Bob Davie Weekly Interview
Head coach previews Navy contest.
November 10, 1998
An interview with
COACH BOB DAVIE
JOHN HEISLER A couple of Quick notes:
For those of you on the satellites, there will be four minutes and 40 seconds
of highlights from the last week's game between Notre Dame and Boston College.
The exact kickoff this weekend will be 3 39; that is eastern standard time. And,
for those of you with us next weekend, the 11 30 wrap-up with Bob Davie is each
Sunday at the Joyce Center conference room.
Coach Davie is here. He will make some opening comments and then we will
take some Questions.
This is really an exciting time for our
football team. I know I speak for all the players and coaches, but we are
extremely excited to be 7 and 1. What it does it provides us with the tremendous
I think we all realize that through these players' hard work, through
these players unselfishness and because of some good fortune, it does provide us
with an opportunity and that is all you want, particularly this time of year. So
it is fun just to be involved in all the things that go along with being a 7 and
1 football team in November as you move forward.
I think the thing I like with this team the most though is that this
team realizes that for us to take advantage of the opportunity, we have -- we
certainly have to improve. Being 7 and 1 is fine, but we won 7 games last year
and it comes down to finishing. To finish we really do have to make a lot of improvement. We have got
some problems I think that have cropped up in the last couple of weeks that just
have to be eliminated for us to win.
For us to win particularly this Saturday starting against Navy, I think
as a team the first thing that has kind of sprung up on us here, it seems like we
play in spirts a little bit.
The BC games is a pretty good example. Offensively we take that opening
drive which really should be the toughest drive of the game offensively, because
you are not in a rhythm yet on the road, we take it down and score. But then we
seem to at times be very average. There is times we are unstoppable. You look at the first drive of the
game; you look at the first and second drive of the second half, you know, we do
some good things, but then at times, we are very, very average.
I think on defense it kind of proved out to be the same thing. As good
an offensive team as Boston College was and is, the first couple of series of the
second half, we play extremely well on defense.
So I think we are capable of being consistent but we haven't been
consistent and we play in spurts. I think that is something we have to eliminate
Second thing is I have seen the last couple of weeks we are not taking
advantage of the opportunities we have during the game. You look at the -- you go
back to the Army game, we had some opportunities on offense early in the year,
seemed like we converted all those opportunities. I am not just talking the red
zone. We had some opportunities and we had some things happen we didn't take
And then in the BC game the thing that concerns me is we had a chance to
put it away at 24-17, we get the ball back, we end up fumbling the lead draw, you
know, self-inflicted mistake that just -- you know, in that situation, really
good football team is able to put that game away. And then when it was 31-26,
Tony Driver runs the ball back to close to mid-field, we get some productivity
out of our kickoff return team; then we go three and out and we fumble on the
second play on that drive. We have two chances to put it away and we can't.
On defense, as we know, it was 31 to 20, nine minutes left in the game. They
go 68 yards in nine plays. Then they get it back with four minutes left in the
game and they go 75 yards in 12 plays. Good thing they didn't go 75 and a half
The second thing I see or the third thing we have got to correct are
mistakes. I mentioned the two self-inflicted mistakes on offense one time, we run
the counter, it really comes down to just the exchange and we fumble it. We run
the lead draw and we put it on the ground and we -- on the last series when we
fumble, we turn the nose guard loose, completely loose and that led to the
fumble. So it is those things that -- the two dropped balls in critical times;
the two silly penalties.
I think you look at the defense, certainly the big
plays against us, 13 big plays in that game by Boston College. That has been
something we have been pretty good at in previous weeks. The Boston coverage is
-- and one time they had ten men on the field regardless of the situation, it was
inexcusable. I think all of us as coaches and players, we realize that we have
worked hard. But we have had some good things happen to us because of the hard
work and because of the unselfishness, but we have got to correct the mistakes.
As both the staff and as a football team, I think the key to all of it, whether
you are talking about consistency, whether you are talking about taking advantage
of opportunities that come up in the game or eliminating mistakes, it always
comes down to execution - simple as that. There is no outside issues. It has
nothing to do with what your record is or what your opponent's record is or what
how many points people think you should win by or any of those things. It comes
down to execution. That is why this is a big week for us.
