Oct. 16, 2006
COACH WEIS: Good afternoon. Let’s get on to UCLA. Before I talk about Coach Dorrell and a few of the other things with UCLA, obviously Saturday gave me an opportunity to actually lay on the couch and watch their game, of course, pay-per-view.
It’s always interesting to be like the rest of the free world and be able to watch a game and listen to commentary, the different things they say. It was quite interesting because probably the first time I’ve done that in a long, long time.
UCLA has outscored their opponents in the first quarter more than two to one, 43-20. Fourth quarter, they’re pretty much the same. They outscore them 58-24. Obviously, by those numbers, tells us they start off fast and they finish well, as well.
They’re 4-2, as you know, coming off a loss to Oregon on Saturday.
Coach Dorrell is in his fourth season there, his alma mater. Probably one of the best wide receivers ever to have played at UCLA. As a matter of fact, while he was there from ’82 to ’86, he was part of five Bowl victories as a player.
Before becoming the head coach at UCLA, he had been around. I knew he spent three seasons as a receiver coach with the Broncos from 2000, 2002. Obviously, had to coach under Shanahan, who is one of the best coaches in football.
Offensive coordinator, Jim Svobado, who also coaches the quarterbacks. This is his third season with UCLA, his first season as a coordinator. They have a solid offensive team. They score just under 26 points a game. They rush for 144 a game. They average 4 yards a carry. They throw for 190 a game. 334-ish as a total. As an offensive, they’ve only given up 10 sacks this year.
It was interesting when Pat Cowan, because he came in the Arizona game and had good stats. They weren’t as good against Oregon on the road as they were against Arizona at home. When I listen to Fouts, who was doing the game — I don’t know how many of you watched it. He was comparing as he watched this kid play. It reminded him of Roger Staubach. That didn’t exactly lift my spirits, when that’s who he was comparing him to as he watched him.
Obviously, Olson got hurt the previous week. We don’t expect to see him this week. I mean, I could be wrong, but according to all reports, we don’t expect to see him.
Pretty solid at runningback. There’s one thing watching them on tape, even more impressive when you watch them on the TV copy: 17 carries for 97 yards, 5.7 per rush, has four catches as well. This year he’s averaging 5.9 per carry, so just under 600 yards, and has another 13 catches.
Last year’s co-MVP of the Sun Bowl, Bell, who doesn’t play as much now, with Markey getting the majority of the snaps, the one interesting stat with him last week is he carried the ball five times, had two touchdowns. He’s obviously a guy who is in the mix and they trust because they put him in the goal line situations.
At fullback, Pitre is their starter now. For two years in a row, he’s been an all PAC-10 honorable mention at the fullback position. Obviously, the people that play against him, his peers, obviously think he’s very solid, and they use — fullback is a big part of their offense.
Danny Nelson is his backup. When he’s not playing on offense, he’s playing on all the coverage units. I think I saw him on all four of the coverage teams.
At tight end, it looks like they suffered a serious injury to Ryan Moya, their starting tightend. Paulsen last year as a true freshman played in six games. He’s penciled in as a potential starter. J.J. Hair is the most experienced guy, 81. The one guy I think we my see some this week is Snead, 48, who is a former defensive end, who we could see more time with this injury.
At wide receiver, Taylor and Breazell, are the starters. Taylor is the second leading receiver on the team. Breazell is the leading receiver on the team. They also play — you also see Everett, Willis and Baumgartner in the game.
On their offensive line, their strong tackle, Aleksey Lanis, sprained his right ankle during the game and didn’t return. I would say his status is uncertain. Really doesn’t make that much of a difference, because Brian Abraham, who came in for him, last year he played in almost 11 out of 12 games at strong tackle. He started nine of them. He has a lot of starting experience if Lanis can’t go.
Tevaga and Chai and Joseph and Sutherland round up their offensive line.
You get over to defense, DeWayne Walker is their defensive coordinator. We worked together for a short period in New England. He had been on Pete’s staff when Bill came in, stayed around, and then he moved on to another organization.
