Charlie Weis knows his team will have to play a perfect game to have a chance against #1 USC on Saturday.

Charlie Weis Press Conference Transcript (Oct. 11)

Oct. 11, 2005

COACH WEIS: Well, good morning, slash good afternoon. This is going to take a few minutes for us before we get going with questions because I have a number of things to talk about with our opponent this week. Obviously, they have been ranked in the top 10 for 37 games. They have won 38 out of their last 39, including 27 straight, which, obviously, is a great accomplishment.

They have been at the top of the AP’s poll for the last 25 polls, and the biggest out of all the things, they are trying to become the only team to win three consecutive national titles.

They have a great head coach, Pete Carroll. He has been there for five years now. His record is 47 and 9, that’s an 84 percent winning percentage. And the scary thing, I know one of the big deals or his big deals is emphasis on outscoring opponents in the second half and over his career, they’ve outscored them 1,041 to 449 which I’d say is quite a difference.

Lane Kiffin, their offensive coordinator. He has been, you know, at USC for five years, son of Monty Kiffin who I have known for quite sometime with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, this offense is high powered, but really I am going to talk today about they have outscored their opponents 258 to 96, including 168 to 42 in the second half this year. They are averaging 604 yards a game, and the scary thing is 349 comes by pass and another 291 comes by rush.

I think in all of the research I came out with, as far as their offensive players, the thing that is most impressive that this group is on pace to be the first group in history to have a 3,000 yard passer, with two 1,000 yard rushers and two 1,000 yard receivers. That’s kind of scary. You know, (Matt) Leinart not only is their captain, quarterback, but he has had a chance to win back to back Heisman trophies. His record as a starter is 30 and 1. He spreads the ball around. He has got five receivers that has 10 catches or more, completes about two thirds of his passes and throws four touchdown passes for every interception.

At running back, pick your poison. I mean, do you want me to talk about Bush, do you want me to talk about White. It really doesn’t take much to realize they have got two dynamic running backs. You know, Reggie (Bush) is well, first of all, between the two of them, in the last 31 games, they have scored 72 touchdowns. For three straight weeks, both of them have rushed for over 100 yards. Now, Reggie is their captain. He reminds me of Marshall Falk. He can do it all. 194 yards a game. He is a dynamic returner, both in the punt game and the kickoff game. He can run the ball. He can catch. He can pick up the blitz. He is averaging eight and a half yards a carry. He is a very, very, very good player.

I think (LenDale) White sometimes gets lost in the limelight because of both Leinart and Bush. Here’s the big guy at 6’2″, 235 that’s really been their leading rusher for last two years. He’s got 10 touchdowns already and he only averages 7.6 a carry. So there is a big drop off from that 8.5 that Reggie averages per carry. And while we’re at it, we might as well throw (Desmond) Reed into the mix because he has touched the ball 23 times and he is averaging 13 yards every time he touches the ball. So, you can’t, when 22 comes on the field, all of a sudden, say, `Okay great, we have got those other two guys off the field.’

I think one of the more underrated guys on the team is actually their fullback (David) Kirtman. They throw the ball to him, 12 catches for a 14-yard average, and helps round out that offense. I will get to (Dominique) Byrd and the tight ends here in a couple of minutes.

At wide receiver, you know, they have got two dynamic wide receivers in (Dwayne) Jarrett and (Steve) Smith. Jarrett is the big guy, 6’5″, 210, 35 catches, 467 yards, nine touchdowns, over 13 yards a catch. He’s played 18 games in his career and has 22 touchdowns. So obviously, he is a go to guy. And he is from Jersey, too, so I have a little soft spot for Jersey guys. Smith has got 27 catches for 575 yards, so he is averaging more per catch and a little over 21 yards a catch. And then they can throw in (Patrick) Turner and (Chris) McFoy as well, if they want to go to three or four wide receiver sets. And at tight end, Byrd is a big guy. He is another guy like Kirtman that a lot of times goes unnoticed. And they do play multiple tight end sets. They have more of a receiving second tight end (Fred) Davis and more of a blocker in (Dale) Thompson.

