Nov. 27, 2001
BOB DAVIE: Seems kind of different going down to play Purdue first week of December. I was thinking, driving over here all that has transpired since the last time we were sitting in there on a Tuesday morning getting ready to play Purdue, unbelievable things. So from that perspective, it’s been an amazing year. The problems that we have as a football team right now sitting here 4?6 pale by comparison to when you think back to the last time on Tuesday sitting in that meeting room looking at all of those Purdue formations getting ready to play them.
You know, with all of that said, I think it needs to be said that I’m really proud of this football team and really proud of this coaching staff. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love this team. There are some amazing people in this program, and because of that, I feel so bad because they have not been able to win when they have had some opportunities to win. And certainly, you know, I feel bad about that, that we have not won as many games.
We probably, as a football team, I know as football players, probably have not gotten out of this all that we have put into it as far as the effort, as far as the effort that’s gone into it. Now, I think the game Saturday night out in Palo Alto was really an example of that. These kids continue to play as hard as any football team that I’ve ever been a part of you look at the injuries that we had, the injuries that were sustained during the game, I’m really impressed with this football team and the type of people that we have.
You know, certainly not trying to skirt the issue that we’re 4?6, but I really think at some point that does need to be said and I think that a lot of people could really follow the example of these young guys on this team. Talk about picking yourself up off the ground each and every week, coming back out there, working to get better, being mature, certainly I talked about last night, the accumulation of the negative things that swirl around. These are young guys. These are not NFL players. They are guys that come out there every day that are subject to a lot of things, and I’m really proud of the lessons that they have taken from this season. That old saying that nothing that kills you makes you stronger, I think really applies to this football team and this coaching staff. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. This is a tremendous group of people. In a lot of ways I feel they deserve better because they have given unbelievable effort. From last year to win nine games, as much as we put into it, we put even more into it this year, and that’s why at the end of this season, I’ll be able to look that football team in the eyes and say that I gave them everything that I had and they will be able to look me in the eye and say they gave me everything they had. And because of that, I feel good about this.
Going down to Purdue, as I mentioned, it’s a different situation, not only playing if December. But you look at Purdue right now, the good news, I believe that Purdue is 109th in the nation in total offense, the bad news is we’re 110. With that said, it will probably be a 62?58 game the way things have been going.
You know, Purdue in a lot of ways, is in the same situation we’re in. At quarterback, you see those young quarterbacks evolving. You know you look at Hance, he’s an athlete. He was in our summer camp here several years ago. They started out the season, you know, really utilized him as a runner, a scrambler, the quarterback run, the boots, really doing well. These bogged down a little bit and they go with the freshman, who I think has a chance to be a star. Big, tall being quick release, strong arm. But just as our quarterback still has a tremendous future, they are still freshman. So in a lot of ways we are in the same situation.
I think both teams have defenses that have shown probably remarkable improvement over the last several years. Purdue is ranked high in total defense. You look several years ago, Purdue was at the bottom. To be quite honest, you look a couple year ago, Notre Dame was at the bottom. So I think both defenses have worked hard to put themselves in a situation to be competitive each and every week.
So there’s a lot of similarities. Both teams are coming off really difficult losses. You look at Purdue’s game down in Bloomington, the weather was just ridiculous. It was raining so hard in the first half. Certainly, Purdue had a lot of opportunities to win that game. It comes down right to the end of the game. And then just with the condition the way they are, it’s really difficult so. We are coming down there off a tough loss.
You know, what it’s about now, obviously a lot of our goals have come and gone as a team, but we’ve got probably the biggest goal still left and that’s to simply win a football game and to simply play for pride, and to me, that’s an awful lot. It’s worthwhile all the hours we spend just to do that, and I really believe right now that we are capable. I know we’re struggling on offense. I know we are struggling in the passing game, and in particular right now, but I really believe, and I know we have injuries. But I think we are capable of going down there and playing our best football game of the year. I really believe that we are capable of doing that. Now, will we do that? I don’t know. But based on the intangible things I’ve seen, I really believe that we are capable of doing it.