Now he’s back. He left the Redskins last year to come back to take over as the defensive coordinator. They’re obviously reaping the benefits of his coaching. They’re ninth in the country on total defense. Giving up 15 points a game, 84 yards rushing. Under 3 yards a carry. 167.7 passing, 252 total. They’re only giving up 23% conversion rate on third down. They have 18 sacks.
While we’re talking about sacks, we might as well talk about Hickman, who is — Hickman and Davis, we can talk about both of them. Two defensive ends. Hickman seven and a half sacks, Davis four and a half sacks.
The thing about Hickman, you check his stats, almost every time he has a tackle, it’s for a loss or a sack. He’s got 11 tackles for loss and seven and a half sacks already this year.
While you’re on it, Davis, he’s got eight tackles per loss and four and a half sacks. These guys are very productive pains in the butt at defensive end.
Brown and Harwell man the two inside positions. Brown is a converted offensive lineman. And in pass-rushing situations, we see Dragovic and Moline both in the game at backups, but in pass-rushing situations, Lombard plays a lot. He’s almost like their starting defensive tackle when they go to nickel.
Linebacker, there’s really five guys that come into the mix: Whittington, Taylor, and Carter are their starters. Taylor, it looks to me like he sprained his ankle a little bit or something during the week. They started Bosworth for him, but then he came back in in the second series. He was in there quick.
McNeal, I didn’t see him show up much in this game. I have to find out what the deal is with him ’cause I didn’t see him show up much. But he’s been basically in there along with Taylor when they play in nickel. I’m going to have to see if I can scour, see what the situation is with McNeal.
Three corners. Their starters are Van and Brown. Verner, their freshman, who has had a couple picks for touchdowns already, he comes in in nickel. Either Van or Brown goes inside.
Their safeties, the team — leading tackler on the team is Horton, their strong safety. The third leading tackler on the team is Keyes, their free safety. Their safeties are obviously very, very much in the mix as far as what they’re doing.
Perez handles their punting. Let’s talk about this Medlock guy, because he’s one of the best kickers in the country. He missed his first field goal attempt for the year and hasn’t missed since. He’s 14?15, 93%. He’s two and two from 50. His only miss is from 46. It was that first one. Therefore, he’s made — not being a math major — but he’s made 14 straight.
Cowan, who was their backup quarterback, now the starter, also their holder. You have to be concerned with that. Jondle, their long snapper, has been doing it for four years. He’s pretty good. The two kickoff returners are McGee and Bell. Punt returner, they’ve used a couple of different guys. The one guy — Keyes showed up a little bit last week because they were in punt safe a lot.
The one guy we have to be concerned of some is Terrence Austin. We spent some time recruiting him last year. I know, although he’s a true freshman, he has a long of 79 already. I know he can run real fast, because that was one of the reasons why I was interested in him.
Q. One of the goals of the bye week is to get a look at some of the younger players. Is there anyone that stood out?
COACH WEIS: Really, I don’t want to talk about the bye week, I want to talk about UCLA.
Q. We haven’t seen a depth chart this week. Is there any changes you’ve made on your side?
COACH WEIS: Well, just the obvious ones: Asaph is out. Sent you guys that memo last week that Ronald left the team. Obviously, Frome is the starter at the defensive end. We’ll list him backed up. At the left end, Victor is listed as backed up by Ryan or Justin Brown.
At the right end you’ll see the same thing: You’ll see Frome backed up by Ryan or Justin Brown. Obviously, we use Morrice Richardson in there some. But on first and second down, it would be Ryan or Justin Brown backing up those two guys.
Q. You mentioned Ronald leaving. Do you have anything further about that?
COACH WEIS: No. We had talked, I’d say about three times during the year, at different times. We had had some private conversations about his future. We had our last one on Thursday. We went over multiple options about where we were heading. He really felt that it would be in his best interest if he left the team at this time.
After we talked for a while, I felt that his best interest and the team’s best interest were one in the same. Therefore, we’re leaving amicably with him going. He’s not thrown off the team. He just doesn’t want to be part of this team anymore.
