Sept. 5, 2000
BOB DAVIE: I tell you what, there’s been a bunch of conversations about those tickets. A little bit, I listened to that radio coming in in the morning, it seems like everybody has some kind of ticket giveaway or ticket auction or something.
And, you know, certainly there’s been a lot of conversations about this game going all the way back to last year, probably since it has been scheduled. And it is — it’s something I’m excited about. I’m excited about coaching in this game, not just because they are the No. 1 ranked team in the country, but I think they — they provide such a tremendous challenge for you as a coaching staff and a football team. And I mean that sincerely. You know, as different as they are on offense, they are that different on defense, and then they do a great job with special teams scheme, as well.
I remember, it was ’86 or ’87 when I was at A&M and we played them in the Kickoff Classic in Giants Stadium, and thinking back to those punt returns they had in that game, their schemes on offense and such, a lot of those things are still the same. They do a terrific job.
You look in their press guide and there’s some things that jump out at you. I saw one statistic I believe where over the last eight years, I think they are 81-8. Also, they have statistics in there where they list coaches that have been on their staff for over 20 years. Certainly Charlie McBride (ph.) just resigned here a year ago, I think we had 27 or 28 years on the staff. Frank has been there — they have three or four guys over 22 years on that staff, one at 18 years, a couple at nine.
So the fact that they have been able to win as much as they have been able to win, the continuity they have had with coaches is just something I think everybody in this country respects, and you see that in the way they play. If there’s one quality they have, it’s that they play fast. And all of you have heard me say that, over and over again, and I think we’re doing better at that as a football team because we’re locked into those schemes. There’s not the hesitation that there is when you’re doing things for the first time. And that takes time to get that done. And I mean that. When you watch them, that’s the thing you see.
So it’s a tremendous challenge for us as a coaching staff, tremendous challenge for our team, you know, but it’s something you’re looking forward to. It’s something that I enjoy. I think as much as you look forward to the game, it’s really right now just the challenge of preparing. You go in there as a coach, and you always wish you had more time. You know, you wish you had two weeks to get ready for this game. But in all honesty if we have to play Nebraska, probably right now is the best time for us to play them. We are pretty healthy. Our confidence is pretty high. Our kids are excited. So now is the time. But you always wish you had more time.
But it really is the challenge, just to prepare to play a game like this, and if you’re a coach, that’s what you really enjoy. So I know everyone is excited about the game, certainly there’s a lot of fan interest in that game, a lot of media interest, and also for coaches, because it’s a chance to coach against the best. You look at them on offense, probably as good an offensive team as I’ve coached against, and I mean that. The thing they did, it’s not like sometimes when you play a team that relies on the pass. It’s kind of like when you play a basketball team and they play on the road or you play them at home, they might have a night where they don’t shoot it real well and you can take advantage of that. And sometimes it’s that way with the passing team where just maybe they mis-fire.
But with them, the way they block you, that’s not going to change, you know, and that’s why they are so consistent and why they win so consistently, the fact that they have built that thing up over years and years and they start, first of all, with that offensive line and they come off and block you, I mean, they are really something to watch on tape. And they are well-coached and well-drilled and they do a good job of blocking you low. And it’s a little unorthodox at times and it’s not the most comfortable thing to play against. And you look at some offense and things they do and they block you, the second thing they do is there’s the threat of option just about every time the ball snap. And when they run option, they are running it with the guy who I think is probably the fastest player on their football team and as difficult to tackle as any running back you’re ever going to play against.
So they block you, they run option football and any time you can do those two things, you can throw the football when you want to throw the football, not when you have to throw the football and you see that they get huge plays in the passing game so. In some ways, it is not a whole lot different than the wishbone, other than the fact that they have been in it for years and years and they have been able to add to the package.
So it is kind of a multi-dimensional team that really has some wishbone concepts to it. And because of that, they are very difficult to defend.
