Nov. 16, 2008
Q. First of all, want to talk a little about the defense. It seems like some of the things that you guys are doing, and doing well, are different than what you were doing during the year. Can you talk a little bit about how it's evolved?
I think what they have shown on defense and what we have shown on defense is week to week an ability to try to gear your game plan towards your opponent, and coaches have done a good job of putting the players in the best chance of being successful and the players have made a whole bunch, a whole bunch of plays.
Q. I know you mentioned Harrison (Smith) is going to be a free safety next year. The way he's playing now, does that make it difficult to do that?
But he's played so aggressively, he's been like a strong safety down in the box all year. You can call him a Sam linebacker or strong safety or whatever you want, but he's been very disruptive for the defense and made a whole bunch of plays for us.
Q. Michael Floyd and Brian Smith, what do you know about them today?
So, you know, the bad and the good; the bad, they miss the next two games. But the good is there will in all likelihood be another game left after that where they will be back and have a couple weeks to get conditioned, because their knees will be fine by that time. They are both looking at a four week period, and fortunately for us, that would take us to the middle of December, and still giving you over a couple of weeks to get their cardiovascular up and be ready to go.
Q. Are we talking strains with both?
Q. You know you're going to get the play calling question; so?
So the whole offensive staff, I just left them a couple of minutes ago and we are in the same boat where I was last week; by Tuesday, the first thing I'll come in and tell you is exactly where we are, because really been scrambling a little bit to get to where we are right now.
We spend the morning on Navy and the afternoon, we start working on Syracuse and then the little wrinkle of how the news from there, how that can potentially tweak what they do offensively and defensively, you have to try to apply that, too.
So I will start off Tuesday and tell you exactly where we are.
Q. In our profession, at least with me, part of my job when things are not going well with the team sometimes is my mom gets accused of driving a beer truck. I know that last year was not the easiest week for you; as a coach, though, do you ever prepare for how you deal with a week like that or do you just never think about it?
I really think it comes down to this. I think when things are not going well football wise, you as the head coach should feel that you are open to scrutiny football wise. I think it comes with the territory. I think that for all of you who come to here on a daily basis, we have give and take all the time about what's going on football wise. Not that I agree with you all the time or you agree with me all the time, but we kind of have some kind of meeting point at the end of the day.
Really what bothers me more than anything are national guys or regional guys who are not here day to day, and then they feel forget about the professional, because I said you're already open for scrutiny when things don't go well.
But when they personally attack you, I think it's just out of line, and I think it's irresponsible and I think it's really immature.
Q. Following up on that a little bit, it looked like your son was quite relieved yesterday.
Q. Is it tougher on the family a lot of times? I'm sure for him going to school every day and your wife going out in the community must be more difficult.
And different from a fan, who believes that they have a right to say whatever you want; this is their livelihood. This is what we do. And our wives and our kids live the wins and the losses right along with us.
You know, you talk about like little Charlie, for example, sometimes it can be brutal being a kid. Sometimes you go into school and it isn't just the kids sometimes. Sometimes it's the teachers. It's not the easiest thing in the world.
My wife, she just wants to go do Hannah and Friends and ride her horses and when she goes to the grocery store and somebody comes up at the grocery store and says, "Yeah, tough one yesterday." That's the last thing in the world she wants to be dealing with, either. But it isn't just Maura and Charlie Weis. They have to live it right along with us. I feel that way with everyone affiliated that's working because they get affected, too.
Q. You told a couple times after some games the Pitt game, the first game, your first game ever - that Charlie Jr. sometimes has some comments for you; any remarks about the close win yesterday?
I said, "We had it all the way, Charlie."
But I said it in jest. I think that "thank God" might have been the appropriate response at the time.
Q. And just the news on Syracuse (with Coach Greg Robinson being fired), how does that affect I know just heard, but is it tougher playing a team like that? Does it change or how is it hard to say how it's going to affect?
Now, what you don't know, okay, you don't know the affect it's going to have on a team, because the team could rally, or they could be dispirited. I think as a coach from the opponent team, you've got to count on them rallying. That's what you've got to count on. You've got to count on it being a rallying cry.
Q. I know you don't like to talk much about the next game on Sunday but does it make it more dangerous than it would have been if he didn't know?
Q. You talked about the run game last week, are you seeing signs that it's going to break through, obviously a great production yesterday; can you talk about the line's play, and also one of the players said you really challenged them to out rush Navy, which not a lot of people do.
That was actually our second goal after winning the game. One of the things that I felt our team had not done a great job is rushing the football. And also, Navy's forte is running the football. So I challenged the team to win the rushing game in this game and they did.
So I give them a lot of credit, because that credit goes to the offense, but it also goes to the defense, too, to be able to win those totals in that game.
Q. Did you see anything different from the offensive line schematically, or was that a physical attitude improvement?
But I think the best thing that happened with the offense is that at halftime we had plenty of time to get in there and make some proper adjustments. Tell them, `okay, this is what we are going to do.' We cut down the game plan to about eight plays in the second half and that's about all we ran in the second half. We ran them over and over and over and over, and I think that when you get that type of production like they did in the third quarter going into the fourth quarter, that was a pretty good measuring stick.
Q. I think it would be fair to say you guys have been as a staff looking for the right button to push with this offense over the last couple of games. Do you think you found one, or was it specific to the opponent or how do you view the progress yesterday?
