Sept. 13, 2009
An interview with:
COACH Charlie Weis
THE MODERATOR: We have Coach Weis at the front table. We’ll start with questions.
Q. After the game, you really didn’t have a chance to evaluate the defense. Now in the light of day, can you go through that for us?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think things were going okay till the third quarter, to be honest with you, except for giving them a cheap three right before halftime. It was 7 3, they had the kickoff return for the touchdown, which is the other 7 points. So it’s a 7 point game, give them 3 there late. I think the one area of concern was the number of yards that we gave up, especially rushing, in the third quarter because they rushed for, I don’t know, maybe 125 yards or so in the third quarter, where they started to get some momentum. Even though they missed a field goal, because we committed a couple of penalties on offense, that stalled us a little bit in the third quarter. I think momentum definitely swung in their favor and left us to have to come from behind for the second point in the game. So I think I’m obviously concerned with the two minute drives both at the end of the first half and at the end of the game because they both led to points at the end of the first half and a touchdown to win at the end of the game. But I think on the big picture, one of my biggest concerns was the rush and defense in the third quarter.
Q. How do you go about fixing something like that?
COACH WEIS: As a matter of fact, (defensive coordinator) Jon (Tenuta) and I had already a discussion on that this morning. After you had an opportunity to watch it, schematically there’s a couple things we’re going to have to change that plays more into our personnel. We don’t ever call things that don’t play into our personnel. What we’ve seen, pros and cons of our own players, after two games, there’s some tweaks we’ll have to make, especially some of those inside rush lanes that exist.
Q. A little bit of update on Michael Floyd.
COACH WEIS: First of all, I don’t meet with the doctors till 1:30, as you guys know. Because I knew that was going to be an area of concern, I talked to Jim last night. He (Floyd) took 15 stitches in his knee. I think, more than anything else, he’s a little stiff and a little sore, but he doesn’t have any damage to his knee, other than he has 15 stitches, which in its own right is damage. He landed on that track. He didn’t land on the turf. His knee hit the track, that hard surface. When he landed, it cut his knee open. What they did at first, by the time I got down to the end zone, they had bandaged it up. He was saying, No, no, no. He thought that the bone was sticking out, career ending injury. By the time they brought him in and stitched him up, he had come back and told when they were on that last drive, he came up and said, If the game goes overtime, he’s ready to go. You know, it never came to that decision. I wouldn’t have done that at that point. But I think he was going to try to go. Jim today said he’ll be a little sore; we might have to ease him into the week. He doesn’t anticipate there being any problems for him for game time this week.
Q. In a close game, it’s tough to talk about officiating. There were weird things that would happen in the game. Seems at the end of the game you were a little bit upset.
COACH WEIS: First of all, my right is to ask for the referee to come over when I have a question. The two guys on the sideline decided they were not going when I said I needed to talk to the referee, they weren’t getting me the referee. I was letting them know that’s my right. As they tell you before the game, If you need me, you tell one of the guys on the sideline to come and get me. I have to be careful when I say this. I have Big 10 officials coming in this week again. But that game left a lot to be desired. I’m not blaming the officiating for the game. But let’s start with Armando. I watched that tape a hundred times this morning, okay? Just like when I watched it when it happened, just like their two guys that were standing right on top of the play when it happened. From what I understand, the TV copy on top of it, I still haven’t heard anyone tell me there’s any evidence of Armando (Allen) stepping out of bounds. The way I thought the rule is supposed to be, it’s supposed to be conclusive evidence. I’m perturbed at that call. I’m not going to complain about the holding calls. I went and watched the holding calls. You could see evidence of them calling holding. You could see evidence, okay? But that’s a four point swing in its own right just in one play, not including personal fouls that I’m going to send in with a couple of punches to the face after plays were over. Seems like they wanted to throw a lot of flags. When Golden (Tate) is throwing that fade ball at the end of the game, I didn’t see one coming out of their bench there. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes. It’s not going to change the game. I’m not going to complain about those holding calls. I’m not going to complain about the false starts, the delay games, should I say, because we had two of them. I think there was a little communication between Eric (Olsen) and Jimmy (Clausen) because we were in silent counts in those right there. I’m not going to get tic tacky with things like that. There’s a couple of things that I think are blatant that I just don’t get.
Q. You mentioned after the game you liked the way Jimmy kind of took charge in the locker room and talked to his teammates and so forth. As the head coach, as you move out of this, any loss at Notre Dame is a big crisis, but what do you do to kind of stir things to movement?