I think out of the whole offense though the position that gets most underrated out of all offensive positions are their offensive linemen. I’ve already said they averaging 291 yards rushing a game. All these guys are returning starters. Actually, literally four of them are returning starters from last year, but the one that didn’t play last year started the two years before that. So you can get to know (Winston) Justice, (Fred) Matua, (Ryan) Kalil, (Taitusi) Lutui and (Sam) Baker. Get to know those guys, probably the most underrated position they have. Obviously, they’re the biggest key to making that whole offense go.

Defensively, Pete is the defensive coordinator. They’re giving up less than 20 points a game and scoring more than 50 points a game. It doesn’t take a math major to figure it, that’s a 30-point differential. They have got two pass rushing defensive ends in (Frostee) Rucker and (Lawrence) Jackson and they both have four sacks. (LaJuan) Ramsey is coming back. It isn’t like any big secret that he is coming back this week. They add another guy to their inside players. Get to the linebackers. (Oscar) Lua, he is leading the team in tackles. He had 10 last week. (Thomas) Williams is playing Sam – (Dallas) Sartz may or may not be back, he is their captain. He may or may not be back, but that doesn’t make too much of a difference because Williams is really playing well, as well as (Keith) Rivers, on the weak side.

Pete has notoriously always had good safeties play for him. He has always been strong up the middle. You notice Lua is the leading tackler at linebacker. He has always been good at safety. Their captain (Darnell) Bing, he is their strong safety, where their pre safety both are solid players. That’s even before you get to (John) Walker and (Justin) Wyatt outside.

And to top everything off, let’s talk about their kickers. You know, (Tom) Malone is one the best punters in the country. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get much action. And (Mario) Danelo, he does a great job of kicking extra points because that’s about all he is doing. I think he is 30 for 30 on extra points. He has tried three field goals this year.

When I talked earlier about Bush, you know, I talked about him as a returner. You also can’t forget about Reed because he has got four returns this year, that he is averaging over 40 yards a return every time he touches the ball. Obviously, they have weapons on offense. They got weapons on defense. They’re very well coached. They are the No. 1 team in the country and they deserve to be.

Q. So after all that, Charlie, why play the game?

COACH WEIS: It’s a good opportunity for us to judge where we’re right now. You never know what factors are going to happen in the game. They have got firepower and you have to try to negate some of that firepower. We are going to have to play very well. We’re going to have to play at the top of our game to have a chance of winning. You have got to take care of the football and hope things go your way. That’s why you play the game, just because of those stats, doesn’t mean it’s a locked cinch who wins and who loses.

Q. Would you break down your offense for me a little bit in terms of where you have seen improvement and where you would like to see continued improvement?

COACH WEIS: I think we’re solid. We have a solid offense line. We have solid tight ends. We have got solid wide receivers. We have solid running backs, and we have a solid quarterback. That’s where I think we are. I think we’re solid.

Q. Has there been an area where you have seen improvement so far this year?

COACH WEIS: I have seen improvement in all areas.

Q. Coach, if it rains Friday night, do you plan to have the field covered or does it matter?

COACH WEIS: The first thing we’re going to have to do is decide what to do with the pep rally. Not to slight the game itself, but I think that I have been tracking the weather too and I see a chance of showers Friday night. And to be honest with you, I am trying take everything, the game into consideration, us and our opponent and all the festivities involved and try to make sure that we do what’s best for all. Right now, I am just worried about today. I am not worried about Friday night.

Q. Can you talk about history between you and Pete Carroll, how often you have met and how those turned out?

COACH WEIS: All I know is Pete has been a head coach for a lot of years, and I have been head coach for five games. I think I have a long way to go. Pete has set the bar in college football over last several years. Since he’s come from the NFL, back in the college ranks, he’s got the program to the top of the game. And right now, I think it would be giving myself undue credit to put myself at the same accolades at this time.

Q. How do you motivate players for a big game like this?

COACH WEIS: Well, it has been unique for that reason. It’s different. Football players and coaches are creatures of habit. You get used to being in the same routine. We utilized the bye week wisely. We’re in pretty good shape physically. We’re as healthy, more healthy than we were two weeks ago. And at the same time, it gives you some extra time to actually prepare. But with all that being said, you still are going to have to do everything right to have a chance to win the game.