Obviously, this week as far as the focus, first of all, it’s injuries. Julius Jones, I just saw Julius, he’s in a boot right now. I would have to say he’s very doubtful. Tony Fisher, I would say is very doubtful. Terrance Howard is healthy. Ryan Grant, the good news is he’s healthy again and I think he’ll be able to play. Sean Mahan is very doubtful. He did not practice yesterday. On defense, Campbell is actually a little better than we thought. He has a cartilage and that cartilage will have to be removed at the end of the season. He may be able to play a little bit, that’s one of those things, only, probably in an emergency situation. Gerome Sapp, I would think is out with an ankle. Rocky Boiman I think is very questionable. That foot has bothered him, really, all year and it was a little bit worse coming out of the Stanford game.
It’s a lot of injuries. But I think from a scheme standpoint, you try to improve the passing game, we are going to work a little more offense against defense this week to try to get that done. Have good receivers against good defensive backs and see if we can just go get some confidence back in our quarterback, but I think we will. I think Carlyle is a guy that this is his first big test to bounce back from some adversity, and I think he’s ?? I think he can do that.
So I’ll be happy to take any questions.
Q. As far as Carlyle goes, did you feel that you needed to say anything to him after the Stanford game in the locker room, just to make sure that his confidence did not sag or were you confident that he would be would be okay even then, even Saturday?
BOB DAVIE: I actually talked to him yesterday. I kind of wanted to let the dust settle a little bit and let it soak in a little bit that ?? I talked to him about just confidence and he was in a football game early where we threw some quick passes. He overthrew the receivers by a substantial margin. The football was a little wet. And then what I saw from a distance was that he changed his mechanics. He got to where ?? I can remember when I was a baseball player, a catcher. One time ?? I played baseball forever ?? and we were actually playing a game at Three Rivers Stadium. I was the American Legion Team and we were playing in a playoff thing, and I threw the ball over the pitcher’s head. First time I had ever done that. And from that point on, I started to get the yips and tried to aim that ball. When that happens, it’s over. And I saw him doing that just a little bit.
I talked to him about, just let it rip. And it was a difficult situation at times Saturday night. We have tremendous confidence in him and he should have confidence in himself because he’s as good as there is when he’s on. It’s all part of the learning curve and he’s just got to feet through it.
It’s like me when I was playing. A bunch of coaches can say a bunch of things to make you feel better, but you have to step up do it, and we’re going to give him the opportunity to do that again this week.
Q. You mentioned the people that are hurt, like Tony Fisher, Rocky Boiman. Emotionally, as a coach, how do you deal with this? These are guys who have been leaders for your team for years and for them to not be able to play in the last game, have you had to talk to them about that? I’m sure it’s got to be very frustrating for them?
BOB DAVIE: I think first of all, you always talk about finishing what you start. And you always talk about being able to look yourself in the mirror and doing everything you can possibly do. With that said, you know, we have had some seniors that I’ve never been around, guys that worked as hard in the off?season, worked as hard in preparation for the season, and guys that have had some misfortune.
You look at Tony Fisher, I don’t think we have ever had a player since I’ve been here that has worked any harder in this program from in the classroom to the off?season. He goes down, not healthy the entire season, ever, not a game. David Givens is as hard a worker as I’ve ever been around. Really, has not been healthy all season. And I could go on. Julius Jones, did not participate in spring football. He spent all of his time with Mickey Moraty (ph). Mickey said he’s never seen a player work as hard as Julius. Same thing happens with Julius. Gerome Sapp, Glenn Earl had the best spring of any safety we had, and he goes out there and he got the injury bug all season.
So there’s a bunch of guys that have put a lot of on the table that things have not happened for. But that’s part of it. There’s no guarantees in this thing and you just tell them to deal with that as you deal with other things that are going to come in their life.
You know, not everything is perfect. When you get knocked down you’ve just got to pick yourself up and keep doing going in. In the big picture, that’s probably what I’m most proud of, is this football team has been able to sustain that effort, players that have been hurt and keep scratching and clawing to get back out there every week. It would be easy for a bunch of guys ?? I mentioned a couple of weeks ago getting ready for the wishbone and Navy, I’ve seen teams when they are 9?0 getting out to play against those things and that’s not the case at all with this team.
