Oct. 30, 2007
Before we get going on Navy, earlier today we received some bad news. The brother of Robert Hughes, Tony Hughes, official name Earl, he died unexpectedly. I don’t have all the details at this point, but Robert, I excused him a little while ago. His uncle came and got him to bring him home to be with his family. He was obviously upset, and I just want Robert and his family to know that the whole Notre Dame family has their family in our thoughts and in our prayers.
I really don’t have any more details, so I’m really not at liberty to talk about it. But I know his mom called me and she was shook up, and obviously when I told Robert this morning, he was shook up. So he’ll be gone for a little while. I told him as much time as he needs. I don’t know how long that will be. But when he gets back, he gets back. Obviously there’s more important things, and that’s right now to be with his family.
Not to start on a solemn note, but because I don’t talk to you guys again until after practice tomorrow, I felt that it was important to address it on the front end right here and then move on to Navy.
On to Navy, this is the 81st consecutive meeting between Notre Dame and Navy, which is the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. They’re trying to be the first school in NCAA history to lead the country in rushing three years in a row. And the other thing is they don’t commit very many penalties. They’re fourth in the country in fewest penalties committed, just over four a game.
Coach (Paul) Johnson, in addition to being there for six years and having just under .800 winning percentage, he’s also their offensive play caller, and obviously with the way they go up and down the field against everybody, he does a heck of a job.
They’re first in the country in rushing again this year, they’re averaging just under 36 points a game, they’re averaging 343 yards a game in rushing, five and a half yards a carry. They have 30 rushing touchdowns.
It isn’t like they don’t throw it at all. They throw for over 100 yards a game, as well, usually convert on 3rd down because those 3rd downs are relatively short to medium, they convert over 50 percent on 3rd down, and last week was a perfect example. They scored 52 points and punted once. They rushed it 65 times for 342, which their average is 342.9, and 5.3 per rush. Their average is 5.5, they passed for 164, they had 506 yards of total offense, and every time they were in the red zone they scored.
At the quarterback position they play Kaipo Noa Kaheaku Enhada. Yes, thank you for the phonetics lesson, (director of football media relations) Brian (Hardin).
They play both him and (Jarod) Bryant. Bryant is more the thrower, and Enhada, they’re both veteran guys. They’ve been playing for a while. Bryant is a junior and Enhada has been starting ever since our game last year. He’s considered one of the best athletes on their team. He’s been banged up a little bit with a neck injury that he got in the Wake Forest game but he played last week, and then they put Bryant in. He runs the offense very well, and obviously they like to throw the ball a little bit more when he’s in there.
I mean, a player you have to stop — we’re going to talk about the fullbacks here in a couple seconds, but I think one player that really needs to be called out the most is this Reggie Campbell because he’s a pain in the butt now, both on offense and as a returner. He’s a dynamic kick returner, he’s a dynamic punt returner. I mean, he’s 5’6″, 168 pounds and he’s a pain in the butt. He’s a really good player, offensive team captain, he runs a sub four 40, catches the ball for 20 yards a reception, carries the ball seven cards a carry. He’s a good player.
He and (Zerbin) Singleton are their slots in their offensive formation, and (Shun) White and (Bobby) Doyle both show up, as well, but I think that Campbell definitely deserves a call out because this kid is a good player in more ways than just as a slot receiver.
Their two fullbacks, they play two that play a lot, (Adam) Ballard started off the year as a starting fullback, and now in the last couple games (Eric) Kettani, he’s been starting since the Duke game, but they’re the second and third leading rushers on the team after the quarterback position, and they both can play. You’re worried about the edge, you’re worried about the perimeter and their option game, they just hand it off to them inside and they get five, five, five, three, three, 70. They’re both very good football players.
(O.J.) Washington is their leading receiver. They don’t throw it a whole bunch, okay, but he’s started now for a couple years in a row, and when he catches the ball it’s over 20 yards a catch. (Tyree) Barnes is their starter. He won the job in the fall and he’s out there right along with him.