Q. Do you do something special to motivate them, to get them really going?

COACH WEIS: I treat every week pretty much the same. I have always tried to profess having a very businesslike approach and treating each game as its own separate entity. I understand. I am not oblivious to the magnitude of the football game. But you just set yourself up for emotional highs and lows if you treat it any differently.

Q. Charlie, four times you went head to head with Pete Carroll in 1988, 1999 with you as the offensive coordinator. Do you recall those games? What do you recall about those games?

COACH WEIS: I just always remember feeling that they had a very good scheme and they were very well coached. And really it was going back and forth between the New England/Jet combinations and we were on flip sides. Sometimes, I was in New England, sometimes he was with the Jets; sometimes I was with the Jets and he was in New England. Okay. Pete knows me very well. He knows what I like to do. I like to think I know what he likes to do. It’s just going to come down to us having to execute very well against what they do.

Q. Charlie, you mentioned earlier about an even keel. You said two things the same everything week. This week is changing up a little bit as far as players and ability. Do you worry that sends a different message to the team that this is a different week?

COACH WEIS: I am trying to get the distractions out the way early. Because we have had an extra day, by picking up Monday (which) was like an extra day for us. So today, this is like or second day of the week. It’s not like our first day of the week. By getting the media out of the way early, it allows them for the next few days to not have to worry about the media and just focus in on the game. I think it actually is a big plus.

Q. You talked a few weeks ago about certain teams, the mindset. This is a series that has been very streaky. I think the last time a team won this one time only was the green Jersey game. Since then, it’s always been at least three games. Any idea why seems to happen?

COACH WEIS: I haven’t really been part of all of it other than afar, watching on TV and going in on Saturday night and, when you’ve lost, listen to the abuse from the players I was coaching, or if you won to be able to talk a little smack. But the bottom line is when you are coaching somewhere else, you’re just worrying about that team. You really don’t get too emotionally tied to what’s going on. I am only worried about the here and now.

Q. The things that seem to be in common among with USC, when they get into trouble, they go to the run game, that’s where they overpower teams. Is that something that you think could work to your advantage because you have got a pretty good team against the run?

COACH WEIS: I don’t think they get in trouble very often. When you say that, you say that loosely. Because I know the last three games, everyone is saying they got off to a slow start. Don’t expect them to get off to slow start this week. You can fall into that trap very easily when you say the last three games they haven’t played too well in the first half. Trust me, they will be ready to go early. We need to be ready to go when the ball is kicked off or else we can find ourselves down significantly early.

Q. Lastly, can you talk about the play of your defensive front, especially Chris Frome?

COACH WEIS: Sometimes our defensive front is unheralded because you forget that you know we have been very to start off with, to date, we have been very good against the run for the most part. We have had a few exceptions where we have given up a few plays. And Chris is a nice solid, fundamentally sound player. They all know Victor (Abiamiri), Trevor (Laws), Derek (Landri), Brian (Beidatsch), Chris, Ronald (Talley) and Justin (Brown), they all know that this week they’re going to have to play at the top of their game because this is multi dimensional attack and you are going to be able to play your best to stop those running backs, and at the same time you have to worry about this quarterback and all his weapons that he is surrounded by.

Q. You mentioned USC’s success in the second half. And you guys have success in the second quarter. So it looks like both teams are good at making adjustments. Can you talk about the process of making adjustments, how you get that communicated, how that works?

COACH WEIS: It’s different on offense and defense first of all. On offense most sound coordinators come into a game with script of plays that they’re going to be running early. When you dial up that script, whether you get through it or not, isn’t the issue. A lot of times you are setting up. You want to get looks to figure out what they’re doing so you can figure out what you are going to do. Defensively, usually, you get in a groove of figuring out what the offense how they’re trying to attack you for that game and adjust accordingly. The teams that do the best are the teams that can make those adjustments quickly and not have to wait too long to figure it out.

