Sept. 22, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Coach, let’s start with some opening comments about the game this week, then we’ll take questions from the media.
COACH WEIS: Coach Hope took over for the Head Coach Tiller down in Purdue. He had been down there already. He was the head coach in waiting and the offensive line coach. Gary Nord who also coaches the quarterback is offensive coordinator, and they’re getting very good production now. Coach Nord came from Florida Atlantic where he was working with Coach Schnellenberger, but he worked with Coach Hope for 10 years, I think, from, like, ’85 to ’95.
They’re getting big numbers on offense. They run the ball for over six yards a carry. Last week, for example, they rushed for 147 yards on 23 attempts for a 6.4-yard average.
For the year, they’re averaging 6 yards a rush, a little over 210 yards rushing a game, averaging over 36 points a game; averaging another 230 passing, over 440 per game. And they’ve been very, very productive in the red zone scoring touchdowns nine out of 11 times. They’ve been down there 82 percent. They’ve only given up two sacks.
Joey Elliott took over at quarterback last week. He was 20-31 for 188 with a long of 34. He also rushed the ball 6 times for 68 yards and a couple of touchdowns. So he averaged over 11 yards a rush.
Now one thing, not a lot of people know as much about Joey, but he has a very strong arm, you know, and I watched him a bunch here now in these first three games. What I really like about him is he moves very well in the pocket, but he always keeps his eyes down the field, so he is not looking to just pull it down and run every time. He’s going to give the down-field throw an opportunity before he tucks it and goes.
Based off his running numbers, you can see though he is a not afraid to pull it down when he has to.
Another guy that was a relatively unknown before this year was Ralph Bolden, their starting running back. Now last year, I don’t know, he might have had about 30 yards rushing, and he is a sophomore who has emerged as a top back. Now he’s rushing for 140 yards a game. He’s putting up really big numbers. He’s got very good speed, and he’s a home run threat. And a “home run threat” means when you give him the ball, that little gallop of his, he can take it to the house every time he touches it.
They use a senior to back him up, (Jaycen) Taylor will take some snaps, but Bolden’s definitely the go-to guy.
(Jared) Crank is their fullback. He is showing up every week as their starting fullback. And two tight ends they use a whole bunch — they use them a little differently. (Kyle) Adams had emerged as the starter last year, then he missed the entire season, but he’s emerged as a starter, and he’s got good production. Last week he had five catches for 42 yards. But he’s an athletic tight end who runs well and he catches the ball well in his hands.
When they play (Jeff) Lindsay, they do a lot of different things with him. They’ll line him up in the backfield, they’ll move him around some. So he’s a little bit more of the move tight end.
At the receiver position they return two of their guys from last year, (Aaron) Valentin and (Cortez) Smith. And (Keith) Carlos will show up a lot as their third wide receiver.
Valentin, obviously, we’re going to talk about him as a returner, both as a kick returner and a punt returner. Smith, the one thing about him that stands out is the kid’s 6’2″, 226, so he’s got very good size. They put him in the slot and he is a tough physical matchup. Carlos is the guy that plays a whole bunch when they use him as a third wide receiver.
Now their offensive line, one thing that stands out are their size, especially on their right side where (Ken) Plue at right guard is 6’7″, 322, and (Zach) Jones at right tackle is 6’5″ 312; they’re both big men.
(Jared) Zwilling moved into center. He was a former defensive lineman who was a redshirt senior who does a very good job at the point of attack.
On the left side, they got (Dennis) Kelly at left tackle, and, I believe, it’s (Zach) Reckman is playing their left guard. Reckman played both left tackle and guard, and he started both of these places, you know, over his career, but he’s playing left guard for them now.
On defense, Coach Landholm is in his first year from Eastern Kentucky where he had been a defensive coordinator. And, once again, he worked for five of those seasons with Coach Hope.
Let’s start with their defensive linemen.
They return two of their starters. (Gerald) Gooden is a very promising athletic defensive edge. Someone who shows burst off the edge. And (Mike) Neal inside who is a very good interior player — as good as we’ve seen so far this year in the interior. He was another guy who was somewhat disruptive against us when they we played them last year.
Gooden plays the right defensive end, and he’s athletic. You also see (Robert) Maci come in some. He is a redshirt freshman. He’ll show up some.
