Sept. 16, 2006
An interview with:
COACH Charlie Weis
COACH WEIS: Before we open it up for questions, I think it’s only fair, before I start going through the analysis of our game, I want to make sure that I give proper credit to Michigan. We can all sit there and talk about Notre Dame football, say all the things that went wrong in the game, starting with the coach. But I think it’s really only right to give just due to your opponent who just kicked your butt.
They’ve been much maligned coming into this game. I have a lot of respect for Coach Carr and his staff. I think it’s really important to understand that that team just came and just whooped us pretty good. They deserve their just due before we sit there and give all the things we did wrong in the game.
I thought it’s only apropos for me to go ahead and make sure I start off the press conference congratulating Coach Carr and the University of Michigan.
With that, I’ll open it up for questions.
Q. Did you sense your team would come out so flat? What kind of week was it?
COACH WEIS: It was totally the opposite. It really, really surprised me. I mean, we had on Tuesday and Wednesday our best Tuesday and Wednesday we had. Like our little conference that we had on Thursday, where I said, you know, I wasn’t really happy with how things went on Thursday, that was the only signs of the week where things didn’t look great. I’m telling you what, on Tuesday and Wednesday, things couldn’t have gone much better than they did.
Really I had no indication that that’s the way it was going to turn out.
Q. Can you talk about Brady, the adjustments you tried to make with the offense?
COACH WEIS: I tried just about everything in this game. We went from our conventional call, we (indiscernible) to come in and formation them, have some wrinkles, run the same plays but from formations. They were stuffing us pretty good. We went through few drives. We were fortunate on Ndu’s interception to even be in the game. Realistically we weren’t moving the ball at all. Ndu gets the interception, brings the ball down to the 4, we go down and score. At least it’s stayed game. We tried just about every little thing going.
We knew that they were going to be in their 4 2 package, 3 3 package, their regular defense. I think it came down we also knew they were going to pressure. So those weren’t the issues.
The issue was simply, you know, regardless of what we tried calling, we weren’t making plays, and we were careless with the football. More than anything else, when you’re careless with the football, you’re just asking for something bad to happen.
We turned it over early in the game for a touchdown. A little back shoulder throw a little bit behind John, bounces off his pads. David turns the ball over on a kickoff return. Then we just can’t play football going into a game and turning it over four times and think you ever have a chance of winning.
Q. So much success up the middle with the run. What did you see there?
COACH WEIS: I think they did a nice job of tweaking their running game because to date they hadn’t spent a whole heck of a lot of time on inside run. It’s been almost all stretch. It’s been almost all outside zone with an occasional cut back.
Today especially, you know, they intertwined those backs, they got them both going. Hart really had a big day. Rushed for 125 yards or whatever it was. I think, you know, they got that inside run game going, a nice complement to the outside zone stretch play they’ve been running.
Q. Midway through the second, I think you went no huddle, four wide, split Darius a little. Was there a sense there that you had to sort of do something to change pace?
COACH WEIS: Well, I felt if we didn’t get a score, especially when it got to be a four score game, if I didn’t get a score to get it to be a three score game by halftime, I already knew what I was going to have to say when I walked inside, with how things were going. I knew the number one thing I was going to do is settle the team down.
What happens in games like that, you have a lot of guys, even the good guys, their heads start to drop a little bit. I already knew what my responsibility was going to be when I went in there.
I thought it was important to get into a no huddle to try to get one on the board, to just get it to a three score game after they hit that next bomb to go up by 27 or whatever it was. Yeah, I felt like we had to change the tempo.
Q. Obviously this is the first time you’ve been on this end of an outcome like this. What do you see in terms of getting these guys back?
COACH WEIS: I think the first thing you’d have to do is let the team know that you’ll be the first guy to take the responsibility for the loss. I think it’s easy from where you are to sit there and say, Well, Quinn, three interceptions, a fumble for a touchdown, that’s 24 points. We can go right down the line. I got the numbers in my head already. But the bottom line is the team wasn’t ready to go. Whose responsibility is that? I mean, it’s just mine.
