Oct. 5, 2008
Q. Any update on (Mike) Turkovich’s situation?
COACH WEIS: Much better than we thought it was going to be. Actually walked in, handed in his crutches, handed in his brace. He’ll be ready to go tomorrow, which is something totally way better than I expected.
I did note finally last night, I found out the x-rays were all negative. He walked in without wearing a brace, not being on crutches, handed them in. He’s practicing tomorrow.
Q. We asked you in the heat of the battle about the kicking situation last night. In the light of day today, where can you go with that?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, the first thing is we had this kickoff a couple weeks ago, let Ryan (Burkhart) go against him (Brandon Walker). You know, Ryan didn’t have a good week kicking field goals that week.
But I think we definitely have to explore Ryan kicking field goals. We definitely have to explore that because in Brandon’s case, it’s not obviously a case of being able to kick it high enough or far enough. When you’re 1 out of 7 kicking field goals, it just doesn’t cut it. You only can hang so long on this. We’re fortunate it hasn’t cost us more than what it’s cost us already.
Q. In terms of Brandon, the one thing about all his kicks is they’re all long. Is there any chance he’s maybe fit to be the kickoff guy?
COACH WEIS: We actually had that conversation during the fourth quarter yesterday. I don’t know if you saw the conversation I had with (special teams coordinator) Brian (Polian), because you guys usually don’t miss too much. After the second miss, I called Brian over, I said calmly, let’s start talking about the things we’re talking about now. What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to overload one guy to put both on him.
I would think that if Ryan ended up kicking field goals, I would think that Brandon would end up kicking off. I would think that would be the direction we’d end up going.
Q. Any update on Will Yeatman’s status and do you wish you were involved in the process?
COACH WEIS: No. I have enough problems on my own to be dealing with those things. All I wish is for a resolution of the problem. For me, because I’m sticking by my conviction to stay in limbo until there’s a resolution, I just hope for a quick resolution so we can move forward.
One way or another, you know, I want to either know I have him or know I don’t have him. But right now, we’re practicing. He will practice tomorrow as if he’s playing in the game this week.
Q. I think I leaned over to somebody yesterday during the game and said, `You know what, I don’t think they’ve had a holding penalty since the San Diego State game.’ You got three of them. Can you talk about what you’ve been doing right there and what happened yesterday?
COACH WEIS: Well, two out of three holding penalties I thought were pretty obvious calls. I think that David’s (Grimes) is more obvious because it’s in space. We’re running a stretch play out to David. When you see a jersey being pulled, they’re going to call that every time.
Sam’s (Young), they called him on a play run towards him. I could see — you see it more when you watch the tape. I could see why they called it on him. They also called one on Dan Wenger. I didn’t really see that one.
I’m looking for it. There’s nothing I can do about it at this point. So I’m just looking to see what they saw. Two out of three of the ones they saw, I could see why they called them.
Q. Now that you’ve won four games at home, do you start to see a mental transition from looking to win games to expecting to win games?
COACH WEIS: This is going to be a very interesting week of practice, to be honest with you, because this is an easy one to be the head coach, because now for me, Okay, fellas, now you started to win at home, you started to get that right, we’re 0-1 on the road, what’s it going to be? This is going to be an easy challenge week.
You know how I always talk about a team top 10. I already will tell you number one: can we win on the road? When they walk in there on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30, that’s obviously going to be the message of the week. You’ve shown that you can start to win at home. The crowd’s getting into it. You’re getting into it. It’s a lot of fun. But now we’ve got four out of five on the road. We need to go win on the road. This is a formidable opponent.
Q. What’s the balance between praising them for the work they’ve done here and…
COACH WEIS: I don’t think it would make a difference where you’re playing this week. I think any time you’ve won a game, there’s so many things from this game that we have to get better at. I mean, you guys have seen all the weaknesses. You’ve seen all the bumps in the road. I mean, there’s so many things we have to get better at.
But, you know, when you’ve won, it’s easier to bring them in there and start saying, Hey, we got to do this better, we have to do this better. This is what we’re going to do about this. This is what we’re going to do about that. You know, start telling them what the problems are, and showing them what the problems are, and then coming up with some answers.
So after you’ve won, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re playing at home or on the road the next week. It’s a very, very good opportunity to try to get better at some of the things you’re not doing very well.
Q. What would be your wish, the thing you think most needs to be improved fast?
COACH WEIS: The thing that we could improve the fastest?