You know, one of the things they do in their nickel package is they’ll take (Ryan) Kerrigan two starts as the other defensive end, and they’ll knock him inside so they can get three pass rushers all playing in the nickel-pass rush along with Neal.
Neal they want to keep on the field. So even though he’s starting three technique, when they go to nickel, he is not the guy to take out. They make sure they leave him in the games. Short is more their one-technique or nose tackle.
At linebacker, (Jason) Werner is their co-captain, the redshirt senior — fairly athletic, moves well. I like the way he plays.
(Chris) Carlino handles the middle linebacker. And their adjuster, Joe Holland, who is a former safety, you know, he is their adjusting linebacker. So rather than calling Sam and Will, he’s really the guy, he’ll go to the field or go to the slot. You know, this way they can play, they can play a lot of their nickel stuff without having to bring in nickel back at all times.
When they do, it will probably be their starting corner (Brandon) King who while he’s been out for the last couple games, all signs point to his return this week. King will start at corner, but he’ll also come in and play nickel.
(David) Pender is their field corner, and he’s very athletic, runs really well. When King’s inside, you know, Torri Williams who is also listed as a strong safety, in all likelihood would end up being the boundary corner. He is a captain, and he’s been here — he’s got a six-year eligibility, so he’s been here forever. If Torri Williams isn’t playing safety, strong safety, then Josh McKinley will be in there at strong safety and McLean will handle the weak safety.
As far as special teams go, Coach Gibboney, he was a — this is his first year as a special teams coordinator, but he was on their staff last year. You know, they’re averaging just under 13 yards a punt return, and they’re averaging over 43 yards a punt.
You know, their punter, (Chris) Summers, had been their placekicker until this year. Now he is their punter. He’s got a live leg. And (Carson) Wiggs handles both the kickoff and kickoff return and, you know, he’s only missed one field goal this year; I think that was from 60 yards. He made one from, I don’t know, 59 yards or something like that. He’s got a really strong leg.
(John) Finch is their long snapper. He’s a good snapper. He zips it back there.
At kickoff return, I mentioned Valentin before. Valentin and Adams will handle the kickoff return, and the punt return will be Valentin or (Waynelle) Gravesande.
Q. Do you have any update on Jimmy (Clausen), how he’s doing?
COACH WEIS: Yes, I do. The MRI came back negative other than the turf toe. So rumors of him having a broken foot and being done for the year are incorrect, but he does have a turf toe.
I’ll probably hold him from practice today. When you get a turf toe, Tom, one of the things you do is they get one of these plates put in their shoe that, kind of lift your toe up so that you are not getting pressure on your foot when you are there, so we’re getting that plate in today. So what I’ll do today is I’ll give Dayne (Crist) the majority of the reps, and I’m going to give (Evan) Sharpley some reps too to knock off a little bit of the rust on him. Because he’s been running show team. Sharpley will get a few reps.
Our plan is to give Jimmy some of it on Wednesday, all of it on Thursday, and see how it goes from there.
The other person that’s in a similar category is Armando (Allen). The (practice) pattern for him is going be very similar (to Clausen). Hold him today. He’s got a little bit of an ankle. If he went out there today, he wouldn’t be full speed. (I’ll) give the other running backs the reps today and build him up to be full-go by game time.
Q. Right now you think both will be able to play?
COACH WEIS: I am expecting both of them to play.
Q. Any update on James (Aldridge)?
COACH WEIS: James, he’s feeling fine. We gave him a little contact the other day to see how the shoulder felt when he was hitting somebody, and it was still giving him quite some problem. So, to be honest with you, I think what I’m planning on doing, even though he wants to try to play this week and try to play next week, I’m leaning more toward holding him this week and next week so that I get a full three weeks, with the bye week coming up after that and having him ready for whoever we play after the bye.
Q. Any concern at this point — the defense showed real signs last season of improvement. Seems like they’re sliding back a little. Does that resemble more of the ’07 — any worry they’re sliding back a little?
COACH WEIS: I think, the number one thing, I think we have good young talent. We have some good players with some good ability. That right now is the number one thing that we’re going to work on this week is playing with confidence. And I think that when you start giving up some yardage to some plays, like was happening in the last couple games in particular, you start losing some confidence; not necessarily in the scheme or your teammates, but just on your own play making ability. So I think the number one thing I’m going to work on today, and the coaches are going to follow my lead, is making sure we start getting back to playing with some confidence.