Because for us to
win, we have got to execute better. To do that, I probably think we need to do
less. We need to cut it back a little bit. Any time you have mistakes, any time
you have inconsistencies, it is lack of execution. We need to cut back. That is
what we are going to do. We are going to put it on the players. We are going to
have a simple plan and we are going to ask them to execute because all of us like
being 7 and 1, but it really doesn't matter if we can't finish. And, to finish,
we have to execute.
But we do have a lot of positives. I think offensively
continue to get big plays. I know we have been over ten big plays a game the last
three weeks or four weeks and that is something that is really a positive for us.
The third downs on offense, mainly due to the experience and the development of
the Quarterback and the passing game, that provides us with an opportunity on
offense to do some things. If we do get in passing situations; certainly if we
get 9- and 10-man front; the red zone offense continues to be a positive due to
in large part to the field goal kicker who has been very consistent for us. Once
again, against Boston College, that is a huge field goal. I think we continue to
be able to have critical drives; the first drive of the game, certainly the two
drives in the second half, one -- the first drive of the second half and then
after the turnover, the only disappointment was when it was 31-26 and we couldn't
put it away.
On defense I think the positives, you know, we are still
developing defense. We still have the concerns we had at the beginning of the
year to a degree. But we are improving. I think it is very positive that we are
healthy again. You kind of take for granted; all of a sudden you get in a game
like the BC game and Devron Harper and Lee LaFayette aren't playing and now you
go to nickel or dime and you match up and you have a safety on their third wide
receiver instead of a corner. That was a huge factor in that game. Also getting
Grant Irons back with Devron Harper and Lee Lafayette. I think the attitude
continues to be excellent on defense.
Kicking game I think the kickoff
return was better. Our field goal kicking obviously in extra points continue to
be consistent. Punt protection was a little bit better. Little bit inconsistent
snapping the football. Still a little bit inconsistent in kickoff coverage, but
not so much the coverage - there is times when we line drive that ball down --
line-drived it to the 15 or the 16. So as you can see, it is just trying to
improve and it is trying to eliminate mistakes and it is obvious whatever you
concentrate on and what you focus on, you normally show improvement.
now, to me, it is being -- becoming more consistent as a football team and
executing better as a team in all areas.
Navy always is a big challenge. I
remember last year saying after that game what a big win that was and I still
feel the same way. Navy comes into this game really a good football team.
Offensively they have had some good offense and I am certainly no expert in
comparing their offenses, but they -- this offense seems to be as well rounded as
any they have had. I am really impressed with the Quarterback that is
playing. Impressed how they make big plays in the passing game. And they are No.
1 in the nation in rushing defense. So that is a volatile combination being able
to throw that ball and being able to run it as well as they do.
they always give you a lot of looks - they slant, they angle, they four-man blitz
the one side strong, four-man blitz weak. Kicking game, they are always a good
team that takes chances in the kicking game and produces big plays. So it is
a big challenge. It is a good opportunity to go to D.C.. I think we are excited
about going there; playing in that new stadium, but whether you are playing the
wishbone in Ireland or whether you are playing the wishbone in D.C. or in Notre
Dame Stadium, still comes down to execution and trying to get possessions on
offense and to score points. We have got a huge challenge, but it is fun to be 7
and 1. It is fun to be in position and, you know, I am just anxious to see how
much improvement we can make and see if we can respond and take advantage of this
opportunity we have got.
I will be happy to answer any Questions that anyone
I know this isn't new territory for you, but could you talk a little bit about Autry Denson the player
and also the person, what impresses you most about him on and off the field?
Well, he is -- I kidded him the other day. I said What you ought to do when NFL
thing finishes for you is go into coaching. He didn't bite on that. He assured me he didn't want any part of
that coaching. But he is the guy I'd hire as a coach. I just love his competitiveness and he, to me, is a true
leader. He doesn't say a whole lot, but I tell what, he wants that ball in his hands. He plays the same just
about every week, just about every season since he has been here from the first day I was on this campus,
so, you know, the thing to me, he is a tremendous leader and he is a tremendous competitor. Because of
that, I think he has had a tremendous career here at Notre Dame and I couldn't be happier for him.
If I may follow-up, this is separate, are you having -- this is not a team of which great, great things
are expected for a coach and these circumstances where you have to fight for everything. Is this more fun
Well, I think it is all relative. Now that you are 7 and 1, and you see the
opportunity that you have, you want to take advantage of it. So it is not like you say, boy, we are fortunate
to be 7 and 1 and whatever happens from this point on is icing on the cake. It is actually opposite of that.
