Sept. 30, 2007
COACH WEIS: Just to reiterate what I said after the game yesterday, you know, most of you obviously heard what I said. But watching the tape this morning pretty much verified most of the things we talked about.
You come out, you didn’t play well in the first half, down 23 0. Winning at halftime. Could have gone one of two ways at that point. Could have gotten really bad or become a very competitive game, and it became a very competitive game.
But still we still made too many miscues. You turn the ball over three times in the game. Had another one on the ground we were fortunate to get back. Had 11 penalties in the game, three of them in one drive. One of them was when things were just starting to swing in our direction. In addition we had a couple of times where we were stopped on fourth down, one on the plus 35 yard line in the first half, which were almost like turnovers in their own right because the ball goes in the other direction.
Throw on top of that a blocked field goal, and there’s just too many bad plays. Before you even get to good and bad things that happen in the game, there are too many things where you’re not giving yourself a chance to go ahead and win the game when you make those type of miscues.
There were some obvious reasons for optimism with our performance in the second half, but there’s really no such thing as moral victory. So the bottom line is, you know, it’s a 60 minute game and we didn’t perform for 60 minutes.
Q. After the game yesterday, a lot of players said you challenged them in a different way at halftime than maybe you have all season. Do you feel like you found a new button to push with these guys, that they responded to kind of a new approach?
COACH WEIS: I prefer not to have to use that approach. I prefer not to. But every once in a while you’re forced to go to that level, and fortunately they responded. I prefer not to do it.
Really at halftime what you want to be doing is critically evaluating what happened. You had a 20 minute time period so you have time to evaluate what happened in the first half, what the problem areas were, and then what you’re going to do in the second half.
I think we spent a good portion of our time talking about showing up. You prefer to be doing the former, not the latter.
Q. Yet if it works, why wouldn’t you prefer to do it?
COACH WEIS: That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, okay? You prefer not to do it. You prefer not to do it that way really because it only works so many times. You’re dealing with players that after a while, they hear the same thing. It gets old, okay? If you’re going to let loose, there’s only so many times that ‘let loosing’ is going to have some kind of a response. But it was a let loose yesterday.
Q. And with Golden (Tate), you mentioned drawing up in the dirt type of plays. I know he was a running back in high school. How close is he to being a regular part of the offense?
COACH WEIS: He’s been our best offensive scout team player every week for the last bunch of weeks. He goes down there, and those plays you saw in the game, he makes those in practice every single day against our defense. We had a big conversation in our staff meeting today about guys that go down on show team and use show team to make themselves better versus guys that go to show team and look at it as a punishment.
I think what he’s done is he’s played himself more and more into the other end of the field by what he’s been doing on show team alone. I think you’ll see more and more of Golden here every week.
Q. Medically, did you get a sense of where Jimmy (Clausen) is right now?
COACH WEIS: We texted back and forth last night. When these guys come in, they go and get treatment. That’s the first thing they do, they come in and get treatment.
He didn’t think it was going to be anything bad. But usually with things like that, usually the next day is when you have a better feel. I meet with Jim and the doctors at quarter after 1.
Q. Schedule this week. Are you practicing today?
COACH WEIS: Well, today is going to be more like I did last Sunday where, in addition to running, lifting, watching the tape, we’re also going to walk through things from yesterday.
Now, Tuesday, we are going to hit again, but I’ve adapted it a little bit again so that I continue trying to upgrade our toughness at the line of scrimmage. But this week what we’re going to do, and the players don’t even know this yet, so I’m telling you before I tell them, but this week on Tuesday there’s not going to be show teams for most of the practice.
That means the first offense will run UCLA’s plays for the defense, and the first defense will run UCLA’s defense for the offense. So this way, instead of wasting the reps and just going us against us, it will be good guys giving a look of the opposing team this week.
Q. (Question off microphone regarding Golden Tate.)
COACH WEIS: That’s a pretty fair question. First of all, it starts with hearing the play called, going out and executing it versus looking at it on a card. You walk up there, they hold up a card. You say, “okay, I run out 18 yards and hang a left.” That’s a little different than when you call a play that one time he in cuts at 14, the next time he in cuts at 18, depending on what the protection called.