So I said to them right in there, I said, We’re not sulking. We’re giving just due to our opponent. More importantly, I go, We’re going to come in tomorrow, we’re going to go over this tape, we’re going to get ready to work Tuesday against Michigan State because you want the same thing happening again? Just go lay another egg? Go up to East Lansing, the same thing will happen to you all over again.
I’ll start off with me, though. I’m going to have to do a better job myself.
Q. You talked about Brady being hard on himself even after wins. Are you interested to see how he reacts after today’s game?
COACH WEIS: I know how he’ll react. I’m not interested because I already know how he’ll react.
Q. How will that be?
COACH WEIS: You watch him. He knows how to handle himself. I mean, he’s his biggest critic. I tell you what, there’s plenty of people to blame. I’ll start with me.
Q. How much concern do you have with your secondary right now?
COACH WEIS: I got concerns with everything right now (laughter). You can pick your names out of the hat. I got concerns with every facet of the team right now. I got concerns with offense, defense, running game, passing game. You name it, I got concerns with all of it right now.
We have a lot of work ahead of us here in the next 48 hours.
Q. Saw Wooden left the game after the hit. Is he all right?
COACH WEIS: He got banged up, went back in. His head was a little groggy. We have a policy here, which I think to err on the side of safeness, err on the side of safety. When he went in there, he was able to get cleared by a medical staff, answer questions. After he gets cleared by the medical staff, what we still do to make sure is we have the position coach ask football questions to make sure he isn’t just saying he knows where he lives, to go one step further.
He just didn’t look like he was totally together. We figured the best thing to do would be to go ahead and get him out of there. His head was fairly clear. It just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
Q. Were they able to get a lot of pressure without blitzing? What did you think of their front four?
COACH WEIS: There was a lot of blitzing, especially later in the game. I have a lot of respect for their front four. I’m going to have to go back. It wasn’t just their front four. I thought their whole defense played good. I wouldn’t isolate just the front four because I thought they played fairly good across the board.
Q. What did they do that they were able to run the ball so well? Talk about their offense.
COACH WEIS: It was said before, the one thing, they’ve been running stretch, stretch, stretch. That’s been their deal through two games. Outside zone, outside zone, outside zone. Today I thought they did a nice job of complementing the inside run with the outside zone. I think that opened up some holes. Not that you’re not ready for it. But, remember, last year they were a pounder counter team. This year they’ve been a stretch team. They added those isolation inside runs today which I thought was a nice complement to what they’ve been doing.
Q. Did they, after the first Manningham touchdown, surprise you guys by not throwing on first down after the quarterback sneak but going up top and deep on that rout?
COACH WEIS: No. As a matter of fact, we were we had a call into alert for taking the shot. They just made the play. It wasn’t the only time we said, alert, take a shot. We actually have a call, alert, take a shot. We had an alert, take a shot at that time, but they took a shot. It hit.
Q. Chad Henne took a lot of heat last year, hadn’t shown much in the first two games. Did you see anything on tape that showed he could have a day like this?
COACH WEIS: I know he was 8 for 12 in the first half for about a buck sixty with three touchdowns. He was on fire there in the first half. When you only have to throw 12 times, 167 yards or whatever it was, I don’t remember exactly, it’s probably pretty close. Three touchdowns, you know there’s something. I thought he had a big day.
Q. You made a point of mentioning Coach Carr at the start of this. You’ve now had 14 games on the college level. Do you feel the heat is more or less than what you encountered in the pros?
COACH WEIS: I really don’t notice the heat. I just know Coach Carr did a great job today. I thought he deserved kudos for doing a great job.
I think what happens too many times is, hey, let’s face it, you go lose 47 21, you deserve to be criticized. You deserve to pick up the paper the next day and say, What the heck happened? You deserve that, okay? On the flipside of that, you got a team who just came in that kicked your butt pretty good, they deserve it.
The bad comes with the good. You’re the one you and the quarterback are the ones when things go well, everyone pats you on the back. When things don’t go well, guess what, you’re the ones they should come after, too. It should work that way. I just hope it doesn’t happen too often.