Q. The thing you have to improve fastest.
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, it depends which side of the ball. Let’s talk about defense. You know, defense yesterday in the first quarter, our run defense was bad. I mean, they had a bunch of long runs. They rushed for over a hundred yards. I mean, they were gashing us pretty good. We didn’t handle the shifts and unbalanced very well.
But you realize after the first quarter, they averaged two yards a carry in the run game. So you say, Well, how can we be getting gashed like this? Okay, but for the rest of the game, they had one long run in the fourth quarter, 27-yard run at the start of that drive. But including that one long run, it was two yards a carry for the rest of the game after the first quarter.
So for me, you know, I’m concerned with you’re going against North Carolina, who is running the football with power, I mean, you can’t let `em going into the first quarter and gash you in the running game regardless of what formation we use.
Let’s go to the offense. Obviously we had a good day passing the ball, okay? But if you become a one dimensional team, even though yesterday that was the way to play, but if you become a one dimensional team, eventually you’re going to get hurt, especially when you’re ineffective on third and one.
So I’m preaching to the choir. I’m not saying anything that you haven’t already heard. But you have to be able to run the football and you definitely need to be able to be much more productive on third and one than we’ve been. I’m just clearly stating the obvious.
Last but not least, on special teams. I was very disappointed in special teams across the board yesterday. I didn’t like the kickoff coverage. I didn’t like kickoff return. I didn’t like the punt coverage. On the punt coverage two things happened. We get a penalty on David on the interference call, then we give up a 38-yard return. On punt return, we didn’t get much production. Then we missed a couple field goals on top of it. So I wouldn’t exactly give glowing marks on special teams.
Tomorrow we’ll get going on fixing the special teams. That’s where the majority of Monday is. Then we’ll get going on the basic problems, both offensively and defensively, because on Monday all’s we do is get to the core issues before we get into the real game planning issues on Tuesday.
Q. First time ever Notre Dame with a 4-1 record is unranked. Do you think this is a team that deserves to be ranked?
COACH WEIS: Well, looking at the number of teams that have been evolving, and because I vote, you know, looking at the number of teams that have been going in and out of that bottom 15 to 25 range, I’d say you’re on the cusp. You’re one of those teams in that mix, in the conversation piece.
I mean, like Pittsburgh this week is not in the top 25. North Carolina’s not in the top 25. In the coach’s poll they aren’t because that’s the one I ended up seeing. But they weren’t in the top 25. So I’m looking at those teams. Those teams were in my top 25 because I’m looking at Pittsburgh just beat South Florida, who is ranked 10th, on the road. You know, how could I not put them in the top 25? But South Florida I saw was ranked 20th. I mean, I just don’t understand. Sometimes I just don’t understand how that happens. You beat a team, you have the same number of losses, you beat them at their place. I mean, that’s got to stand for something.
But I think that we’re on the cusp. I think this game this week, you know, you talk about polls, I can’t worry about the polls. But you go beat North Carolina at North Carolina, I’d say the odds are you’ll be in the top 25 next week.
Q. A little bit off topic. Joe Paterno coached from the press box yesterday.
COACH WEIS: I saw that.
Q. Could you do the job from up in the press box?
COACH WEIS: Not the job that I do. He’s a lot less involved with the whole operation. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen plenty of times with him not wearing a headset. I’d like to think that I’m more involved with the operation because, you know, his coaches have been with him for a long, long time. You know, those guys have been around with him forever. They’re on the same page.
So I think that it’s a little different with what I’m doing and what he’s doing. I’m not trying to micromanage or anything, but I think that I want to make sure that I’m involved with some of the things that happen, and some of them are getting the players on the sideline if deemed appropriate. I think being down there, it’s a lot easier to do.
Q. Is that the biggest challenge, you couldn’t talk to the players?
COACH WEIS: I think especially talking to the quarterback, in my case, face to face. I mean, I always like to look at people’s faces when I’m talking to them because usually you get a lot more out of them. Plus you can tell whether somebody’s dinged, somebody has that glazed look, somebody has that the deer in the headlight look. There’s a lot of things you can see when you’re looking in somebody’s eyes than when you’re just talking to them on the phone.
Q. Can you think of any advantage being up in the press box?
COACH WEIS: You can see the field 10 times better. You can see everything happening. But what good does it do if I can see everything happening while it’s happening? If I’m not calling the plays, which I’m not doing, I’m not calling the plays, I would be the most frustrated person in the whole free world, I promise you.
