Oct. 28, 2008
COACH Charlie Weis: As we get ready for Pitt, they come in here 5-2. They opened up with a loss. They ran off five straight before losing to Rutgers this past week.
One thing that stood out for me as you started to do your research, they’ve been on the road for three games this year and won the three games on the road. So their two losses both came at home.
Dave Wannstedt, obviously it’s his fourth year as head coach. And some of the guys I know well. For example, Matt Cavanaugh, who is their offensive coordinator, also the quarterback coach.
Their offense is scoring some points, just under 29 points a game, and rushing for over 162 yards a game and 233 passing, both put them in the top 40 to 50 in the country in both those categories.
Offensively they’re averaging just over 400 yards, which puts them in 37th in the country. And the one stat that really stood out for me is they’ve been in the red zone 25 times. They’ve scored 23 (times).
That doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as 18 times of those have been touchdowns. So 72 percent of the times they get into the red zone they’ve scored touchdowns.
And an example, a microcosm of their season last week against Rutgers, they scored 34 (points). Because of how the game went, they rushed for 138 but they threw for 348. They had 486 yards offense last week.
Big issue will be made of (Bill) Stull this week. Obviously he was injured and knocked out of the game and carried off on a stretcher with a reported neck injury, concussion. He stayed overnight.
I don’t know what his status is going to be. I know Dave’s (Wannstedt) not going to be in the business of telling anyone what the status is. So we have to be ready for both he or Pat Bostick to play.
The big difference is Stull obviously has more experience. But Bostick is a very similar quarterback, and they don’t have to change what they’re doing just because they’re changing who their quarterback is.
Their whole offense centers around (LeSean) McCoy. I know he’s a sophomore, but he’s definitely one of the best backs in the country. He’s leading scoring in the country. Averages 12 points a game. He’s averaging 5.6 a carry. Actually, 5.2 a carry for the season. Rushed for 5.6 a carry last week and four touchdowns. He’s got 14 touchdowns already. In addition, he’s tied for second on the team in receptions.
So he can run and catch. This guy is a complete back. And he’s very, very good. When they want to give him a break, they have a perfect change of pace in (LaRod) Stephens-Howling 5-7, 180. More of a scat-back type. And he’s a good complement to McCoy’s running style.
(Conredge) Collins is their fullback. They love him. He’s been starting there for three years. Usually you get fullbacks that are slugs. He’s not one of them. This kid is a good athlete and has ability to be a receiver out of the back field.
At tight end, there’s really three guys that show up. (Nate) Byham is their returning starter at tight end. And (Dorin) Dickerson they use him. He’s a converted wide receiver. He played a little linebacker, too. But he’s a converted wide receiver that they converted into a tight end. He’s more of a receiving tight end. If they want more of a blocking tight end they’ll use (John) Pelusi. So all three of those guys will end up showing up in the game.
Wide receiver, they play three or two deep at both Z and X. (Derek) Kinder and (Oderick) Turner will be the respective starters at Z and X.
Kinder is a smart veteran receiver, and Turner is a returning starter who led Pitt in touchdowns last season. He’s got good speed and catches the ball well. But in addition to that, you’re going to see (Cedric) McGee when they wind up in the slot. He’s got good speed. (T.J.) Porter is listed as their third Z. But in last week’s game, he was second on the team with catching, four catches for 109 yards.
And, of course, we all know about Jonathan Baldwin. Obviously he fits up way in the depth chart and plays more and more. We were heavily involved with recruiting Jonathan. He’s a tall kid. Has deceptive speed. Big guy, runs well, has good hands, good hoops player. And you can see a lot of those skills transferring to the football field.
Offensive line, they just lost Houser to an ankle for the year. But that didn’t seem to bother them too much, because they just moved (C.J.) Davis, who is the most experienced offensive lineman, who was their left guard, they just moved him into center and moved (Dominic) Williams into left guard.
And so I think that that’s how they’ll start. (Jason) Pinkston will be left tackle. Williams will probably play left guard. Davis obviously moves into center and (John) Malecki and (Joe) Thomas will man the right side.