I wish him well. I told him that as far as we’re going to go is what I said in the statement the other day. I said that we’ve mutually agreed that he’s left the team. We’ve mutually agreed for him to leave the team. We really don’t have to go any more in depth than that, because I won’t say anything more about it, nor will he.
Q. Does it affect your line depth? Do you make any changes?
COACH WEIS: John Ryan and Justin Brown. We have that — it’s interesting you bring that up, because we have that option to go ahead and do that. I think we have a lot of confidence in the guys that play behind our starters. We have a lot of confidence, especially after you’ve been practicing there for six weeks.
I mean, if I’m not afraid to put John Ryan in or Justin in behind Victor, why should I be afraid to put him in behind Chris? We put him in there. That’s kind of how the system goes. One guy goes out, the other guy goes in. But I don’t see that happening. I don’t see us having to slide Travis out to defensive end to compensate for it.
Q. We haven’t seen a lot of Justin Brown. I know he started last year. What has held him back this year besides the obvious of the depth situation?
COACH WEIS: Well, what’s held him back is using — having versatility in our substitutions, which last year we didn’t have. Last year we just played one guy and just play him all the time. This year we’ve used a whole bunch of guys to play the same position.
Like in that position, we’ve used Ronald, we used Chris, and we’ve used Morrice in different situational play.
Justin is kind of a jack of all trades, so he’s kind of good at everything. But each one of those guys might be a little bit better at that one thing than they’re doing. So if there’s one thing that’s held him back, I would say that would be it. Last year we weren’t into personnel substitutions to the same volume that we are this year.
Q. You mentioned Coach Walker from and your previous connection with him. Do you see a correlation between the way that he’s running his defense and the influences that he had when we were with New England?
COACH WEIS: It’s interesting. It’s interesting. He’s obviously picked up a couple things. There’s a Washington influence there, too. I’m pretty close with a couple of those guys with the Skins, as well. You could see a couple of those influences.
But I think DeWayne had the influence before Pete, before Bill, before going down to Washington. He’s been around for a while. I think he’s taken a little bit of what we did. But he’s definitely developed his own personality and his own identity as far as how they’re playing.
What they are doing, I mean, they have good speed and they run to the ball. Those defensive ends, they both — they’re both a problem. Those safeties, they’re a problem. Those corners are pretty good in coverage. Those linebackers run around. I mean, there’s a lot of positive things about their defense.
Those stats aren’t there by accident. They’re pretty good on defense.
Q. You said you don’t want to talk much about the bye week, Zbikowski’s situation.
COACH WEIS: Not to interrupt, I haven’t talked to Jim yet today. Today is the day — see, these guys got off for the weekend. All the guys that are hurt are coming back here. The guys that were hurt, nicked, or banged up have to come back for treatment at 3:00. Sorry for interrupting, but I won’t meet with him till 5:00 till after treatment is done.
Q. Do they go for treatment during the bye week?
COACH WEIS: I like to get them away from here. There’s different things that we take with them. We bring stim machines home with us. They’re a bunch of portable machines which are the treatment that they get when they’re in the training room. There’s exercises, in Tommy’s case, exercises he was doing. He’s just doing them there instead of doing them here.
I think one of the things, besides getting people healthy physically, I think getting them ready mentally and psychologically, getting away from here for a few days I think is a healthy thing.
Q. You talked about UCLA. Would you say this is really a big challenge for Sam Young with the guys he’s facing this weekend?
COACH WEIS: I’d say both those ends, because they flip-flop, too. You’re going to see 17 one time and next time all of a sudden that’s going to be 44. They’re a little bit different players. One is bigger, one is a converted outside linebacker. They both can try to run by you and then dip underneath you.
This isn’t the 300?pound defensive end he’s going against. But even in this game, ’cause he’ll face both those styles, he and Ryan both are going to have to be ready for two different style of end because of their body type.
Q. From the BCS standings?
COACH WEIS: Well, here is what I think: I think that the teams that are up at the top are the teams that deserve to be up to the top. I think that after you get past about the first three or four, it’s a dogfight to get up to three or four.