Q. Do you think it could help the kicking game to have the kicker take a step back to clear his head and maybe sit out for a bit like Jimmy Clausen did last year?
COACH WEIS: I mean, I’ve heard worse suggestions than that. I don’t know the answer to that at this point right now. We’re going to get after this Monday and Tuesday, early in the week we’re going to make a decision what we’re going to do. We’re not going to go right till game time to see what we’re doing on this. A team needs to be ready. They need to know what we’re doing. They will know what we’re doing. When they know what they’re doing, then you guys will know what we’re doing. I’m not going to play hide and seek on this one.
Q. Have you guys considered using a player from the men’s soccer team as your kicker?
COACH WEIS: See, it’s funny that people say that. We did that last spring. That’s a little late for that suggestion. Coach Polian was over to (Notre Dame men’s soccer coach) Bobby Clark in the springtime. Isn’t like we don’t do these things. It’s funny when people say like we wouldn’t have thought of them. These are a little late. We do these things. We think just like you do. There were a couple of candidates, but they didn’t end up working out.
Q. Brandon Walker has done so well on extra points. Will you continue to use him for that?
COACH WEIS: We talked about that this morning, too. And my answer right now would be yes, because that obviously hasn’t been the problem, which is one of my problems, you know. One of my problems is that kicking extra points has not been a problem. So, you know, why are kicking field goals such a problem?
Q. You have not given up more than 23 points in a game on defense in five games. If somebody would have said that to you prior to the season, would you have felt pretty good about that?
COACH WEIS: I think you’d have a chance of being 5-0 if somebody would have said that to me. Unfortunately we’re not. I think the defense, you know, even with the things that we’ve done wrong, have put us in a position to win all five games.
Think about yesterday. Even how things were going in the first quarter, the bottom line is the first half they turned the ball over three times, okay? At the end of the day, you know, that’s why you’re in good position to win the football game.
Q. I’m sure you didn’t see the exchange between Coach Harbaugh and Jimmy Clausen. Did you discuss that with Jimmy? Do you care? Do you deal with this?
COACH WEIS: We discussed it. There’s always two sides to it. There’s always two sides to the story. You know, at this point it’s better for me just let it go.
Q. Did you and Coach Harbaugh shake hands?
COACH WEIS: Yeah.
Q. You did?
COACH WEIS: Yeah.
Q. Did you have any difficulty finding him afterwards?
COACH WEIS: We wanted to make sure the skirmish was over first. And I wasn’t in the middle of the skirmish. I was on the outskirts of it. But then when it broke up, I got over to him. I hobbled on over. We found each other.
Q. Is Duval Kamara banged up or is he trying to work his way up the depth chart?
COACH WEIS: I think it’s a combination of the two. I don’t think he’s as banged up. He had a little bit of an ankle early on. I think now it’s just a little tougher getting on the field.
Q. And Steve Paskorz has probably played more than he has in any game yesterday. Obviously attrition is a little bit of a factor. Has it been him earning that responsibility or…
COACH WEIS: Well, he’s shown in practice to be a willing blocker and above average in the role working along with Asaph (Schwapp). Now with our tight end situation, it puts a couple guys like Paskorz into the mix to be a little bit more involved.
Q. There was an illegal substitution that you wanted called yesterday that they didn’t call.
COACH WEIS: We have not found — the answer I was given we have not found in the rule book. So we have a phone call in. We’re not calling the PAC-10. I think that might be futile. But we called Terry McCauley with the BIG EAST to find out if such a rule exists.
What he told me is that they had 12 in the huddle, but they called time out before they broke the huddle, therefore there’s no penalty, okay? That’s what he said.
I said, There’s no rule that I’ve ever read that says that. The rule says, I think it’s three seconds. If you have 12 guys, I think it’s three seconds. It’s either two or three seconds. If you have 12 guys in the huddle for three seconds, it’s an infraction, you know. So I don’t know there might be some double secret rule that I haven’t been able to find. We scoured the rulebook today. It might exist, but we just have not been able to find that one.
Q. That was third and one. Pretty critical?
COACH WEIS: I would say that was a critical call. We’ve inquired. We just want to know if the rule that he told me is actually a rule. If it is, I’ll let you know. But I don’t know the answer to that one at this point.
Q. From what you’ve seen from your team on the road so far, what you’ve seen from them at home, do you feel maybe the team has — do you fear they’ve gotten too comfortable playing in the stadium?