On defense, Phil Bennett, first year as the coordinator there. And they’re giving him 3.6 a carry which is a good stat rushing and only giving up 309 yards a game on defense, which is 32nd in the country. In addition they have 21 sacks, 12th in the country. On the defensive line, the lone senior on the defensive line has played — he’s played in every game for the last four years is (Rashaad) Duncan at nose tackle. He’ll man the inside along with Mike Williams. They’ll play (Gus) Mustakas at both those two inside positions. But Williams and Duncan will man the inside.
At their left defensive end, we’ll see (Jabaal) Sheard, and at the right defensive end we’ll see (Greg) Romeus. He’s a big — he looks big and long on tape. He uses his hands well and has good quickness coming off the ball. I like their front four. And a guy who really makes their defense tick, I really think, is their middle linebacker. (Scott) McKillop. I think he’s a leader on defense. I think he’s a good tackler. He’s playing Mike, which is a nurse scheme, a guy who gets to make a whole bunch of plays. He’s physical and productive. When they go to nickel they don’t take him off the field.
On the strong side, they’ll use (Greg) Williams, who runs really well. And on the weak side they’ll use (Austin) Ransom, who is a good athlete, runs around well. And they’ll keep Ransom on the field when they go to nickel. So McKillop and Ransom will stay on the field.
At corner, they have (Jovani) Chappel, who is the shorter of the two guys. Runs real well. Playing at the field corner. And (Aaron) Berry playing at the boundary corner. We’ll talk about him as a punt returner in a couple of minutes. Berry has good speed, and he’s not afraid to play physical, come up and hit you. He can turn and run.
They’ve mentioned repping both (Ricky) Gary and (Elijah) Fields this week. Fields already plays the star in nickel. So if we’re in multiple wide receiver sets, he’ll already be in the mix as is. But I think both of those guys are getting a little time at corner as well.
(Dom) DeCicco, a very good tackler, strong safety. And (Eric) Thatcher, who is also a good tackler and one of the leaders of their secondary, looks like a good athlete. He can run well. He’ll be in the free safety.
They don’t list a special teams coordinator, but it’s pretty easy to see who they’re winning with. Conor Lee is a preseason Lou Groza Award candidate. He’s never missed a PAT at Pitt. And this year he’s 11 of 13 on field goals.
I think they’re pretty reliable when it comes to kicking field goals. They don’t ask him to kick off. They use (Luke) Briggs to kick off. (Dave) Brytus is the punter, who is a lefty. Long snapper is (Mark) Estermyer. He handles both long and short snapping. And when it comes to returning, you’ll have Stephens-Howling back there with Wright on kick return. And Berry will handle the punt returns.
Q. What is your experience in playing against winning teams that are coming off from a loss? What happens to a winning team when they’re coming off of the loss?
COACH Charlie Weis: It’s usually a very good rallying cry, especially when you’re going on the road. So talking about with Pittsburgh, I can feel pretty confident that Dave right now knows that this team is 3 0 on the road. He knows that Rutgers hit them with some big plays in the game. Rutgers completed 14 passes in the game. Six of them went for touchdowns. What are the odds of those stats coming up? It just doesn’t happen that way. So, I mean, they just hit them on a day, Rutgers made the plays. Give them credit.
They’re going to go in saying we can’t give up the big play and we just play our game. They like to run the ball with power, and they have just the back to do it with.
And I think they kind of — they’ll take an us against the world mentality, we have to show everyone we’re going to Notre Dame, it’s on national TV, let’s go get our respect back that we’ve got knocked down a little bit after the Rutgers game.
Q. Assuming that of your 12 opponents USC is the most talented team, in terms of man for man, where does Pittsburgh rank?
COACH Charlie Weis: Usually you look for glaring weaknesses personnel wise. You look for big holes. Not that every player, that every 11 starters are the same, but they’re solid on offense, and they’re solid on defense. And they’re pretty good on special teams, too.
Now, there’s some teams we’ll play where we look and say, hey, they’re good on defense but they’re not very good on offense, or vice versa. But you can’t say that about this team. Their defense has been really spearheading a lot of their wins right here. Their offense last week goes ahead and has 500 yards in offense and scores a bunch of points.
I think that with this running back that they have together with their defense and their special teams, they have a chance to be good in all three facets. So, therefore, I think that they’re very good across the board.
