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An Interview With Bob Davie

Oct. 28, 2001

BOB DAVIE: Well, first of all, you know, really, a disappointing loss. Maybe even more disappointing, if possible, after you look at the tape and just watch things evolve. You know, the thing that’s disappointing about it is quite honestly, there’s so many positive things, there’s opportunities upon opportunities, first of all from on offensive standpoint, opportunities to just score a lot of points.

From a defensive standpoint, there’s some good things and then there’s a few real bad things, and that’s difficult. I don’t know if I have ever coached in a game where one team had 80?some plays and the other team had 47. But the team that had 47 actually had five more yards than the team that had over 80 plays. I think with that said is probably the story of the game, in a lot of the ways, the stories of our season so far to this point.

We have become a little more explosive on offense over the last couple of weeks. We have generated some big hits with some big scores, but up in Boston to have 80?some plays and 347 yards, I believe it was ?? you can see that you are not getting the big hit or the big home run. I think our offense continues to improve. I do think we are more cleaner in what we do. I do think we are a little more well oiled in what we do. But if you look at it once again, when you don’t get the big play, those mistakes just jump out at you, they become glaring. I think back to this game, the things that happened offensively, a lot of positives, but the negatives jump out at you.

We fumbled a handoff between the quarterback and tailback. We had a low shotgun snap that maybe the quarterback could have caught it, but it bounced off the quarterback’s knees. We had a reverse pass that really that should have just been a touchdown. There’s no one within 20 yards of the receiver that we are a little late getting rid of and we don’t get a touchdown.

We have a tailback get a procedure penalty on 1st and goal, I believe it was, on the goal line. We have a lineman who is going downfield, we have a first down going in at about the 18?yard line who blocks in the back and all of a sudden we lose field position.

Probably the two most critical things, though, the two most critical: We had a situation where it was ?? we had it was 1st and 10 on the 21?yard line when it is 21?17. We are down 21?17 in the fourth quarter going in with about ten minutes left in the game, 1st and 10 on their 21 we fumbled a toss. We run a toss?sweet and the ball is really a good toss, we dropped the ball. So instead of us 1st and 10 on a 21 going in, they have the football. But a lot of people talked about Nick Setta’s first missed field goal being a huge play, which it was. We probably are in automatic field goal range right there at 1st and 10 in the 4th quarter.

We had another critical error with three minutes left in the game. It’s 3rd down and 2 and we obviously are going for it. We are in 4 down territory right there because I don’t feel real good about giving them the football back. It’s 3rd and 2, we have two downs and we run a power. A right guard comes off and stays on the three technique and their linebacker runs through from the back side, hits us in the backfield, and now it’s 4th down and about 3, which it would have been an automatic first down right there if we come off and block back on the linebacker. Those were the two critical mistakes on offense.

Once again, there were a lot of positives. You look at the quarterback playing in a very vocal atmosphere, a very electric atmosphere, a lot of crowd noise, was not discombobulated. Did a lot of good things, made a lot of good checks, made a lot of great plays. Did he make mistakes? He made a couple. The ball slipped out of his hands on the pitch one time on the option. But he played pretty good.

I thought our receivers did some good things. We had a ball bounce off a receiver’s hands that was an interception, but they made some plays. Our running backs did some good things. I thought Julius did this some good things. Julius made some mistakes, as well. Terrance Howard did some good things, but he had the procedure penalty. One time Terrance Howard fell down when he caught the pitch on the option.

I guess what you say is there’s a lot of good things, but we are not getting the productivity for all the hard work and all the execution of it, and I think that’s exemplified by 80?some plays and 347 yards. I mean, you flip it over and you look on defense, you have three plays in the game where they have 170 yards in three plays, the tailback on two plays gains 140 yards. The first time, it’s 3rd down and 2. 3rd down and 1 1/2 and to 2. We line up and they run an isolation and the linebacker jumps out in the B Gap instead of playing the A gap, he knows as soon as he comes off the sidelines, said, “Coach it was my mistake. I didn’t play the A gap. I played the B gap.” Because all of the sudden it’s 70 yards straight down the field and it’s a touchdown.

