Sept. 20, 2005
COACH WEIS: Good morning/good afternoon, right on the button here. As we prepare for Washington, I wanted to give a little state of the union. First of all, our coaching staff and our team has the utmost respect for Coach Willingham, his staff, and in addition his team and their university. What this week is really going to be about is us getting back to us fixing our own problems fundamentally and technically, and that’s going to be our points of emphasis.
Washington, since 1981, they are 47 7 at home versus non PAC 10 teams. So obviously they’ve shown a great air of dominance at their university when they’re playing at home.
As regards to the three elements of their team, starting with their offense, Tim Lappano actually coached for two different teams in the NFL, their offensive coordinator just came from the 49ers, also had coached for the Seahawks, I believe with Coach Erickson at Oregon State, as well. He runs the offense. I know last week they rushed the ball for just under 200 yards, I think it was 39 carries for 192 yards. Obviously, they controlled the clock and their game last week.
Their quarterback, (Isaiah) Stanback, # 4, he’s a converted wide receiver, very athletic, big arm. Last week he showed how he can run an efficient game. He was 9 for 16 for 145 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for another touchdown as well. They do have another guy coming back that I’m familiar with by the name of (Johnny) Durocher, # 12. He’s a transfer from Oregon. He hasn’t been able to play yet. I think this is his first week that he’s eligible. We’re familiar with him, too. We’ve done some research. He’s more of a drop back quarterback so we have to be ready just in case he sees some time.
Their running back, (Louis) Rankin, # 9, two out of three games he’s played this year he’s rushed for over a hundred yards. Last week he was 19 for 115, but he also rushed for over a hundred yards in that Air Force game as well.
They play five wide receivers. Obviously they play all of them, not the same amount, but all of them show up. (Sonny) Shackelford is their leader, he’s averaging 16 yards per catch. (Anthony) Russo, who’s also their primary punt returner, he’s their second leading guy, # 5. The biggest guy they got I believe his name is (Craig) Chambers, # 3, he’s 6’5″ another big guy, like last week. Last year he was second on the team in catches, but he only played five games. Three of his games that he played, he had over a hundred yards in catching. He’s somebody that won’t sneak up on us.
They have two other guys, # 18, (Corey) Williams and #13 (Charles) Smith. I know from talking to some of the coaches that were on their staff last year, they really liked Williams. We have to be a little leery of him, because he hasn’t seen as much time as some of these other guys have.
Both their tight ends are converted from other positions. 88, (Robert) Lewis, was an outside linebacker who switched to tight end. (Johnie) Kirton, a bigger body as far as weight goes, I’m not really sure if that’s true because they’re both pretty good size, but Kirton switched from running back to tight end. They’re both converted this year.
They got a big offensive line. I think their smallest guy is about 6’4″, 300. Their center, (Brad) Vanneman, is their main veteran guy, the guy who played all last year. He anchors down that offensive line. But it’s a big offensive line, no small guys there.
Over on defense, Kent Baer is the defensive coordinator. Last week they had seven sacks. Idaho rushed for negative yards for the game. It was a pretty impressive display. The defensive line is led by (Manase) Hopoi, # 56. He’s pretty good. Three and a half sacks last week, in last week’s game alone.
Their linebackers are a veteran group. They’re all return to starters. You have (Joe) Lobendahn at the Mike, he’s flanked by (Scott) White and (Evan) Benjamin outside. Like I said, they’re all returners. There’s a lot of evidence of them making plays. And they’re strong up the middle especially on defense including their two safeties, both (Dashon) Goldson and (C.J.) Wallace. Goldson at free and Wallace at strong. They’re both returning starters. I think one of them I think Goldson started all the games, and Wallace started nine. One of them started nine, one of them started all the games last year. And (Matt) Fountaine and (Josh) Okoebor handle all the corners.
Coach (Bob) Simmons handles the special teams. One of my concerns is our fundamentals. Last week we had a punt blocked. Coincidentally in their game against Idaho, they blocked a punt. That’s kind of a state of the union as far as the research we’ve done on of the University of Washington.