Offensive line, the left tackle (Josh Meek) brings the most experience to the offensive line. They lost three starters off of last year’s team. He started every game at left tackle this season. He started the first eight games in 2006 at right tackle and he got hurt against us last year. I think he tore his right ACL in our game last year, but he’s back and he’s switched over from right tackle to left tackle. (Paul) Bridgers plays a little bit along with him over on that side.
(Anthony) Gaskins, he’s started every game at left guard. (Antron) Harper, he had started 25 games at guard, but this year they moved him into center, where he’s played every game at center. And that right guard, (Ben) Gabbard, he brings a lot of experience. He started every game at right guard. He played in every game the last couple years and begins at right tackle.
Their defensive coordinator, Buddy Graham, I’ve known him for a long time. He also coaches the secondary.
On their defensive line, (Chris) Kuhar Pitters starts at left end, and (Nate) Frazier, who’s their biggest guy, he started every game at nose tackle. He’s a guy who probably is the most disruptive on their defensive line. And (Michael) Walsh, he started every game at right end. At linebacker, a converted corner, now a starting former outside linebacker, that’s (Ram) Vela. He originally came as a slotback, but now it looks like he’s found a home at the outside linebacker position.
You know, (Matt) Wimsatt is the other outside linebacker, he’s started every game this year, and he’s second on the team in tackles. Inside, (Tony) Haberer is one inside linebacker, and Irv Spencer is definitely the guy who leads this defense. He’s an inside linebacker, he leads the team in tackles, runs around pretty well, he’s got pretty good size. He definitely is a solid player for them inside.
At defensive back, (Rashawn) King, he started every game at left corner as one of the leading tacklers. The other — the field corner is actually Blake Carter. He led the team in tackles last week in the game. They play a free safety and a rover. (Greg) Thrasher, it looks like, will start at this rover position, which is like a strong safety. He’s played in every game this year except last week when he had — well, (Kevin) Snyder has actually played in every game this year except when last week he had an undisclosed injury so Thrasher started for him. So Thrasher or Snyder we expect to see at the rover and (Wyatt) Middleton will be the free safety.
Special teams they use two kickers. I really haven’t been able to figure out the pattern of why they use who when. (Joey) Bullen looks like the main guy, but I’ve seen (Matt) Harmon both kicking field goals and kicking off.
I talked before about the return game. They’re averaging over 23 yards a kick return and over 12 yards a punt return, and they don’t punt very much. They’ve only punted a few times, nine times. I thought it was 13 times, but I think it was like nine times for a 36 yard average. But they move the ball so well, they’re not in a punting situation very often. When they do, (Greg) Veteto is the guy.
(Matt) Oberlander, he’s got the long snapping rider, he’s got the short snapping. I talked about the Campbell is the main returner and the other guy you’ll probably see back there especially in kickoff returns is Singleton. He’s handled some of it, as well.
Q. You’ve talked about this in the past, about your concern about the way that Navy limits possessions. I would think that that would be a particular problem this year. It was tough enough with Brady Quinn at quarterback.
COACH WEIS: Absolutely. Like I said to the team yesterday, you’re going to get fewer possessions. You’re going to have to make the most of them. For example, last year we scored 38, and usually most games this year, 30s or 40s are regularity with them. And because the most touchdowns we’ve scored in a game offensively, let’s be bottom line, we’ve only scored three touchdowns in a game offensively. This is a team that’s scoring five, six touchdowns a game; it’s definitely a concern about the production per possession because you’re going to have fewer of them in the game.
Q. I think you may have alluded to this before, the 3-4 personnel on defense, does that lend itself better to playing against their style of attack?
COACH WEIS: Our 3-4 you’re talking about? Well, that’s one of the things that we have both — both our four man fronts and our three man fronts available to us. I think you have to be ready to use both of them in the game. But I think there are people who have tried both aspects of it, but it doesn’t take Coach Johnson very long to figure out what your mode going into the game is going to be, and then he seems to have a very reliable answer based on — if we come out and play odd the whole game, he’s going to be ready, here’s what I’m going to do against odd. It doesn’t take him long to figure out from his package how he’s going to attack the different fronts you’re going to put out there.