COACH WEIS: We’ve only been on the road one game. I think at this point we’ve only been on the road once. I think it’s a bit premature for me to say how we’re going to be regular on the road when we’ve only — we’ve been home four times and been on the road once.
I think that our guys certainly learned from the Michigan State game, they certainly learned a whole bunch, and certainly played a whole bunch better the next week. And I’m expecting them to play a whole bunch better this coming week.
Q. Are we starting to see more of the filtering of what’s going on with the running back situation with Armando (Allen) in a lot more? Are we starting to see the filter of who is going to be playing more?
COACH WEIS: Well, I really think that Armando has given us a little different dimension in the last few weeks than Robert (Hughes) or James (Aldridge). I really think it’s very close between Robert and James who comes in next. It’s been Robert. But it wouldn’t shock me on a week to week basis if Coach Haywood at any time couldn’t pick one over the other. I don’t dictate which one he ends up putting in.
Q. Maybe not this week but especially with the bye week coming after, is it inconceivable to move Duval (Kamara) to tight end?
COACH WEIS: We talked about that. We talked about that when we had all these situations taking place. We talked about that because he certainly would like to eat himself into being a tight end. (laughter)
But it’s totally different having to put your hand down on the ground, being in a three point stance, having a defensive end in your face right now.
Now, Duval is a very good blocker. But it’s totally different when you’re doing it in a two point stance at the point of attack with a guy that outweighs you by 50 or 60 pounds than when you’re going in and blocking safeties and corners.
But the subject, the comment did come up.
Q. Have you guys talked about ways to get Golden Tate more touches?
COACH WEIS: We talk about it. The one thing we do, right now our quarterback knows how to read coverages. So I’d rather throw to the open guy. So, I mean, I don’t mind throwing to it No. 11 (David Grimes), I don’t mind throwing to it No. 3 (Michael Floyd), and I don’t mind throwing it to No. 9 (Kyle Rudolph), and I don’t mind throwing it to No. 5 (Armando Allen). So those guys are usually all out there at the same time.
So rather than say how am I going to get the ball to 23 (Golden Tate), we’re going to throw it to where the coverage dictates us going. And I think that right now, until your quarterback can get you to that point, you can’t think like that. But now you’re finally at a point where we don’t have to create a star, just call a play and throw it to the weakness of the coverage.
Q. Field goal question. The last fourth down you had, was there any thought to letting Brandon (Walker) kick a modified point after —
COACH WEIS: First of all, I think we got a little shafted on the clock, to be honest with you, `cause we were running out. I figured out the time on the clock. We weren’t even running another play. We weren’t running another play. The clock was over. I already had the 40 second deal. Now they called for a measurement. So they stopped the clock. So now they reset it at 25 seconds. So I was already walking across the field to go shake his hand. I don’t know if you saw me. I had already calculated the time, the 40, 40, 40, plus how long it took to run the play when we started the drive. The game was over. So by them stopping to do a measurement, okay, in actuality gave a few more seconds on the clock.
But at that time right there, when there was going to be less than 10 seconds left to go in the game if we didn’t get it, no, there was no thought. The last thing I wanted to do in that situation is put us at risk to have something bad happen on a kick.
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I mean, the clock was running. The game is over. They waited a little while to decide if they were going to do a measurement. The clock is running out, the game is over. There was a three second difference in our advantage. It’s at 37, 40-second clock. I’m already walking across the field because I’m already three seconds under. It’s running off. The game is over. But then they stop it, do their measurement. That’s why it ended up being — why there ended up being a differential.
Q. Could you have refused the first down?
COACH WEIS: Of course you want a first down, but the game is over.
Q. Could you have asked them to not measure?
COACH WEIS: I don’t think that would have gone over too well and I didn’t have a hat to throw, so… (Laughter).
Q. If I may ask a quick question about Paul Duncan. Is it possible he could be eligible to come back for a fifth year?
COACH WEIS: Well, he hasn’t played since early in the year. He’s had a nagging injury that’s been nagging since training camp. We’ll just have to wait and see how that goes.
Q. How close is Darius Fleming from pushing for a starting spot?
COACH WEIS: When we started the last couple weeks, I said a few weeks ago, there was expression that started off on special teams that were starting to earn their way on to the field on offense and defense, and he’s one of them, because he’s a very fast-twitch guy who right now his greatest strength when he goes on defense is rushing the passer. So the more you can get him on the field, just turn him loose, let him run the passer. That was on the twist, I believe. I believe he came from the right to the left, ran the guy over, went ahead and made the play. I don’t remember exactly.