I think that’s the one thing he’s going to have to get more definition of. But we’ve been working on fast tracking him. You know, obviously when you go out there and make some plays like he did yesterday, we’ll try to fast track him even more.
But the one thing I told him in the locker room after the game, he’s got to become a more consistent all around player, not just be able to run by everyone on every play. Somebody asked me last week, “what does he do the best?” I said, “he runs by people.” Well, that’s the same thing he did yesterday in the game. But now if he wants to play more, on a more consistent basis, he’s going to have to do all the things, not just run by people on every play.
Q. Someone like Duval (Kamara), does he have — at the high school level, does he have coverage reads, does he have protection reads?
COACH WEIS: No, Duval is way ahead on this because Duval was a receiver. Golden didn’t really play receiver. He was more of a running back than he was a receiver. They just gave him the ball as much as they could give it to him, and you could see why, because he’s so fast. Every time he gets the ball, it’s a potential touchdown. Where Duval was playing receiver and running routes at a very well coached program as a receiver. So there’s less of a learning curve for Duval than there would be for Golden.
Q. John Carlson mentioned after the game yesterday he felt like this team has worked harder than any team he’s ever worked on. When you were talking about finding a balance in terms of what you say to the guys and not overdoing that, is part of your adapting this training camp mentality that you don’t want to put your thumb too hard on them physically, that there’s a possible negative residual effect with that?
COACH WEIS: Actually I’ve been happy with how they worked physically. Therein lies one of the problems. I’m kind of backing — I didn’t know John said that. I agree with what John said. This has not been a question of how hard they’ve worked physically, okay? This is actually about production. You know, so now you’re dealing with a whole different aspect because now you’re dealing with a mental or psychological or emotional aspect, not a physical aspect. So it’s a whole different set of circumstances that you’re dealing with.
I don’t have to worry too much about the team’s work ethic because the work ethic is good. The psyche is one thing I always worry about. When we talked about it before, why not hammer them? If it’s going to have that type of positive effect, why not do it all the time? The answer to that is, you don’t know how many times it will work. You keep doing it till it works. But the problem with that is, once it doesn’t work, then you could lose ’em. That’s always, you know, the Catch 22 you’re in. That’s always the concern.
Q. In terms of the defense, it looked like when things started moving for you, you only had like two D-linemen in the game, a lot of linebackers, speed on the field. Is that something you can do against every team or was Purdue unique in what they bring offensively?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I don’t think you can do it every week because this was a team that was either using what we call 10 or 11 people. They either had four wide receivers and a back or they had three wide receivers and (number) 28, who is like a wide receiver and a back. So really their whole game, with the exception of playing a couple of normal sets when they were just running stretch runs, which we handled very well, okay, was all played shotgun, spread out, underneath center and spread out. You had to try to master athleticism by getting more athleticism on the field.
Q. Did you kind of see a new identity take over the team offensively the second half that maybe you can build on?
COACH WEIS: Coming into the game, we thought we were going to be able to throw the ball. Coming in, we thought that. The only problem is I thought we were going to be able to run the ball, too. I didn’t really go into the game figuring we were going to throw it 52 times. That was not my intent.
But I think one thing the team — and the whole team gained confidence from the passing game on the offense because now all of a sudden the offense says, “okay, now we can throw the ball.” The defense says, “okay, now they can score touchdowns.” A lot of the play in the second half by the defense, the defense played pretty inspired, take exception of really the last drive. They played pretty stout defense in the second half. But a lot of that can be carryover from the offense finally starting to score some points. I think that being able to throw and catch was a definite, definite uplift for the team yesterday.
Q. The question I’m getting at — are you opposed to passing to set up the run?
COACH WEIS: No, not at all. Not opposed to passing to set up the run. Just that you’d like to, when it’s all said and done, be somewhere hovering around the 50/50 range. You’d like to get to that point. You try not to get to a one dimensional game like the game we ended up getting into for a good portion of the second half yesterday.