Q. Coach (Corwin) Brown obviously doesn’t have a ton of experience going against this style of attack. Do you tap into your other assistant coaches a little bit more?
COACH WEIS: Coach (Jappy) Oliver is the one who’s been around at the option game the most. Obviously Coach (Bill) Lewis got a little bit more indoctrinated into it the last couple years. But we’ve leaned on Jappy and some of his resources here this week because he’s the one who’s definitely had the most familiarity defending this offense.
Q. I’m sorry, I don’t recall your relationship with their defensive coordinator?
COACH WEIS: We’ve known each other way back, all the way back to when he was at N.C. State decades ago.
Q. When you talk about incorporating young players, seeing what they can do over the last four weeks, seeing how they’ve progressed, how much experimentation goes into what you ask them to do during a game? In other words, do you say let’s call this to see what Duval (Kamara) can do, let’s call this to see what Armando (Allen) can do with this?
COACH WEIS: I think that takes place — you do that more in practice than the game, put them in those situations right there. Because when you get in the game, I can’t be calling a play to figure out, well, who’s out there on this play. I don’t even know when I’m calling a play whether Armando is going to be out there unless I say regular Armando.
So I think that the important thing is once you get to the game, you can game plan a specific person to do a specific thing, but normally you’re getting into calling plays as the game management takes place. Those are things I do more in practice than I would in a game.
Q. So the development of some of those guys in terms of is this guy going to be a playmaker for us is as much going to be what you see in practice over the next few weeks?
COACH WEIS: That’s right, because I might put eight plays in a row in there for Armando and give it to him eight times in a row in practice. Part of that might be maybe I just want to see what’s going to happen when he’s tired. So it’s easy when somebody is fresh and they carry the ball once or twice and then they’re out and somebody else is in there, or I might throw three passes in a row to Duval, and the first one might be a go, and then come back and see what’s going to happen when he’s tired and he comes back to the huddle and now you’re calling another down the field route on the very next play.
So a lot of times they don’t even know that that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing, but you’re doing it to see what kind of reaction they’re going to have, to see what kind of stamina they have, for example. That’s one quality you’re looking for with somebody who’s going to be a lead dog, whether or not they have stamina or not.
Q. You obviously were here for this rivalry as a student. You’ve been around as a coach for a few years. Have you gotten any sense that people, maybe not in this room and in this building, but on the outside feel that no matter how a season is going, good, bad or indifferent, there’s the attitude that maybe we’ll always be able to beat Navy?
COACH WEIS: I don’t feel that at all. I mean, I think that Navy scores points against everybody. It doesn’t make a difference who they’re playing. And we haven’t been scoring very many. So if you just look at it — just factually, you’d have to say that this is not the greatest match up challenge wise when it comes to the points scored. Now, I expect us to play well this week. If yesterday was any indication of how we’re going to play, I would think we’d play pretty well.
Q. I think you said Kaipo made his first start against you guys last year. What have you seen from — in that year of watching him since that game?
COACH WEIS: Well, we didn’t have a lot of familiarity with him last year because the other guy had been the guy right along right there. But it was obvious, we had heard about his athleticism, and it’s pretty obvious when you watch it on tape. Sometimes people want to talk about an academy, well, they’re undersized, this or that. Well, an athlete is an athlete, and this kid is very, very athletic. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, and he’s got the ball in his hands on every play.
Usually when you go into a game in the running game, the quarterback is not somebody that you really have to defend other than when they pull it down and scramble. In this case he could be running it on every down. So it puts a whole new element into your defensive game plan.
Q. And then as far as defending that, you’ve got some youngsters in (Kerry) Neal and (Brian) Smith who will be looking at this for the first time. What do you do to prepare them?
COACH WEIS: Well, you simulate it as best you can in practice. I think we’ve spent extra time here in the last couple weeks trying to get the show team to give a realistic look, and to be honest with you, I think looks have been pretty good.