That’s the one thing at this stage, the early stage of his career, that he can do. He has a fast twitch and can rush the passer. I would imagine as the year goes on you’ll probably see him more and more.
Q. How close is he to being stout enough to be able to stop the run?
COACH WEIS: It’s not a question of being stout enough. It’s being able to be experienced enough to handle all the idiosyncrasies that come with the position.
Let’s think about it. Right now if you can get a lot of special teams out of him, get him to rush the passer, you’re on the right track. You don’t want to get a big overload on a guy like that this early in his career.
Q. Could you speak a little bit about the leadership that Jimmy (Clausen) continues to exude each week?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I think that it seems like almost every week he’s taking more and more of that role. And even yesterday, one of the best things that happened was in the first drive of the second half, we throw that incompletion to Golden, the comeback to Golden where he’s wide open, and Golden doesn’t really bust out of the route. He was really kind of surprised the ball was coming to him. That’s the first drive of the second pass. The first pass we throw, it’s a first down completion basically uncovered over there.
When he came off the field, he went to him and said, You have to go full speed on every play. Now, that’s a good constructive criticism remark from the quarterback to wide receiver. He wasn’t hanging him out to dry. He wasn’t blaming him. He said, You got to expect the ball, I’m counting on you. I think that when the receiver’s know that the quarterback is counting on them, usually good things are happening.
But the other thing that’s happening is I’m watching how the linemen are looking out for him. I think that’s another positive that’s happening, okay, because they’re going to make sure they take care of their guy.
Q. We ask you a lot about comparing Jimmy to Brady (Quinn). Are there some things that Jimmy compares favorably to Brady in?
COACH WEIS: It’s too early. It’s too early for me to say that. Remember now, I came in on Brady’s third year. Jimmy came here as a freshman. I think maybe next year — I mean, all I do know is he’s getting better in a hurry. And it’s in a hurry, too. I think that just watching his accuracy, his decision making, him getting us out of some trouble.
Yesterday I would have liked him to take a sack. Everyone would have booed. But the one he flipped to (Michael) Floyd, I would have rather him take the sack. You know, it’s tough when a quarterback comes off a field and you tell him, I would rather you take a sack than do what you did right there. That’s a concept that sometimes the average person wouldn’t understand. The last thing I wanted him to do was take a hit unnecessarily when we actually end up losing yards on the play. That’s the last thing I wanted him to be doing. If you can’t throw it away in that situation right there, then go down.
Q. For this team, considering where they were last year and where they are now, would getting ranked in the top 25 be a significant achievement for these guys?
COACH WEIS: I think that the players — one of the big things for the players this entire year is about earning respect. Last year we felt that we didn’t earn any, justifiably so. We didn’t as an organization, coaches, players, everyone. I think that this year that’s one of the big things with the team, is that we wanted to put Notre Dame back on the map in a positive vein, not a negative vein. And I think that that would be one message, to say that you’ve earned your way back into the picture.
Q. Pat (Kuntz) had a great game yesterday. He said after the game he felt like he made his statement in response to — he made his statement on the field.
COACH WEIS: Yeah, Pat is a very emotional player, a very emotional player. As I said to those guys, I said to our players, I said, Hey, fellas, I love emotion, and I’m not going to try to beat you down on those things right there, but the best way to shut somebody up is to go make plays on the field. You know, two sacks, two tackles for a loss, an interception, a tip ball, fumble recovery, that’s a pretty good day at the office.
Q. What was it that Jimmy was doing in the second half? Was it something he was saying? Was it something he was doing?
COACH WEIS: No, we have a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage where we go to the line of scrimmage, we don’t like a play, okay, we go through our cadence, we don’t like the play, we don’t snap it, we change it, then we go through the cadence again. That’s why it’s called a double cadence, okay? We do that all the time. Sometimes we do it, sometimes we don’t, okay?
We did the same exact thing in the second half that we’d been doing for four and a half games. Nothing’s changed. We’ve been doing it all year long. All of a sudden it’s a penalty.
Q. There was no movement on his part?
COACH WEIS: You tell me. I mean, I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I expressed my dissatisfaction.
Q. How about Armando (Allen), came out of the game late. Is he all right?
COACH WEIS: He rolled his ankle up. He rolled it up early. It was one of the first plays of the game. So he was going in and out of the game. What we’ll do is early in the week for the first couple days, we’ll just give him a little bit more support on the ankle, but go for the game, he won’t be wearing it. He’ll be fine and ready to go.
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