Because when you play hesitant, then, you know, that’s when some of those things start happening. So we’re going to try to get it so that by Saturday night they’re just letting loose.
Q. Looked like during the game on Saturday a couple times, especially when a couple younger players were in there, they were a little confused or not quite sure what they from doing; is that part of what you are talking about?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I think the confusion came, especially early in the game, was caused as much by substitute patterns that were quite irregular. I think once they got settled down I think most of those problems went away.
But I think that the defensive staff has got a very good plan of attack on how to address this, and I think the first thing we’ve got to do is just get them running around full speed where they feel confident that they’re going to be in a position to make plays then go ahead and make them.
Q. A lot of the players, defensive players, last week were saying they were looking forward to playing conventional offense after two weeks of spread. What is this week; this week they do some spread end or conventional?
COACH WEIS: Actually, they’ve gone to more conventional than they’ve been in the past. That’s one of the reasons why they’re running the ball so efficiently.
In the past they’ve been spread and the run was just the counter to the spread passing game. But they actually get in the I-formation a lot, and they put multiple tight end in there, and they run a lot of conventional stuff, in addition to having, you know, shotgun package up and running. But they’ve become much more versatile, and they can go both ways as far as how they attack you.
Q. I know I’ve asked you before, a lot of times on road games you had a lot in the first two years, last year not so much; anything you to do to try to build the confidence?
COACH WEIS: We’re doing a couple things a little different this week. They wouldn’t be obvious to anyone else because most of them happen from when class ends on Friday to when — like we’re going down a couple hours later than we normally do. And, when we get down there, the first thing they’re going do is eat, and that always makes them happy. But we’ve tweaked the schedule some. They’re not like exotic changes here, but we’ve done some things to try to make sure that at 8:06 or whatever the kickoff is, they’re set and ready to go.
Q. Couple years ago, Duval (Kamara) set a freshman record for receptions, had a bunch of records, and Robby Parris had a real good year, then we had Golden Tate, Michael Floyd kind of come in to their own. Talk about how those two handled it and how they’re handling kind of moving back into the forefront here?
COACH WEIS: Well, it’s interesting, because when one guy goes down like Michael, it also provides opportunities for some other people.
So you’ll notice that at the Z position, I’ve got Duval and/or Robby listed as the starter. So Duval has normally been an X, now I put him over on that other side right there and to put him in position to pick up the slack. And I think that they’ve handled it fine.
Both those guys in particular have worked really, really hard in practice, but now they have an opportunity to have increased roles with hopefully increased production at the same time to put us in position to make sure that they can’t roll everything into Golden.
Q. Deion Walker, can you talk a little bit about what you have seen from him?
COACH WEIS: You will also notice I have Deion and Shaq (Evans) listed competing behind Golden over there at X. Both those guys bring something different to the table. Deion’s a little bit more experienced. Shaq is very explosive. They know that now is the time. It’s not practice squad, it’s not a show team any more.
These guys are really close to being heavily involved in the mix. I think they clearly understand that. We already had that conversation on Sunday, but they clearly understand that going into today’s practice.
Q. How is Michael (Floyd) handling all this?
COACH WEIS: He thinks he is a coach now, so Michael’s been all over everybody. I mean, he was in the training room this morning, hammering on (Jimmy) Clausen, “get out of that boot, let’s get going.” He was getting on Armando (Allen) for wanting a day off today. He’s accepted this role. He’s dealing with it (and) I think he’s going be a great asset for us because he’s into the game. He’s not just one of those guys who is in the tank because he’s hurt.
Q. (Frank) Verducci’s influence this year, can you talk about how this is working out so far?
COACH WEIS: First of all, when I hired him I told you it’s good for me because he thinks a lot like me. It’s really from Monday morning through the entire week, it’s really put me in a position where I can do things the way I was always used to doing them. I was always use to being able to count on the offensive line coach, whether it be Dante Scarnecchia or Bill Muir or Freddy Hoagland some of the best offensive line coaches that you could work with in the NFL. You always count on those guys to be able to give you the information you need to avoid a lot of issues. And I think that he’s done a really good job doing that for me.
Q. What I was going to ask about with Verducci — I think you made the comment in the spring that he thinks like an offensive coordinator, because?