Okay, I think that the one thing you don’t do is your show team will never play it at the same tempo that they’re going to get. So I think that they’re going to have to get ready — right now there’s an execution assignment game on defense, and right now they’ll make the plays, execution assignment wise at the tempo they’re going in practice. I think that they’re going to have to adjust to it when we come around on Saturday.
Q. How’s (James) Aldridge looking?
COACH WEIS: He’s back and ready to go. It was encouraging watching him run around. I also let him know last week that it was going to be important for him Monday to be able to run around so we could see we could count on him. Judging him yesterday, he’s ready to go.
Q. How would you evaluate the days that you had to practice early last week?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think that it’s probably different than any bye week we’ve had so far because a good two-thirds of the practice was dedicated to Navy, and in the past I really didn’t spend any time on the upcoming opponent. So I think that we spent about two-thirds of the practices dedicated to Navy, and then the last third of the practice we just let the young guys bang around some, just offense against the defense, so we could just try to evaluate some of the young guys, full speed, take them to the ground, so that we could see what kind of progress people have made from the beginning of the year until the eight game mark.
Q. And following up on that young guys at full speed, are you pretty comfortable with the group of 11, or is there some people that could join the mix this week?
COACH WEIS: Oh, I don’t know how many more will join the mix, but I know that there’s more than 11 that can play. That was pretty obvious. There’s a couple of those guys — we talked about those linemen, for example. There’s a couple of those guys that can play. You know, those offensive linemen can play. Emeka (Nwankwo) hasn’t played yet. Emeka can play. There’s some guys that can definitely play. It’s just when you decide to pull the trigger and go ahead and do that.
Q. And then for your own — once you dismiss the guys to go on fall break, your recruiting, how that went, and how else did you spend your week?
COACH WEIS: Well, we blanketed the country pretty well. I think that we utilized all 10 of us. You only can have seven guys on the road at a time, so like I was on the road two of the days. Like I said, three guys have to be off and seven guys can be on with the nine assistants and myself. So we went to different parts of the country, and we think that at this mark we’ve utilized our six days that you can use during the season.
We wrapped it up on Friday, and we basically got to see everyone we needed to see. One way or another, we got to see them all. Now we’re into just a few official visits a week and see if we can wrap this recruiting up.
Q. And did you do other things related to football other than recruiting?
COACH WEIS: Yes.
Q. That you’d care to share with us?
COACH WEIS: I spent some quality time with my wife.
Q. No more information needed on that. (laughter)
COACH WEIS: Maura, if you’re watching this, which I hope you’re not, I did not say that. (laughter)
Q. And speaking of quality time, (Evan) Sharpley, is he still kind of foremost in your thoughts in terms of being the number one (quarterback)?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, he’ll start the game.
Q. You said that practice went good yesterday. Did you get a sense it was good for these guys to get away a little bit, get a fresh start?
COACH WEIS: I think there were two contributing factors because I was concerned in our meeting yesterday when they first came back, Mondays we usually don’t practice, but I had just given them four days off. So I was really using Monday really to knock the rust off because when you haven’t practiced in a while, usually the first day back doesn’t go so well.
But I think that one — this might not sound like significant to you, but the one thing that really helped us, there being a little nip in the air. I think that they’re a little spunky because there was a — it was a little cooler than it’s been. They’re running around more than they normally run around for the first practice of the week, which I’m attributing the weatherman to that one right there because it made things go a lot smoother.
Q. How about just getting the break? Did they seem refreshed?
COACH WEIS: There were a lot of guys — you brought up James before. I don’t know if we would have played last week whether he would have been able to play. He can play this week, but I don’t know if he would have been able to play at a high level last week. You get a lot of guys with bumps and bruises. Bumps and bruises physically, and then there’s the bumps and bruises psychologically, as well. I think when things aren’t going too well I think one of the good things that happens is when you have time to pull away and get around your family and friends, I think that’s always a good thing.
Q. You talked about the young guys getting a lot of rest last week. Would you talk about how Golden (Tate) is kind of progressing in his learning the wide receiver position?