I think that, you know, it’s better to be four than it is to be five. It’s better to be five than it is to be six. Like I know where we’re sitting. I said last week ?? and I’m not giving you any revelation — for us to get into this mix, we need some help. But that help could happen. I’m counting on it.
But all’s we can do is go out and beat UCLA. That’s all we can do. I think that’s probably pretty close. I would like to have seen the Fighting Irish a little higher, but I don’t know if that’s justified or not.
Q. You mentioned DeWayne Walker. They went from 113th in total defense last year to 9th. Is there something scheme-wise you see that he’s doing? Obviously they have a lot of the same players. That’s an unbelievable jump in one year.
COACH WEIS: Well, usually it’s a combination of two things: it’s a combination of players maturing and fitting in with the personality of the defensive coordinator. I mean, it wasn’t like Michigan reinvented the wheel this year. Coach English is going in there. Players on their defense matured, fit in the personality of the defensive coordinator. I think that’s sort of what UCLA is going through.
You have the players maturing, the personality of the defensive coordinator.
Q. You talked about having some self?analysis during the bye week. We kind of caught you at the front end of that. Some things you came up with that you feel pretty good about as you good into this UCLA week?
COACH WEIS: I think any time you have extra time to get ready for an opponent you can identify problem areas, you have more time to address them.
Sometimes, I hate to say it, but sometimes you don’t do — you give more lip service to a problem than actually going in and fixing it. You identify what it is, but you really don’t identify how to fix it.
I think that having an extra week gives you more time to try to address how to go about doing that.
Q. Is Walls now your kickoff return guy with, west or was that because of Grimes? Where does that situation stand?
COACH WEIS: What I’m going to do — the first thing David is going to do is be our third receiver. Anything he can do after that, you know, he’ll do. So the first thing he’s going to do is be our third receiver.
Kickoff return and punt return are going to come second and third in priority to being our third receiver. In his case, he’s a little banged up like some other people. If he were fully healthy, he would be one of the starting kickoff returners, one of the first guys in the mix to be the punt returner.
But that’s the order of his jobs. His first job is to be our third wide receiver, because we play a bunch of packages with three. It’s like being a starter. His second job is to be the kickoff returner. His third would be to be the punt returner.
Depending on what David can do, that will determine whether Darrin is a go or not.
Q. How do you set the tone for Tuesday? How do you get them revved up? What do you want to see on Tuesday from this team?
COACH WEIS: The first thing we do is get them lifting with Ruben. Hopefully that knocks the rust out. What happens after you have a few days off, usually you have a crummy practice. That’s what usually happens because these guys are creatures of habit.
What I’m trying to do is knock that off tomorrow morning when they come in, split time between the offense and defense of meetings, having a full?fledged workout with Ruben. Hopefully by the time we get to the afternoon when we’re getting ready to actually practice, some of the rust will be knocked off.
I think you got to be very careful on the first practice back not to think the day before the game execution is going to be sharp. I can tell you after years and years and years of doing this, the practice after time off is always crummy. So I’m expecting a crummy practice tomorrow.
Q. You mentioned fall break. Will you tweak anything as a staff? 20-hour workweek still apply? Anything different other than shifting times around maybe?
COACH WEIS: The 20-hour workweek doesn’t apply. We’ll be going — it will be more like a 9-to-5 day. We have to feed them because the dining halls are closed, too. They’ll come in and have breakfast, and then we’ll go — our morning schedule tomorrow — which will be different than the next day — but tomorrow’s morning schedule will be either meeting on offense or defense while the other side lifts.
There will be a couple of hours of meeting and an hour to run and lift. Then we feed them lunch. Then we come back in, we meet on special teams. We get ready, go out there and practice. After practice, we have time to come back in, take a shower, go watch the practice. After we watch the practice, then we go and feed them, and then they’re done.
That allows us, the next day when they come in, not to have that tape hanging over us to have to watch the next day. It’s similar to an NFL schedule now ’cause now there’s no school.
Q. Trevor Laws, another guy we talked about, Richardson last week, having a nice year. Can you comment on his development?