That’s all part of just the everyday coaching, and it’s part of being part of a family. It’s no different than if Clay had some thing happen to him at home. You’ve got to get him to bounce back.
Q. With Darrell Campbell probably not available for this week, what are your plans for the defensive line, do you have to throw one or two more players into the rotation?
BOB DAVIE: Our players are just what they were at Stanford. Darrell Campbell, Ryan Roberts and also Andy Wisne three players that have started that have been out. So you have four defensive linemen with Tony Weaver, Grant Irons, Kyle Budinscak and Cedric Hilliard. The fifth defensive lineman inside would be Greg Pauly. The next defensive end would be Gerome Sapp.
What complicates it a little bit, Rocky Boiman has played some end for us as you know, but he’s out. He had only play 30 snaps against Stanford, so that was not on option so the next two is Greg Pauly and Sapp.
Q. You mentioned before how it just seems so strange preparing for this Purdue game, thinking back to the last time. With everything, the team situation, with all of the speculation about your job and playing Purdue in December, is it difficult to keep things focused on, like you said, the pride, just playing the game for pride and doing your job?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think that’s what you’re all about and I think that is the thing you take the greatest pride in. You know, if you sit around and you spend a bunch of time feeling sorry about yourself, then I think everything starts to crumble around you. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do, and what I’ve tried to do since I’ve been head coach is not worry a whole lot about myself, but worry about the players and those coaches and try to lead by example.
So I’ve really tried to isolate myself from all of the negativity. At times, it is a lonely spot, I can promise you that. But I feel worse for the players and the coaches. What I want to try to do is see them win a game, and the only way I can do that is to 24 hours a day to focus on trying to make us better and trying to coach as hard as I can. You know, probably that’s been a pretty good strategy because it has kept you from spending a lot of time worrying about yourself.
So it’s been a little bet different. If I were to sit here and say it’s been the most pleasant of seasons, people would think I need some counseling if I said that. I’m human. It has been a different season, from the beginning. You know, walking into Lincoln, Nebraska under the situation we were in, not playing against Purdue, Michigan State game coming down to the end, and then going to College Station. All the way through, it’s been a different year. But in the big picture of it, in the big picture, that’s what’s on that scoreboard.
But I’m pretty proud of how we’ve handled this situation and I think some good things can come as long as we keep our nose to the grindstone.
Q. Going back to ’97, this rivalry has taken on a different twist. Prior to that, I think Notre Dame had won about 11 in a row. How have you seen this rivalry change with Purdue, just the dynamics of it? Has it become bigger for them?
BOB DAVIE: I think it’s always been big. I came here ?? my first year was ’94, and to be quite honest, in ’94, we played them up here in the rain and beat them. But in ’95 down there being after the Northwestern loss, I really think Purdue should have beat us. It came down to the final play of the game, and I think they dropped the ball in the corner of the end zone in ’95.
In ’96, we came back and they were a pretty good football team, but they unraveled and we beat them here at home on kind of a rainy day. And then all of the sudden, it’s Drew Grieves (ph) and you play the next four years and you’ve got a quarterback that’s a Heisman Trophy type candidate and it’s been a competitive, competitive series. Every game, really since I’ve been at Notre Dame. I saw Purdue as a good football team at the end of Jim Colletto’s era. Even though they did not win a lot of games, they were a really talented team that was close, but could not get over the hump.
It’s always been a huge game. I know prior to that there was a string of Notre Dame wins, but there’s been some difficult games in this series.
Q. On a different subject, going to back August, do you think maybe now that you might have overestimated this team’s ability?
BOB DAVIE: No, I don’t think I ever did. You know, you have to factor in so many things. Once again, I’m not diminishing or backing away from my statement, that this was our most talented team. I believe it has been. But I also think that if you look at the dynamics of this season, it’s been a challenge. I mean, anyone ?? anyone that’s a football person, that’s knowledgeable in football and can pull themselves away from maybe what public perception or non?football people’s perception is and just look at what it is and have enough courage to evaluate it that way, would say what this has been.