Q. You mentioned State a little bit. Do you use the struggles your team had the past few years with them or is this game all the motivation you need?
COACH WEIS: There’s one incident in particular that I’ll use as motivation.
Q. Were you surprised how much they out physicaled you out there a little bit?
COACH WEIS: I was surprised that we collectively, from me on down, laid an egg. That’s what I’m surprised at. I expected us to have a better performance than we did, and we didn’t. That surprises me. I expected us to do better in all facets. It’s easy to spread the blame on this one, just like it’s easy to spread the wealth when things go well.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: I don’t worry about last week. I only worry about this week. After I get past this week, I’m worrying about next week. I promise you, last week is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m only worrying right now about the mentality of our team from right now till tomorrow, till the next day, to get them ready to play Michigan State on Saturday.
Q. You talked about making adjustments starting out. What adjustments do you think you have to make personally to get the team ready for next week?
COACH WEIS: I think talk is cheap. It’s easy to be in our meeting rooms and everyone says, Yeah, we’re going to do this, to do this, to do this, then not get it done. I’m going to have to create a mentality where the things we talked about getting done actually get done. That’s what I’ll be working on.
Q. How did it feel to have the student body with you even at the end of the game there singing with the students?
COACH WEIS: Well, I thought it was very important for our players to understand that you don’t sing the alma mater just after wins. I think it was a refreshing sight, both ways now, that the students were still there waiting.
When I was here in school, I might have been in the parking lot tailgating already. I have to be honest with you. I don’t know if I would have been waiting around. But the student body still being there, I’ll give kudos to them. I also have a lot of respect that our players understood that you just don’t go over and sing the alma mater after win. You have to be able to be part of the student body after a loss, as well.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Notre Dame Player Quotes
Senior DE Victor Abiamiri
On Notre Dame’s offensive struggles …
“It’s not all about the offense. It’s a complete loss, on offense, defense, and special teams. You can’t blame any one phase for today.”
On moving forward to Michigan State …
“We take our hats off to Michigan, we respect our opponent. We’re not going to sulk after this loss. We’ll keep our heads held high and go on to the next [game].”
Senior SS Tom Zbikowski
On Michigan QB Chad Henne …
“We knew he was capable. He’s definitely a capable quarterback, and any time you have a running game like that, you can make plays off the play-action.”
On this game’s effect on the season …
“We just have to win next week. That’s been our goal every single week, just to win each week. We just have to take [today] as a team loss. They just outplayed us today.”
Senior LB Travis Thomas
On the defense’s effort …
“Whenever you see one side of the ball struggling, the other wants to go out and pick up the slack. I think we played very hard and we were very physical.”
Senior WR Jeff Samardzija
On the offense’s struggles …
“We came out flat. Obviously, the first drive hurts, and we played a team that came out hot. They played well, and we have to give all of the credit to them.”
On the timing of the first turnover …
We didn’t make the plays and we made too many mistakes. You just cannot commit turnovers, no matter where it’s at on the field.”
On Brady Quinn bouncing back after the loss …
“It’s not just Brady; it is going to take the whole team, whether it’s offense or defense, critiquing themselves to see what they need to do to get better.”
An interview with:
COACH LLOYD CARR
COACH CARR: If you coach in enough of these games or play in enough of them, you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. I’ve done both. Certainly today was our day. I take my hat off to our coaches, our players. I thought we had great preparation. I thought we had great intensity. Of course, the game changed with some turnovers early. When we got a lead, it took Notre Dame out of what they like to do, and that’s to be balanced and run the football. That made it somewhat easier for us. I thought it was a great effort for our team against an outstanding football team in a very difficult place to win. Our challenge now is to understand that you got to get ready to play every week. We’ve had to deal with all the negative things that surround the football team and a program when things aren’t going your way. So now we’ll see. We’ve handled that pretty well during the off season and during the pre season, the first three games. Now we’re going to have to deal with some other issues. I’m extremely happy for this team, that they could come in here and have some success today. Questions.