COACH WEIS: Not to separate — not to group them together, but I think both those inside guys have had solid years. Their numbers are drastically up. I think that you can just look at — like what we talked about last week, as we get ready for UCLA — I mean, I think their improved play bodes well for the chance of us having improved play across the board.
Because the whole defense, just like in baseball, everyone talks about you have to be strong up the middle, you know, catcher, pitcher, shortstop, second base, centerfield. Am I right, Tim (laughter)? Well, the same is true really in football.
I think really it starts with your interior defensive linemen, then your middle linebackers, then your safeties. Everything goes inside out. I think that the play of Laws and Landri gives me reason for optimism for the start of the second season.
Q. What are your theories on why there’s been so much attrition in the junior class?
COACH WEIS: Can’t worry about it, right? I’m not worrying about it. You know, just means that you’re finishing this year, there’s a lot of guys that are a year younger that have an opportunity to play. That’s what it means.
Q. Obviously a lot was made over the weekend about the Miami Hurricane deal. Obviously, pushing and shoving is part of the game. When is too much too much in a situation like that?
COACH WEIS: Here is all I’ll say about that, because I don’t know all the details. Obviously it looked ugly to me just like it looked ugly to everyone else. All’s I know is I was — in retrospect, I was happy that the one altercation we had at Michigan State ended so quickly, you know, in comparison. Any time there’s an altercation, it could get out of control. It shows that teams can get out of control or teams can get under control.
I don’t know all the details. I don’t know all the things that are happening. I’d be ignorant towards that. I mean, it was an ugly thing to watch. It’s not good for anything, something to escalate.
Hey, there’s going to be times when stuff happens, let’s face it. It’s just how long it happens. I think it definitely got way out of hand.
Q. Is it healthy for the players to get away for a few days? Does the same apply for you spending the weekend watching? Do you feel refreshed?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, it was really interesting. Saturday and Sunday — I can’t say Sunday was so refreshing, because I’m going to take a shot at my wife here in a second. Saturday was refreshing because I sat there with Charlie. We just watched college football games, just watched them all day.
We put the first one on at noon, had some lunch. Obviously, 3:30, the Oregon-UCLA game was on. You were going back and forth between all these. It’s kind of cool sitting there with a remote, sitting there watching all these different things.
Now I’m dragging at nighttime because I would have liked to have taken a little nap. Spending some time with Charlie, some time with Hannah, some time with Mora. It was good for me on Saturday.
On Sunday it started off where I actually had now have the DVD of the game. Now I had Tim Collins our video guy, dropped a copy of the DVD over to my house. I sat there at 7:30, watched it all over again. I’m a little bit of a masochist. Nobody was really up and around in the house. I wasn’t really bothering anyone.
Watched a little pro football. Then my wife had a list of things for me to do. For any of you guys who are married, you can understand that list. That took me till about dinnertime. I can tell you it was nice to be able to spend a couple days at home with the family.
I think I still got to see plenty — the only game I was missing was the Oregon-UCLA game, and I got to watch it a couple times. That was good for me.
Q. Does a Saturday like that get you excited to come back out and coach this week?
COACH WEIS: Oh, I’m the same every day. I’m usually miserable by nature. Back to being miserable today. When I come back to work, that’s what I’m expected to be.
Q. Fall break, with all the students gone, is this kind of like a long road trip for you? Just the coaches, players, fewer distractions.
COACH WEIS: I think it was a little tougher on the assistant coaches who were on the road recruiting for a couple days. They left out of here Wednesday before practice was even over. There were some flight problems. Some of them had to drive to Chicago to get out of here so they could be where they were supposed to be. Were out there on Thursday, Friday.
They’re getting back on Saturday morning. I gave them Saturday and Sunday off. At least they got back here as quickly as they could so they could spend a little time.
I think it was a little more taxing on them than it was on me. But I think giving them — last year I didn’t give them Sunday off, I just gave them Saturday off. It really wasn’t enough. Giving them an extra day off. I know at least one of them was spotted sitting there waiting for his wife in Home Depot or something like that. I was getting reports all day on what they’re doing on their day off.