In the history of the NCAA, in the history of the NCAA ?? that’s a long time ?? there’s never been two ranked teams who played where one had played one and two ranked teams and the other had played one. Not to mention going to Lincoln, Nebraska where they are 98?1 in their last 99 games.
So to go into that game with that season with Texas A&M on the road, our schedule week after week, with Matt LoVecchio who at that time was a sophomore quarterback to evolve to Carlyle Holiday who is a freshman quarterback, to say that Julius Jones, Tony Fisher, David Givens, would never be healthy the entire season, and Arnaz Battle would go out in the second game for four weeks, to say that the safeties on defense would be injured for the most part of the season where we thought we were a strong football team, and then to look at how the games have gone, how there’s been close games that could have gone either way, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is your most talented team.
I never said we were the Green Bay Packers. What I said was we were my most talented football team. Once again, I’m not comparing that to ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93 when you look in the back of that press guide and see all of those first round draft choices. I compare that to ’97 and I stand behind that 100%. And I will also say this is my favorite team football team. This record is not what people want. I know it’s not our fans’ favorite team, but it’s my favorite team. I’ll go on record as saying that.
Q. Is it simply a matter of confidence and throwing mechanics in terms of his overall improvement, and thus, the improvement of the passing offense this week? And do you also have enough confidence in him to stick with him if he is to, say, throw, five incomplete passes in a row to start the game?
BOB DAVIE: Well, hypothetical ?? we’ll have to wait and see how all that goes. I do say that I will be the first to admit, as Kevin Roger would admit, there’s no reason for us to be rank as low as we are in passing offense. But with that said, it’s been well intentioned.
You know, we start out the season with Matt ?? I look at teams. You know, I look at football ?? that’s what I do all the time, and it’s amazing for me how many teams started this season with ideas of being somewhat of a spread offense, doing the quarterback runs, kind of being Clemson and Northwestern. And by the end of this season, how many teams have abandoned that and go back to do what they do best. I could go ?? every team has had some phase of that offense to start the season, but I think now as this season ends, everyone realizes that’s not the secret, that’s not the ticket. I think all of us on offense were a little guilty of that.
And going into the season with Matt LoVecchio as the starting quarterback, we really felt like we could spread it, throw it a little bit more and we quickly found out that how people matched up against us that that was not going to get us back to winning nine games, and so we back to what we do best and Carlyle becomes the quarterback. So even though it’s the third year in Kevin Roger’s offense, we are still evolving, and that doesn’t ?? that’s not an excuse. The staffs are what the staffs are, but there’s been reasons for that. I don’t know if there’s been a team in the country that’s had the quarterback situation. Purdue is fighting that right now. As dynamic as they have been on offence, they have got two quarterback and they are 109th in offense. They are great coaches and a great team.
So we have been particularly young at quarterback. If you just look at how it’s gone, now the future is probably good at the quarterback position here. Still going to go through some more bumps in the road.
So the point is, we are evolving in the passing game. It’s not all just Carlyle all of a sudden losing confidence and everyone is going to blame it on Carlyle. We are probably not as good scheme?wise as we should be, for a lot of reasons and that’s what we are working to get better at. So there’s a lot of things. But part of it is he lost confidence. Part of it is has he done enough things, enough that he would not lose confidence, so it’s a huge issue.
Q. You talked about how the season is a diversion, the games are a diversion from everything else. Are you dreading the end of this Purdue game when the diversions are gone?
BOB DAVIE: You know, I hate to quit playing, I really do. I told our players yesterday, I mean, it feels like the first game to me going out there. Just a challenge of the X & O’s. Getting involved so heavily in the defense two years ago, I enjoyed it more than I ever, ever enjoyed it the first three years. I love just coaching and the scheme and the X & O’s ?? because of that, yeah, I hate to see the season end.
What is so difficult for me, I remember last time we didn’t go to a Bowl, and you know, it really hits you when all of the sudden, it’s around Christmas time and you enjoy being with your family and having that time, but then when it dawns on you that you are not playing in a Bowl game and you see other people play, it’s difficult. You know, you have to wait a whole year to play again, and I miss just the football part of it and miss the players, so, yeah. I mean, that’s the reality of that.