I talk to our players all the time that one thing you see about successful people and you can say the
same thing about successful teams, they always want more. That is really true. So the fact of whatever the
preseason expectations were, it really doesn't matter because here you are in this situation where you are
7 and 1 and you want to take advantage of being 7 and 1. So certainly I don't know that the preseason
expectations are anything -- really have anything to do with how we approach each week right now.
But it is fun. It is exciting. It is exciting whether we would have been expected to or not; just to be in
this position to play in football games that have so much significance in the big picture of things.
Coach, talk a little bit about the tradition of Navy/Notre Dame series; special mention behind it.
Well, as always, playing the service academies, they are so tradition rich. I think
they parallel, to a large degree, Notre Dame in a lot of ways. You are talking about all the students live on
the campus. There is no easy classes. It's a pretty structured environment with a lot of residence Hall's
rules. The bottom line you have got a whole student body that in my opinion does things the right way and
makes a tremendous sacrifice to be a part of that and because of that there is great camaraderie on the
campus and great school spirit. I think we parallel the academies in a lot of ways and also with the
tradition, their tradition-rich games. It is a heck of a matchup. I think they are a tremendous series. I was
asked about whether or not the Army series should continue and, you know, I said with one clause and one
stipulation that is that they don't run the wishbone. I'd really love this series if they weren't in the
wishbone. But it is a heck of a series and it is and tradition-rich series and I think playing the game in
different places -- you know to have the chance to go play Navy in Ireland a couple of years ago and I know
this game has been playing in Vet Stadium and in the Meadowlands, and now to go play in D.C., you know, it
is a matchup I think that the whole country watches and there is really no boundaries because both
institutions, when you talk about Notre Dame, or service academies are really, you know, nationwide
universities not regional university and they pull students from all over the country, so they are unique
matchups, I think.
Talk a little bit about some of the defensive players that have really made an impact for you this
Well, I think Deke Cooper and Jimmy Friday come to mind here the last couple of
plays we have had. But we have been kind of a -- as we have been as a football team, not a star-studded
team, or maybe a better way to say a that is just different players step up each week and are productive.
We split time at safety as an example with A'Jani Sanders and Deke Cooper, but then Deke Cooper has made
huge plays; so has A'Jani Sanders. He intercepts the ball against Arizona State and runs it in. I can go
on and on at different positions like that. Probably the most steadying influence on our defense has been
Bobbie Howard. I think Lamont Bryant has stepped up and made a lot of improvement coming off that knee
injury. But it is a bunch of guys that all seem to fit together pretty well. There is no stars, but I think the
common link or the common tying thread would be Bobbie Howard who has had a really fine season for us.
And Bobbie on the goal line against BC was a big part of those plays that didn't get a whole lot of
Given what you just said in the previous answer about your defense, do you think that they would
have been capable-I know this is strictly speculative and hypothetical-but do you think that their stand on
Saturday was the culmination of not only practice during the summer but eight weeks of games and that
they might not have been capable of doing that six, seven weeks ago in that situation with a game on the
You know, I don't know the answer to that. You look back over the last 16 games, I
think we are 13 and 3, is that right? If you take those 13 wins, you talk about -- (laughs) -- you talk
about winning over in Hawaii. You talk about beating Navy last year when Allen Rossum runs across that
field and makes that touchdown saving tackle. You talk about West Virginia when Ty Goode makes a couple of
plays coming off the bench late in the game. You know, you talk about Tony Driver coming back from
Louisville intercepting two balls against Purdue. It has been kind of that way over the last 16 games. There
has been different players step up. I kid our players, we are kind of like the Bad News Bears in a way,
you kind of scramble around and just find a way to win, but I think that is a positive. I think because first
things first, the most important thing is learning how to win. I think we can do that. I think the foundation is
there. But I think we need to continue to upgrade our talent and we need to get better to be more of a
dominant team because we are not. But to answer your question, you know, it comes down to
specifics. I can't say why the wing from Boston College blocked out instead of blocking down or if he would
have blocked down, if Bobbie Howard would have made that play. You know, it is just a specific situation.