All three tailbacks are back. Their fullback is 200 and probably 50 or 55 pounds. The tailback is 245 pounds. Their tight end can run as good as most wide receivers are going to play against. They have another tight end that is probably close to 300 pounds.
So the receivers, they have three receivers back, all outstanding. So they have got excellent personnel and they are well-coached on offense and it is a well-devised scheme.
Defensively, they are a little bit different there, too. You know, you hear about — I guess probably six or seven, maybe eight years ago is when Nebraska really made a change where they went from kind of an eagle zone team to really a 4-3 man team and they give you a lot of looks, play a lot of man coverage, real aggressive style. They have got a middle linebacker that’s a real good player. And they do some different things with it, walk them up over the guard and give you kind of a double-eagle look that’s a little bit different, messes up your blocking. But it is based on a lot of man coverage and it is based on a swarming style.
Kicking games, punter and kicker are back, excellent punt returning team. You know, both kickers are back, their snapper is back. So from top to bottom, they are really an impressive football team. It’s a big challenge for us.
I like our team. I think we’re better. We’re going to have to be a lot better than we were last week. I think everybody sees that because we are playing against a better football team than we played against last week. I am not hurting RC’s feelings by saying that. He knows that and I know that.
But I like the position we’re in . You know, I think our kids are legitimately excited about playing. I think they are excited about preparing to play, which is more important. We are healthy. The only injuries we have that are enlisted would be Clifford Jefferson has the ankle, probably is going to practice some today, probably practice full speed tomorrow. I think Arnaz will be fine.
So we are we healthy. We have got our best shot right now, so let’s go take it.
I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Q. San Jose got two touchdowns on passes. Is that an area why where you think you might be able to exploit?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think you have to throw the football against them. They are going to line up and challenge you and obviously outnumber you up in the box.
So I don’t know if we can exploit it or can exploit it. You know, watching the tapes from last year, there’s an awful lot of people that tried to — tried to — on running downs, launch the ball down the field to try to get one-on-one coverage, which you usually get, but last year, it was usually 2nd and 10 after you tried to do that.
You know, we have to be able to run the football, but obviously, we need to get some big plays. And I think the biggest thing in this game offensively is when you have an opportunity to make a play, you’d better make it. You’d better not squander away one opportunity.
And certainly, we are going to try to throw the football some. We are not going to make a living dropping back and throwing it, but we are going throw the football some. But I don’t know if it’s something we exploit. They are pretty darned good.
Q. Comparing and contrasting the Nebraska and Notre Dame programs over the years, and you had talked earlier about Nebraska’s offensively line, they build them over the years (inaudible). What’s the theory in getting players in and playing them right away, as opposed to sitting them out a year at Notre Dame?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think the biggest difference would be — every other school in the country, you may bring in 22 freshmen. Say, you’re in a position where you may predetermine that 16 of those freshmen, you are going to red shirt at every other school in the country. Here at Notre Dame the philosophy is — and I tend to agree with this philosophy, if you do that, if you deem those 16 red shirts and they are not going to play, you are just going to sit them back and they are going to play, then right off the bat, you put them on a five-year plan.
So that means — I think psychologically, or certainly there’s some advantage athletically to that. You’ve basically slowed down their process as far as their graduation. And we’ve never used the fifth year here as a way to have players graduate.
What we have done here is if a player takes care of his business academically, he has the opportunity to be granted a fifth year, if he, in fact, has a year of football eligibility left. And in the case of all of our players, I think every fifth-year player we have had — I think since I’ve been here as already graduated when he has played his fifth year.
So I think most places what it does it kind of gives those kids a safety net, so if they fall behind academically they will be there the fifth year. Here it is the opposite of that. You will be granted the fifth year if, in fact, you have taken care of your business academically. Kind of a reverse way of doing it. And I think it is a pretty good motivation for our players to take care of their academics. We don’t waste a player if he doesn’t look like he can help us as a freshmen. We won’t play him and try to save that fifth year. But there’s no guarantee he can get a fifth year if, in fact, he takes care of his academics. And that has really worked out well for us.