COACH WEIS: Well, he’s doing a much better job of running intermediate routes. We all know he can run a deep route. The one thing that I think — the discipline — not disciplined as in being an undisciplined person, but learning how to run short to intermediate routes is probably the thing with a guy who runs real fast, the thing that they have to learn is how you can’t just run goes on every route. You have to learn how to be more disciplined running short and intermediate routes. I think he’s significantly improved in that area.
Q. And lastly, last week when the young guys were practicing, were there any pleasant surprises that you saw?
COACH WEIS: I’m always — the first people I’m always looking at is I’m always looking at the linemen to tell you the truth. It was encouraging to see those young offensive linemen, and in addition to the young offensive linemen, Emeka is the one defensive lineman, freshman that we haven’t played yet, and he’s encouraging to watch, as well.
Q. Talking about the offensive line, statistically Navy doesn’t have — I think they’re last in the nation in sacks. Is this a game where you look for your offensive line to perform better maybe than it has in the past couple weeks or this season?
COACH WEIS: Well, it’s a different style of defense. They’re a lot more of that bend but don’t break mentality that they play, so they don’t put as much pressure on you as a lot of the teams we go against. Now, they still show — have their 25 percent or so where they’ll go ahead and bring pressure on, you but what they’re doing is they’re counting that you won’t have the patience to nickel and dime them all game long, and I think that that’s the game that they’re willing to play. So you have to be a little bit more patient than you normally would be, not to sit there and see — because all you need to do is have a holding penalty here or a turnover there, and the way they score on offense you could find yourself in trouble in a hurry.
Q. You talk about them limiting the number of possessions. Is that something you’re interested in doing, nickel and diming them so they can’t get the ball, ball control type game?
COACH WEIS: I think what you have to do is score points. You know, I think that’s the one thing that — more than anything that I would consider inadequate is not scoring enough points, and I think against Navy you’d better be prepared to score some points. So you say would you like to hold the ball for 12 plays, yeah, but if it’s on the second play, James takes one to the house, you know, that’s okay, too.
Q. Did you talk to the team at all this week about the fact that it’s been a while since they’ve been favored in a game, just the fact that these last four games it’s a different expectation? You’re going from games where people expected you to have a tough time — maybe your team doesn’t expect it but a lot of outsiders expect these games, Notre Dame to have a tough time in all four of them?
COACH WEIS: I think the most important thing that we understand a lot of our problems are related to internal things, not external things, and I think that the first thing we have to deal with, it wouldn’t make a difference who the opponent was, is take care of our internal problems as far as growing and becoming a better team. Now as you apply it to Navy, okay, I think that if you — anyone who takes Navy lightly, especially with the firepower they show on offense, could find themselves on the short end of the stick very easily.
Q. Finally, do you expect — does that winning streak weigh on this team? Do people on this team fear being the team that lets that streak end?
COACH WEIS: I think that when you’re 1 and 7 you’re trying to beat whoever you’re playing, and I think that the streak isn’t nearly as important as winning a game at home. I think it’s been since the last regular season game last year since we’ve won a game at home. I think that’s the streak that they’re most concerned with, winning a game at home.
Q. For a lot of the season, you’ve talked about when asked questions about motivation, you should be able to get up for that, USC, Purdue, Boston College. With Navy how does that change your challenge as a coach as a motivator?
COACH WEIS: Well, there’s two issues now. Remember, you just came off of a bye, so you’re probably about as physically fresh as you’re going to be for the whole rest of the season right now. When you have a bye eight weeks in, you get a four week stretch here where you’re about as fresh as you’re going to be.
I think you have two different things going on at the same time, okay, you’ve got several players who are wrapping up their careers that don’t want to leave with a bad taste in their mouth, and some of those have potential careers in the NFL that they have looming in the future. I think that they have every reason to go out winning every game down the stretch.
For the guys that aren’t in that position, okay, where their careers are over with, okay, I think what they’re trying to do is start building something, and when you’re 1 and 7 you’re looking for building blocks, and I think that Navy would be a good place to start.