But this football team has shown an ability, I think, to hang together, to stay together and not panic and as a
result, they have been able to win close games over the last 16 games.
I was wondering, I know you talked about how much cramming the team did for the Army wishbone.
Does that have any kind of residual effect even though Navy is coming a couple weeks later that maybe that
they don't have to study it as hard, because it is so familiar in their minds because they have kind of just
run through hit within the last two weeks?
I think that is a good point. You have a foundation. You have a base on which to
build, so it is not quite so foreign to the players. Familiarity is the key to playing defense. Seeing the same
things over and over so you are in a comfort zone where you can just go react instead of thinking. So it
certainly it helps us to a degree, just having had played the wishbone, but it is still not an ideal situation
because you still have to prepare for it in a week and it is really tough with the limitations with the NCAA
on the 20-hour rule and different things like that. It is tough. That is why we run some option on offense
because to a lesser degree we make teams prepare for that when they play us as well.
If I may just ask one more quick one, just concerning Autry Denson, I had the chance to talk with
Allen Pinkett this morning. He was talking about how that record of being Notre Dame's all-time leading
rusher kind of meant more to him the longer he was out of Notre Dame. Do you think it will be the same way
with Autry being that he appreciates college football, he appreciates pro football, seems to be more of a
student of the game; he appreciates things that -- down the line will he appreciate it more and more?
I can't answer for Autry. I think that is with all of us is that, you know, you get
asked so many questions all the time about the big picture or where does this fit in and I don't think any of
us really concern ourselves or really understand any of that right now when you are right in the middle of
it. And any time when you look back on things, it puts things in more of a perspective. So I am sure that is
the same with Autry. But that is a huge accomplishment. I mean, when you talk about walking away from
Notre Dame being the all-time career rushing leader, when you say Notre Dame and all-time rushing leader,
that is a strong statement because Notre Dame has always run the football well and there has been such
tremendous runningbacks. You look last night on Monday Night Football, Jerome Bettis is running up and
downed that field still just as an example. So all-time rushing leader at Notre Dame is a pretty strong
statement and I am sure that is one that Autry will look back on at some point hopefully when he is coaching
here on this coaching staff and really recognize it.
Could you describe the circumstances of the play when you had ten men on the field and you tried --
none of us -- first of all, none of us knew about the guy split out until, I don't know, later the next day.
Secondly, we didn't know about Ty Goode being ill.
Yeah, that is exactly what happened. We were in goal line defense, Ty Goode not on
goal-line defense. Ty Goode comes out of the game and he is throwing up. We go back to regular defense. Ty
Goode is unavailable to go back and it was -- there was some miscommunication and we went out there
without a corner. Fortunately they didn't snap the ball and throw it out there. That would have been
unbelievable. But, you know, those things really shouldn't happen. Every once in a while you can't
control everything. Part of it -- certainly not an excuse, Devron Harper was also out. So now you are
involving really young players as the next corner in the game that just haven't been in that situation. It was
just the lack of communication because we went >from goal line to regular, but the added element of him
being sick and back on the bench. That is really what it was.
Looked like Gilbeaux was trying to get the official to call a timeout. It was almost like the official
wasn't -- it was -- the official behind him, it was the Back Judge, I think that eventually did --
I never even talked to Benny about it. So I don't know the exact mechanics of it.
I asked you this a couple of weeks ago regarding Sanson handling kickoffs. You didn't want to disturb
the flow. Now that -- Hunter is eight games into this and doesn't really seem to be improving in placing the
ball. Are you giving more consideration going back to Sanson?
We have. We did during the game again. But I just -- Jim Sanson still with the field
goal kicking the way it is, still with not 100% with that quad, I just don't want to do it. Hunter Smith once
again kicked a ball out, he did line drive a couple. He did make the tackle, on one line drive. That is a tough
call, but right now my nature is the field goal kicking is so solid for us, we are so consistent, you know,
would it be a factor or not? I don't know. But I don't really want to find out. I just like the way it is evolving
right now with Jim Sanson and -- big part of it is timing out the take off on the kickoff with the kicker. So
you have to practice the kickoffs in practice and I don't really want Jim Sanson out there doing a lot of
kickoffs because it proved to be ---we are in pretty good shape right now.
Subject of the Bad News Bears --
I knew I shouldn't have said that.