Q. Bowl eligibility on top 10 this week, or is that too low of a goal?
COACH Charlie Weis: No, I think a complementary game is really more the most important thing we have to deal with. Because I think that they want to have — they want to feed 25 (McCoy) the ball, and we’re going to have to show that we can stop them or else it’s going to be a long day for the Irish.
Q. Where is Robert Hughes in the mix of running back, and it’s as if he’s taken a step back from the way he was performing at the end of last year? Has he been banged up?
COACH Charlie Weis: No, I think we just go and practice by what we see in practice and it goes into the game. Basically the way this has been going here for a while now is Armando, and the stuff we’re doing with Armando, the first back up for that package has been Robert.
But in the other package, the pound-it package, James has kind of taken over the lead in that one. So Robert’s kind of — he’s the guy who plays both packages, but right now the two guys who are playing in those roles are playing very well in those roles.
So you know how it is. When somebody all of a sudden gets something going, you’re not looking to take them out just to take them out. So that’s where he is right now.
Q. Bob Davie, in the broadcast, was talking about, was commending you for being a game plan coach and that you learned that from Bill Belichick. Was there a time in your career where you were more along the lines of, say, Lou Holtz where it was this is what we’re going to do and we’ll come at you, was that a Parcells type approach?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’d say back in the early ’90s maybe, you’d have a system, you’d draft people to fit that system and that’s what you did. But the game has changed and at least the people I’m around have been changed to try to be on the — people say use the word “cutting edge” but try to be kind of a little ahead of the curve so that each week you come in, you still have your foundational plays, but how you’re going to attack each opponent from a week-to-week basis, I think that maybe mid `90s or so that came into play.
Q. With McCoy, you talked about him a bit already, what about him stands out the most? Is there something that he does better than anybody else in the country?
COACH Charlie Weis: I haven’t seen everybody in the country. But I know there’s very few running backs that run inside and out equally as impressively. There’s a lot of guys that are like cut back, bounce out runners, or there’s guys that pound it like (Michigan State’s Javon) Ringer, for example. Ringer is not a guy who really spends a lot of his time on the edge.
Almost all of it is hitting it straight up field and getting through there and running with power and spinning off and keep on going. That is not the same running back we have here, because this guy can run inside and run outside, and they give him an opportunity to do both.
Q. Were you involved recruiting him at all at any point?
COACH Charlie Weis: We were at that school. But we went our separate ways.
Q. Looking at Aldridge, is part of why maybe he’s running so well right now an urgency factor with him, the fact that he’s a junior and has two sophomores behind him?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think for about the last month in practice he’s been getting better and better every day. He’s been better when we go against the first defense when he’s gotten reps doing that. He’s been better in practice, and he’s been running with power in practice and Coach Haywood has rewarded him by giving him more opportunities on the field.
Q. Obviously playing Pitt was your first game here. Do you think back to that at all?
COACH Charlie Weis: Just my son being a wise guy, walking off the field. That’s about as much as I remember. Feeling pretty good walking off the field and having him shoot me down right off the bat. Welcome to college football. That I do remember.
Q. Just two quick questions, where is the health of (David) Grimes at right now?
COACH Charlie Weis: Actually, he came to us yesterday and told me he thought he was a full go. So I told him I’ll watch tomorrow and see whether I agree with him or not.
So today may be a good day for us to figure out if that’s where he is. So he intends to go this week, and we’ll see how those spasms are acting when he’s out there in practice, because I really don’t know the answer until after I see him running around out there.
Q. And just with Brian Smith, you said he was having a cognitive test; is he fine?
COACH Charlie Weis: What we’ll do, we’ll make sure we limit his contact early in the week so that he’s fresh on game day. He’ll be practicing today. So he’s not being held out of practice. But we’ll take it in such a way where we just don’t bang him around.
Even though he had a very, very mild concussion, I’ll still — the more time the better when it comes to those things.
Q. We haven’t talked a whole lot about Dan Wenger this year. I suppose maybe that’s a good thing. How is he holding up?
COACH Charlie Weis: First of all, he’s done a nice job managing the offensive line, because the guy up front is still the quarterback of the offensive line. Even though he doesn’t have the responsibilities like we put on Sully (John Sullivan) last year to make all the Mike (middle linebacker) calls, because Jimmy (Clausen) handles that now. He still coordinates the calls up front. He’s done a nice job going — we’ve been going in and out of a lot of modes from shotgun to underneath, from empty to not empty.