But the great thing about coaching, there’s always another challenge and you start with recruiting and you go recruit and it’s always on to the next chapter and that’s how you live your life.
Q. Earlier, you talked about the players getting knocked down and dusting themselves off. Is that something that you learned young in life or when did you start adhering ?? start using that as a philosophy?
BOB DAVIE: I’ve never had anything given to me. I kind of got a kick out of ?? when I was first named head coach somewhere somebody wrote something, because of ?? like here is a guy that is kind of a Madison Avenue type that wore his tie to the press conference. And I was like, “Wait a second, is he talking about me?” Madison Avenue? I grew up in Pittsburgh. My dad worked 40 years in the steel mills and my mom worked in a cafeteria. My mom and dad never graduated from high school. I worked my butt off for everything I’ve gotten. So I’ve seen a lot of things, from start to finish. That’s how it is. That’s what this profession is.
I look right now, there are no gurus. There are no gurus. There are a bunch of people that a year ago, people were not real high on, but all of a sudden, they are winning games on and people are a little higher on. There are a bunch of people that a year ago they were winning games and everyone thought they were the gurus and now they are not winning games. That is what this profession is, and in a lot of ways, that’s what life is.
If you’re going to step in the rink, you are going to get knocked down. If you never step in the rink and all you do is sit out and get the commentary on what goes on in the rink, that’s pretty easy. That’s not a difficult thing. But I doubt that the highs are ever as high and I doubt the lows are ever as low. So when you choose to do this, it’s all part of it.
You know, in the end, I think that’s what separates the haves and the have?nots, from how you handle those situations. I choose to do this and that’s what it is. You’d better get up off the ground or you’re going to be laying on the ground a long time.
Q. Two weeks ago, you were asked whether there would be any circumstances under which you are would resign, and at that time you said there were none. Does your stance on that remain the same?
BOB DAVIE: Never.
Q. You never would? So if the University decided that it wanted to make a change, you would make them announce that publically?
BOB DAVIE: I don’t really understand that question. You’re saying if the University fires me, would they announce that publically?
Q. Right. As opposed to you resigning?
BOB DAVIE: That would be accurate, yeah.
Q. If you were asked to defend yourself in a job that you’ve done, what criteria would you put forth as the reasons behind why you deserve to stay?
BOB DAVIE: I would probably ?? I understand that everything in the end comes down to won/loss record. That’s what this profession is. But I would also say that in the prior four years, we had won nine games. We went to the first BCS Bowl Game in the history of this school at a time when the talent level was probably not as high as it’s been, and earlier in the ’90s.
But I think more important than that, I’m not going to sit here and try to save my job or try to keep my job based upon the statistics of what I have done or not done. I don’t think this is the proper time to do this and I’m not real comfortable doing that. I think you guys have been around me enough, I am not the most comfortable guy talking about myself.
But if you look at the big picture, if you stop and look at the big picture of a program that just a couple of years ago was put on probation and there was so many thing swirling around, I think if you look at the conduct of our football team, I think if you look at the retention of our student athletes, if you look at the grade point average of the last two semesters of the fall and the spring, they are the highest in the University of this football team. For what it’s worth, we receiving an academic achievement award. I think there’s a big picture. I think there’s a big picture. There’s a reason that the University of Notre Dame in December came to me and gave me a new five?year contract. I did not go to the University of Notre Dame and ask for a now contract. So I don’t think I’m the one that should have to defend on why that contract was give ton me.
Now since that point in December, I have not changed. I have not changed. And obviously if a lot of evaluation went into me last December, unless I’ve changed, which I don’t think I’ve changed, then I would think those good reasons are still there. And I’m probably not the one to answer that question. You know, someone else should answer that.
Is that fair?