Q. Is the process of going back to the fundamentals, is that something that every team has to do every year, even the Patriots?
COACH WEIS: I think they’re probably doing that today, to tell you the truth. Any time you lose a game you have to identify what you feel are the things to get your mistakes corrected the fastest. It almost always falls back to the same thing that if you’re fundamentally sound, you’re technically sound, you usually have a lot better chance for success. So, therefore, you have to put the time into that rather than just doing practice reps. You have to go back and delegate the time to be able to do that.
Q. (Rhema) McKnight, change in his status this week?
COACH WEIS: Yes. He’s gone from not playing to day to day. So he’s day to day.
Q. Prior to the Pittsburgh game, you talked about all the different offensive and defensive tapes that you studied, because of all the connections. Who were the various teams that you studied this week with regard to Washington?
COACH WEIS: Well, it helps when you have the playbook. You know, the playbook that Kent (Baer) has, we have so, when they walk out the door, they can take everything else with them. When you have a copy of it, you have a copy of it. Kind of helps a little bit when you know the foundation of the playbook.
As far as the offense goes, I’m familiar with the offensive scheme that they use more coming from the NFL be anything else, with their offensive coordinator being a NFL guy, two tours of duty. You really have to go back, rather than just study their personnel, you watch last year’s games to study personnel, not schemes. Then you go watch the coaches to find out what they’re going to do schematically.
Q. Brady Quinn seems really to have improved his play action fakes. Did you hone in on that with him? Did you emphasize that?
COACH WEIS: We started that in the spring. Depending on how many men are involved in protection and how the depth of the drops based off of the play you have called, how much time you have to go ahead and sell a fake. I think that he understands whether it’s a three step drop, five step drop, seven step drop mentality, how much time he has to go out and sell a fake. Sometimes you can’t give a very good fake mainly because, A, they’re blitzing and you got to pull out of it, or B, you’re throwing something on a quicker mentality.
So there’s usually different styles of fake based on the depth of your drop.
Q. You said on Sunday that you felt you didn’t do a good job dealing with the distractions based upon the way your team played in the first half. Was it just based upon that or were there some other indications to you that they weren’t quite as focused?
COACH WEIS: My responsibility is to have the team focused from the start of the game to the end of the game. That’s my responsibility. And despite the definite pros that showed up in the second half, there were too many cons along the way and therefore you lose the game.
I think my job ultimately is to have that focus from the start of the game to the end of the game, realizing it’s never going to be perfect. I need to do a better job getting the players to have more attention to detail, therefore to do something about that, that’s why we’re going to go spend time on attention to detail starting today.
Q. You mentioned having the play book. Did you go back at all and look at last year’s Notre Dame to get an idea?
COACH WEIS: Personnel only. I don’t worry about any plays that Notre Dame ran. I don’t worry about any defenses or offenses that Washington was running. I went to look at personnel.
Q. I meant, did you look at Notre Dame games to get an idea of what Kent Baer might be doing?
COACH WEIS: We definitely watch ourselves, our own defense. We definitely spent a good amount of time watching that.
Q. I haven’t seen Washington’s offense yet. Is it at all similar to what Notre Dame ran last year?
COACH WEIS: No, not really.
Q. Could you talk about Jeff Samardzija. He’s made a number of touchdown catches. Suddenly, he finds the end zone regularly. What is the key there?
COACH WEIS: Well, there are a couple things. First of all, playing time. That’s always critical. Secondly, we’ve been like last week we got into a game where we were throwing it way more than you’d like to be throwing it. You would expect receivers to have big numbers when you throw it 60 times. It’s really not utopia to be going out there and doing that. If you’re throwing it 60 times, somebody better be catching a good many of those.
I think Jeff is a very dependable, reliable receiver with great hands and good ball skills. He’s been the recipient of being open. We don’t ever design plays just to go to a guy. We try to throw it to the guy that’s open based off coverage and progression. He’s been the recipient of being in the right place at the right time.
Q. You talked about distractions last week, said that was one of the things you were guarding against.
COACH WEIS: I think we’ll do a great job of that this week.