COACH WEIS: Because he’s not just an offensive line coach. He’s also dealt with skill guys. A lot of offensive line coaches just worry about the offensive line, that’s all they think about — sacks and run production. Did they give up any sacks or how many yards did they run for. But Frank understands the big picture. He’s not afraid to expose the offensive linemen if it gives us the best chance of attacking a defense. Usually by nature that’s not what offensive line coaches like doing.
Q. How did he or how did you in accordance or how did he in accordance with you alter the blocking schemes?
COACH WEIS: Well, it’s — some of it’s blocking schemes, some of it’s packages, some of it’s giving multiple looks to get the same play.
We always talked about trying to get something you can hang your hat on. Like even some of those plays in the wildcat that everyone made a big deal out of the other day, but a lot of those plays are the same plays we had from the other personnel groups, just looks different.
I think he, together with the offensive staff and myself, we’ve kind of taken a whole bunch of different looks, and we’re starting to get good at a few things we can call over and over and over again which gives you a chance to start to have some success.
Q. Speaking of the wildcat, I think you have explained this before, but what are some of the match-up problems it creates? Because you have (Paul) Duncan on the right side with two other offensive linemen.
COACH WEIS: Well, you have both tackles on the same side.
Q. Right. Why is the wildcat in general so difficult?
COACH WEIS: Well, there’s different versions of it. Like if you are watching the Dolphins last night, they a lot of times motioned into almost a two-back set and were running a true option off of it. So, I mean, everyone has their different version of it.
In our version of it you got a lot of beef on one side right there. Do you want to overload to that side and expose yourself to the weak side where (Kyle) Rudolph is, you know, or do you want to respect the fact that he’s there and then make yourself vulnerable to the other side. So it’s a kind of pick your poison, mentality that you got to make.
You know a lot of people, their answer to it is to go ahead and bring pressure. But, you know, with — you got enough guys to block everybody. You are not a man shy because the quarterback is standing out there about 30 yards outside right there and somebody’s lined up on him. So you have one for one everywhere. You’re never outnumbered.
Q. Do you call it wildcat or do you have a Notre Dame name?
COACH WEIS: We call it wildcat right and wildcat left. I’m really innovative.
Q. We didn’t ask you this Sunday, this is old news now, but just in general, onside kicks. You have a couple young guys over on that side that get a little over ambitious trying to get back?
COACH WEIS: The biggest problem I have on that one is I sat there and I listened to (Special Teams) Coach (Brian) Polian say, “Heads up for the onside kick.” So, I mean, if that weren’t addressed before the kick, you could say “okay overzealous.” But when you are sitting there and say in that huddle before that kick, “Heads up for the onside kick,” I have a problem with that.
Q. Last thing. I know with Michael Floyd out for the year it would be an option to use him in the bowl game. I mean, how realistic is it considering his talent level that he would be around for three more years after this?
COACH WEIS: I think if we’re playing in a bowl game and he were healthy he’d be playing because I think that is what he’d want to do. And I’m trying to be practical here. I would give him the call on that one. I’d let him make the call on that one, but I don’t think that would be much of a call.
I hope to have him two more years, let alone three years. I’d be happy if you give me him for two right now, I’d sign up for that right now.
Q. When you break down Purdue, how different were they against Northern Illinois than they were their first two games? What did they do different or what happened in that game?
COACH WEIS: Actually they ran the ball a lot more against Oregon than they did against Northern Illinois. They didn’t run it as many times. They had the ball the whole time against Oregon. I mean, Oregon was very fortunate to get out of that game with a win. I mean, they handled them pretty good.
I think in this past game, the game just didn’t go the same. And I think that it was one of those perfect examples of a game where you’re very disheartened after a loss. I mean, that was a tough loss now. They played very, very well against a good Oregon team on the road, and they come home and they got Notre Dame on deck, coming in before your Big Ten schedule starts, which that starts next week. And, I think that this is — you got to give credit to Northern Illinois because that was not a fluke win now. Northern Illinois, they really played well.
Q. In terms of the skill sets on what Duval can do, what the others and Robby can do, how much do you change what you are looking for out of that position from what you got with Michael?
COACH WEIS: Oh not much. As a matter of fact, there’s some elements of it you actually gain. Like Duval, he’s the best blocking receiver we have. Not that you are putting in a receiver to block. You are putting in a receiver to catch. But he’s by far our best blocking wide receiver. It’s not even close. One thing you do gain, whether it be run or play action, if you are running towards that side you got a guy that is a man over there when it comes blocking.