I hope that makes sense to you, rather than just redetermining who is red shirting, which slows down their process academically. At least in our opinion we don’t so that. So they take 15 hours a semester and they go to summer school, and if, in fact, they take care are their business, they will get that fifth year tacked on at the end.
Q. Explain the atmosphere you expect out of Notre Dame Stadium when the teams come out on Saturday? And also, how big of a win it would be for both the program and yourself, considering some of the criticism that has taken over the last couple of years?
BOB DAVIE: Well, regardless of all of that, you know if you can beat the No. 1 ranked team in the country with the kind of schemes they have in place, that’s a huge win. We beat Michigan here two years ago in the opening game, and they were coming off the National Championship — that’s huge. It doesn’t need to be — that goes without saying.
I think the atmosphere Saturday will be — I think there will be some juice and I think there will be some electricity in that stadium. I thought there was last Saturday. And the fact we’re going in there 1-0 instead of 0-1 helps. I think we go in there with some confidence, and I think our fans probably have some confidence because I think we have improved as a football team.
So I expect there will be a tremendous atmosphere in that stadium. That won’t be the first time Nebraska has played in front of a tremendous atmosphere. Like I said, when it comes to blocking people, it doesn’t have much to do with a lot of noise and a lot of wind blowing or anything. It comes down to guys playing and giving off blocks.
Q. How important will it be to catch a team like this off-guard at the very start of the game?
BOB DAVIE: I can’t speak for Nebraska. I don’t know if they will be off-guard or not. I imagine they watched us on tape last year, and I don’t know how much they would respect us looking at that tape — so I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that. You must think they are going to be off-guard for some reason coming in here. One thing coming into Notre Dame I have found, there’s not many people regardless of our record, we just sneak up on. They seem to be at least semi-excited coming in this stadium far as my opinion goes. I haven’t seen many of them come in not prepared to play, particularly with the game being played on national television.
So I don’t know how much they respect us, but normally, most teams come in kind of excited to play here.
Q. Coach, Lebinski (ph.) was kind of the unsung hero on that first drive against A&M. Do you see any possibility of an expanded role for him?
BOB DAVIE: I think he is a good football player and I think his roll was expanded last Saturday. As you noticed, he caught a couple passes for us, also got to carry the football a few times, did a good job blocking — he is on kickoff return, so you know, I don’t see his role expanding a whole lot more than it did last Saturday. But I do think he is an improved football player and he’s got some dimensions to him that not a lot of big guys have. He has good hands and has good hands on the ball after he catches it — he is kind of a combination tailback fullback.
I’m excited about him. He’s got a lot of football ahead of him.
Q. How much did Arnaz check at the line of scrimmage last week, and how much leeway will you allow him to have against the defense as difficult as this one this week?
BOB DAVIE: We check a high percentage, high percentage of the time, just like everybody does. Nebraska is more difficult than A&M from that standpoint because they really move around a lot.
So within the checks, you never have total leeway to just check what you want to check. Everything is pretty much packaged where if it is not this, you check this.
So, you know, high percentage of the time, we go up there with that built-in where it is either one thing or the other thing, but very seldom, if ever, would we go up and say just make a check.
Q. Is that black-and-white, though, for him to see it against a defense like this?
BOB DAVIE: That’s what you have to do, and that’s why it is hours and hours of preparation, film study, you know, just like everybody, that’s what this game has become, because there’s things right now where if you run a play, into a bad defense you basically have no chance, so you try to get the right play to the right defense and it’s a chess match.
Now, there are some things that we single-column, just like everyone else: We’ll go up there and just snap it on a predetermined snap count and without any check. So you certainly do that in the game, as well, but a percentage of the time, a high percentage of the time you are checking at the line.