Q. Does that make these last four games a little bit of a prelude to next year in any way?
COACH WEIS: Not for John Carlson, not for John Sullivan, not for Travis Thomas, not for Trevor Laws, not for Dwight Stephenson, not for Joe Brockington, not for Ambrose Wooden, not for Tommy Zbikowski, not for Geoff Price. That’s just a few right off the top of my head. Those guys have four games left in their career. Those guys, those nine guys that are in a fifth year that their eligibility is up, this is it for them. I don’t think they’d like to go out the way we’re standing right now.
Q. You mentioned an assignment execution game defensively. This year you rotated a lot more on defense with personnel. Does that style of game make you want to do that less just to cut down mental errors?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I don’t think you’ll be in as many nickel situations against Navy as you would, nickel and dime and all those things. I think that Tim’s initial question going back between a 3-4 and a 4-3, I think they’re the biggest issues you deal with because I don’t think it’s as much which personnel groups are you going to put out there, it’s what are you going to do.
Q. I guess I mean even within certain personnel groups you’ve played various guys, whether it be three or four outside linebackers or three or four inside linebackers. Do you not do that as much?
COACH WEIS: This is not a developmental game now. We’re playing to win the game. I mean, if we go into a game and we play three outside linebackers the whole game, that’s all we’re playing. We’re playing to win the game. We’ll see how the game goes. We’re going to have a tough enough time just trying to win the game, let alone trying to give people time.
Q. Lastly on recruiting, when you’re out on the road it’s probably as much a reaffirming commitment to the guys that have already said they’re coming. Has your recruiting philosophy at all changed a little bit this year? Has your message to those guys changed when you’re trying to reaffirm?
COACH WEIS: No, I think that what they’ve done, what their players you’re talking about have done, is they’ve bought into the “we”. We’ve involved them more into our everyday — anyone who’s jumped on board and said yes, we involve them to everything that’s going on. In other words, they’re not like outsiders. Once they say yes and the commitment is a two way deal, we treat them like they’re here, so they know everything that’s happening just the way everyone else does. I think the fact that they feel ownership, they feel part of it. They obviously have to withstand the ribbing from the people in the towns they’re living in or the kids they’re going to school with. But I think they view themselves as part of the future.
Q. In the past do you feel like guys — you didn’t have that ownership angle at work as much as you do now?
COACH WEIS: I don’t think that we let them know everything that was happening with inner workings the way we do now because back when — at signing day last year when we lost a couple guys and we talked about the word commitment, I think that, you know, we’ve showed that commitment is a two way street by involving them more in all those issues.
Q. You said that this wasn’t a very good match up based on the fact that Navy scores a lot of points and you guys have been struggling. But they’ve been kind of struggling to stop the run. Is this a game where you guys can finally lick your chops after the first eight games playing against some of the better rush defenses in the country?
COACH WEIS: We’re hoping that to be the case. We’re hoping to have a big day on offense. But this is also a game we’re hoping to have a big game on defense, too. We’re hoping on offense that we can get the ball and move the ball with consistency and put the ball in the end zone. That’s what we’re hoping to do.
But we are not underestimating their defense just because people have been putting up some serious numbers on them. We’re aware of the numbers. We’re aware of what people have done production wise. I watched the Delaware game. It wasn’t like I haven’t watched a tape and the players haven’t watched a tape. But just the way we’re counting on being productive on offense, our defense is counted on the same.
Q. Did you mention who the scout team quarterback was?
COACH WEIS: We’re using both (Darrin) Bragg and (Justin) Gillett. They both in high school ran in an option mode. I think that both quarterbacks have done a pretty solid job the last week and a half running the stuff.
Q. You said earlier a lot of our problems are related to internal things, not external things. Can you elaborate on that?