Q. How are you confident about that? If it didn’t work last week, how are you confident?
COACH WEIS: It’s a different set of encyclopedias this week. I think they’ve already been addressed.
Q. Do you think just having whether we talked about it or not, having Willingham on the bench, on the sideline, it changes the dynamic no matter what anyone says, doesn’t it, just knowing he’s there?
COACH WEIS: I think if our players watched the tape of the game against Michigan State, we have enough problems to worry about on our own, and that’s what we’re worrying about. We’re worrying about our own problems. There was plenty of evidence to the players, when they watched the tape on Sunday, of things we need to fix.
By the time we get through all those things and get to the game, I don’t think there’s any distractions because once the game starts, you’re not looking across the field, you’re just worrying about the guys on the field.
Q. Can you be more specific, fundamentals is a pretty broad term. Is there one or two things specifically?
COACH WEIS: Give me the side of the ball you want me to talk about and I’ll give you an example.
COACH WEIS: Offense. In our offensive scheme, have you three different depths that the quarterback drops at. You have three step drop patterns where the ball comes out in a hurry. You throw three step drop, whether it’s a slant, diagonal, hitch, fade, regardless, an out, it all is coming out on timing. Therefore, the precision passing has to be right on because there’s very little room for error as far as accuracy of passes. You have to be right on.
The deeper the route is, the more room you have for error because it takes longer to develop and more things can happen and you really don’t have to be as accurate. You think about how many times you’ve seen deep balls that guys have just gone up and make a play on. That’s because the accuracy isn’t nearly as important on a deep ball as it is on the short and intermediate. It gets progressively less of a demand the deeper the throw is. But the shorter the throw is, the more precision comes into play.
If you just call plays in practice, but then don’t really go out and practice those different mentalities of three step drop, five step drop and seven step drop and it isn’t just a quarterback, it’s also the guys running the routes. If a guy is running a six yard route, he can’t run it at four, he can’t run it at eight. If he’s running at six, he’s got to run it at six. It isn’t just the quarterback. It’s also the guys running the routs.
Q. How about defense?
COACH WEIS: Defense, I can give you a couple different examples. Let’s just talk about tackling. When you’re tackling an elusive guy that’s very nifty, one thing you can’t do is just try to run right through the guy, because he’ll make you miss. So you have to really work on how to settle your feet and keep your hips even, to keep your balance low so when he goes to make that little juke move to make you miss, it’s going to be a non factor.
One of the things we’ll spend a good portion of time on today is tackling. Tackling won’t necessarily be knocking people down, it will be form tackling because that’s the thing you have to guard against. You have to guard against all their skill guys, including their quarterback, who is a very elusive guy.
Q. On the wide receiver sort of as a whole, when you throw it 60 times, there’s going to be a lot of different guys catching balls. That’s been a theme this year. How much of a conscious effort to you put to spread the ball around in the passing game?
COACH WEIS: The whole offense that I’ve been brought up under is you don’t worry about making stars, you throw it to the open guy. Not everyone likes to fit into a system like that. Really it keeps everyone involved because you never know who is going to be the star of the day. You never know whether it’s going to be a running back or tight end or a wide receiver. You don’t know which one. The quarterbacks are taught basically to read plays based off of two things: one is coverage, the other one is progression. I think you don’t really know who the benefactor is going to be based on the offensive scheme.
Q. You’re willing to, as you build a game plan, if you need to throw it all over the field, you’ll do that. If the run is working, you’ll stick with that. That being said, how comfortable are you with 60 passes in one game?
COACH WEIS: I would have been a lot more comfortable if we would have made one more play last week. But I think you’re always looking in the ideal world for a balance. You’re looking for a balance. Now, I don’t know whether the balance is 50/50, 60/40. You usually don’t want to be too tainted. But I can tell you right now, if you’re winning a game running it on every play, there are less bad things that can happen when you’re running it than when you’re throwing it.