Seriously, for all the things that they have accomplished this year, does there come a point where
that lack of significant number of blowout wins comes around and hurts you and the reason I ask is because
on the BCS rankings there are five times ahead of you with one loss and one with two losses. Does there
come a point down the stretch when that is a concern to you?
Well, you know, you can only control what you can control and I promise you we
are trying to win a lot more points than we are winning by. So I mean, that is a legitimate issue. If we could
keep winning and if it became an issue as in the Bowl Championship series, yeah, I would look back and say
Boy, I wish we would have done this and won by more points. But I don't know what the solution is to that.
Because we really can't prepare any better. Really can't practice any better. So it could be a factor, but
right now it is not with me because it is just trying to win, stay one step ahead.
When you discuss with the players the opportunities that come with having this record at this point,
how do you define those opportunities at this point or do you?
What opportunities does this provide being 7 and 1? I just think -- I think it is the
first time since 1993 a Notre Dame team has been 7 and 1. Certainly none of these players were here. None
of these coaches were there. So it provides a whole different perspective going into this, late in the season,
going into November. Certainly last night out there in the rain practicing, it is a lot easier out there
practicing in that cold rain when you are 7 and 1 than if you were other than 7 and 1. I think because
of what I mentioned some good fortune and different things, we ought to really be excited about taking
advantage of that. As we move forward, I mean, we all see what is out there for us, if we can take care of
our business and win. But we also see what we need to do to win. So I think this football team is mature
enough to see the big picture but focus on the next step.
I think these guys said you talked about this on the conference call Sunday night. When you say that
you are going to limit things on offense, does that mean you are going to downsize the offense; you are just
not going to add new things? Can you explain a little bit please?
I think what we have done and Jim Colletto would agree with this is we practice a
lot of things the last couple of weeks. And for instance, we practiced one thing last week on Monday, we
practiced 20 minutes, kind of a wishbone play. We actually ran the play one time in the game. So I don't
think it is -- it is focusing in practice and practicing in practice what you are going to play in the game. At
some points you do have to narrow it down starting Monday. You want to go into that game with your whole
bag and your whole artillery but you have to narrow down Monday to execute better. That is really my
point of just narrowing it down and deciding early in the week what we are going to run. Let's just execute
that and have enough confidence that that is all we need going in. Whether or not it will be noticeable in how
much we do in the game, I don't know. But it will be certainly noticeable in practice; that we practice less
things, do them over and over more times.
Talk about Malcolm Johnson and just explain in your eyes why he is so effective or been productive
and also why Jarious seems to be more comfortable with him than maybe other receivers, Bobby Brown
comes to mind, is that matter of just comfort zone or Jarious is looking in on the primary receiver or is
that by design?
You know it is not necessarily by design. We have had a lot of curls, things that
Malcolm runs extremely well and a little skinny post that Malcolm runs well. You probably really have to
ask Jarious. I think as in -- always there is reads with every pass. I mean, very few times you ever
just say We are throwing the ball to X on this play. We do have a couple of things we just throw the wall to
X. But for the large majority of it, there are reads involved and for whatever reason, the ball has gone to
Malcolm and he has taken advantage of it. But it may be a matter of coincidence more than anything.
But the other thing, I mean Malcolm is a big tall physical target. He is 6 foot 5"; he has caught a lot of
balls. He hasn't dropped any because basically -- although he did drop one for a first down Saturday. I think
it is a matter of maybe coincidence, but it may also be a matter of confidence as well because they have
hooked up and had had success.
How much of coaching him and you guys between last year and this year was involved in having him
adapt to the catch? Does that seem to be a big difference this year than last year?
Yeah, that is something since really I accepted the job that is something I made a
big point of because I think back and this is kind of interesting with Brock Williams. We all get kind of
excited because Brock - I am not trying to single Brock out or embarrass Brock - but he had some trouble
Saturday. Brock is a young sophomore corner. I remember a couple years ago, Allen Rossum as a young
sophomore corner, against Michael Adams from Texas and Terry Glen (ph) from Ohio State and the biggest
thing that got Allen Rossum in trouble was running after the catch. Those kids caught curls and made spin
moves and took him for a huge run. So I have always been a big believer in run after the catch as a receiver
and it is something we emphasize. A lot of it has to do with the individual who is running with it after the
catch. But it is something we have emphasized and we are still not game-breaker-type guys after the catch.