No one really truly just replaces Michael. Michael’s a frontline, top shelf player right now. So I think it’s combination of guys that will — it will be a combination of guys that pick up the slack, and I think we’ll be just fine.
Q. Can you talk about Rudolph as a blocker from the start of the season to last week and there were plenty of third-down plays where he just kind of dominated guys.
COACH WEIS: Significantly improved. He is a very prideful person, and the first game against Nevada although he had production in the pass game, he didn’t have a very good day at the point of attack. And, you know, it was a tough next week for him. Because (tight ends coach) Bernie (Parmalee) was on him, and Bernie’s a lot nicer than I am. So Bernie was on him one way, and I was on him another way. But he’s really stepped up the last couple weeks.
But, his blocking, I mean, there was only a couple times this week where I didn’t see him win at the point. There was one play where he got knocked back a little bit, Armando ended up cutting inside for a nice run. But for most of the day right there he was handling the edge and really did a nice job for us.
Q. Is it more of a mental improvement for him than anything else?
COACH WEIS: I think that, he remembered now that he’s a tight end. He is not a wide receiver. I asked him if he wanted to change his number and go meet with (receivers) Coach (Rob) Ianello, and I did even ask him this, the week of the Michigan game. We were going to just move him to the wide receiver room after his blocking performance, but he asked if he could stay with the tight ends.
Q. The last couple games you guys have had breaks for you and against you?
COACH WEIS: We’re one play away from being 3-0 and one play away from being 1-2. I’m with you, Pete.
Q. Is the next step to be good enough that you can absorb those breaks and still win comfortably?
COACH WEIS: Well, that would be the intent. But the only thing is I think you never can be presumptuous because Purdue is always tough for us, especially there at 8:00 p.m. at night, you know, the place will be rocking and rolling.
Q. I guess when you look at your offense overall how much of a benefit do you think it’s been to have one system for five years? Everybody in this program on offense has learned one system, you’ve recruited to the one system so the players fit exactly what you are trying to do.
COACH WEIS: Well I think it’s big benefit. I think the biggest benefit is the fact that we finally have gotten to the point where everything kind of meshes together with the staff and the team. It’s kind of a natural flow. And, you have a guy like Dayne (Crist) and guys like Evan (Sharpley) that are backup quarterbacks that are pretty ready to play. You know, Evan’s obviously played and Dayne’s ready to play. Having that consistency with the verbiage and what you do and how you do it I think it’s big plus.
Q. Defensively, you’ve had multiple coordinators, multiple systems, how much of this is something you guys are constantly trying to overcome?
COACH WEIS: Actually since Corwin (Brown) came and then Jon (Tenuta) came and they kind of meshed from one system to the other. The transition there wasn’t very big. The transition was from Rick to Corwin more than it was from Corwin to Jon because it’s just the volume of how much — what you do, not if you are going do it.
Q. So you don’t see it as like you have a 3-4 — you recruited players to the 3-4, they’re now in the 4-3, you don’t see that as an issue?
COACH WEIS: When you play 3-4 and reduce an end it becomes under; that’s what 3-4 is. You go watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play this week and their 3-4 defense and you are going to see that 80 percent of the game one guy, the guy away from the tight end is going be on the guard and it’s under, so they’re playing a 4-3, it’s just 4-3 personnel. So it’s really not any different than Kerry Neal or John Ryan being on the weak side right there playing an outside linebacker position.
Q. Charlie, just for the record with (Michael) Floyd’s surgery, everything went okay and nothing’s really changed about his outlook?
COACH WEIS: Nope, he’s good. I mean he had a clavicle — in the olden days they use to just put a shoulder harness with you then whenever you could tolerate it you would go out there and play. What they do now is they actually put in a plate so that when you have a broken clavicle it kind of extends it out to its normal size and range of motion so it’s now permanently in place. So that’s what it is. Now it just goes through — everything heals around it and they don’t even take the plate out the plate just stays in there.
Q. Like you said you anticipate it being a season-long thing?
COACH WEIS: You know, they said two months would be optimistic. So, I mean, at the end the year is there an outside shot, yeah, there would be an outside shot, but I would never put Michael at risk, That’s one thing I wouldn’t do.