Q. Is it a matter of making the players ready for that? Is it a matter of communicating it well what you want to adjust?

COACH WEIS: I think that part of it is just calling different plays. Offensively, you can change that by calling different plays. On defense, what you have to do is you have to get your players prepared as the game goes on to what they’re doing, how they have tweaked their system to try to attack you.

Q. You are pretty much sticking to the here and now. Part of the mystique of this place are games such as this and the No. 1 team beaten and the streak is ended. Is that important this week within the team? Is it something you talked to them about?

COACH WEIS: I talk to them as it relates to my ticket requests, which has been quite large. I joke around with them. You have to try to keep them loose, too. Because what could happen, you (could) build up the game too much. Trust me, I do this every week. It wouldn’t make a difference who we are playing. I build up the game every week. But you have to keep them loose because the players get too tight and get so wound up and before you know it, they’re just making mistakes because they’re so wound up. There is a fine line between getting them excited and having them too tight.

Q. One other thing, you mentioned the second half scoring difference with USC. As you study that team, is it just that massive talent eventually takes over? Is it the ability of maintaining a level of play for 60 minutes or a combination?

COACH WEIS: You don’t want to degrade coaching that comes into play there, too. Because if I said that, all I am saying is that their players are just that much better than everyone and they’re not well coached. Their coaches do a good job too. That’s a reason that comes into play. It’s a combination of players stepping up they’re good at playing under pressure. So they usually pick it up when there is a pressure situation and they’re well coached.

Q. One of your players mentioned earlier that he said when he watched USC on film, it seemed to him like sometimes the teams that playing against the Trojans don’t know to do with themselves once they get a lead so they of tighten and get nervous. Have you seen any evidence of that when you watch film, and if so, how do you guard against that with your own team?

COACH WEIS: I think that’s often human nature in football. A lot of guys not putting the pedal to the metal when they have a chance to. There are times to pull off, and there are times to just keep on pressing because, especially with a team like this, when you know they have the fire power they do, you really have to be thinking the same way in the third quarter as you are thinking in the first quarter. You have got to be constant throughout. If not, if you ever get conservative, too conservative, on either side of the ball, you are in for a long, hard day.

Q. You mentioned that in preparing for USC you were going to go back several years and watch films. When you look at their defense this year, they obviously lost six starters and Norm Chow leaves. How differently are they schematically and you know, in terms of preparation for your players, how different of a defense will this be than the one they saw last year?

COACH WEIS: I don’t think schematics are the difference. The players are different. You then have to look at, play into checking out the scheme and checking out the personnel and trying to figure out what we’re going to do. No matter what you do, this is going to come down to them having a poor scheme that you attack. I think their scheme is solid. You know, Pete is very good coach.

Q. Final question. I am wondering which Super Bowl ring that is and if that has any significance in terms of which one you wear at what time?

COACH WEIS: I wear the one that we one won the latest because it’s the biggest. And the significance is, when you are bringing in a bunch of your recruits and you have them around, that every one of these recruits has visions of playing on Sundays, I just want to let them know that I might have a little bit of knowledge, just a touch, what it takes to play on Sundays.

Q. Coach, your quarterback is a different player than what he was last season, made vast improvements. How do you account for that and how much of that has to do with your working with him?

COACH WEIS: Well, a couple of things, to give credit to the last staff and to Brady himself, he had been hardened and seasoned over the last few years playing a whole bunch of games. There is nothing you could say that about not having the experience that he’s had for the last two years. With that having been said, this offense is a quarterback friendly offense and really everything is built around the quarterback. It all starts with the quarterback. We don’t put anything in the offense that the quarterback can’t handle. We don’t put anything in the offense that the quarterback doesn’t like. If we put something in the game plan and he doesn’t like, I throw it out. The quarterback has got to feel comfortable that he can manage the team and feel as comfortable with what you are putting in because, if not, I throw it out.

Q. One other question. Switching to defense, your team is ranked somewhere like 95 in terms of defense, and you are facing a No. 1 offensive team. How do you succeed?

COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, what’s our record. I think that’s more important. You are playing the wrong angle here. You are worrying about stats. If we’re up in a game, which we have been up in a few of them now, what are they going to do, they’re going to come out and throw the ball and try to get the yards. Yards don’t mean anything. It’s how many points you score. I think it comes right down give me the numbers I am not positive, but give me the numbers of scoring defense. Even throwing in the big performance by Michigan State, it’s more around 50 and it’s more about how many points you give up, not how many yards you give up.