Q. Did you see something on tape that gave you the idea that you could exploit Notre Dame’s secondary with the deep ball?
COACH CARR: Well, I think, you know, we’ve got some guys that can run. Mario Manningham, I think the sky’s the limit for him. He is a guy that, because a year ago he made some plays, but he is a much bigger, stronger, faster guy. He has really bought into a work ethic that it takes to become an outstanding player. I thought Adrian Arrington had a big catch there. But our receivers, you know, we didn’t have Braylon Edwards a year ago. You know, we had to find some guys. Breaston got some experience. Mario Manningham is a guy that we feel is going to be awfully difficult for anybody to single cover.
Q. How did Chad react to the first pick? What did he show you today?
COACH CARR: Well, I love Chad Henne because I can remember bringing him down here two years ago. Here’s a kid that’s been on our campus four, five weeks, and starts his second game at Michigan in Notre Dame stadium. You know, a year ago he came back as a sophomore, having an unbelievable freshman year. I mean, anybody that’s fair understands that. This kid has everything it takes. But a year ago when we did not have much success, he had to take an incredible amount of unfair criticism. Can’t do this, can’t do that. Just baloney. If you value courage, when Chad Henne threw the first pass there for an interception in this game, I mean, what he did after that speaks to what he is. So anybody that doubts him as a quarterback, they don’t know anything about quarterback play. He was outstanding.
Q. Can you talk about the lift it is to get two defensive touchdowns, the way the defense played?
COACH CARR: We went in with the idea if we were going to have a chance to win, we had to pressure Brady Quinn. We felt we could do that because we have an excellent front. I mean, we’ve got some depth and we’ve got some guys that are very athletic. It’s the best front we’ve had probably since I’ve been at Michigan. Secondly, we felt we had to do a great job on Walker because in all the games I’ve seen, you know, when it really gets down to it, they hand him the ball or they throw him the ball. And we couldn’t give up any big plays, which is something we’ve been vulnerable to in the first two games. We got some young guys on the secondary. We were able to do all those things. It was a great team effort. I think this game was a team effort. But it certainly was I think punctuated by our defense. When you can’t run the football, you have a chance to be one dimensional.
Q. Could you talk about your front four, how they were able to out physical a veteran Notre Dame offensive line.
COACH CARR: I don’t know that they out physicaled. You have to remember this: when you get behind like they did, then you can’t play your game. We were fortunate to have some plays and get the lead, some turnovers. But I do think that Woodley and Branch, Terrence Taylor, a young guy in there, and Rondell Biggs is having an excellent year. Tim Jamison came in there today and gave us some quality reps. He’s been injured, but he’s getting close to a hundred percent. He had a big play out there. And Will Johnson is a tough, hard nosed competitor inside. I hope I’m not missing anybody. All those guys, they’re able to rotate some. But Woodley, in my judgment, I have not seen the film of this game, but in his first two games, he’s the real deal. He’s a captain. He’s a leader. Done a great job.
Q. You said they’re the best front you had. Did you know that before today?
COACH CARR: Yeah.
Q. When did you start to realize that? When did they show you that?
COACH CARR: Well, I thought in the spring you could just see really what we needed to do, we needed to lose some weight. Alan Branch needed to get down some. He’s a big guy, but he’s a much better athlete with less weight. So when we got into training camp, these guys, the work they put into it. When we go against each other on offense and defense, I mean, it’s much more competitive I think than it’s ever been.
Q. Is that the type of play that you expect out of Burgess?
COACH CARR: Prescott had quite a day. I mean, you intercept a ball, run back for the touchdown, then make another big one. The second interception I thought was a critical play for us. We got a field goal. But Prescott, you know, he came to Michigan, he was a strong safety. Really it took him two years to figure out linebacker play. We played him as a freshman on special teams. Then the last year, I was disappointed with the way he played. He didn’t have a particularly great spring. This fall he’s played the best football he’s played. I think he understood what he had to do to play. He’s been excellent. We certainly hope he continues to perform like he did today.