The tailback comes back later in the game ?? give them credit. They designed a good play. They had the tailback in the offset position. They get him match up on the linebacker one?on?one. It’s a running down, it’s 1st and 10, that’s what it is going to be. They come out and they run the wheel route, but their wheel route is thrown and he takes it 70 yards for a touchdown. So, they executed. I thought their receivers made a couple of plays, but I thought the positives were our defensive backs lined up, covered, I thought, pretty good against some pretty talented receivers.

At times, we played a running back really aggressive and we shut their run down, but they had 350 yards and they had 170 of them on three plays. So I think you can see the difference in the outcome of the game. It was a different kind of game.

So I thought we did some good things. We did not get enough explosions. The mistakes that we made on defense were critical, were critical and really hurt us. Now there were a couple of things in the game now that you look back on it ?? once again, I’m never going to second?guess the officiating, we always turn the calls in. But, you know the first series of the second half, there was an opportunity right there that, was it a fumble or wasn’t it a fumble. We are up 14?7 right there and they throw the crossing route to No. 84 and the ball is on his back, you know, never really catched up and it slides up his back. If we recover it, that’s a huge play in that football game when it is 14?7, and we may have the ball on the 25?yard line going in the other way.

So everything, when you don’t have big explosions and big plays, every play is critical. And that’s where we are. We have to continue to improve. We have to continue to play errorless football, we also have to continue to strive to get some big plays, whether it is in the kicking game or whether it is on offense or getting a key, key field position turnover on defense. We did have the one with Grant Irons that led to a touchdown, but that’s the only one. Vontez made a great play, but that was backed up at our end of the field on his interception. So that’s kind of where we are.

Q. What’s the status of Carlyle Holiday?

BOB DAVIE: Carlyle right now is 50/50, combination of bruised shoulder and ankle and he has some recurring problems with the knee. We actually are going to MRI the knee this week, but they are pretty optimistic about that. So it’s 50/50 and he seems to be a guy that heals pretty quickly, so I think that’s a positive.

The other injuries, Donald Dykes will be out this week with an ankle. Sean Milligan is 50/50 with an ankle. He didn’t play a lot yesterday, JW Jordan and also Sean Milligan played.

Tony Fisher, we expect to have Tony back this week. He did not play in the football game at all. Andy Wisne, he actually collided in pregame with Darrell Campbell and he had a bit of a loss of memory, which lasted through the game and he did not play. He is probably out this week. So it looks likes Andy Wisne and Donald Dykes will both be out.

Q. If Carlyle cannot play next Saturday, having kind of geared everything toward the option and toward his skills, what do you do with Matt LoVecchio then, go back to where you were three weeks ago, four weeks ago?

BOB DAVIE: Well, to be quite honest, I think Jared Clark enters the picture if that scenario would be true. I think Matt would certainly have first opportunity right now, but I’m also anxious to see Jared Clark. Jared is a physical football player. His problem, he has injured a thumb. He has had a thumb that’s kept him out of getting repetitions the last couple weeks, but I’m kind of anxious to maybe give him an opportunity. He’s a guy that’s an athlete. He’s big and he’s strong. So we’ll kind of play it by ear, but certainly, if Carlyle can’t go, those other two quarterbacks are going to have an opportunity.

Q. You talked about, the team really did play pretty well offensively but it just seemed like they could not get right play at the right time. Is that a chemistry thing? You’ve talked about this is one of the most talented teams you’ve had and the talent certainly is there and they display it, but it seems that there’s always something, whether it’s a motion penalty or a bad handoff or something where they keep deep?sixing themselves?

BOB DAVIE: I think that’s a good point. And once again, I think it becomes magnified. There’s a lot of teams that make mistakes and there’s a lot of mistakes you look back in all of these games, there’s a lot of mistakes. It’s just when you don’t get that big home run, every play is critical and when you play good teams, particularly on the road, you have to be just about flawless to win when you are in the position we are in, and that’s something we continue to strive to be.

But, yeah, I mean, I think what you say is pretty accurate. We just have to keep going and keep improving, and obviously with the young quarterback who may not practice a whole lot this week, with tailbacks that have not practiced a whole lot, it becomes a little more difficult, but, you know, certainly we have got our challenge for us this week as coaches and players and a lot of way, I think it’s a positive that you have a team like Tennessee coming in to Notre Dame Stadium. There’s no time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. There’s no time to start pointing fingers. You’d better find a way to step up, and I think it will be a big challenge for us.