And he’s handled those things, knock on wood, but he’s handled those things very well to this point. And you’re right, with an offensive lineman the less you notice them, the better they’re playing.
Q. He obviously had some big shoes to fill; you mentioned (John) Sullivan. Were you confident he’s able to hold his own and obviously he’s doing it?
COACH Charlie Weis: He helped ease that anxiety with me with the last couple of games of last year. So just like a lot of these other guys, last year he got those last couple of games when Sully was out, he was in there at center so we were already well on our way at that point.
Q. Has the offensive line as a whole, I think you had five or six combinations, different starting combinations last year. You have been able to just run the same unit out all this year? How nice has that been and what does that do for the team?
COACH Charlie Weis: You start to develop some continuity. And that’s one thing with an offensive line. You know, the more continuity you have, it usually means the play will continue to improve. And that doesn’t mean you can’t get some guys in there like we’ve gotten Trevor (Robinson) more and more reps as time has gone on.
At least he’s being eased in there instead of throwing in there. And I think that we’ve been, the offensive line has led to a lot less mental errors and a lot more continuity with the offensive linemen.
Q. Last week you described Mike Turkovich as one of the most pleasant surprises. Why do you use that and what has he done?
COACH Charlie Weis: Originally, when they brought him in here, he was a tackle. And he struggled some at tackle. I moved him in at guard because he’s a big physical kid. He can handle three techniques that are on his nose because he’s strong.
But this year, as you looked at our depth chart and you looked at, well, Sam’s (Young) going to start at right tackle, and it looks like Chris (Stewert) is going to start at right guard and Wenger is going to start at center. And looks like (Eric) Olsen is going to start at left guard. Well, the only position you really had a spot was left tackle. So what we did was we put him out there together with Paul (Duncan). And Paul got a little banged up. And then Matt (Romine) was out there. He was a little banged up, too.
So we really needed, we really needed Turk to step up and play. And what he’s been able to do, as you notice, we haven’t had to spend a lot of time giving a lot of extra help with either of these tackles, which has allowed us to spread out more on offense than you saw us at any time last year, because they’ve been able to hold their own pretty much one on one out there. So that’s why I was very pleased with how he’s progressed.
Q. Did you expect Turkovich probably more likely to be the back up there more than the starter?
COACH Charlie Weis: I didn’t know whether he’d be a back up. But I thought we’d have to give more help to him than we’ve had to give him. So I thought that Sam would really settle in nicely at right tackle, which he has. And I thought that if we had to give help it would be on the left side, but hasn’t turned out that way.
Q. Can you talk about what Turkovich is like personality wise?
COACH Charlie Weis: He is wired for sound. I have a couple of guys like that, they’ll come across as quiet, mild mannered, reserved, when you talk to them. But he’s wired. And there’s a couple guys, like Danny, we were talking about him, another similar personality.
They don’t come around boastful or loud or anything, but they are very, very intense, like you look at them and you think they’re going to pop a blood vessel when you’re talking to them sometimes.
Q. When you look at the season, a lot of people thought these next two games, both teams ranked before last week, would be a key determining how well you do. Did you talk to the team about — I know you take it one game at a time, but did you talk about this is a chance to prove and to kind of let the national spotlight, not spotlight, but just let people see where you and who you are?
COACH Charlie Weis: I only talk about the game that we’re playing. But I do tell them the magnitude of each game and I really try to cut it down into the basics. But it’s like this: They want to be a top 25 team. You’ve got to beat the good teams that are on your schedule. I mean, it’s really pretty simple. So you’ve got a team like this coming in here that’s a nice solid team that’s coming in and playing at home.
You’ve got to beat them. And we’ll worry about BC, we’ll worry about them next week.
Q. What did Charlie Jr. say to you as he came off the field after the `05 Pitt game to put you in your place?
COACH Charlie Weis: He said — I forget exactly the verbiage, but it was something like “Nice game, dad. Crummy second half, huh?” And here I’m feeling pretty good first game as a head coach, feeling pretty good about myself. And how old was he at the time? So do the math. I’m drawing a blank. But that’s what he says. We were walking off the field and he goes, “Nice game, dad.” He goes, “Crummy second half, huh?” I said let the naysayers and second-guessers begin. He’s a leader of the pack.