I think it was good for the assistant coaches. I think everyone’s kind of refreshed. We can sit here, we’re well ahead on our game plan. Now we’re just applying the game from Saturday to our information and then going on from there.
Q. Is there a certain amount of bonding that goes on with the players this week since there is no class?
COACH WEIS: When they get back here?
COACH WEIS: I think because there’s nothing else to do, you know, there’s nothing else to do for them all day long, I think it’s actually good for them. It gives them a little taste of what it’s like if you were playing on Sundays, because that’s every day the whole year. That’s what it’s like. The only thing is they’re coming in at 9. We come in at 7. They’re leaving at 5. We leave at whatever. They’re getting to see what the other side looks like. When classes are just football, classes aren’t econ or psych. It’s a little different.
Q. You talked last week about you’re not one to believe in running up the score. Going into the last six games, you’re saying you need help. Do you think about style points at all, with winning these games is not enough?
COACH WEIS: I think that if we play well, everyone will know we played well. I think that’s it. I think you have to play well. I mean, there’s different ways of winning a game. I was watching one game this week where one of the top 10 teams won, but they won by 6. Team is throwing it into the end zone from the 15 yard line at the end of the game.
People know that that’s happening. It’s different than when you’re up — there was a couple of those games, as a matter of fact, like that where people throwing in the end zone at the end of the game, and some of them where you’re really surprised.
I think the most important thing is as you’re coming down the stretch, we have to play well. We have not played well that often. I think what we have to do is we have to play well because everyone’s going to criticize the outcome of the game. Well, you can’t criticize when a team plays well, regardless of what the final score was.
If you win by 7 and you played well, then you should be happy, okay? If you win by 30 and you played well, then you should be happy. I mean, I think if you win by 7 and you lucked out, that’s a little different. Really, it’s a little different.
Q. (Indiscernible) if we want to get in this mix, we have to play well in all six of these games?
COACH WEIS: I think that the good thing about me is I’m very consistent with the players. I never talk about, you know, long range things. I always talk about them in short?term. I only talk about UCLA.
Hey, I’m not ignorant. I know how the players think. You do and I do. We know how they think. But the bottom line is my job is to have them focused on that game because if we don’t play well this week, okay, ultimately that responsibility comes back to me. So that’s what my job is: Get them worrying about that one week. That’s what I’m focusing on.
Q. You’re going against a team (indiscernible). Would you rather play a team coming off one of its best games, or is it better to go against a team that maybe didn’t play up to its expectations?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, that’s a question I really can’t answer because you could sit there, if you just watched somebody play great, then players might be saying, Oh, God, they played great. Psychologically you don’t know how your players are going to handle it.
All’s I do is he show them evidence. I show them good and I show them bad. The last thing I show them, I show this to them on game day, I show them a rather extensive tape on offense, defense and special teams with nothing but good plays and bad plays of the opponent.
Here is what happens when they play well. Here’s what happens when they don’t play well. The players can see both ends of the spectrum of what could happen in this game based on how we play and how they play.
Q. You talked about a relaxing weekend. Your book tour?
COACH WEIS: Friday was not relaxing. Friday was not relaxing. Fortunately for me when I planned this, how this was going to work out six months ago, it was one day and one day only. It was one day. That was not a relaxing day. But that’s why you get on a plane and get back home and get back to normal life. Friday was not a relaxing day.
Q. In the first half, way back in the first half of the season, there was a point in one of the games where you were behind at halftime where you kind of challenged the team to take ownership of their destiny. How important is that going to be to keep that focus as you start the second half of the season?
COACH WEIS: I think, let’s give credit where credit is due. You know, obviously you’re going back and talking last year when we played Michigan State, last season when we played Michigan State, okay? We’re down 31?14. That credit belongs to the players.
Let’s not talk about why he’s challenging them, them stepping up. If they wouldn’t have, it still would have been the players, okay?
Ultimately they did. So they were the ones that made the decision to do something about it. You know, they’re the ones who stepped up. I mean, I called plays the same. I’d like to think I called plays the same in most situations. But they were the ones who stepped up.