The flipside of that is, if you’re running on every play, you’re getting two yards, going three and out, or you’re putting yourself in a third down, never converted a first or second down, I think you put your team behind. So really it has to be a mix and match based on that week, and sometimes based on that quarter of the game. It just depends on how things are going.
Q. Maurice Crum Jr. had a lot of competition at linebacker coming into the season. What did he do to kind of rise above everybody and secure that spot?
COACH WEIS: Ironically, because we’re emphasizing fundamentals and techniques, he was pretty obviously one of the more fundamentally and technically sound players on the field. It was evident. Just like in his form tackling and practice, he probably is as good as we have on our team as far as doing things the right way. So they were the things that stood out. That’s what kind of separated him from the other guys.
Q. When you go over film, will you say, “That’s how it’s done,” with a certain play, or do you not get into that?
COACH WEIS: We also show them, “That’s how it’s not done.”
Q. Following up on the Maurice Crum Jr. question, can you talk about him as someone in coverage, someone who is able to cover a wide receiver or a back out of the backfield?
COACH WEIS: He’s got good athletic ability. It’s a good thing that he’s come along because that was one of the uncertainties we had coming into the season. With Cory (Mays) waiting in the wings at middle linebacker, Brandon (Hoyte) being a known quality already, the one thing we really didn’t know for sure was who was going to be that guy that you kind of put in space a lot. With his athletic ability, it’s kind of put us in a position where right now he’s no longer our biggest area of concern.
Q. Can you evaluate your offensive line at this point of the season, how you think they played?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, sure (laughter). I’m not telling you. I can evaluate it every day.
Here is what I do know. Let’s start with the front six, because I’m including the four man rotation we have going inside.
I’d say with the front six guys, I’ve been very pleased with their awareness, their toughness. We all would have periods where we’d like to play better, but because I have confidence in them, it allows me to do some things that sometimes you wouldn’t do if you didn’t have confidence in a line that had this type of experience or wasn’t playing with any toughness.
Q. Darius Walker has had three 100 yard games. What do you still want to see from him in terms of improvement? How do you keep him, when he has success with his foot on the gas pedal?
COACH WEIS: I don’t think it’s just Darius, it’s the whole run game, with Darius as the trigger man. I would like to be more consistent in the run game. I’d like to get in the red zone and be able to run it in. I don’t mean just on the goal line either because, once teams start playing four across in the red zone, which not every team does, but there’s a good portion of them that do, usually the easiest way when the zone gets tighter down there to get in is by running it in. I think we’d all like to do that across the board, our whole team would like to do that.
One of our goals as a team, every week going into the game, is to be running for first downs and have an opportunity to bust a couple big plays. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get more consistent in yards per carry every time we go out there.
Q. In the second half, there was some conversation about the fact that Michigan State’s defense had been on the field for quite a bit, looked like maybe in the fourth quarter they were getting a little gassed. If they were out there the whole second half, so was our offense. Did you feel like the offense was getting tired towards the end of the game?
COACH WEIS: Didn’t look that way. As a matter of fact, when the players were coming off, that was the big thing they kept saying, “They’re out of the gas, they’re out of gas, they’re out of gas.” Our guys’ confidence was growing because you can see the guys you’re playing against, how it’s going. I have to give a lot of credit to Reuben (Mendoza), our off season conditioning and in season conditioning for that matter. I think our players are apparently in very good shape.
Q. After the game you weren’t looking for silver linings in a game you don’t win.
COACH WEIS: You’re right.
Q. The fact that a lot of things that happened negatively in the game are things you can control by fixing them yourself, some solace in the fact the enemy Saturday might have been ourselves and we can fix that?
COACH WEIS: I think that’s a valid point, the fact that if there was one I’ve talked to a bunch of people that all want to pat you on the back and say, “That’s great.” You know my attitude, by now you know what my feelings are on that. I think as long as you understand what the problems are and you believe they can be fixed, then you have a chance. That’s the most important thing as a coaching staff we need to do is, starting today, we have to start working on fixing them.
Q. Two quarterbacks have committed to this class. Is that something you want every year, the more quarterbacks you can, or is that more of a building depth type thing for the upcoming years?