Look, we were not perfect in the game by any extent of the imagination, but we were running the ball for five and a half yards a carry and for over a couple hundred yards, and the first three running backs really running hard and establishing the line of scrimmage; that's a good start.
Q. (Terrail) Lambert, you mentioned the ankle; is he done?
Q. The follow up to that would be RJ's (Blanton) play, and he made the big play right at the end and the first play, will he come back in and start?
His cockiness turns into confidence, and whether it be that early play in the game or the tackle for the loss for ten or 11 yards or that jump ball for the end of the game, there's no doubt in his mind that either he was catching it or no one was catching it. I really like the way he's playing.
Q. A couple of plays from the first half, the quarterback, was that an audible?
We had a call at the line of scrimmage, where he could run the ball, if he got on odd look and he got the look that he saw and didn't think that the pass was going to be sufficient.
So he tried to get the run, just way too short on the play.
Q. And also the wildcat, I don't know what you guys call it?
When you have a guy like that in there. Try to get him to the edge. However when he came to the sideline, I just asked him next time we put him in there if he would run to the edge.
Q. Also curious, you guys came out at the end of the first quarter, the clock runs out and seems like that element of surprise is gone.
It would be one thing if you were anticipating a look where you would not be able to get it blocked, okay, but that wasn't that wasn't really what happened on this one.
Q. Speaking of Blanton, have you had another freshman with that kind of confidence or a rookie in the NFL that matched that type of confidence?
I remember Ty Law; as brash as he was in the league, he was not really like that as a rookie. I'm really interested to see how this kid is going to go over the next four years, because he's backing up his mouth, which that's a good thing to see. I really like him out there.
Q. From watching the tape, what did you see from the onside kicks? Did they not handle it as well as you would like?
The first one Robby (Parris) batted the ball out of bounds forward, and you can't blame that on him. We told him to bat the ball out of bounds; unfortunately when he hit it (the ball) went forward, so it's a penalty on him.
The next one although it was a good kick, we were very passive at the line of scrimmage. So the guys at the line of scrimmage, unless the ball is hit on one hop to them, are supposed to go be blockers. They didn't attack the ball and they didn't attack the blockers so (Navy) get the ball on that one.
Now, the last one, I do have a minor gripe on, because they threw a flag on that play, which I'm going to have to find out why they picked up that flag, but they blocked Robby before the ball went ten yards and threw a flag for that. But then they waived off the flag.
So I'm going to have to kind out from Terry why exactly they did that, because what they can't do is they can't guys going to catch the ball, they can't block him before the ball goes ten yards.
So I just have to find out what happened. But the kid hit two perfect kicks but still, I think our lack of aggressiveness on the front line had a lot to do with, you know, their success and our failure.
Q. I guess you would like the guys to step forward and make the play; come out and make a play and end the darned game?
Q. Looking at the stats, Clausen has 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, which is probably pretty typical for a second year quarterback. But there's got to be a fine line between wanting him to be confident like a Blanton on the offensive line and be a bit of a swashbuckler, but also being cautious. Is it difficult teaching a young kid that fine line?
But I think that when you get into a game like that, see, the MO that some of the teams that we've been playing recently is, let's back off, let's back off and make them nickel and dime us; or make them have to run the ball, because they don't believe that we'll have the patience to go ahead and run the ball.
So, you know, that's basically what you sit there and say: `Fellas, calm down, this is what we are going to do, this is what they are doing and this is what we are going to do.' Sometimes in a game like yesterday, the answer was, to run the ball, and that's basically from the halftime on was basically all we did.
It wasn't taking the ball out of Jimmy's hand. It was if they are going to play rush three and cover two, that's what you should do.
Q. Does he feel conflicted, like does he feel like he doesn't know when to be more aggressive and when to pull back, or where is he emotionally with that?
He knows based off of how different teams play, there's different ways that we are going to attack them. But I think it was important yesterday at halftime for us to do exactly what we did. I think that that's why we came out and went touchdown, touchdown, field goal to start off the second half.
Q. Navy's final drive yesterday, they called that extra time out which you realized and everyone else seemed to realize; I don't know what the protocol is there, like in basketball, is there any sort of recourse you have in that sort of situation?
So the question is, whether or not there was a charged time out or there wasn't a charged time out. So even though a time out, they made an announcement that I didn't hear, the time out came off the board, some people think that we are watching TV, that they said, there will not be a charged time out; and therefore, there should not have been a time out come off the board, even though at the end of the game, there were no time outs left on the board, technically according to the officials, there was still one left.
I had never got an explanation where the one left came from, but when we did our research today, that's the only thing at this time that we could come up with.
Q. Mike Anello's played a really big role for you guys this year including the blocked punt yesterday. Can just talk about what a great player he's developed into for you guys?
Here is a guy that every game, whether it be as a gunner on a punt team, a cover guy on the kickoff team, now rushing the punt, you know, there is hardly any games that we play where all of a sudden he's not in the stat sheet as one of the guys on special teams that's producing.
He's a perfect example of what a guy with an over sized heart can do. I'll take a bunch of Mike Anello's any time.
Q. Seems like the kind of kid you love to coach; is that fair?
Q. Just because he came in here as a walk on, like a regular student, like you did, for example, does that make it kind of fun to step back and watch when you're not thinking about everything else?
And look at the positive residual effect that's happened for both the Notre Dame football and for Mike Anello, because he did.
Q. Is he a guy who you might like to have back for a fifth year?
Q. Do you think he'll apply for a fifth year?
Q. He's already said he wants to come back next year.
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