BOB DAVIE: And he played well on the goal line Saturday. He is a playmaker. We’re a little bit thin at that outside backer spot. He won it and he’s moving up the depth chart at linebacker. He is someone I think will probably have the opportunity to play here shortly as an inside linebacker. It’s really a toss up right now with Carlos and Patrick Ryan. He’s come on as a football player. It’s really important to him. And he made a lot of plays in camp and he does a good job on the goal line.
Q. You probably don’t want to talk about it a lot because of last year with all the injuries, but have you ever been this healthy having gone through a preseason and going into the second game of the year? I don’t think you really had anybody missing practice yesterday.
BOB DAVIE : Right. I think you don’t want to talk a whole lot about it. But we are healthy, as healthy as we’ve been and hopefully that will continue.
Q. How did Arnaz do looking back on the films, evaluating the check he did make?
BOB DAVIE: We had some miscommunication on a couple things. A couple times it was us with some signals from the sidelines.
But by and large it was clean, and I think that’s why everyone is so excited, because not only withe Arnaz getting us in the right things, our overall execution with the offensive line, because as you know the most difficult thing is making the check, but all of the sudden, those offensive linemen have to adjust to what that was, and that’s where I think we’re just so much more efficient than last year. You know we’re just head and shoulders above where we were from an efficient standpoint. It was as good as we’ve been in the last, you know — it was better than we were at any time last year from an efficient standpoint.
Q. When you talk a couple times about the respect you mentioned — you mentioned respect, is that a big respect game, not only, you know, just within the team, but nationally?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think that goes without saying. You know every time you go out there and play, you know, certainly the final score people are going to look at that final score and say you have made progress or haven’t you made progress. I think with Nebraska, knowledgeable fans and knowledgeable football people realize what you’re dealing with there.
You know, if you look back last year like with Kansas State and A&M, they just explode on you. They will take good defensive football teams and just literally exploit. If you look at Tennessee …
So, certainly, people are going to judge what the score is. But I think also most knowledgeable people would look and say, boy, Nebraska, there’s a reason they are the No. 1 football team in the country. But let’s call it what it is. Every time we go out there and play, we’re going to be evaluated on how we play. And we are healthy and we’ve got no excuses. So we’re going to find out.
Q. You mentioned that game two years ago. That was the first game for the freshmen class, your first freshman class as a result of a year’s worth of recruiting. What, if anything, even though they may not have played a lot in that game, could they draw from the experience of the atmosphere in the stadium and the early struggle in that game and the way that team was able to maintain its poise?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think what you take from that game is the old saying of: You never know who is going to be there and where it’s going to come, where the big plays is.
I think back to Jimmy Friday blocking the field goal. I think back to Tony Weaver knocking the ball out of the kid’s hands. I don’t know if there is a whole lot to draw from that, other than we got stronger as the game went on and the crowd really became a factor in that game. You sensed the momentum and you sensed the confidence, and I think we gained some confidence Saturday and I think our fans gained some confidence.
You know, what you want to do is keep it close. You know, keep it close early and put yourself in a position where at least it is close at the end of the game, and that’s easier said than do. I think, you know, you think back to just the atmosphere in that stadium, certainly, I think ESPN also (inaudible) — they were here for that game. It’s a tremendous atmosphere. It’s what you look forward to and what you enjoy. If you can just get it going a little bit, that helps you.
But if you can’t get it, nothing — none of that matters. That’s why I go back to: Just the will to prepare to play the game. We can all sit back and say, boy, this is a tremendous atmosphere, what a great opportunity we have Nebraska coming in here No. 1, you know, maybe they don’t respect us very much. What a great opportunity: Here is the embattled coach and if he can win this game what a great — that’s all just talk. It comes out to all of the sudden they run the belly option and there is the guard chomping the end on the ground, that has nothing to do with the embattled coach. It’s great conversation, but it comes down to the preparation to go play this game.
But I do feel better about our kids and the maturity they have. They understand what this is all about.