COACH WEIS: You’d like to look for a quarterback a year. You’re always looking for the next quarterback. You never can enough quarterbacks, especially if they’re good ones. But I think this year was kind of a unique situation how things have gone down. Darrin (Bragg) moved over to wide receiver. Brady (Quinn) is a junior, only has a year left from now. Once I moved Darrin over, you really were down a spot at quarterback. I think this was one of those years where taking two quarterbacks is a right way of looking at it.
Obviously, I can’t talk about recruiting. We’re talking about philosophically, because all I can do is get myself in trouble if I’m actually talking about people. But I’m just talking about numbers and future. You always habe to be grooming your next set of guys. Sometimes those guys have to play early, sometimes they can wait their turn. But numbers wise, there’s holes that we have to fill, but this year one of the priorities for me was making sure as we go through there we could find two good ones.
Q. Kind of a different scenario, but when you had the Patriots, you had Bledsoe and Brady. Did you feel like you were growing Brady at that time?
COACH WEIS: When we brought Tommy in, he was our fourth string quarterback. And that year you never keep four, we usually keep three we actually kept him his first year there. We almost treated him like a redshirt. He got bigger. He was 185 pounds when he got there. When he ended up getting in the game the next year, he was 217 pounds, with 4% body fat or something like that. It was a good opportunity for him to watch without any pressure, and grow. When his number was called, the rest is history.
Q. To follow his question on recruiting, in a general overall sense as you look at what’s coming, how the process is going this year, are you on target with the plan that you set out for your recruiting for this year?
COACH WEIS: If everything holds true to form, the answer would be yes. But, you know, there are always surprises. If everything holds true to form, I’d say things are going okay.
Q. You talked about finishing after the Air Force game that Washington had, Parcells talked about it last night. How do you teach a time how to finish a game?
COACH WEIS: There are a couple different ways. One is by actually dictating play selection to do that. That’s one thing you could do. I always like to try to see how I could blame myself first before I blame somebody else. I always think that’s a good place to start.
But then after you do that, what you need to do is you need to get them in a position where it’s tight and you get them a little taste of what it’s like to actually have it happen, the light clicks on. I’ve been involved with organizations that that’s happened. Like all of a sudden the light clicks on. I remember back in 1993, we went to the Patriots. We were awful. I think we were 1 11 at the time. It was our first year there after we’d gone up there after they had been 2 14. We took over the job. We were 1 11. The month of December, we won out. We won the last four games.
We weren’t very good, but we won out. The next year we ended up going 10 6. Those guys started to figure out they could win those close games. Sometimes the effect doesn’t happen that day, okay, but once they get a taste of it, usually they start to figure out they’re going to win those games.
Q. State had a real big offensive line, you weren’t able to get to Stanton as much as you would like to. You mentioned the size of their offensive line. How do you teach a defense how to get around people that are that well fed and that strong?
COACH WEIS: There’s a couple different ways. One is you move. The other one is you blitz. The other way is you just out technique them. Let’s start with the out techniquing them for now, then we’ll play off the other two after that.
Q. Where do you see Rashon Powers Neal fitting in this week?
COACH WEIS: I told you last week already where it stood. You want me to reiterate what I said the other day? Ask the question again.
Q. Where do you see him really fitting in this week? Like you said last week, he was being groomed for the backup tailback role.
COACH WEIS: Why would I give an answer to that question? Do you want me to just go tell Washington what we’re doing this week? The answer is, he can play both fullback and halfback, and that’s what he’ll be prepared to do this week. I’m not going to tell them what we’re doing.
Q. Darius averaged about 25 carries a game, 13 catches so far in the passing game. Is that about the level you see for him?
COACH WEIS: I think Darius could run the ball in a game 40 times if you wanted him to. But, you have to worry about the whole season. I would not be very smart if I gave him the ball too many times in any game because I want the kid to last the whole season. So you can’t just worry about the number of carries in that game. You have to worry about the number of carries, touches or carries, in this game, how it affects this game, the next game, the next game, because I’ve seen too many good running backs get worn out early in the year and have no gas in their tank at the end of the year.