Hopefully, in their minds at that time, they were doing something about the rest of the year. I expect there to be a carryover from what they did.
Q. When you think of the seniors on this team, coming into UCLA, the start of the second half of this season, do you expect to see maybe a little sharper focus knowing that these guys are looking at just six games left in their career at Notre Dame, regular season?
COACH WEIS: I think, you know, because of the way the break fell, you know, now they’re coming in — it’s six in a row now. There’s no bye weeks. This is it. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, right from now till Thanksgiving. I think it brings a higher level of attention to how short a time span they really have left here.
I think that’s a fair question.
Q. What surprised you the most from watching the UCLA game Saturday?
COACH WEIS: I think they got down big early. There was a big first quarter by Oregon’s offense. I think they were fighting an uphill battle the rest of that game. You’re playing on the road. You get down big early. That’s usually tough sledding.
I think the game was pretty — after the first quarter, it wasn’t like anyone had a big advantage after the first quarter. I think it was the first quarter, you know, Oregon took it to ’em in the first quarter.
Q. Conversely, what impressed you the most about them?
COACH WEIS: Probably the same statement. That game, it’s 20-3, whatever it was at the end of the first quarter, I think that’s what it was. That could have gotten ugly if you think about it. It’s 30-20. It’s still the same team playing for the next three quarters.
They took what could have been a very big negative and turned it into something to build off of going into this game. Their quarterback, first game starting on the road. I’m not making excuses for him, but it is. It is what it is. So he comes in at home, plays ?? comes on the road for the first time as a starting quarterback. I think he’ll be a lot calmer going into this one. I don’t think it’s going to scare him that he’s going to Notre Dame.
Q. Was it the garage or the gutters Sunday?
COACH WEIS: Actually it was a bunch of stuff in the barn, believe it or not. I mean, I was doing things that I didn’t think I’d ever be doing (laughter). Now that I have a barn, you know, this is something new.
The worst part about yesterday, to be honest with you, is all the people that have decided that they can ride up and down my block and take pictures whenever they want to. It’s almost as if we’re going to put up a 20-foot fence. My wife now, she says, “Hi. Like leave us alone here please now.”
Actually, we had a whole bunch of stuff going on for Hannah and Friends. We had to meet with a whole bunch of different people because we had a lot of different things going on. So both Mora and our South Bend director, Sharon, decided my Sunday afternoon would be spent meeting with all those individuals between 1:00 and 5:00.
By the way, same time as kick?off. You know, that 1:00 kick?off, perfect timing. Just in time for me to cook dinner.
Q. Last week you were very complimentary of both West Virginia and Louisville. You said that no one wants to play either one of those teams right now. Why is that? What makes those teams of worthy of such praise from you?
COACH WEIS: Let’s start with that West Virginia team. I watched them again a little bit in the Syracuse game they just played on Saturday. They have very, very, very extraordinary team speed on offense. That quarterback, that was a career day. Ever see a quarterback play like that? I haven’t. I mean, a running quarterback. He had four touchdowns. I think the stats were 15 carries for 247 yards and four touchdowns. Not that I’m counting any stats or anything like that. You might want to check. I think I might have that right.
That runningback, No. 10, he’s pretty darn good, too. I think he had 160 plus with two touchdowns himself. That offense, you know, first of all, they’re very well?coached. They have great team speed on offense. Not that they stop everyone on defense, but you have a tough time ever stopping them.
Louisville, they lose their runningback and their quarterback. They just get their quarterback back. Now they obviously looked a little rusty against Cincinnati because I got that on my bonus coverage package. That was a little bonus coverage. But he still threw for about 350 in that game, his first game back.
I think the thing that both those teams show you is offensive firepower.
Q. Does that statement carry extra weight given your knowledge, success? Also you have a pretty talented team yourself in South Bend.
COACH WEIS: We’re pretty good. But both those coaches, Rodriguez and Patrino, I’d say, are two of the brightest offensive minds in college football.