Q. Charlie, obviously, you are hands on with your quarterbacks. But how does Coach Vaas how does he compliment what you do?

COACH WEIS: Coach Vaas is an excellent quarterback coach. Remember, here’s a guy that has been a head coach. He’s run offenses himself, so the quarterback is in the hands of an experienced guy. It allows you to go watch the offense linemen, it allows you go watch the running backs, allows you watch of the tight ends and the wide receivers. It allows you trickle down in the other end and stick your nose in the defense’s business and get all those coaches mad at me as I am down there watching what they’re doing. You can’t do that if you don’t have the confidence in the guy that’s coaching the critical guy on your offense. With him there, I have that confidence.

Q. Charlie, with what happened to Coach Cutcliffe in the Spring, did you spend more time with Brady because of what happened, and you do you think your confidence and your kind of Jersey brashness, as you like to say, has rubbed off?

COACH WEIS: Don’t be taking shots at Jersey now.

Q. I’m from New York. It’s all right.

COACH WEIS: We really never had David because that scenario went down in early March. So he never was there for spring ball. That first year especially, when you are putting in the offense and it’s your offense, I think had great residual affects from that because I had to go one on one with Brady during that time, so he wasn’t hearing the offense secondhand. He was hearing the offense from me with all the idiosyncrasies that go with the formations and the plays and the motions and everything. He got to hear it from me, not from me to an assistant coach to him. Whether it was reads, coverage, progression, all those things, he was hearing it from me, so he never had to worry about what exactly he was being told. It was a great advantage this year to have played out that way. As far as the Jersey brashness, I consider that a positive, not a negative. And when I came in here, I felt that whether it’s right or wrong, that you need to have your team feeling and acting the way you do. And if you don’t have confidence in what you do and if you don’t have attitude that every time you go out there you intend to play winning football, then you really don’t have much of a chance. And this game is a perfect example. If we went out there, we were talking about people playing scared. If you go out there and play scared, you are going to get you are clocks cleaned.

Q. Has Brady taken on your attitude?

COACH WEIS: I think it took a little — it was a little transformation for him. If you asked him — he will be available tomorrow. Why don’t you ask him that question.

Q. Coach, with Maurice Stovall, you mentioned earlier about him losing the weight and so forth, but he credited the coaching staff with really getting his motor running in terms of wanting to stay after practice and do extra things. He talked about his transformation with the extra work and also being a more physical receiver.

COACH WEIS: I compared Maurice — although they’re not nearly the same player, I talked to Moe about Keyshawn Johnson. And I watched the way Parcells handled Keyshawn Johnson, who, if he had it his way, he would have been 225 all the time. And Bill always made him get down to under 210. And Keyshawn would complain about it and Parcells would tell him I know more football than you do, you just do what I tell you and keep your mouth shut. And the bottom line he always felt with big receivers, that keeping your weight down was the key to the No. 1 criteria for receiver – which is stamina. That’s what helped Moe more than anything else is just his stamina this year is significantly better than it what when I got here. I am not going back to what it was last year because I wasn’t here last year. Where I can tell you from February to now, is a critical factor and with good receivers, one thing they all have is stamina. Look at the Jerry Rices. They could run all day. They have stamina. That’s really helped him.

Q. You played 10 freshmen. You played some of them in critical spots. Talk about your confidence in your freshman class and being able to put freshmen in big situations.

COACH WEIS: Not only do I have confidence in them, but it’s growing. And coming in here, especially in light of the numbers of guys we have on scholarships, I also played a bunch of walk ons, too, for the same reason. We always live by the policy, we go by what you see. And we’re not going to get too enamored by a guy being a fifth year senior or a freshman walk on. We just go by what we see. If a guy earns his keep, you have to get him an opportunity to go ahead and show it out in the field. Sometimes they earn it in the practice, they go on the field and it doesn’t quite work out. Other times, you put them in a little bit, they get a little taste, and they get progressively better. Fortunately for us, most of our guys are fitting into latter, rather than the former.