You have to play each week to win that game and try to maximize what you think his efficiency would be at that time, ultimately realizing what you want to be able to do is just keep that going as a steady pace for the entire season. Staying on that even keel thing we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. 25 to 30 touches are good numbers for him.
Q. Switching gears at the tight end spot with Anthony (Fasano), he’s been described by announcers as kind of that security blanket for Brady. Do you see him as that or do you see him in a different way as he fits in the offense?
COACH WEIS: I think Anthony’s pretty good. I think I’ve coached a lot of tight ends at the level higher than this, and there aren’t very many of them that can do all the things that he can do. I’ve had guys that are better blockers. I’ve had guys that could run better. I’ve had guys that were better receivers. But I’ve had very few that could do everything. He can run. He can catch. He can block.
Q. The fact that he can do everything, do you foresee him having a decision to make at the end of the year?
COACH WEIS: I can’t even believe you’d ask that question (laughter). That’s like asking me what Rashon powers is going to do this week.
Let me chuckle a little more on that one.
Q. Can you talk about Darius (Walker’s) development as a blocker, how has he improved and how much more can he do in that area?
COACH WEIS: That’s a good area to talk about because Darius really wants to be that complete back. Sometimes when somebody is 205 pounds, everyone looks at him and says he’s not an every down back, he’s a third down back, a second down back. I think Darius, along with coach (Mike) Haywood, have been working all year along to make it where we can put him on the field in all three downs. You’ll notice on third downs he’s out there, too. Obviously, Coach Haywood and our staff has enough confidence that Darius is ready to hold the role of not only a runner, but also somebody who can catch the ball and somebody who can pick up the blitz.
Q. Is the biggest factor to becoming a good blocker is that desire to want to do it?
COACH WEIS: Heart has something to do with it, but really technique comes into play. I’ll give you an example. When you have a blitzing linebacker, when running backs sit there and wait on blitzing linebackers, in other words, they know who they have but they sit there and wait on them, very often they get run over. That’s just what happens.
The running backs, having heart is an important thing, but also stepping up in the hole and not waiting for them just to run you over, you stepping up to meet them, that’s almost as important. It gets back to fundamentals and techniques.
Q. You have the playbook from last year, so you kind of know what Washington is going to try to do. If they’ve got intimate knowledge of your personnel, they know your guys, which one is the bigger advantage?
COACH WEIS: I think we just know our personnel pretty well.
Q. Even if you have so many of your own issues to deal with, these are essential college players who will be playing against their former coach. How can that not be a factor, even just from a motivational standpoint?
COACH WEIS: I guess you weren’t in the meeting on Sunday watching the tape of that Michigan State game.
Q. No, I wasn’t.
COACH WEIS: If you were in that meeting, you’d be worrying about fixing those problems.
Q. So you don’t think
COACH WEIS: I think that’s what they’re worrying about. They’re worrying about fixing those problems they saw on Sunday because there was a plethora.
Q. I read somewhere when you attended Notre Dame, you would sit in the stands, kind of do a play by play of the games. Is that accurate?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I was obnoxious, sarcastic guy from New Jersey. You got it. Go ahead, take shots at my character (laughter).
Q. It’s interesting. Obviously a guy who would do that ends up coaching the team. Was that ever a dream or goal of yours?
COACH WEIS: No. I actually wanted to be a sports announcer, but I wasn’t very good at that either. That’s really what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a sports announcer. I found out in a hurry that there wasn’t much money in that.
Q. What was the highest level of football you played?
COACH WEIS: High school, and I wasn’t very good there either.
COACH WEIS: I was a fat center.
Q. What made you decide to get into coaching then?
COACH WEIS: I got certified to teach while I was at school here as kind of a fallback plan if I didn’t get into announcing or if I didn’t get into an industry I like. One of the things that kind of intrigued me was teaching. After a year, when I was out of school, I was a little disenchanted with industry, I took a job teaching high school English, coaching. It just kind of fell from there.