Q. Evaluate Evan (Sharpley)’s play when he came in, what he did, your plans for him in the future.
COACH WEIS: I’d have to evaluate him actually as pretty good. I would say above average. But I’d move that to pretty good due to the number of reps he got in relationship to Jimmy. I’d say he probably got about a quarter to a third of the reps. It isn’t like before when Brady (Quinn) was here, when he used to get all but a couple of snaps in the whole day. Now I try to give Evan at least a quarter to a third of the reps, so it wasn’t like he didn’t get any reps at all. But with the number of reps that he got in practice to perform the way he did, I’d have to say — I’d say he played pretty well.
Q. And the team definitely responded to what he was doing. Has he earned more playing time?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, what he’s earned was he earned respect of his players that we can win with him in there as quarterback. That’s what he earned. Right now we don’t worry about who the quarterback is Sunday at 12:30, 1:00. Right now we’re worried about licking our wounds and moving on to UCLA. I think the team now knows that we have two guys that we can put in at quarterback that can move the team and give us a chance of winning. A couple weeks ago we didn’t even know if we had one. You know, now we’re getting to the point where now, instead of not having one, now you got two guys that you feel can move the team. That’s encouraging.
Q. Their kicker had 15 points. Yours had one. How concerned are you with that?
COACH WEIS: Tell me about it, you know, leaving five points on the field. Some of it is the kicker. Some of it is the protection. One of it was the holder. It was a breakdown across. As a matter of fact, you guys always complain to me about practice, what you get to see. Well, you’ll be watching on Tuesday field goal and field goal block from 5:12 to 5:17 because it’s full speed, by the way. If you want to watch something on Tuesday, where it’s usually the first individual, you get them to run around till you leave, you’ll be watching field goal versus field goal block.
Q. I know you haven’t seen the guys yet today. Are you anticipating they’ll probably be in the best mood they’ve been in so far this year in terms of what they’ve gotten to and what they can do from here on out?
COACH WEIS: Well, it will be a better mood than they’ve been in. They still lost. Sometimes you take for granted that they’re going to be happier because things went better in the second half. But there weren’t a lot of happy faces in that locker room after the game. And that’s the way it should be after you lose. You know, you’re not supposed to be happy. It isn’t like you get moral victories. You still end up losing.
Q. You said you don’t worry about Sunday’s quarterback. If Jimmy is healthy, do you expect him to be starting next week?
COACH WEIS: I would say that’s probable. You know, I think to be fair to both Jimmy and Evan, I think I’m not ready to even worry about that issue at this point. But it wasn’t like Jimmy had a bad game. Jimmy actually was playing pretty well, to tell you the truth. Didn’t get sacked in the game. He had the one bad play on the interception where he was trying to make a play and threw the ball across his body instead of just either taking a sack or throwing the ball away when he got flushed out and was rolling to his left. Right after that interception, I called him over and said, “hey, look, that’s a play you got to sometimes take a sack or sometimes throwing the ball away is a good thing. We’ll punt, change field position, and let’s go.” I think Jimmy played pretty well. I think Evan played pretty well. It at least gives me now some weapons to work with where I can feel with a lot more confidence we’d be able to throw the football.
Q. How ready will Darrin Bragg be to play?
COACH WEIS: Actually, Darrin’s played the last couple weeks. About three or four weeks ago his shoulder wasn’t doing too well, whereas on show team really Justin Gillett was handling a lot more of the throws than Darrin was because he was a little banged up. But actually he had one of his better weeks this past week in show teams, one of the best weeks I can remember him having. So he’s obviously — he’s always had athleticism. But, you know, he’s actually shown to be throwing the ball pretty effectively.
Q. When Evan gets hit really hard yesterday, does that run through your mind at all?
COACH WEIS: Just really go on to the next guy. You know, that’s what I would have done. But I didn’t have to. (laughter)
Q. You mentioned a minute ago that Brady took almost all the reps last year. Do you wish you would have changed that a little bit just to get Evan a little more ready for this year?
COACH WEIS: Not when you have somebody like that. You know, I’ve said to everyone several times about Brady Quinn — “remember now, he was more than just a player out there; he was like having a coach out there.” So when you take that coach that’s running the huddle in the huddle off the field, that huddle was losing a lot.