COACH WEIS: Well, besides what I said after the game, which is really between me and the players, I gave you the basic content, more than the context of how I said it. I really like our leadership on our team. Really the best way to have a quick positive turnaround is by putting them in charge of it because there comes a point when things don’t go the way you want them to go, you can get on the players, get on the players. Unless the players join in and jump onboard, you know, the turnaround takes a little too long. So part of the burden or that responsibility is going to fall on Jimmy Clausen, Eric Olsen, Kyle McCarthy, Scott Smith to kind of permeate the message right on through the team. To be honest with you, not that you’re ever happy at all with the locker room after a loss, but I was very pleased at the way they handled it internally. There was obviously a lot of good things that were trying to be relayed to the players from other players. No finger pointing. I think that boded well for us righting the ship in a hurry.
Q. Talking to Eric (Olsen( after the game, he mentioned last week having some sloppy practices, the focus wasn’t where it needed to be. Did you notice that as it was happening?
COACH WEIS: I was riding ’em hard. Part of what we’re talking about, I rode ’em hard Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. On Thursday, both Frank and I kind of challenged both Eric and Sam, saying, Why is Verducci riding you all the time? When are you guys as the leaders going to take this on your own shoulders? I think the message he was passing on to you was kind of the message we passed on to him, and Sam for that matter. As hard as I was on ’em, I mean, it was right from the first play of the first day on Tuesday. All week long it was about raising expectations, about not letting that happen. Whether it be a holding call in practice, that then translated to three holding calls in the game. I think usually in practice you play like you practice. What Eric’s message to you guys was basically the same thing we were saying to him. Sooner or later you guys got to take this group and make it where everything isn’t coming out of Weis’ mouth or Verducci’s mouth.
Q. With a senior dominated offensive line, do you feel like you should have hit that point a while ago?
COACH WEIS: It’s not about whether they do it or not. They do do it. It’s how much responsibility they take off of me and do it themselves. You got coaches that are riding you pretty good all the time now, okay? So usually your biggest job isn’t to ride your teammates. They’re getting plenty of that from both the head coach and the position coach. But I think once they take care of it before you have to say something, then usually you have to say a lot less.
Q. The offensive line overall yesterday, the holding calls, the run game, outside runs, in some ways have not worked in a while. Was that the best you’ve seen the running game look in maybe a couple years?
COACH WEIS: I think it’s a combination of the blocking and that No. 5 (Armando Allen) carrying the ball. I think the blocking improved in the run game from week one to week two significantly along the line and at the tight end position. We were riding that No. 9 (Kyle Rudolph) pretty hard now after the first game about his run blocking. I think the receivers blocked better. The tight ends blocked better. The line blocked better. I thought that No. 5 had a heck of a game running.
Q. The holding call on Sam (Young) on the big play…
COACH WEIS: I could see him calling it, okay? It’s one of those tic tac calls that I’m talking about. But what happened, on the play, the defensive end, we chip defensive ends, so we chipped him. I’m not sure it was with an extra tight end or a fullback, but we chipped him and knocked him inside of Sam. So when he knocked him inside of Sam, Sam now has him. He goes to throw him to the ground. If he just pushes him to the ground, they probably don’t call it. Hands in the air, throws him to the ground, that’s what they called. You want to know something? You’re looking at that, heat of the moment, you’re not watching everything happen, you’re just seeing the guy getting thrown to the ground at the end of play. I can understand if the guy watching it wasn’t watching the whole thing, you end up calling it. A 76 yard gain one way or 10 yard loss the other way, one play is 86 yards.
Q. When you meet with officials in the pre season, how do they define what they’re going to call for unsportsmanlike?
COACH WEIS: I meet with the Big East officials, not the Big 10 officials.
Q. How would they define…
COACH WEIS: I think if they called Armando’s and considered that taunting, they would have called them all taunting. That’s the general impression I get. They called it. We’ll learn from it. We won’t be going like that again. That we won’t be doing. You’re kicking off from the 15 now. 15 yards of field position.
Q. I’m sure the last thing you expected was giving up a 94 yard kickoff return. Considering how good you have been at it, what did you see on that on replay?
COACH WEIS: What you’re gonna see is the guys on the right side, I’ll just go numbers to make it easier, the third guy in goes to the right, fourth guy in goes to the left, which creates a little bit of a natural running lane. The safety who comes over from the left is unblocked at about the 35 to 38 yard line. It’s going to be out to the 38. But he’s there in the hole with no one on him, unblocked. Next thing you know, it’s to the house.
Q. How long have you been saving that two point conversion?
COACH WEIS: We’ve been working. We have about 10 of them that we’ve been working on. We missed one and we made one. At the time, it was a critical play because now it puts you up by three. A field goal, you’re in overtime if that ends up presenting itself.