Q. You guys are on a national title hunt. You’d like to see yourself head up the BCS charts. Do you think if both teams run the table, do you think if one is undefeated at the end of the season, do you think they’d play for the national title?
COACH WEIS: I think they won’t play for a national title if two of Ohio State, Michigan and USC are undefeated. I think if two of them are undefeated, I don’t think they will. I think if there’s only one undefeated team besides them, I don’t know how they’re going to keep them out of it, to tell you the truth.
I don’t know how they’re going — you still have Rutgers. They’re undefeated. You have Pittsburgh, one loss. Isn’t like the Big East — Big East playing some pretty good football.
Q. Can you talk about what sort of improvements Brady Quinn has made from last year to this year, how you’ve seen him mature on the field.
COACH WEIS: We’ve given him a lot more responsibility. What happens after you go one time through the gamut is that everyone thinks they can start settling in on the strengths and weaknesses both of your offense and the player himself. What we’ve been able to do actually he’s just really coming into — starting to come into his own for this year, is give him some more responsibility that’s allowed us to get out of some bad situations. That goes through a little transition when you’re doing that, but it bodes well for the second half of the year for us.
Q. You talked last week about the kicking situation, long field goals. What type of resolution did you come to on that?
COACH WEIS: I think that Gioia will continue being our field goal guy until somebody can beat him out.
Q. So is it something that Burkhart and Whitaker didn’t impress you enough?
COACH WEIS: They were no better than Carl. I don’t believe in putting another guy in there just to have another guy. I mean, they would have to beat the guy out in that situation for me to make a change, and that didn’t take place. In practice, I’m not talking about in games, but in practice.
Q. Going into the Oregon game, UCLA has had one of the best run defenses in the country. They gave up 256 on the ground to Oregon. Was that just falling behind early? What kind of fed that?
COACH WEIS: First of all, you had that quarterback early in the second half took the ball from about his own 10 and went about 30 or 40 yards. Part of that rushing yardage comes into play where the quarterback — the quarterback running around pretty well. That runningback, he’s not just another guy right now. He’s a pretty good runningback. I think they spread the field so well on Oregon, I think they just — they turned them loose.
I don’t think that’s a reflection on how they play defense overall. I think they got hit for some big plays. This year that’s one thing that you haven’t seen them do. They haven’t been hit in very many big plays in the running game.
Q. I was going to use a baseball example. I promise it’s not a back-door comment about your Yankees.
COACH WEIS: That’s fine.
Q. If I’m the Detroit Tigers right now, I don’t want to have to wait till Saturday to wait for the World Series. I’m not going to say that Notre Dame has been rolling like that. Is there something to that? Whereas the last couple games, at least since Michigan State, where you felt like it’s trending where the bye week didn’t hit at the right time?
COACH WEIS: The flipside of that is you get a chance to rest your pitcher, have fresh arms when you start while the other teams are beating each other up and going the whole distance. You have till Saturday night. You have nothing but fresh arms.
That’s the flipside of that. I’d like to think that our arms will be fresh on Saturday.
Q. Another example that you’ve his the rollercoaster that you’ve been on.
COACH WEIS: We haven’t been on a rollercoaster for a few weeks. I’m hoping we’re off the rollercoaster or it’s going one way and that’s up.
Q. The opportunity that UCLA, rock solid team, would present to that ride that you’ve been on.
COACH WEIS: I think we’ve been steady for the last — we’ve had steady improvement the last couple of games. I think that as long as that continues, you know, that would be a good thing. I think we’re looking to make slow steady improvement. I’m not looking to go out there and play the best game of the year, okay, on any specific game. I just want to play well every game.
I’m not trying to make any one game be the Super Bowl. Then you set yourself up for emotional highs and lows. I just want to play well every week. That’s what our goal is. We want to go out there and play well.
Q. You’re not rooting against the Tigers, are you?
COACH WEIS: I’m not rooting at all. Baseball season ended a little while ago on a cold, sad day in Detroit (laughter).
JOHN HEISLER: Thank you very much. We’ll be back on Sunday at 12:30.