Q. Pitt’s been pretty effective this year at blocking kicks and punts, most of them kicks. When you run a fake punt that you did against Washington later in the game, how much of it is if they do this we’re going to react with this and how much of it is perhaps future scouting because you realize Pitt is so effective?
COACH Charlie Weis: When we put a fake in, it’s only pertinent to that game. So when we put a fake in — you know, when we put a fake in, it’s to try to help win that game, to help put a game away or to make a game changing play in the game.
Now, the effect that you have is what you’re talking about, but you do not call it to create the effect. You call it to help put a game away. That’s why you call it. But obviously when you’ve had a couple of fakes this year that have both gone for good yardage it causes special teams coach to address it.
Q. Have you found that usually after a fake or something like that the other, the opposition perhaps doesn’t go all out the following week?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, they definitely are more alert for it. But I’ll give you an example. We got hit — I guess it was probably the second game against Michigan when they had that spread punt formation with the lefty punter, started to run to his left. He ended up keeping it running for a first down.
Was it Michigan? I think that’s the game it was. The next time, instead of rushing just the two guys that we were rushing, we rushed more to make sure that didn’t happen. Well, that’s a typical compensation thing that you end up doing so that you make sure you don’t get hit with one again.
Well, this team this week uses that same formation again. So their punt formation, so they’re going to look through and say, hey, if Notre Dame does this, we have ourselves a play. So now, because they used the same formation, you now have to compensate. You have to say, okay, well they watched the tape. We can’t do that because if we do we’re going to get hit with the same thing we got hit with the last time.
Q. Suddenly Brandon Walker has converted three straight field goals. (Two) beyond 40 yards. What would you say has been the most instrumental in improving — Walker’s presence and headlines?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think it’s been a positive. That’s helped. I think that he’s worked hard, first of all. I think his teammates have never given up on him. I think which has helped him. Because they very easily, when things are going bad, kids can turn on you, which they never did.
So those two things happened. And then I think having a solid competitor in practice that puts some pressure on you to perform, I think that helped, too. I think all those things have attributed to him moving forward and becoming a much more effective kicker.
Q. Harrison Smith started in the nickel package. He’s been on the outside. He’s had sacks. What do you see his future as far as with David Bruton?
COACH Charlie Weis: I see him as a free safety. That’s where I see him. He might have to drop a few pounds. I told him, “You’re going to have to lose a little weight and get a haircut.” I told him those are the two things that will probably have to go together for him.
But I think that the one thing that he can do for us is — he’s one of those rare people who can play deep or drop down. This year we needed him to drop down. And that’s what he’s done. And he’s really helped us. But I think that — I see his future more in the secondary.
Q. Is a trip to the barber shop also recommended for Trevor Robinson?
COACH Charlie Weis: It’s recommended for Charlie Weis, Jr., but he happens to be going today, as a matter of fact. There’s some I can control. There’s others I can’t.
Q. I brought this up briefly on Sunday, but it was such an infatuation when Rocket Ismail was here. He was also used part time in the backfield specifically as a closer in the fourth quarter. You moved Golden Tate to punt return, used a couple of reverses just to get the ball in his hands. Is it just too much on the plays for him to also kind of learn, perhaps, as a running back?
COACH Charlie Weis: No, he’d love to do it. And that’s where his roots are. In high school he really was a running back. So would he be capable of doing it? Could I get him in there and run toss sweeps with him? You betcha I could. But I like getting Jonas Gray some reps there, and I like to get Robert Hughes a few more reps there.
I’ve already got four running backs I’m trying to get reps to. Could you do that? You definitely could do it because it wouldn’t take much, because that’s where his roots are as a player.
Q. Just overall defensive line play, how do you see that position evolving for you?
COACH Charlie Weis: First of all, it all starts inside, and I think that (Pat) Kuntz has been a nice solid player for us.
The guy who has probably played coming into this year, he came back when Justin (Brown) came back, he hadn’t played a whole heck of a lot. So I hadn’t really known exactly what we were going to get out of him. And he’s had a nice solid year, too.
Now, Ian (Williams), I think Ian has been caught into one of those years where there’s been so many spread teams out there where he’s spanned himself off the field as well as many times has been on the field, because we like to get Ethan (Johnson) on the field. And those guys, they’ve got more pass rushability when you’re in that position.