That is something we talk about.
Last thing, from our perspective; from a lot of fan perspective 7 and 1 -- we see 7 and 1, last year
this time I think you were 3 and 5. When you are watching the films and coaches are breaking down the
films, are you four wins better this year, do you see a team that is four wins better than a team that was
on the field last year?
I think you have to say from which point, David. When we were a 1 and 4 team, we
were ugly. I mean, being -- just putting it out on the table, we -- you know, if you think back to the
Michigan State game, the Michigan game we did some good things, Stanford -- Michigan State, Stanford we
really struggled, really struggled. We had a lot of injuries. We weren't very good. Then we improved, still
struggled, but found a way to win. We are better than we were even late in the year. We are a better team
now than we were late in the year. The offense has a little more diversity to it because of the option.
The quarterback makes plays when there are no plays. You take the third and 24 on the one yard line, you know,
just calling it because you think he has some escapability to not get sacked in the end zone for a safety, just
calling it -- you call things differently. But we are a better team than we were at the end of last year - I
don't think there is any question about that. I think we are an improving team. I think defensively we can go
-- we can become so much better as we evolve here. But we are better than we were last year, I don't
think there is any question about it.
This is kind of education for guy in the media, Brock got in trouble with not knowing when to turn
back to the ball. You see it in the NFL see it in all levels. What is the coach philosophy knowing when to turn,
but not turning too early and letting the guy get behind you?
I have always -- one simple thing I have always called it, you turn and look back
and play the ball as a defensive back when you are in phase with the receiver. In other words, when you are
close enough to the receiver, that you can reach out and touch him, then you look back and find the ball. If
you are not in phase, if he is one arm length ahead of you, then you just run and you try to catch the
receiver and strip the ball or knock the ball out of his hands when he reaches to catch it. But if you are in
phase, you turn back and look and you become the receiver. That is really -- that is the way I have always
said that. Because if you are behind in the race, and you are not in phase, you look back, he is just going to
run away from you. But if you are in phase, you now become the receiver; you have the same opportunity
he has. Brock, what happened with Brock, it happens with a lot of DBs, he played poor technique initially. As
a result of that, he panicked. When you panic, you just run and try to catch up because you know you are
behind and then he paniced to the degree that he never looked back. He actually caught up with the receiver
but then he never looked back. It all comes down to initial technique; that is what made it panic to begin
with. Won time he was in third and got beat which should never happen, it was pass interference; the other
time in man he played technique that we don't even have that got him in trouble. So he is a young guy with a
tremendous amount of talent - I love his spunk. I love his -- I think he is going to be a heck of a player. And
it is fun to have guys like that because I will tell you what, he will do -- he is like Jarious, he will trot back
out there. He will be right back up there again bump and run. I like -- that is why I like our defense. I see
some young guys on that defense that are going to help us. It is in phase or out phase when you look back at
Couple of things, BC's receivers. Two BC's scheme; knowing when you are in man;
knowing when you are in zone. Three, lack of execution, a little bit of lack of discipline. You never take one
thing for granted when you play that position. You better line up and play tremendous technique every play
and be totally focused. He is a young guy, I think that lost a little bit of focus. Just a great learning
experience. How he reacts? That is how you find out if he will be a heck of a player or not. One thing
about Allen Rossum, he was beaten down as low as you can go and he hung in there and fought through it.
Brock Williams has a lot of ability.
Could you go over the injury situation.
Arnaz Battle, we are going to take Arnaz with us on the
trip. He is going to throw a little bit today. I doubt that he plays. Hopefully
LSU. Hunter is 50/50. Devron Harper will be back. Grant Irons will be back.
Ronnie Nicks is out with a hamstring. Spencer is going to be okay. He didn't
practice last night, but he will practice probably tonight; for sure, tomorrow.
Who else? Jarious was sick last night, has the flu. I think he is going to be
back tonight for practice. Lee Lafayette will be able to go. Donald Dykes, we
are going to hold him out. He is close to being able to go, but we will probably
not going to use him this year. I am trying to think. A'Jani Sanders is okay.
In that game when BC was moving the football down the field late in that
game, you couldn't help and think back at some players could have turned the
thing as you said, put Notre Dame in a position to wrap it up. A couple of them
-- Weaver had some great plays where he got there; looked like he might have been
a little too high at times, but he had some outstanding plays that just didn't
happen or didn't make the tackle there. When you talk about changing the offense
a little bit, tightening that down, is there any changes that way, defensively?