Q. When you were at New England, you had a couple Huskies, Damon Huard and Lawyer Milloy. I heard they told you a lot about the Washington program and you might have even looked into being the coach here at some point.
COACH WEIS: They loved Washington. Damon and Lawyer were two of my favorites. I actually had a little trouble at University of Washington a few years ago. Kind of funny. I guess they had gone through a coaching change. I was flying with my family for 10 days to go to Disney World. Two reporters called me up on Thursday night and talked to me and said Damon and Lawyer said you should call this guy up. I go to Disney World, come back. Next thing I know, I was all over the papers in New England, how I’m trying to leave and go to the University of Washington. (Bill) Belichick was really happy with me.
Q. You didn’t really
COACH WEIS: I never in my life did I ever talk to anybody from the University of Washington. Excuse me, I did talk to Lawyer and Damon. Technically I’m incorrect.
Q. Is calling plays a science or an art?
COACH WEIS: Calling plays, that it’s both in the fact that it’s more of a science in your preparation, but it’s an art on game day. The good play callers are guys that can adapt to things that are going on during the game. That’s what makes the difference between really good offensive coordinators and just so so ones, guys that during a game don’t sit around and wait for it to be halftime before you start doing something about problems that occur.
The science that goes into preparation is half of it, but I think the really good guys are the guys that can do it on game day.
Q. Do you script plays?
COACH WEIS: Yes, I script plays. I usually script somewhere between 15 and 20, but there’s been times when I’ve run all 20 of them down in one drive. There’s been times after six plays I say, obviously they’re not going to work, just scrap the next 14, just move it on to something else.
Q. You have a number of players from Minnesota on your roster. In particular, three kids from the same high school in St. Paul, (Ryan) Harris, (Marcus) Freeman and (Rashon) Powers Neal. Can you talk about what you like about these particular players.
COACH WEIS: You know, we have a kind of natural affinity here because we got (John) Carlson from up there, too. We have a bunch of guys that stepped up for us.
What I do really like about those players is they’re all our type of kids. They’re tough guys, they are smart guys, they are high character guys and they’re very coachable, very easy to coach.
Q. Obviously, Ryan Harris, a lot of people are talking about him stepping up to another level of play, being one of the most talented offensive tackles in college. Do you see him making that step?
COACH WEIS: I think that Ryan will have a chance to play on Sundays if that’s what you’re asking. Any time you’re a left tackle that’s got pass blocking ability and can also block some for the run, you’re going to get a look. I think Ryan continues to progress. It’s a good for him. It’s certainly good for my spirits.
Q. Tyrone Willingham said yesterday he had you come in while he and his staff were at Notre Dame to talk with them. Can you talk about that discussion, what you maybe saw they were doing that you did like.
COACH WEIS: I wasn’t there to judge what they were doing. I had gone to Notre Dame. A few of the people knew me. They asked me to come in. I visited with the offensive staff for a day. We got to just brainstorm back and forth and ask and answer some questions. It was kind of like a little clinic. I was there for a couple days, went home.
Q. For a guy that knows nothing about scripting plays, I’ve been interested in it. When you script plays, could you give me an elementary explanation of how that works. I always think third and one you have a deep pass called, that’s not going to work.
COACH WEIS: You don’t follow the script from there. In other words, you go off the script for situations. When you put 15, 20 plays down there, if the third play comes up third and eight, you go to your lead call for third and eight. In addition to scripting those plays, you also prioritize all the situations on the field. In other words, I prioritize third and one, third and two, third and three, third and seven, third and nine, third and 11. Red zone, you’re on the 20, the 16, the 12. It’s first down, it’s third down. I mean, I have a lead play in all those. I go to it.
That’s why during a game a lot of times, preparation, when he talked with the science of play calling, a lot of that is already in my mind. I don’t need to look at the call sheet; I already know what it is. But what happens is as the game goes on, now you’ve utilized a lot of those things. You’ve gone through the script and you’ve utilized a lot of those lead plays. That’s where the art of play calling comes into play. You still have to call the rest of the plays in the game. Where are you going for those? That’s where you have to think quick.