Q. That’s fair. Thank you.
Q. Talk about how Terrance Howard has played this year.
BOB DAVIE: Switching gears on me. Yeah, I think Terrance has had a good, solid year. He came off ?? let’s talk about Terrance Howard now. You talk about a guy that’s made a sacrifice and investment ?? early in his career, he was like the stock market, up and down and everywhere. He’s grown up. He goes into the Nebraska, game because of injuries, because of him practicing so much so well at camp, he starts the game, first play of the game, he fumbles. You talk about a guy that’s done everything right, sometimes, bad things happen.
But he’s bounced back. He stayed out there, went to the bottom of the depth chart, basically, let’s call it what it was. But all of the sudden there he is, Terrance Howard playing, there he is against Navy playing. So he’s a resilient guy and his attitude has been tremendous.
I think you can judge a lot of things by how the player reacts in a situation. You know, you can judge a lot of things by that. I’m not seeing any helmets flying across the field or guys walking off the field or guys making a bunch of statements or guys pointing fingers or guys blaming other people or guys shutting it down. I’m not seeing that.
So I think that foundation we’re talking about is there based on the evidence of how people react. I think that’s an important thing in the big picture of what this whole thing is about, and I think he’s a great example of that.
Q. Is he more mature because he’s married and has children? Do you deal with him in a different way?
BOB DAVIE: I don’t know about that. I’ve seen some married people that are not the most mature, right? (Laughter). I’m sure there’s some things that go on behind closed doors that a lot of married people would say were the not most mature thing that ever happened.
But I think because of all of the things he’s been through, he’s a mature guy. His family situation, with his father passing, he’s had a lot of difficult things. He’s grown up because of all of the tailbacks we’ve had here. He’s grown up a lot, yeah.
Q. Are you confidence with his ability on Saturday?
BOB DAVIE: Yeah.
Q. With Boiman out, does Derek become the starter?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I’m hoping Rocky can go. Rocky is the guy if he can play. Based on limited practice, he’s going to play. He deserves to play. Derek will be the first one to tell you, but Derek is a guy that I’ve talked about, we’ve got guys on this team that practice every week like they are going to play, and then maybe they don’t play and that’s one of the difficult things of not getting ahead in games is not being able to play guys that practice so hard. And we’ve got a group of those kind of guys. Derek Curry is definitely one of those guys. Justin Thomas, Carlos Pierre is of those, Preston Jackson. We’ve got a lot of those kind of guys. Carlos Campbell is a guy that’s become like that, Gary Godsey. Terrance is one of those guys that’s the same way.
Q. You talk a lot about people who know football would see all of the different problems you’ve gone through and evaluate it different than people who don’t know football. A lot of fans only see 4?6. Are you concerned with those peoples’ opinions of this team?
BOB DAVIE: You know, I feel bad for our fans. I’ve said this before, regardless of back a year ago when people talked about how many red shirts were in our stadium against Nebraska, I’ve had a bunch of letters from people that say: “Why can’t our fans be like Nebraska? I was in Lincoln” ?? or “Why can’t they be like Texas A&M’s” ?? I think we have the greatest fans in the country. There is tremendous passion here. You’re darned right, I feel bad. I’m not just someone that says: “I don’t care what any of you think, I know more than you know.” That’s not the deal at all. I do care. I feel bad that we are not in it right now. So, yeah, I care about what the fans think.
Q. Can a head coach truly be evaluated as successful without the support of the fans?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I think in the end you’re going to be evaluated on what that won/loss record is, when all of the dust settles.
I don’t know. I think there’s probably different places. I remember when ?? I think I had a tremendous advantage walking into this job. Even though I had never been a head coach, I think I had a tremendous advantage being here with Lou Holtz for three years, and just being in on things that no one else anywhere had a chance to experience. That was the greatest learning experience for me in my life, to sit here. And I can remember Lou Holtz, as successful as he was and as good as he is, best football coach I have ever been around, saying it: “About 51 percent are for and you 49 percent are against you.”
I saw, sometimes after you leave, all of a sudden, it becomes a lot better. I was in the middle of it with a guy that was tremendously successful, that went through a lot of things at the end. So I kind of realize what it is here. You know, I don’t know that anybody is going to come in here and just have the fans just jumping up and down each and every week. I don’t know if that guy exists. If he did he might have – his name was Knute or one of those statutes outside my office. I don’t know if anybody is going to come in here right now and be that guy.