Q. The other question is, obviously, it would help if the tailbacks could have had a little more practice just the last couple of weeks, but how do you correct that kind of thing? The mistakes, as you mentioned, everybody makes them and it’s not like it’s a lack of effort?

BOB DAVIE: I think that’s a real good point. I don’t think there was an effort mistake on that entire tape and it’s kind of a conglomeration of little different things that, you know, you think of the things that happened, as I went through that list, you know, it’s the little things that jumps up and bites you, but the little things that bite you are certainly memorable when you are playing in close games like this.

Q. Just curious, with the three wins at home and then the loss yesterday, obviously, that hurts the momentum. Do you consider this game Saturday a must?win to avoid going down 3?5?

BOB DAVIE: I consider that one, without being sarcastic, I considered last night a must?win. There’s no question when you lose your first three games of the year, every game from that point on just as when we first came home and played Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, USC, Boston College was no different. They are all must?win games.

Obviously, if you could have won one last night, you would have a lot of momentum coming into this football game Saturday, with four straight wins, but we don’t. What we’ve got to do is take the things that we did well and continue to improve and just keep working and keep getting better.

Obviously, you’d like the scenario to be different, and obviously, yes, I mean, this Tennessee game is a must?win situation. As will be the Navy game and the Stanford game and the Purdue game.

Q. I don’t know if you can answer this at this point, but will Fisher be able to practice this week from the start?

BOB DAVIE: You know, I doubt that he will be able to practice full speed. We didn’t hold him out of last night’s game. He was unavailable to play in last night’s game. He wanted to play, but he could not play. So I doubt that he’s going to be able to practice full speed all week.

Julius, once again, that’s had a Achilles problem. He is back on the list, as well. Hopefully what you try to do is those guys gut it out this week and they have a week off next week. Now, Ryan Grant did get to carry the ball one time. I thought Terrence Howard did some good things. You know, part of the problem is that you don’t have a lot of continuity there with practice time.

Q. And speaking of continuity, if Howard is healthy and is able to practice this week, and even Grant, would you expect them to see more time in the game next week if Jones and Fisher are hobbled throughout the week?

BOB DAVIE: You know, I think Tony Fisher and Jones ?? and Julius will both be there by Saturday, I really do. I think Tony Fisher really, really wants to play in this football game and he’ll push through it and he will be a little bit healthier and I expect Julius to be there.

So I don’t know that you are going to see Ryan Grant anymore, but I do think that you will see him hopefully get some opportunities to carry the football.

Q. Can you talk about how you are in situation now where every situation is a must?win and the frustration from last night, before the game you were quoted in the Boston Globe saying you still appreciate and enjoy your job more than ever and you can’t concern yourself with what other people think, how do you reach that balance between those two things when you go through a night like last night? How do you keep yourself on an even keel and get back to work on a day like this?

BOB DAVIE: It’s not easy. You know, but in the bottom line, you do what’s right and you do what’s expected of you to do. You know, I’ve always said when things go bad, you worry a lot more about what other people feel than you feel yourself. I felt worse for my wife last night when I got home at 3:00, waiting up for me, and, you know my daughter and my son. And I felt worse about our football team and our coaches because I know what they invest in it this. If you’re worth a darn as a person, you concern yourself much more about other people.

And to get this football team to win, I’ve got to be able to handle it, and jump back there this morning at 8:00 and get the coaches rallied back and look at the tape and go about just as if we would have won last night. Our plan does not change one bit, whether we win, lose, get home at 3:00 or get home at 8:00. You just go about your business. That’s what you are expected to do. Certainly, it gets a little more difficult for our football team. There’s no question about that, but it’s been difficult for our football team since we were 0?3. We’ve kind been a group of guys that haven’t had a whole lot of other people to lean on, let’s be quite honest.

So I don’t think that’s changed a whole lot for us. But I do think there’s a lot of character here. I think we have recruited kids with good character and we are going to be as good as we can be going down this stretch. I am still optimistic. I still like this team. I’m still proud of this coaching staff and I think we can win the rest of these games.

Q. Your assistant coaches, they looked exhausted after the game last night talking to them, and you talk about your family, do you think the strain is starting to wear on all those people around you, when you’re in this type of situation?