So getting into a little deal there, but, you know, that all sounds great, but the Michigan game two years ago, the Florida State game in ’93 that’s all conversation. This is over there in that office right now: What are we going to play when they run the belly option and how are we going to technique and how are we going to defend it. That’s what it comes down to.
Q. An unrelated little deal, the estimates seemed to be that there would be at least 20,000 people — many without tickets — since the pep rally would be as close as many of them get it to the field do you have any words of welcome for them as they are on their way here?
BOB DAVIE: One thing I learned here: Whatever you say can and will be held against you. (Laughter.) So there will be no strong statements.
No, I think they are all coming to the pep rally. Saturday, I don’t mind that street around Juniper with red shirts outside the stadium.
I’ve heard the same thing — I think they’re only getting 4,000 tickets and I know Notre Dame fans wouldn’t sell their tickets to Nebraska. I know the loyalty they have. None of them would sell it regardless of the price. So there’s only 4,000 Nebraska tickets been allotted, only 4,000 — I know no Notre Dame person would not sell their tickets. So there’s 4,000?
Q. … (Inaudible) … how were they able to do that and if there is a vulnerable area on that defense, is –?
BOB DAVIE: Well, as you know Nebraska, has led the country in rushing defense over the last several. Years San Jose State is a little different style. They get some empty — spread ya out, one back all over the field. Nebraska was up I think 30 — it was 28-0 or something right off the bat — it was a different game.
So I don’t think you can really draw anything from that. Watching them last year against running football teams, their scheme and their techniques and everything is very impressive. You know, what San Jose State did, they spread them out a little bit, and San Jose State is a little more of a passing team than a running team, and they made some plays, but they didn’t certainly make enough plays so they had some yards.
But I don’t think we are much like San Jose State. With the option such a big threat and the trouble you had at cornerback last week, have there been changes made for the next two days to evaluate in practice see how things go –.
Q. How will you address that?
BOB DAVIE: I thought Shane Walton really played the run pretty good against A&M and he’s a pretty good tackler. Not the biggest of the guys but he is a good tackler.
Our problem is at corner really came from the pass interference — we were a little better technique-wise. We were beat — one team over there in front of our bench, but other than that, it was really more of a pass interference on the deep ball.
We are probably going to go the way it was last week. I think Shane Walton would probably start there, which we’re getting Beckstrom going a little bit more. But I’m not as concerned about that. It’s a little different style, and I think from that standpoint, we’re going to be okay.
Q. Have you had any experience at A&M in beating or playing a No. 1 ranked team, and does that change the dynamics with the staff? I know it’s big conversation and media hype, but does staff get into that at all?
BOB DAVIE: It really doesn’t change things for the staff. You know, whether they are 1, 2, 3, 4, you’re going to take that tape and look at it and see what they do from a scheme standpoint. I don’t know that I have — I’m trying to think back, you know, when I was at Pittsburgh and we were No. 1 for a good part of the season, and we may have played a No. 1 team somewhere, but I don’t know that I have.
Q. To expand a little bit about the atmosphere and all that, do you take extra precautions to keep the team insulated and away from all the distractions all the on-campus hype?
BOB DAVIE: I think that’s an advantage we have here, and probably the one that Nebraska has, that game last week, there was a bunch of hype for that game.
Certainly, every game we play, there is a degree of hype on this stadium, and every week we’re going to have the quarterback — or the — what do we call this thing, the kickoff luncheon. Every week we’re going to have the pep rally.
You know, really, it’s a big game every week. The atmosphere really hasn’t changed that much. I think there may be more conversation about it. But, you know our guys don’t read the newspaper anyhow, right?
Q. Nebraska’s speed on offense, do you change up scheme at all to get more speed in the defensive line?
BOB DAVIE: That concerns me. That’s the single biggest concern is their speed, particularly at quarterback. You’ll see that there’s times where you have it strategy-wise defended, but their quarterback just flat out-runs you. You’ll see the speed he has. He is fast. And that probably concerns me more than anything, but we’re really not going to make any changes. We’re just going to try to work hard all week, and you see some guys on the scout team as — Vechio (ph.) gave us a really good look yesterday, we’re going to use him some and see if I can simulate that.
