work.

But I do think, if you compare it to last year at this point, last year we were 1-3, going to play Stanford, we are a more talented football team than we were last year. We're a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, a little bit better condition. We don't have quite the injuries we had last year at this time. We are a little more talented as a football team.

But rather than try to outscheme people, I think you have to line up (inaudible), particularly on the road.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: I think that's a good question. You saw against Michigan State, we tried to pitch the ball and got the pitches bad sometimes because they were an up-the-field team. With everything there's a trade-off. You can get some big plays against teams that hit up the field if you can get it executed. It's kind of a high-risk thing back and forth. The stakes go up because they are so aggressive. But also the chances of big plays go up also if you get it executed.

I do think we're three or four weeks further along than we were then in the option game. We did run a lot more option last Saturday, which I think will help us this Saturday, although it's a different style defense completely.

But with everything, there's a trade-off. The more they force it, the more bad things can happen, but also the more you can (inaudible).

I've always believed that you always worry more about yourself, worry about your execution more than you worry about your opponent. I do think we're executing right now at a higher level. I do think Arnez, particularly with his background with option football in high school, is a pretty smooth operator. We're not going to let them talk us out of running option.

Q. Do you draw from the Michigan State experience in keeping focus?

COACH DAVIE: I think the best examples are learned by having experienced things firsthand. Certainly we did feel pretty good about ourselves after the Michigan game. We also knew what our limitations were. We also knew Michigan State was a heck of a football team, explosive football team, in some ways like Arizona State.

I think this football team has learned by experience. That's why this week of practice, we've gone back since the moment the game was over against Stanford. The moment that game was over, all the focus was on Arizona State. We haven't gone back and spent a whole lot of time talking at all about the Stanford game.

It's been focused on the next game, Arizona State. But I hope we've learned our lesson. As always, it will come down to our guys playing against their guys Saturday, guys jumping up and making plays.

I hope our week of preparation this week is better than it was against Michigan State.

Q. Because their secondary likes to come up and crowd the front, does that benefit you?

COACH DAVIE: It's hard to say. They played Nebraska a couple years, I think the first game of the year out there in Sun Devil Stadium. It was one of the biggest upsets as far as the style in which they did it. They dismantled Nebraska, came after Nebraska. Got up there and got a lot of -- we know Nebraska has been doing that for a long time.

Just like I mentioned before, it's a trade-off with everything you do. There's no question if they can get up there and force you to break down, disrupt the rhythm of your offense, they can create some bad plays for you. I think you just have to be smart, you have to really be smart, control it, to whatever degree you can.

Q. The fullbacks this week, Jamie Spencer, was that a production of the offense line (inaudible)? How does that complement the rest of your option game?

COACH DAVIE: That's a good question. I think two things. I think our fullback, particularly Jamie, has shown some signs of really improving. I go back to the kickoff returns against Purdue, when he had two hits on kickoff returns back there blocking in the wedge. I could see him making progress. He blocked better against Purdue. He's just playing a little bit better.

Certainly against Stanford, we wore them down a little bit, we were able to crease them with the fullback. It does help in the option game if your fullback can carry the football. Particularly the way teams are playing us, they're playing us kind of outside in, getting up the field, taking Jarious away. You have the chance to pop the fullback a little bit. That helps us.

I'm excited about Jason Murray, he's back healthy now, had some more looks in practice. He's an explosive player. You know, it really helps. I think that's why you feel a little more balanced on offense now because the fullback can carry the football.

Q. Crowd noise affects what you do with the snap count. Considering you've had some problems on snaps and you're playing a very aggressive defense, what do you do to combat that? How big of a factor could that be?

COACH DAVIE: It's a factor, and it's something we're addressing in practice. I tell you guys just about everything, but I'm not going to tell you all about that snap count now.

There's a lot of difference.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: It is. I mean, you think about it, the advantage the offense has is they know the snap count. They can get off that fraction before the defense reacts to that ball being snapped.