Q. John Ryan ended up playing a large majority of the game. What went into that decision and your assessment of how he performed?
COACH WEIS: To be honest with you, he was very active in the game. He was very active in making plays in the game. I think that it was a combination of Kerry (Neal) and Darius (Fleming). We were in so much nickel in the game, really most of the time there were just three ends playing. John played on both the left side and the right side. He was in for both Kerry on the right side and Fleming on the left side.
Q. I think three of your timeouts were when Jimmy came to the line of scrimmage and didn’t like what he saw.
COACH WEIS: There were some instances in the game, we went into this game, we were expecting crowd noise. We took away a lot of the heavy verbiage plays where there’s a lot of do this, then do that. What happened is a couple of times they got down into a coverage that really didn’t present a front or coverage that didn’t really present a good out for us in a play because we were trying to get away from audibles in the game. We did do a couple of ’em in the game. We were trying to keep the verbiage simpler than when we do it at a home game. The answer was, if we get in a bind, call timeout. So he did.
Q. How concerned are you with an explanation from him at that point as to why he called it or is that something you deal with later?
COACH WEIS: To be honest with you, I’m usually pretty pleased ’cause usually his explanation is very rational, exactly what he was thinking. Very few times does he come over to me and say, I didn’t know what to do. Usually he comes over and says, Hey, you know, I was going to do this, but this is what was going to happen. When I watch it on tape the next day, normally what he said, I’m beginning to gain more and more trust with him in that situation. Just like at home, we make it a lot more expansive because we’re not dealing with noise, therefore we can do a lot more check with me’s, inaudibles, when you’re not dealing with noise.
Q. The fumble, was that a miscommunication? Did they not see (Stevie) Brown?
COACH WEIS: That was on Jonas (Gray). What happened was Brown was standing on the outside to our right, okay? Most of the day he was jacking around to see whether he would come or not come. On that play, he looked like he was going to drop, then he went ahead and came. Jonas was just trying to do too much. He was trying to cut before he had the ball in his hands. So when he was trying to do was get the ball and cut to the left before he had the ball. He was trying to rush it a little bit.
Q. Talked about how your role has changed, full offensive coordinator. Do you think about spending more time with the defensive staff?
COACH WEIS: I spend time with the defense on Sundays and Mondays. When Tuesdays roll around, it’s time to spend basically all my time Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with the offense. That’s what I’m doing.
Q. Talk about how more mature of a runner Armando is.
COACH WEIS: If you look at some of those plays, when you go back and watch, I know y’all go back and watch the TV copy of the game, you’re going to see him making some yards. They’re tough yards now. He’s making some yards. There was one third down, I’m actually running the ball some on third down, when in the past, when did I ever do that? The answer is probably never or close to never. But with this kid in there, it’s third and three, I’m not afraid to go ahead and run the ball because I think he’ll give me four. There was a couple times yesterday he made yards. We might have had on a hat, but he really did a nice job.
Q. Armando, his freshman year, he took a huge hit. He’s just as tough but seems to make those plays now. Talk about his performance. Final three plays, was his absence a dictator of what you did?
COACH WEIS: Let me go with the second part first. I’ll kind of reiterate but I’ll throw Armando more into the mix there, too. We run the play to the left. A question was asked last night on this one. Run the play to the left for the first down. He gets banged up, he comes out. We run the play to the right. I think it was Robert at the time went in. We gained about six inches on the play. So now it’s second and nine and a half, okay? Little over 2:30 to go in the game. You really have a couple alternatives. The second play, once they saw Armando come out, all of a sudden those guys that were coming down during the count were now lined up at the line of scrimmage. So they adjusted based off of who the halfback is as much as we adjusting. All of a sudden they’re loading up the box because No. 5 is not in there anymore which kind of changes your mentality of what you’re doing. But still now it’s second and nine and a half, okay, you have two choices: you go ahead and run the ball again and make them use a timeout, and maybe you don’t convert on third down, okay, or you call a play that you’ve completed almost every time you’ve thrown in the game, you call it again, and you throw it to one of your best players, which looked to me like I should have gotten a little help on that one.
Q. Every time there’s a controversial finish in a football game for decades now, why doesn’t the NCAA take charge of officiating and make it a NCAA thing or in non conference games say a third conference official?
COACH WEIS: That’s a fair question. What I don’t want to do, even though I’m unhappy with certain things that happened in the game, okay, we had plenty of opportunities to win the game. What you don’t want to do is come out after a game that’s hard fought by both teams and use the officials as a scapegoat. Am I happy with the officiating? No, okay? But you certainly don’t want to do that, because then you’re saying, ‘The only reason why we lost is because they blew these couple of calls.’ Most Notre Dame fans would say, ‘I can’t believe they made those calls. I can understand why they made ’em.’ That being said, that’s a never ending problem you’re talking about. We’re an independent so we’re not really in a conference. We’re affiliated with Big East officials. When you’re playing interconference matchups, I’m not the guy who sets the rules. Whatever they are, they are.