Q. With a big game like this comes with a certain amount of tension something like this week. Do you find something out about yourself as a head coach this week?

COACH WEIS: I don’t understand the question.

Q. As far as facing the game with this much heat to it, with the stakes so high, evolving in this job as the head coach and handling everything you have had to handle since February, is there something about this week that may be you haven’t handled before that…

COACH WEIS: I am just doing what I was taught. I just follow the guys who I learned under and I am doing what I taught. I am doing it the exact same way they would have done it. It’s the same way Belichick would have done it. It is the same way Parcells would have done it. I am sure Romeo is doing it the same way in Cleveland right now. We only know one way, so I am just doing it the same way. I am not trying to be innovative. I am just doing how I was taught.

Q. Charlie, you mentioned that you thought it was important to have your team acting and feeling the way you do with this team. How did you get them to do that and was it hard?

COACH WEIS: Well, I think the first thing you have to do is you have to start off embarrassing them. We all know the magic number 31. So I basically told them you are already down 31, let’s see where we can go from there. Let’s see if we can close the gap a little bit. You start off embarrassing them. Then you from the rest of the time all you do is try to build up their confidence. You play to their psyche and get them to believe. I will tell you that the last week the No. 1 job I felt I had to do was get them believing that they had a chance to win the game. I can give you all other things I told you last week that we did, which we did all those things. But my biggest job is getting team to believe they had a chance to win the game. Just getting them to believe they had a chance to win the game is easier said than done.

Q. Charlie, given that, with the psyche of your team, how imperative is the good start in the game so they don’t lose that confidence?

COACH WEIS: A good start is always important. More important than that is playing a 60 minute game. You can get up three touchdowns on them and this team doesn’t bat an eye. I think the most important thing is playing for 60 minutes. I go over a list of things each week that we’re going to have to do to win the game. When we present the game plan to the team, which we did yesterday, we always give the critical factors that as a team we need to do to win the game. And No. 2, on that list was 60 minutes, and we won’t talk about No. 1.

Q. How about No. 3?

COACH WEIS: I know No. 5 was No. 5. How do you like that?

Q. I assume 11 ranked higher up on the list.

COACH WEIS: No 11. I only do 10, so therefore you know he wasn’t No. 11, I can tell you. We didn’t get to 21 either for that matter. I could have given eight, to No. 8. I didn’t think about that at the time.

Q. Charlie, I was just wondering if you could talk about play calling and how do you acquire a feel for it, and how much does kind — how much does intuition come into it as opposed to preparation?

COACH WEIS: I think the preparation comes into it for about the first quarter. After the first quarter, that’s when you have to start adapting. And depending on who you are playing against and their philosophy, sometimes you have to keep on staying ahead of them the whole game. You know, there are some guys that they’ll throw a blitz at you until you have got it figured out, then they’ll go to something else. There is other guys that have their blitzes of the day, they will have their two or three, and once you get it dialed up, that’s what you are going to get all day. Each week has its own individual qualities, but once you set up the game, you are getting through the first quarter and you kind of have a feel where it’s going, you have to be ready to adjust according to the philosophy against the guys you are calling against.

Q. I guess is there anything different that — I know you haven’t coached a lot of college games. Is there anything you see that’s different about USC, what Pete runs than, you know, what you have seen week in and week out?

COACH WEIS: Defensively or offensively?

Q. Yes, defensively.

COACH WEIS: I think that there are a lot of similarities of things that he’s done for a bunch of years. But the thing is that he had a couple of blitz zone wrinkles that I hadn’t seen him run in the past, but I had seen a couple of his people that have followed after him with the Broncos, there are a couple of blitz zones that I hadn’t seen him run before. But I think schematically I have a pretty good idea what he does. But the problem is they’re good at doing it. They’re well coached. They’re disciplined fundamentally and technically and they have got good players.

Q. Pete Carroll seemed to sense after about a year into his first his first year there that he was a better fit at college than he was in the NFL. It just seemed to work very well. Five games in, can you tell if it is a better fit for you?