But I think between those guys, between those guys, those four that I mentioned who have gotten the majority of the snaps, okay, I think that they’re going to have their work cut out for them this week.
I think that they have a major challenge. They have a major challenge for them this week because in addition playing three wide receivers, this team’s going to get a lot into 21 and 12 and even what I call 22, which is two tight ends and two backs and just try to pound away and say you’re going to have to stop us.
Q. Darius Fleming, when you were recruiting him, you guys were running a little bit different defense. I think he thought he was going to be kind of a traditional outside linebacker, now he’s lining up and rushing the passer and so forth. He seems to like it. Seems to be good at it. Can you just talk about his evolution?
COACH Charlie Weis: Actually, when we recruited him we told him that the easiest way for him to get on the field on defense the first year would be to rush the passer. So playing outside linebacker, a hybrid, you know that’s something that you evolve to. Usually if you can get a freshman that can get on the field to help you do one major thing, whether it’s stop the run or rush the passer, then you’re well on your way to getting the guy on the field a whole bunch of times.
I think he has a very bright future, because he plays with power, and he’s got fast twitch and I think he’s going to be an excellent player.
Q. Ray Herring. You had lot of safeties on the field Saturday, a lot of them pretty productive. I think Ray had one tackle going into that game and ended up with six. Can you talk about that?
COACH Charlie Weis: He played better on special teams, too. We had the conversation on the bye week. Ray and I had a sit down on the bye week about production.
And I said, you know, you’ve been around here for a while and now you’re right on the cusp of being on the field on defense and on special teams. And I’m looking for numbers. I’m like you guys, I’m looking for production when you’re out there. And I think that we’re starting to get some out of him.
Q. In terms of Jimmy, what’s the next step in what you’re hoping to see out of him this year?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I think that I’d say as an offense and a passing game, I was generally — I was okay with the first quarter and okay with the third quarter. Really didn’t throw the ball after that first drive in the third quarter. But we can’t have a second quarter where we leave that many points on the field like we did. Because there’s going to be games where if you leave points on the field like we did in the second quarter on Saturday, you’re going to end up losing.
So I think that that’s the next step is to make the most of every scoring opportunity, make sure we don’t sell ourselves short.
Q. Charlie, after four or five weeks of running mostly no huddle, how would you evaluate how that’s evolved?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, we have two different tempos when we do this. One is a methodical, we’re not worrying about the pace. But because we don’t flip our wide receivers and they just stay out there, the outside guys, you gotta give a lot of credit to those guys because those guys have had to learn to play the outside of two by two and three by one right and left. So they’re really playing two different positions with everything they’re doing.
But I’ve been very pleased that ever since midway through the Michigan State game, when we started going to a more up tempo game as far as no huddle goes, we really haven’t been truly stagnant at any time.
We’ve had a change of modes to get it from one thing to another thing. But, overall, I’ve been generally pleased with how the guys have handled it mentally.
Q. You used to use or you have used going from a huddle to no huddle as kind of a change of pace to spark the team. Is that what you’re talking about?
COACH Charlie Weis: No. The other thing is when you’re in a two minute pace, you’re still no huddle, but now everything is quick (snapping fingers) as soon as the ball is down, boom, you’re going because you’re trying to put the pressure, you’re trying to put the pressure of the speed of the game on the defense rather than just lining up in the formation.
The advantage of lining up in no huddle is just passing out the information, is the fact that everyone can see what the defense is going to play before you even come out of the huddle because you’re already out of the huddle.
The quarterback doesn’t have to wait around to see what they’re going to do other than rotating the safety down late or walking a linebacker in and bringing them late, that’s about the only things that are left to be seen right there.
So I think that there’s two different tempos. One where it’s just a methodical tempo and the other one where it’s up-tempo.
Q. Is it more challenging or easier from a play-calling standpoint?
COACH Charlie Weis: It’s easier from a play calling standpoint, but what you have to do, it’s caused us as an offensive staff and organization to be much more refined to particular into the number of things that you end up doing, because you can only run so many things from each formation, because then you’d have too much volume and you’d never be able to get them all practiced.