This is a tough place, now. I take all of that in stride and I understand it and I appreciate what it is. I appreciate that’s why it is and that’s why I think I can survive here because I’ve got my head on pretty straight when it comes to being able to handle them. A lot of guys, they would blow their mind if with they were not the favorite child, they could not handle it. I can handle it because I know what it is.
Q. You mentioned earlier about the progress of quarterbacks. Was there ever a time in the last year or the spring, even the fall where you said, “Boy, Arnaz would look pretty good in that quarterback rotation just now to stabilize things?” Did you ever have any second thoughts about that?
BOB DAVIE: Not really. Because I think with Matt, and with Carlyle and with Jared, I thought all three of those guys were better than Arnaz would have been. Arnaz, and I love him, he was not a finished quarterback product as quarterback. He did some unbelievable things against Nebraska and A&M running the football and making plays, but he struggled at times at quarterback. So not really. I would not second guess that at all.
Q. Whatever happens, when you look at this team and what it could be next year, what do you see? What do you see in terms of talent, chemistry, depth? You said this was maybe ??
BOB DAVIE: 12?0 next year. We’ll win the National Championship. Everything is in place. (Laughter).
Seriously, I realize looking ahead, this football team opens up against Maryland in a Kickoff Classic in New Jersey. You know, next year is a game where the NCAA allows to you play 12 games. Instead of Notre Dame playing 7 home games and 5 away games, Notre Dame chooses to go play the Kickoff Classic and play Maryland. That’s a difficult matchup. Obviously, Maryland’s off?season is going to be tremendously positive. You play Purdue at home, you play Michigan at home, you play at Florida State, you play at Air Force, as you play at USC.
I do think the schedule is more balanced next year than it was this year in some ways. But let’s face it, it’s going to be a challenge each and every year because of the schedule that you play, and that’s what it will continue to be.
Obviously, the quarterback situation that ? without a doubt, you know, once again, I talk about the Green Bay Packers. Mike Sherman is probably my best friend. He feels pretty good about having Brett Favre there as his quarterback. You have an opportunity to win a lot of games. The quarterback position is the most important position on the field at any level of football. I would think that you’ve got a pretty darned good quarterback at Notre Dame.
With that said, you’ve got to improve in defense right now that’s 14th in the country in total defense and has gotten better over the years and I think can be solid. The kicking game is going to be strong with Nick Setta and Joey Hildbold. But you know what, it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a challenge. I’m the first one to say that and the first one to admit that. It always will be.
Q. Anthony Weaver will be playing his last game. A lot of people think he is going to be a pretty good pro football player, some people project him inside as a tackle. Your thoughts on his future?
BOB DAVIE: I talked to Anthony yesterday. It is amazing, he has come a long way. He has ?? his freshman year, he was pretty good. His sophomore year, I don’t think he played real well and I think he was a little bit tired. He came back his junior and senior here and has been unbelievable. I mean, he practices as hard as any guy. He plays as hard as any guy. A lot of the NFL people talk about trying to move him inside, getting him as big as they can get him, but I think he’s going to be a good, solid player because of the kind of person he is and how productive he is. I’ve been really pleased with him, really pleased with him.
Q. With Arnaz, the leg was a big issue, but what are some other things that have prevented him from becoming that dynamic game?breaker type?
BOB DAVIE: I think we struggled throwing the football. We haven’t ?? we’ve thrown it 10 or 12 times a game, all well intentioned. We felt like right now was our best opportunity. But how many opportunities has he had, really? And the same can be said for David Givens and Javin Hunter. I’ll be the first one to admit that. They are all part of that young quarterback and those young quarterbacks kind of evolving.
BOB DAVIE: Not really, no. That was an unfortunate thing to happen. So, no that has not ?? we have not shied away from doing things with him. We are just not at a point to really do anything with the ball. You cannot run and put somebody in reverse. We did the halfback pass the other night. We did the reverse pass to Carlyle, which was one of our completions of the night. So we tried to utilize him. Obviously, him getting hurt set it back a little bit, and where we are at offense set him back a little bit.