COACH WEIS: I think it’s a bit premature at this time. I really loved coaching in the NFL. I really loved my experience there, but I have to say that I really enjoy being at Notre Dame. And I can’t judge my performance this early stage of my career. I do know that I treat it the same and I enjoy it the same which really isn’t very much usually. I enjoy more being part of something special, and I believe that Notre Dame is something special.

Q. Do you feel that your background as a teacher has helped you out in dealing with the younger kids, maybe more than in dealing with the pro’s or can it have an affect at both levels?

COACH WEIS: There are a lot of similarities because the Patriots were a team that really focused and emphasized on having smart players, that’s their why graduation rate was the highest of any team in the NFL, which I believe is not a coincidence why they have been winning year in year and year out. Having a bunch of smart kids here makes it a little easier to approach the mental aspects or intellectual aspects of the game a little bit more aggressively than you normally would in your first year.

Q. Charlie, you mentioned David Cutcliffe briefly. Have you spoken to him recently and you know just his chomping at the bit to get back in the game somewhere, some way?

COACH WEIS: I called him to wish him happy birthday not too long ago to tell you the truth. I wanted to make him realize that even though he wasn’t here anymore, I didn’t want him to think I forget the human side of this whole business. But he called me back, and we had a nice long chat, and I wish him the best. He was on my birthday list.

Q. (Inaudible questions about his memories of Notre Dame – USC games when he was a student)

COACH WEIS: It was a pretty wild experience. 1977, you know, 49 19 was the final of that game. Watching the team come out there and warm up in blue and didn’t think too much of it to tell you the truth. And they came out, and I remember the big Trojan horse and remember the team coming out there in those green jerseys and knowing this was going to be something special. Fortunately, it played out right and spurred Notre Dame on to win a national championship that year.

Q. Charlie, just to get back to the whole idea of intuition and play calling. How do you acquire your feel for play calling?

COACH WEIS: Sometimes if you would ask some of those Patriot fans, they would say I never acquired it to tell you the truth. Sometimes it has to be two dimensions. One dimension has to be preparation. This is what they do in this situation. And sometimes a situation might not just be down and distance and field position. It might be with a similar score. Because sometimes people call one thing when it’s one score versus another thing when it’s another score. So I really think that preparation gives you an opportunity to then go to part B, and part B then really becomes feel. What do I call here to attack what I think they’re going to do. Let’s face it, I guess wrong plenty of times, too, but the whole key is try to guess right more than you guess wrong.

Q. Coach, you mentioned earlier that one of your biggest jobs last week was to get these guys to believe. I would imagine there might have been scar tissue built up after the three results against Southern Cal. Can you elaborate at all what you had to say or remind them of to get them to believe?

COACH WEIS: Let’s use one obvious psychological thing you could do. If you just watch the first half of the Arizona State game and didn’t bother to turn it on for the second half, you would think you would have a chance. And that’s the type of thing you do. Arizona State for a half, it was as good as you could ever see in anyone playing against them. The only problem is you play the second half. I told them to go eat some hot dogs when it got to be the second half and try to keep them away from it at that time. But that’s a typical psychological ploy you use. To try to say, hey, you play like this and just play it for 60 minutes, you are going to have a chance against these guys.

Q. You made that impressive summary of all their strengths on both sides of ball. I thought you maybe you glossed over their cornerbacks a little bit. Might we expect Notre Dame to attempt to move the ball in front of those guys?

COACH WEIS: That’s easier said than done. I know they say the same thing about our cornerbacks to tell you the truth. I know Walker and I know White. It’s not like I don’t know who they are. I can tell you Walker is 6’1″, 200, and wears No. 18. I can tell you White is a little bit shorter. He is about 5’10”, 185, wears No. 24 and I know a lot about them. But knowing about them and attacking them are two different things. You are going to have to play a very balanced game if you are going to have a chance to win it.

Q. Just wanted to check on the availability of Bob Morton and Rhema McKnight.

COACH WEIS: They might both be available to play. Bob was ready to play. Actually, Bob was ready to play in the Purdue game. I just never used him because I didn’t have to. Ray (Rhema) was a little behind him. We will have to see how it goes with him this week.