It’s not just the X’s and O’s, the execution for a backup quarterback; it’s running the team for the guys that are already playing. That’s why Brady was so invaluable to the team. He wasn’t just a quarterback; he was almost like having a coach out there.
Q. What do you say to the team about the penalties?
COACH WEIS: There’s several different penalties. I went and analyzed all 11 of them, too. I went and looked at all of them.
You know, I agree with almost every call, too. Even the one which I disagreed with, I could see why they called it. Even though they shouldn’t have called it, I could see why they did call it. Even that one, I think sometimes they’re dumb penalties, sometimes they’re lack of awareness penalties, sometimes they’re lack of concentration penalties.
For example, the lack of concentration penalties you can work on. Like when we were jumping off sides on defense, you can work on snap counts, doing a hundred up downs if you jump off sides. Usually deterrents. For example, the one penalty that (Mike) Turkovich got, it was the guy he was going to block that he held really wasn’t his guy. He was just trying to react to a guy coming free on a play. So I have a tough time getting mad at Turkovich because here is a runaway guy that’s not his guy, he’s trying to just keep him from making a play. Not that you ever excuse any penalties, but some of them you could understand why that happened.
But when they have a guy running out of bounds, our safety comes and hits him blatantly out of bounds, I mean, that’s just not a very smart — that’s just not a very smart play.
Q. When you started gaining some momentum in the second half yesterday, was that the first time this season you really felt like the team was in it and had a chance to pull a win?
COACH WEIS: That’s the first time in the second half where you could feel the team thought that they were going to win the game deep into the second half. Michigan State at halftime, I think the team felt that way. But it seemed like about the middle of the third quarter, after the kickoff return, then the score, we got stopped at the 50-yard line, all of a sudden you’re halfway through the third quarter and there’s like some air had been let out of their sail. But you didn’t feel that in this game.
Obviously, until they scored that touchdown to go up 14, I think our players actually believed they were going to win the game. For the first time in a long time in the second half of a game, you could feel the energy on the sideline. I don’t know if you were watching, but it probably looked that way. I don’t really look at them but, I mean, you could feel it.
Q. I was going to shift gears a little bit. I’m doing a story on playing the No. 1 team in the country. You guys a couple years ago had USC at home. They were No. 1. Just curious what that week was like as far as preparation and getting guys ready for that challenge and maybe how do you go about approaching a game like that?
COACH WEIS: Well, are you talking about the game from two years ago?
COACH WEIS: I’ll tell you what, that’s pretty far from my mind right now. I think that the teams that approach playing a No. 1 team any different than playing any other point, okay, come from a different school than the one that I come from.
The school, the one I come from, is that you — I know emotion and everything comes into play in those big games, but that emotion usually only lasts early into the first quarter after you start smacking each other in the mouth a few times.
I’d like to think that our team tries to prepare each week on a very similar manner regardless of who we’re playing, to be honest with you.
Q. Is there any way to coach consistency, to prevent a team from going up and down so much, or is it either you are or you aren’t?
COACH WEIS: You’re asking a question to me that I almost asked verbatim to the coaching staff here a little while ago. It was about trying to come up with the rationale for playing poorly in the first half and playing good in the second half.
I’d like to sit there and say that I’ve been able to identify the answer to that problem at this time, but I haven’t been able to. I just know that all’s I’m trying to do is tweak the schedule once again to try to create an environment that gets us more prepared to start the game against UCLA rather than finish it.
Q. Is David Grimes a Tuesday update situation, his health?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I’ll probably have a better idea on David a little later today when I speak with (head trainer) Jim Russ. It looked to me, he obviously had an ankle sprain. I don’t know if it was a low ankle sprain or high ankle sprain. I don’t know which one it was. I just know he had that brace on there.
I know he got taped up and tried to go, run a little bit on the sideline. I could see how he was running on the sideline that, you know, it didn’t look like it was going to be a go. To be honest with you, if he wasn’t full go at the time, we felt we would be better off getting somebody else in there that we could go with.
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