Q. Should he come back next year, how comfortable are you with him being a No. 1 receiver and what does he need to do?
BOB DAVIE: You certainly hope he comes back because he would be the most experienced receiver going into the season. You know, I can’t speak for Arnaz. I would expect him to come back. I’m totally comfortable with that. Gives him another year as a receiver and I think he deserves it and I think he needs it.
Q. How far is he from being a polished receiver?
BOB DAVIE: He’s a ways away.
Q. The fans and people are ?? some of them are calling this the “throw?away game” or a “meaningless game” and I’m sure the players are hearing some of that. How do you plan on motivating team, and if things start going sour early, how are you going to stop that?
BOB DAVIE: Won’t happen.
Q. Won’t happen?
BOB DAVIE: Won’t happen.
Q. What are you going to do to try to not get the team to do too much, get them back if the right focus?
BOB DAVIE: I think that’s a valid point. You know, once again, I hate to keep wearing the word “dynamics” out, but you go into the season, just so many things. I mean, a fine line. And I mentioned before, sitting there and watching Nebraska getting ready, playing those two games and just all the things. And I mean it when I say you have people trying and working harder than ever, ever. You guys all know that.
You kind of compare it to that golf game. Sometimes you kind of relax and let it rip, it rips pretty easily and that’s part of the deal. That’s what sports are and competing are and picking yourself up off the ground are. It doesn’t get easier, it gets harder. So with each week, it gets more difficult. We have come closer each and every week.
This morning, I looked ?? with the exception of Nebraska, you’ve had Tennessee and Stanford. All three of those are in the Top?10 in the BCS Poll, I believe. Most people, anybody who looked at the tape and really looked at the Tennessee, Stanford game, you would have a hard time saying which team was in the Top?10 and which team wasn’t, if you watched Tennessee, Notre Dame and Stanford and Notre Dame. You know, so close doesn’t count and but we are close. It’s just that we have got to get over that hump and we have got to have success.
A lot of it big plays, breaking out of there and having a big play. If something comes easy ?? we grind for everything we get. At some point there needs to be a ball that’s intercepted and run back for a touchdown. I was hoping the other night Vontez would break one of those punt returns. A year ago, it was like, “Boom”, (snaps fingers), we broke a punt return. We haven’t done that. We haven’t just had that big play that’s kind of allowed us to just get momentum.
Nothing is easy. I mean, there’s nothing easy. You work for everything you get, you know. And if anything happens big?play wise, it’s against us, and, you know, the accumulation of a lot of play into that. You know, it’s a huge thing to win in college football. It’s the program against the other program. It’s everything. You know, it’s the chemistry and it’s the attitude and it’s the unity and it’s the leadership, and it’s a huge thing. There’s a lot people involved in a college football program, a lot of people from top to bottom. There’s such a fine line.
And the dynamics, you know, that’s controlled by a lot of things and a lot of people. You guys all see that. But we’ve got to solve it. We’ve got to get through it. We’ve got to fight through it. We can’t get through it and say, “Well, we’re snakebit.” We’ve got to change the situation somehow.
Q. After the game ?? inaudible ?? went outside and stomped around for a little bit. Is that a reaction that worries you or is that you want to see?
BOB DAVIE: I want to do the same thing. Let’s call it what was, right? Don’t look for little things. These kids are tremendous. I would not blame them one bit. Sure, there’s frustration. You’re darned right, there is frustration. There’s frustration on everyone’s part: Our part, the fans’ part, your are part. That’s part of the deal.
So, no, I don’t blame him at all. I think like you said, when you start rolling over and accepting it, it’s time to move on. You had better have some fight in you.
Q. You mentioned the evaluation, any idea in yet when you are going to sit down with Kevin and talk about this?
BOB DAVIE: No.
Q. And you mentioned being an island. Are you disappointed there has not been a comment from some higher?up backing you?
BOB DAVIE: Not really. The comment to me came in the form of a five?year contract in December after a year’s evaluation. So I’m not real sensitive.
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