Not a whole lot of changes. One advantage we have, and they have the same one, is you do practice against each other a lot. So practicing against Arnaz, that gives us a bit of a comfort level for at least what we’re going to see. Same token, they get to practice against our style of offense as well.
You know, there’s not a whole lot of second eats (phonetic). I am just concerned about their speed at quarterback.
BOB DAVIE: I don’t know. I don’t think that’s as much — as we game plan Nebraska a little bit off-season, which you do against all those early opponents. So we had kind of a package planned for the Nebraska game that’s a little bit different, just like I’m sure they have a little package for us that they didn’t use against San Jose.
We went into the A&M game with the package. Now we were a little bit conservative early, after watching Arnaz, watched him in his warm-up, he struggled a little bit and was tight early in the game. We were conservative, but we had it all in. We were comfortable with him and we are comfortable with what he knows about the package.
With Nebraska there’s going to be some different things we’ve to do. It’s not increased because of how he played as much as Nebraska.
Q. Nebraska is offering fans big screen televisions for a shutout. Can you comment on that?
BOB DAVIE: They are offering fans that, right?
Q. Yes. Yes. BOB DAVIE: Unless they can play that 12-man and that guy lines as another free safety, they can give them all away they want. They are give giving big screens away to fans if there is a shutout?
Q. Shutout, they get it for free –?
BOB DAVIE: – So you buy it first –.
Q. If the shutout happens, you get to keep it.
BOB DAVIE: Okay. Now if we score points, what percentage of that would their fans give to us for scoring those points so they get it?
Q. I don’t know.
BOB DAVIE: It would have to be a shutout.
Q. How do you convince your quality of football players not to be too impressed with theirs?
BOB DAVIE: How do we convince our football players? You talk about not being intimidated?
Q. Is there a believability factor, “we can play with them”?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think you can only worry about one thing at a time, and you worry about your performance and I think that’s why being 5-1-0 going into this game, it was so critical. We knew that before the game. There’s no one said that the A&M game was not huge. It was huge.
So you have confidence going in because you had some success and we do feel we are a better football team.
Obviously, they can get rolling on you. They can get rolling on you. We’re not going to be intimidated. You know, we respect them and we know how good they are, and we played Tennessee and Tennessee beat us pretty good and they beat Tennessee. I think we are better than we were then. In fact, our players think they are better because they played better last week.
So you always have the fear of — in a big game like this, you’re all excited and you go out there and one pin and the balloon takes all the air out. That’s every week. But I don’t see that being any different or any bigger this week. We certainly respect them, but, you know we’ve got some confidence, too.
Q. Do they grow lineman in Nebraska on trees, and if so, what kind of tree?
BOB DAVIE: I think looking at them, and I said this Sunday, they do — I don’t pretend to know everything about their program. I’ve only been there one time and that was to scout a game and really never saw anything up close about their program. Just from what I hear, and what I see on tape they do an outstanding job developing those linemen.
They do a great job in the weight room. And don’t underestimate the fact that they have been in the same scheme for all those years. You know, as I said, the thing that jumps out at you is how fast those linemen play. And if I watch Jim Jones right now and I watch Mike Gandy, compared to how they played last year, it’s not even close. Not even close. If I watch Jordan Black, John Teasdale, not even close by one year. Start doing that by four, five, six, seven, eight, nine years with the same checks and the same count, that’s a factor in it, too.
So you take the red shirt program, you take the coaching, their offensive line coaching that have been there all those years and you take the nutrition, the way their training tables set up, you take the scheme they have been in, all of those things add together, all of those things add together, that’s why in a football program it is a lot more things than just the players you recruit or who the head coach is. It’s a lot of things and a lot of people working together to develop players, develop players.