But all of a sudden if both of them are going on movement, you've got a quicker hit on defense than you do on offense, that advantage way, way goes towards the defense. Just being able to anticipate that snap count, get off that ball that second before that defense reacts to the ball, you have a heck of an advantage on offense.

Couple that with a defense that jumps off the ball, you've got some problems. That was a problem against Michigan State.

But the biggest problem against Michigan State was it was 14 nothing before you blinked. Now you're throwing the football, playing right into their hands. There's certain plays where it's not to your advantage on defense to jump up. When you get behind, it's hard to run those plays.

So it's not just the crowd noise, it's getting off and executing early so you don't fall behind which keeps the crowd noise from being a major factor, but it also allows you to run plays in rhythm where you're not letting them just think they're deep into getting up the field. It's all the same kind of thing.

There are some things mechanically you can do if you can't hear the snap count. None of them are as good as being able to hear that snap count.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: Yeah, I think it does. It's so hard in practice because you want to teach in practice. When you're out there, that music is blasting, the crowd noise is blasting, it's hard to coach.

But I think just psychologically, it prepares kids for what it's going to be like in a game, makes you have a plan as coach so you don't go in there blindly.

It's the best you can do. We'd like to simulate that sun out there, too, but I don't see much chance of that happening in the next couple days. You want to make it as realistic as you can.

Q. This whole thing we've been talking about for the last few minutes sums up the wounded animal syndrome that Michigan State came at you with. Arizona State will probably be looking at it the same way. With a young quarterback, if he has to play in there, they're trying to pounce on him and force some mistakes. Is it more important for them to avoid making mistakes or to do something aggressive to overcome what they're trying to do?

COACH DAVIE: I think you're right when you say it's kind of the same scenario as going to Michigan State where they're looking for a spark, certainly their fans are looking for a spark.

As far as your question about the quarterback, I think you do what you do best. Like I said before, I think you worry more about your execution, worry about your team more than you worry about their team. You don't talk yourself out of what you do best. I think that's the whole point.

So with the quarterbacks, if you go in there and you change, all of a sudden you're not as comfortable doing those things because you haven't done them as many times. I would much rather do what we do best than to change what we do because of a certain style of a defense.

But as always, there's certain plays, certain things that can be executed better against certain kinds of defense. You know, it's a trade-off of doing what you do best, but not being so stubborn and hard headed that you run uphill all the time into things where you have no chance.

I think now we have enough diversity in our offense where there are some things I think we can do. If we don't fall behind and just have to play pitch and catch the whole day. That's not our style. They're so good bump-n-run, man-to-man, up the field, they probably have an advantage in that. In fact, I know they do.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: It's a gut feeling. What I was worried about, if I would have known they weren't going to on-side kick in those two situations, they just kicked the ball down the field, if I'd have known they weren't going to on-side kick, I'd have got them in there earlier.

The way they're able to throw the football, I have said this before, I worry about winning the game we're in more than the next one. I never felt that game was just over as when we went 99 yards and made it 35-3 I guess, whatever it was. From that point on, we couldn't execute on offense and they were moving the ball on defense.

Then I'm envisioning on-side kick. All of a sudden, a big play, they throw the ball pretty well. We're walking out of that stadium with our heads hanging down.

You want to build some momentum to go on the road and play a team like Arizona State. I never felt comfortable with that.

In hindsight, that I see they didn't on-side kick, we ended up winning the game like we did, yeah, yeah.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH DAVIE: Yeah, I think so. That's always the case. But I don't think we didn't execute because of lack of enthusiasm of our first group. They were moving that front around. We had some procedure penalties. Jarious threw the interception. But, yeah, I wish I would have got some kids in there.

We did on defense. We didn't with the quarterback and tailback. Two positions are tailback and quarterback that I wish we did.

JOHN HEISLER: Thank you, very much.

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