Q. When you have a guy in Mike (Floyd), and Golden (Tate) would be in this category too, Jimmy (Clausen) can kind of have that hand grenade accuracy sometimes, throw it up and they’ll make a play. How does losing a guy like Floyd maybe impact Jimmy in terms of taking what the defense gives you thing, trying not to take too many risks that he can maybe take when Michael Floyd is out there?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think one of the things he’ll do and going on in practice is you keep on testing out some of these other guys to see what you are going get when you put them in a similar situation. That being said, I think that you probably don’t take as many risks in those one-on-one situations, which kind of where you are going right here. Probably don’t take as many risks and probably take the easy money instead of laying as many up to him.
Q. So, you are not in Jimmy’s head, but is it relatively easy for a quarterback to step back when he has that outlet?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think he has confidence in other receivers, so I think that is not the way he’s thinking right now. You know, I think he’s thinking if he is throwing the ball to Duval in the same situation that he is expecting Duval to make the play. Duval’s come a long way now. One of the things, last year Duval had a little problem with some drops and we haven’t seen that in practice. He just hasn’t had as many opportunities to catch the ball, and I think that now is his chance.
Q. You mentioned Sunday defensively finding things to hang your hat on. Jon’s scheme seems pretty complicated, at least to people from the outside looking in. Is it easy to “uncomplicate” that?
COACH WEIS: I don’t think the scheme is very complicated. I think that basically when you are playing a defense that is a one-gap defense, which is what it is, not a two-gap defense, it’s one-gap defense, you have to make sure you’re in your gap. And how you get there might be the issue, not where you are suppose to be. I don’t think it’s really that complicated.
I think that that was stressed last week and will continue to be stressed this week. You got to get into your gap. Because everyone’s in there it kind of closes up everything the opponents want to do.
Q. This is off-topic a little bit. I’m always kind of amazed these guys can juggle all the school, football and whatnot. Are you pretty impressed how these guys can keep the grades up and keep everything running along?
COACH WEIS: The day is brutal. It really is. It’s brutal. It’s brutal day. I know they’re student-athletes and I always laugh when people say well they’re going to school for nothing. Well they don’t see the day these guys go through. You know. Because they get up early, go to class, get done with class about 2:00, get over here at 2:15, We meet me for an hour and a half, go get changed, go practice for a couple hours, come in, some have media, some don’t have media, go grab something for dinner, go to study hall. Study hall is over at 10:30. Now it’s 10:30 at night. I mean, from early in the morning till 10:30 at night, that is the first time they get a break. You know most people are in bed already. That is the first break they get in the day. You know, it’s long day.
Q. Then do it all again tomorrow, right?
COACH WEIS: And dial it up again the next day. That’s exactly right.
And if they’re injured they’re getting treatment or if you want to come over and get a workout in. Because to stay in a 20-hour workweek, you have to make lifts. The lifts are getting the workout in, going to the voluntary stage at this stage of the year, where they’re mandatory in the summertime. So, you know, are they working out, can their schedule allow them to workout at 6:00 or 8:00 or 10:00 or 1:00 You know, you have to have that flexibility because, you know, classes take precedent.
Q. Following up on Sunday, what you said going with the heavier defensive rotation. I think you played 20 or 21 guys, 1 or 2 series. Is it a situation where after three games you are starting to see a little bit of 1 and 1A like in August or do you not yet?
COACH WEIS: I think that even if it’s not 1A yet, Tim, I think that some of the 2s are good enough where we can count on them playing in a game and making plays. So even if the drop from one guy to the next guy is still significant, can that guy go in the game and have us still function That’s really the most critical thing. You know, some guys will. Like you said, at the bye is a good time to evaluate where you are with a lot of people. But you know some guys move up, and some guys move down, and that’s ever changing.
But I think there’s some guys — you know I’ll give you one example. Let’s take a guy like Sean Cwynar. We had mentioned him in training camp one time. I mentioned him as a guy I could see on the field, now he is starting to get a little time in the game. It’s not necessarily because Sean might not be playing as well as Ian (Williams), but Sean playing fresh versus Ian playing tired, you know, you might gain more from Sean being out there than Ian being out there. So I think we’re at the stage now where we’re not afraid to put him in there and play him in a game.
Q. Is there ever a point where thinking maybe substitutions early can throw them off a bit like in the secondary?
COACH WEIS: I don’t think that these guys would get thrown off too much when you start substituting early. They just see you as rolling those guys through.