We have some advantages now a year ago that we don’t have: Getting our players off the field at six o’clock is huge. Huge. With our meal situation, were monitoring their meals every day we get a printout back every day. All of those things, it’s so many things that goes in to developing players and winning. It’s a huge thing.
And I think they do a tremendous job with that. I think we are improving in those areas right now. Our weight program now is three years into it. We are seeing the results of that. Consistency in recruiting. We’re seeing the results of that. It’s not magic.
Q. Staying on that same subject you mentioned a couple days ago you tried to model some things after Nebraska. Besides the weights and the nutrition, is there anything else that you have really done a little bit differently just to mirror –?
BOB DAVIE: You know, I don’t think — we don’t have to be Nebraska. I don’t mean that you know, that we have to do everything like Nebraska, but there’s some things that you talk to college football coaches around the country, not just us, but a lot of people are trying to do. And I think one of the things I just said, to develop those players the way they did, that’s a system. That’s a process. The continuity in the staff, all those things. All those things.
So, I think from a scheme standpoint, you know, there’s no secret that our offense is geared a little bit like Nebraska — Syracuse is like Nebraska. We’re in that same mode of offense and that’s what I like. I like the foundation of being able to run the football. I like some option football in there. And then they have improved on defense dramatically over the last seven or eight years, they have become more of a pressure-style defense than they were.
I don’t want to make that bigger than it needs to be. We are not trying to beat Nebraska. We are what we are. We are obviously do some things a little bit different. But there are some things they do that people are impressed with and that’s the reason they are 81-8 over the last eight years nine years.
BOB DAVIE: I think both of those things. I think they all are good players. I think they all do bring a little something to the table. Certainly Julius, every time he touches the ball, you have the feeling that he can take it.
Terrance Howard is kind of a slasher, catches the ball well. Tony Fisher is kind of a combination of all of it, you know, a good blocker, big solid guy, good ball carrier, too. So they are all three good players. They all three do a little something different, as long as they are all three healthy, they are all three going to play.
Q. One last thing, one problem that Nebraska has when they seem to struggle when they don’t play well in the last few years has been fumbles. When you’re playing that type of offense, they can lose the ball. For you guys to — not to have any chance, but for you guys to be in there with them, with their talent, do they have to make some mistakes like that?
BOB DAVIE: I think so. I think so. And you talk more about us creating those mistakes and just counting down and making mistakes but sure, any time a team you know a week ago was not even in the Top 30 guess, plays a team that’s No. 1 in the country, I would think some good things are going to have to happen for that team to win. And that’s the reality of that.
You look at them against San Jose they didn’t turn the ball’ over. So there’s no question what they did in the off-season and what they emphasized, just like us.
Q. Last time Notre Dame played a No. 1 team — (inaudible) do you do anything special to remind these guys that Notre Dame has a history of beating No. 1 teams or anything different this week that you maybe would not have done?
BOB DAVIE: I think it’s — I think the thing I would talk about, though, is that once we have our preparation in, and once we are prepared to play, that maybe if we play well enough for a long enough time, that might be an issue.
But I certainly would not do that early in the week before we’re prepared to play.
But yeah, all those things adds to it. Playing at home, playing in Notre Dame Stadium, with our fans there. But we have to play well enough to allow that to be a factor, and that’s my point more than any other point is that, you know, you have to get to that point where that is a factor.
Q. Last week, at the pep rally the guys from Texas, you basically said you want to make sure they made the right decision by coming here. And I know Arnaz was recruited by Nebraska. Will you talk to him at all about that or tell the team about this guy could have went there we want to make sure he knows he made the right decision coming here?
BOB DAVIE: I don’t think so. That was a long time ago, and I don’t really think that’s much of a factor.
I talked to Arnaz about when we’re in this front, we need to check this. I think those things kind of take their of themselves. He’s got enough on his plate. And so, to be honest, I haven’t really thought of that.