Well, we had five sack opportunities that we missed
tackles. Five sacks. Just as Jarious proved on the 68 yard pass to Malcolm, when
you have an opportunity to sack the quarterback and don't, that is when you have
big plays against you on defense. We had five of those. Same thing on
defense. In the pack exchange is a little bit because it is a wishbone team, but
what doesn't change is attention to detail. Across the board - attention to
detail and execution, technique, and we were sloppy. Bottom line we were sloppy
against Boston College and we cannot win being sloppy. It was frustrating because
we had made some progress on defense and we took a step back Saturday. But
the things you like about this team, they know it. They knew it in the locker
room after the game. I mean, there was unbelievable relief, I guess you can say
from winning the game, but they knew right then that -- we could have taken that
football team back and practiced Saturday night. I mean that sincerely, our
football team would have come back and practiced if the NCAA would allow it.
Because that is the kind of team it is. They know we have to improve. So I think
that is the encouraging thing. On defense it is the same as offense. It was
sloppy on both sides of the ball really. The bottom line BC was a little bit
better offensive team than they were defense. That is why the offense looked like
it played a little bit better than our defense.
(inaudible) course of coaching career there are going to be some things
you want to look back on, great goal line stand, maybe one that will go into --
get its own page in the -- (inaudible) come-from-behind-win against Purdue, tough
losses, some big wins, guy getting the all-time rushing. In the course you your
career you'd like to have all those things, but it is all happening in a year and
I think more than that, what you want to look back on is
the big picture. Just like that -- easily could have scored on third down and
spun out of there. But in the big picture of things, you know, one grenade is not
going to get it. Just like one season last year going 1 and 4 at the beginning of
the season, there is a bigger picture to that. I think that is important to keep
in mind. If we would have walked in the locker room, if BC, 6 and 2 because they
would have scored, the same issues would have been -- what we would have had to
fix this week. So in the big picture of it, you just want to be consistent in
what you are doing and you want to keep improving, keep recruiting and keep
building. So, yeah, you look back. There has been a lot of things that happen,
but it is always going to be that way. I think it is the big picture that you
want to keep in mind in all this.
Given that thought, is part of what is involved with being 7 and 1
convincing people to get a little greedier because a year or two down the road
there are so many factors that could play to a poorer record even if the team is
All I worry about is kids on our football team getting
greedy. All the outside speculation or expectations before the season, in the
middle of the season, or after the season really doesn't matter. What I want to
do is minimize the issues with our football team. As I told our players last
night, the only people we have to impress are the same people that we have had to
impress all along and that is just us. Nothing has changed. So regardless of what
outside expectations become, whatever we end up this year as how that relates to
what people expect us to be next year, those issues don't matter. The issues that
matter with me are with the team and remaining unselfish, remaining focused,
given credit to others, understanding how fortunate we were to walk in that
locker room 7 and 1. Why we are fortunate. We are fortunate because we worked
hard and we have invested and, you know, we are unselfish; that is why that
happened. So that is the only issues I deal with are the ones within that 100-man
football team and coaching staff.
You said obviously if you keep winning, things take care of themselves.
But with as many good teams that there are this year, does there come a point
where maybe not you, but someone from the administration -- does somebody have to
start lobbying for a 9 and 2, 10 and 1 Notre Dame team to get in the BCS with the
amount of exposure and money involved?
If there is any lobbying, it won't be me doing it. I am
national lobbiest. I probably won't know how to start that. I think you take care
of these games. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. If you ask me
about the big picture or the Bowl Championship Series and the poll and all, that
I mean, there is no perfect system. Now obviously if we were right up there at 1
and 2 and I may have more of an opinion on that at that point. But right now
where I sit, I am just glad we had a goal line stand and we are 7 and 1 and we
have got a chance to be 8 and 1, so I am not going to trying to side step the
issue. But for me right now I haven't put a whole lot of thought into those
issues. Until it becomes a big factor with us, I am not really going to step much
time, so I am not an expert in giving you my opinion on it. If that -- if we are
a 10 and 1 team then maybe there is time to do some lobbying, but it is not going
to make a darn bit of difference if we don't go play Navy this week.
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