Q. On your running game, when the going gets tough, first and goal on the one, it seems the defense is stouter than when it’s first and 10. Is there a personnel reason for that?
COACH WEIS: Elaborate.
Q. Michigan, first and goal on the one yard line, you stopped. A week ago, you stopped them. Yesterday in the third quarter, Brandon and Carlos had lots of yardage. What is the difference there?
COACH WEIS: One of the big differences is you’re just completely selling out on the inside run. So when you do that, you just sell out. All you’re trying to do is stop the inside run. Obviously, if they run the ball outside, you leave yourself vulnerable when they do that. That’s the Catch 22 you get in. When you’re down close, the number one thing you got to try to stop, when it’s fourth and inches, you have to stop the inside run. When you’re in the field, you can’t just worry about the inside run. You got the inside run, the outside run, play action, drop back, screen, everything else you got to deal with. Sometimes when you’re going to pick your poison, in those situations usually you’re picking to try to stop the inside run. You take your chances anything else that ends up happening.
Q. Are you planning on making a formal complaint to the Big 10?
COACH WEIS: No. I just send in plays. I don’t make any formal complaints ever. I don’t do it to anyone. I just send in plays. I’d say I’d like an explanation on these handful of plays. Just that handful is a little bit longer handful than it would normally be. It’s not going to change. It never changes the outcome of a game. All you do is want an explanation, that’s all.
Q. Is one of those questions where the two seconds went?
COACH WEIS: Well, I actually asked that question, and they gave me an answer that I understand because it wasn’t like I wasn’t on top of it. I didn’t miss the two seconds now. What are we doing here? First it was one second. First it went from 11 to 10. Then I complained it went to 9. It went from 11 to 10 to 11 to 9. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Maybe we’d have one more second, throw a Hail Mary. Their answer to me was they thought that Theo (Riddick) tipped the ball in the field of play on the kick which would then start the clock. If he did, which I couldn’t really tell whether he did or he didn’t, so I’m going to take their word for it that that happened. So if he did and that’s where the two seconds came from. Once again, maybe I shouldn’t have complained and we would have had it would have been 10 instead of 9.
Q. You explained why you didn’t run the ball. Is there ever a situation when you would try to eat the clock, make them use their timeouts?
COACH WEIS: Well, if you felt that you were just stoning ’em completely on offense or defense, like if you just felt they had no chance of moving the football, I mean, you could play most of the game where you could play very conservative. I can go back to the UCLA game a couple years ago where once we got a little bit of lead, it was run the ball three times and punt because they didn’t have a quarterback at the time, you were just playing to play field position in the game right there. But I just felt the way the game was going back and forth, I thought the offense for most of the day, with the exception of not scoring enough points early in the game, a little bit in the third quarter, I thought for most of the game the offense had control of the defense. I felt that was an opportunity for the offense to go ahead and put the game away.
Q. Do you wish you had called a play that maybe was it would have been a good catch by Golden?
COACH WEIS: Go watch the play again today and then tell me what you think.
Q. I think he could have caught it. Some people might say short pass might be better.
COACH WEIS: That was a short pass that was adjusted based on the coverage, just so you know. If they play off, it’s a short pass. If they play press, he adjusts. That’s what he did.
Q. In that scenario, if Armando is available, does it play out completely different in terms of what you think they’ll do?
COACH WEIS: I don’t know if they come down into the box on the first and 10 call. If you gain four or five yards… It’s different if it’s second and six, or nine and a half. It’s a different call.
Q. If he was out just the one play, nine in the box, you still calling the pass?
COACH WEIS: Now we’re getting too subjective. I can’t answer that question. You know, I have to go by just what happened. I got to deal with what happened, not the what ifs on that right there.
Q. With the 11, 10, 9, a human being is actually making this decision that’s changing the time?
COACH WEIS: It’s got to be that same guy who called Armando out of bounds (laughter).
Q. Is that actually an official or the scoreboard operator?
COACH WEIS: I think it’s the official that’s upstairs that’s checking the clock. That’s the only thing I could imagine. Did a referee go over to check with somebody? I don’t remember him going and putting a headset on right there, so…
Q. The next play was starting and the time kept changing.
COACH WEIS: Had to be the referee then that made that decision. I guess it wasn’t the same guy who made the call on Armando. THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.
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