Q. Can you talk about the players on Saturday night? They’re all happy with the results, but they seem unsatisfied with how they went about getting it. Is this team still in the learning process of being able to be as consistent as they need to be?
COACH Charlie Weis: You didn’t talk to anyone on defense, then.
Q. Guys on offense.
COACH Charlie Weis: When you say that, you were only talking to the offensive guys. I think that what you’re saying is actually a good thing, not a bad thing. When guys get aggravated when they score 33, that’s a good thing. That’s not a bad thing. When they get aggravated that in that same second quarter I’m talking to you about, you know that they left points on the board because you think about it, how did this game go, touchdown, touchdown, interception, field goal to start off the first half. Then the second half, touchdown, field goal, touchdown.
So I’m not worrying about how it ended up in the fourth quarter. We’re trying to run out the clock. The one stagnant part was in that second quarter.
Q. As far as McCoy goes, you mentioned Ringer there a little bit, they don’t seem to use him the number of carries as much as Michigan State does; but with the uncertainty they have at quarterback, do you feel like you need to be prepared for even more of McCoy than you intended?
COACH Charlie Weis: We’ll get a whole bunch of him, but both Dave (Wannstedt) and Matt (Cavanaugh) for that matter, they have total faith in Bostick. If Bostick is their quarterback, they’re not going to worry about not being able to throw the ball. They’re going to throw the ball. They’re going to give the horse — they’re going to feed him (McCoy) plenty, whether it’s 25 times or 35 times. He’s going to get his touches. But they’ll do whatever they have to do to try to win the game. They’re not going to all of a sudden say we’re not going to throw the ball.
Q. Kind of a luxury, but to have somebody like Jonas (Gray), I’m assuming, play McCoy this week (in practice), I would think it would be beneficial.
COACH Charlie Weis: He’ll be wearing a big old 25. So just you might as well look at him this week and call him McCoy instead of calling him Gray because that’s who he will be this week in this practice.
Q. You talked about the pound-it package with James (Aldridge). Do you feel like you’re finding a rhythm there, and what would you attribute that to?
COACH Charlie Weis: Usually when we go into that personnel group, James and Asaph (Schwapp) run the game, the teams we’re going against knows that there’s a good chance, higher chance it’s going to be run and pass.
Of course, you can never just sell out because it could be a play action shot that you’re throwing at the same time. But when they know you’re going to run it and you still run it effectively, that sends a very good message, because they know you’re going to run it, and you’re still running it and gaining yards.
So definitely, when you’re spread out, you could be running it, you could be throwing it, the odds are a lot more in the defense’s favor that you’ll get a heavy dose.
Q. Anything execution wise, what are you doing now than —
COACH Charlie Weis: We’re just playing more physical.
Q. I’m just wondering whether it’s pro or college, if you’ve noticed, is there a characteristic or two or three of a Dave Wannstedt-coached team?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think by nature there’s two things — well, three things that have already stood out by teams that I’ve gone against with him. First of all, defense. They’re going to play a four three defense and play a lot of cover four, and they’re going to make you have to nickel and dime them or throw over the top. Unfortunately for them they got caught last week on some play action shots in the Rutgers game and got beat over the top. But most of the time you’re going to have to be very patient when you’re going against them, because that’s the way they play defense.
Offensively, they like to run the ball and they like to run it with power. And with this running back they have, it kind of fits right into the personality of what he would like to do.
And, lastly, he’s always been affiliated with teams that are sound on special teams and have pretty good specialists, and I think he’s accomplished both those things with this team.
Q. How do you address, if at all, the issue of possibly becoming bowl-eligible mathematically this weekend?
COACH Charlie Weis: Basically, the way I look at it, they already know that. The players, I give them enough common sense to realize that the magnitude, if they win this one — they already know they’re in. I’d like them to be thinking along the lines, let’s beat Pittsburgh and then we’ll worry about Boston College and let’s beat Boston College then we’ll worry about Navy.
I like to stay the course, but they know the ramifications of each game. And one thing is being bowl-eligible and the other one is how good a bowl. So one thing is just getting in, getting in the tournament. And the other one is how high are you going to get seeded.
So I think that first things first, you want to get in where you know you’re going to go somewhere. Right now I’m just playing one game at a time to try to get as many of those Ws as you can to put yourself in the best position come the end of the year.
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