BOB DAVIE: Well, it’s a grind. We’ve gone a long time here with a bunch of different ebbs and flows to this season, but there isn’t a whole lot different than a lot of other places around this country are going through. That’s what this profession is. You know, it’s one of the things you actually enjoy about it. Not everybody can do it. In the end, that’s what’s probably what you are most proud of.

Q. As you look at the schedule the rest of the way, you mentioned the challenges you have on the road especially, what kind of expectations do you want set for yourself at this point?

BOB DAVIE: Do you think we have a tough schedule, when you look at as an outsider? Be honest now.

Q. Absolutely.

BOB DAVIE: We knew that going into this season that there was no ?? I knew exactly what this season was going to be. It’s going to be week?to?week and battling some good football teams all the way down the stretch. I guess when you’re a 3?4 team, you look at it as a positive that Stanford could beat UCLA, that a Purdue beats Northwestern, that’s a positive. That’s a positive and you have a chance to play Tennessee. You kind of embrace the schedule and you embrace the challenge of it. And when you’re a football team that’s down, you need to have something like that and you need to win a game like that to get you back up. So I kind of look at it from the positive perspective.

Q. When Hildbold made a really great punt from deep in your territory and it got called back, the ref signalled backfield in motion. I don’t know what the call actually was and turned out it happened again.


Q. What was the call and how did it happen twice in a row?

BOB DAVIE: It was a good call. The first one ?? there was actually two different calls. The first call, they brought their corner ?? their corner lines up on the gunner out there trying to hold up the gunner. And the corner came in halfway between the slot and the gunner, so the gunner tried to come in to max protect and wasn’t set and it was a good call. And that hurt. That was a great punt by Joey.

On the second one, it actually was that the wide receiver out on the gunner out towards their bench was not on the line of scrimmage and we didn’t have enough guys on the line of scrimmage. It’s always a close call in that situation.

Q. Two different guys made the mistakes?

BOB DAVIE: Yeah, it was two different guys made the mistakes, exactly. Two different players made the mistake. On the second penalty, they actually declined it.

Q. They declined it and you dodged a bullet by ?? got out of it anyway.

BOB DAVIE: They didn’t score any points, exactly.

Q. Watching the players after every game and talking to them, it seems in this game they were more nonchalant after the game than they have been at other times in the season, do you sense that?

BOB DAVIE: Not really. I’d be disappointed if that was the case. I think they were extremely disappointed after this game.

So, you know it’s hard for me to comment on that. You saw what you saw. I didn’t really see that in the locker room after the game, to be quite honest. So I guess that’s how you perceive it. I didn’t really perceive it that way.

You know, we came back on that plane last night and I was on the buses with those players, and I didn’t hear a word on the bus all the way to Logan. I didn’t hear a word on the airplane the way back. You know, I saw it a little different maybe.

Q. Is Jared a little more capable of throwing the option than Matt is? Is that why you want to take a look at him this week?

BOB DAVIE: It’s hard to see. Obviously, Matt we’ve seen play in games. Jared is capable of doing the same kind of things Carlyle does from an athletic standpoint, but I don’t want to be negative towards Matt at all. I just think if you are in an opportunity ?? and once again, this is all speculative. I think everybody sees that if Carlyle Holiday is healthy, there’s no controversy there, he’s the quarterback.

But if he’s not or even as we continue down this stretch, I think Jared Clark deserves an opportunity. What he has to do is get healthy and he has to perform a little bit better in practice. I’m not just going to give him the opportunity because he is next or whatever. He has to step up and practice. He has to practice and he has to do some good things. But he is athletically a guy, that he can run and he’s physical. He can definitely do what we are doing on this offense.

Q. You talked about must win ??

BOB DAVIE: What are you trying to get me to say right now? (Laughs).

Q. To make the Bowls ?? (inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: Well, yeah. We have four losses. And obviously, if we can win, particularly provided with the opponents we have a chance to play, I think that would definitely make us a somewhat attractive team for someone.

You know, but more than all that, you know, it’s all of that coming in on Sunday morning at 8:00 and feeling about and being able to get these players in here on Monday and show them the tape and show them all of the positives and feel good. So it’s more of a short?term reason for winning, you know, not such a broad angle to it.

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