Q. What about just handling pressure? You handled it well last week in his first game. Now even a bigger game. How do you think he is handling it as a quarterback?
BOB DAVIE: I think he’s going to be fine. As I said, I don’t think he’s going to change, and I’ve been wrong before, but I don’t think he’ll change. I think he’s a guy that’s steady, steady, steady. And I asked him Saturday night what he does after the game, you know, and I knew his mom and dad were up here his grandma was up here. He went back to the room had ice on his ankle all night, never left the room. He said the whole family came in his room and they watched football. That’s probably what he’ll do this week after the game.
He’s not a guy that’s going to be out in a whole lot of bright lights or seeking a whole lot of attention. And because of that, I don’t even concern myself with that. He’s a great kid and that doesn’t bother me. He’ll handle that hype fine. It’s not an issue.
Q. Nebraska wins games by winning the war in the trenches. Can you match up with them well enough with your starters on the offensive and defensive lines, and also in depth negate that advantage?
BOB DAVIE: We’re going to find out. We’re a little stronger than we’ve been. I think our offensive line, I feel pretty good about it. I think they are improved. I think we’re physical. I feel pretty good about that. Our defensive line is always a concern playing against Nebraska because of their offensive line and their style. We do have to play some different players as we did last Saturday. That’s probably the key to the game right there obviously is our defensive line, lining up begins their offensive line.
But we’re healthy. We got some players, too. It will be interesting.
Q. Is Tony Driver — (inaudible)?
BOB DAVIE: He’s fun to watch. He’s fun to watch. Yesterday — we pick a Special Teams Player of the Week — we give some awards for special teams. But he was the special teams player of the week. He runs down on kickoffs, he runs down on punts, he returns kickoffs, and then on defense, he will run and hit you. He is a good football player.
It gets a little more complicated this week with just their multiplicity and then options football. But I tell you what, he’s fun to watch because he can run and hit you. I think he’s really a good player. I think the upside to him is really high because he does those things that you can’t teach, and that’s run, and he will smack you.
Q. Do you worry about him being too aggressive sometimes?
BOB DAVIE: You know, he becomes a little out of control in the way he tackles. He’s a guy that just goes after you, just doesn’t breakdown a whole lot because he hasn’t played a whole lot of football.
But I love his aggressiveness. You want them all to be Tony Driver when it comes to that. And I think between Tony Driver and Brock Williams, having those two guys back there, that’s really helped us >from that standpoint.
BOB DAVIE: I feel a little better about it. BJ Scott is a guy that — (inaudible) — changed his body a little bit over the summer. He made some improvements. Andy Wisne didn’t play great in the game, but he played hard. Darrell Campbell, we probably should have played more, we have Lance Legree, Cedric needs to play. We’ve got some depth in there.
Defensive ends, I’m a little more concerned. Brian Roberts did some good things. John Owens we didn’t play. So I’m a little more concerned about defensive end.
But Ryan Roberts was encouraging. If we can keep those guys healthy, we’ve got a chance.
Q. Did you call any colleagues at all to talk about preparing for a No. 1 team or just any advice that somebody might have for you, like RC or somebody?
BOB DAVIE: I talked to RC. He said, “Some advice,” he said, “Get them off the schedule next year.” Believe me, that’s what he said — although A&M beat them in College Station two years ago, the last year they got beat pretty good and — no, he has tremendous respect for them. He’s there for real. And we’ve visited with coaches in the off-season who have played Nebraska and everyone has tremendous respect for them.
As far as getting ready to play the No. 1 team, I didn’t call anyone. We know how to get this football team ready, and I think sometimes you can overdo all those issues. You know this is about lining up and playing that belly option, playing that belly option pass, trying to block in a 4-3. Let’s not make it bigger than it is. That’s why I keep looking at this watch because there’s a whole bunch of coaching to be doing between now and if we start worrying about those pep rallies.