COACH WEIS: I mean, whether it’s — let’s say offensively, okay, let’s say offensively. Let’s say 3rd down conversions. When you’re not converting on 3rd down, there’s a whole set of reasons. You’re not converting on 3rd down because you’re in 3rd and long all the time. Well, then is the production on 1st down a problem or is the production on 3rd down a problem? Obviously they’re intertwined or interconnected. Then when you get to 3rd down, you get to 3rd and 5. Is it because when you’re throwing the ball they’re sitting on routes, because you can’t get open, you can’t pick up the blitz, because you can’t protect it long enough or because of the accuracy in the passing game? So there’s a whole number of factors to get involved there. So I think that what happens is when you don’t play a game it gives you some more time to be analytical of why you have success and/or why you have failure.
Q. And what did you discover in that analysis?
COACH WEIS: That’s not for me to elaborate. I mean, it’s for the team to understand, not for you to understand. No disrespect.
Q. How important is a quick start in this game because of the way Navy likes to run its offense, and trying to force them into a position where they won’t be able to do that as much?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think the one thing, if you fall behind early in the game, usually they win. I don’t have the stat right on top of my head, but I think in the last 20 some games, like 23 games when they’ve scored first, they’ve won like 21 times. It’s some ridiculous stat, something that glaring. But you’d better be — you’d better hang right from the start, and hopefully things settle down.
Like last year they got off to a fast start, okay, but we got off to a good start on offense and then the defense settled down, and before you know it, it was 38 to 14. So it all depends on how things go. Sign me up for that one.
Q. And from a special teams standpoint, are you…
COACH WEIS: Reggie Campbell. That’s Reggie Campbell. You’d better stop Reggie Campbell because in every game, doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Wake Forest, Rutgers, who matter who it is, a couple last week, you could get a 70 yard return on every play.
Q. So do you kick to Reggie Campbell?
COACH WEIS: Depends on the wind. You have to wait and see. This is South Bend in November. We may have to wait and see what the conditions are in the game.
Q. You talked about preparing for Navy last week. Does that have anything to do with the fact you’re playing basically two option offenses in a row right now to kind of get a head start on two weeks instead of just one?
COACH WEIS: Air Force is tweaked a little bit. They’re throwing it more than they have in the past, but really we haven’t spent any time on Air Force. Obviously in the past what I used to have to do is practice some of the stuff in training camp, but because the bye week was set up right before the Navy game coincidentally, it wasn’t I set the bye week up, it gave you an opportunity to hold off on doing that during the preseason and wait until the bye week to go ahead and get that done. Any connection going into the next game, you know, that would be a good time for there to be a connection.
Q. And as far as Robert Hughes and when he comes back, do you proceed as if you’re not going to have him on Saturday?
COACH WEIS: I told him come back whenever he’s ready to come back. I mean, something like that, how can you give him a time frame? He might be back tomorrow, he might be back next week. I told him whenever — I just made sure we covered ourselves with academics and things like that. But when something — a tragedy like that happens, I think the most important thing is you have to worry about the kid, not worry about him as a football player.
Q. For those of us who haven’t followed Notre Dame football as closely as those people who cover it on a regular basis or are fans, could you kind of just quickly summarize what you feel has happened this year? Is it simply a case of being hit hard by graduation and the younger players who have been asked to fill in just haven’t performed or were not ready or the inexperience? In your overall big picture analysis, what’s led to 1 and 7?
COACH WEIS: Well, that’s a loaded question. (laughter) Well, first of all, let’s start with coaching, because what you just did in your question is gave me about 15 different excuses for us being 1 and 7, so why don’t we just start with I probably, with the transition that we’ve had from last year to this year, have not done the best job of having the team ready to go on a week in and week out basis, and we probably should leave it at that one because if you are looking for me to give you a whole dossier of problems that have happened this year, there would be too many things. If you want good fodder, let’s just throw me out there, okay.
Q. But in general, though, the fact that you have such an inexperienced team is a crucial factor…
COACH WEIS: It’s a factor, but that’s what it is. It’s a factor. It’s not the factor. There’s a lot of things that come — I think when you do that — once again, it would be easy for me to sit there and say, well, if these five things weren’t the case we’d be 7 and 1 right now. Well, the problem is they are the case. I started with what I felt was the number one reason, and I think that if you start with the head coach doing a better job, then you’d probably have a better record.
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