The one thing that is sometimes when you are game planning against a guy as an offensive coordinator you see this guy is in here and you don’t want to run at him but all of a sudden his substitute’s in and you want to run against him, those types of things happen. It’s just whether or not you can pay attention to all of the guys going in and out of the game.
Q. You mentioned your number one objective this week is to play more deep, more confidence on the defense.
COACH WEIS: No, as a team. That is true on special teams as well, and it’s true on some of the people on offense as well.
Q. Defensively though, did you feel that maybe schematically or whatever there was a feeling of them playing on their heel as little bit more?
COACH WEIS: As I said before, Lou, this wasn’t about scheme okay. This was about guys being in a position to make a play and not making a play. You know, when you are in a position, if you are going to make a tackle and you are at the right spot and the guy’s there and you’re there and you don’t make the play, you know, you feel bad. You feel like you are letting people down, and, you know, you can’t worry about that play.
When you are playing football, you can’t worry about the last play that took place. You got to worry about the next play. So what you then do is you have to work on forward thinking, not backward thinking. Get them forward thinking. You know, because if you spend too much time worrying about, you know, the last guy then you are fighting a losing battle.
Q. Is there a best coaching manual for instilling that type of confidence?
COACH WEIS: We’re working on it. That’s the party line here with the coaching staff this weekend; it’s from me right on down. I think it will be a very, let’s go, let’s go. This will be very upbeat day. At least the start of practice will be upbeat, Lou, then we’ll see how it goes from there.
Q. Offensively, kind of even alluded to it Sunday that your major objective is to not have people just roll up on Golden (Tate). Last year you lost Michael also for latter part of the season and there were some struggles on offense. Is there a best formula?
COACH WEIS: Well there’s a combination of things you can do. First of all, I could move Golden (Tate) around, which I’m ready to do. You know, so that he’s not in the same spot all the time. But, that being said, besides doing that with Golden, I think that there’s different players that provide a different problem for the opponent’s defense, and I’ll give you an example.
Like Shaq Evans is very, very fast. Even though Shaq Evans might not be as good a receiver as Duval, all of a sudden you got speed opposite of speed, so what are you going to do, Lou? Are you just going to say we’re just going to roll it to him and let that other corner go one-on-one? Because that guy might get run by because this kid is really, really fast. So, that’s just giving you one example. You can’t do it with one person.
You know, there’s not one guy that’s going to replace Michael Floyd, but we have multiple guys in line to do different things to try to pick up the slack.
Q. Coach, you talked about it in the preseason. Can you just talk about the improvement in Jimmy’s mobility and pocket play?
COACH WEIS: Well, his moving in the pocket I think has been very, very good, not perfect, but very, very good. And I’d say as big a play as there was in the game might have been early in the game when he stepped back, it’s empty, he steps back, there’s pressure coming from both sides, and in the past he would have flushed out to the right, but he steps up in the pocket just the way you are suppose to do, just the way you practiced all spring, and then still had the awareness instead of pulling the ball down and just running for 10, which he very easily could have done, know that Rudolph out is there in the left flat without anyone on him and throw it out there. Next thing you know his 10-yard run turns into 50, whatever we gained on the play. I mean that’s big time stuff here now because almost every quarterback that you see that is put in that situation is going to tuck it and run it.
Q. He was wide open on that Armando Allen touchdown pass. What did he say after the game?
COACH WEIS: He is still mad at Armando (laughter.)
Q. If you were Jimmy’s professor, how close is he to graduating?
COACH WEIS: Graduating from football?
Q. Yes. I mean, how close is he to a diploma in football?
COACH WEIS: One of the things we talked about is where was Jimmy going to be year three, you know, as we went back and rehashed the Brady (Quinn) year three and Jimmy year three, and what we all hoped and remember now we’re only three games into the season, so it’s bit premature at this point. But, so far, based off the evidence you’d have to say, he’s well on his way.
Q. This time last week, you were getting so many questions about the six-game losing streak and how are you getting psyched. Is it nicer to just be in the routine of the season where every game doesn’t have to have its own marquee banner?
COACH WEIS: You mean when I’m not the lead story in the country? I think the most important thing for our team is every week to have some focus.
Getting back to Lou’s question before. Our focus this week, in addition to getting ready to try to beat Purdue on the road, hostile environment, Saturday night, 8:00, tough place to play, the most important thing is we try to continually evolve as a football team is to just get better. And some guys need to get better by playing with more confidence, and that is going be one of the main mantras this week.
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