Q. How important was it to you to get that elusive win in South Bend?
COACH CARR: Me? Well, as I said when I started, if you’re in enough of these games, you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. The ones that you lose, they hurt. I mean, this Michigan Notre Dame is a special part of college football. The thing that I love about it, and I think this is the 20th or 21st game I’ve been in, the two programs, you know, you don’t like each other when you’re competing against each other because, you know, you want to win, but I think there’s a great respect there, and I think there always has been. There’s always some issues going that people sometimes make more than they are. Notre Dame is a great institution, with a great tradition. And Michigan is the same. So as a coach, when you can win against a rival like that, believe me, it’s special, because it’s hard. I mean, the credit, it sure as hell doesn’t go to me. Those guys out on the field, they played the game.
Q. Can you talk about going into the (indiscernible) season undefeated?
COACH CARR: The Big 10, we’ve got 11 teams figure that out (laughter). The non conference schedule, there’s always been this debate. I get more guys asking me if I want to play Notre Dame, if I think we should extend it, all that. In our conference, and I love the game, I love the game, and the players I think all love the game, but in the Big 10 conference, we had two schools that we don’t play every year. What happens when they have a tie is the tiebreaker goes to the non conference schedule. So if you lose this game today, it becomes a real negative even as far as getting to the Rose Bowl. What was your question (laughter)? I ramble on once in a while.
Q. Going into the season undefeated.
COACH CARR: Well, you’ve written about it enough. I’ve read a thousand articles about it, so… I mean, obviously we have some momentum. Momentum can disappear in a hurry when you lose concentration on what you need to do.
Q. Even though Notre Dame got the first touchdown back pretty quickly, did that first one set the defensive tone for the afternoon?
COACH CARR: Well, I mean you talk about Michigan, Notre Dame, starting out with the first two touchdowns scored well, the second one, they had to score from the 4. Well, I think it certainly gave our defense, and I’m sure it gave their defense, a lot of confidence because Notre Dame made a great call. What Chad Henne thought we were getting on that first down was a blitz with what we call dog coverage where nobody has any help. He threw the football. Notre Dame had made it look like a blitz, but disguised it as cover one we call with a man free, and Ndukwe stepped in front and made a great play. I think they certainly gave both offenses something to think about for the rest of the day, yeah. Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Michigan Player Quotes
Chad Henne, QB
Overall Comment …
“This feels really good. If we were going to be successful today we knew we had to mix the run and pass and we did that well. We had a great week of practice and all we did today was come out and execute. We knew we had a great team and we feel like we showed that today. “
On the play of Michigan’s defense …
“They played a great game today. Every time they got the ball back to us on offense it was great field position and that is what you want as an offense. They did everything they needed to do today.”
The interception to start the game …
“It was a poor decision on my part and it is just one of those plays that happens. I told the guys on the sidelines that I would get it back and put that behind me.”
On the play of Mario Manningham …
“Mario was excellent today. All spring and summer we were practicing the deep ball and one-on-one routes and today he showed his talent. You can’t match-up with him one-on-one because he is too fast.”
Mario Manningham, WR
… “When two great teams play, well, someone has to win and that’s all that matters. I just want to win. For me it is not about catching touchdowns, it’s about winning. This game gives you confidence but we know we have to get better. We just have to do what it takes to keep winning because every game is a big game for us.”
On his first touchdown …
“I was able to run a good route and get by the defender. I put a good move on him to get his hips turned and then I was able to get by him.”
LaMarr Woodley, DE
On the fumble return for a touchdown …
“Once I scooped the ball up I just wanted to get to the endzone. I was just running and felt one of the Notre Dame players and I tried to give him a stiff arm like Mike Hart would have done.”
Mike Hart, RB
Overall comment …
“We worked hard all week in practice and I don’t think we could have done a better job of executing the game plan like we did. The passing game was able to loosen up our running game and keep our offense well-balanced all day. I was telling people all week that we were going to come down here and win and we were able to do that.”