Sept. 20, 2009
Q. Charlie, any word on injuries on (Michael) Floyd and (Jimmy) Clausen?
COACH WEIS: The only thing I do know, Floyd was going to be operated on this morning. They were bringing him in between 10 and 11 to fix his collarbone. I would anticipate, even though I don’t know duration, I would anticipate him missing the rest of the regular season and being available for the Bowl game if we chose to go in that direction. If he were available, we’ll talk about that down the line.
Q. He could be eligible for a medical redshirt.
COACH WEIS: Let me explain the medical redshirt. Probably a lot of you had that question.
When we went from 11 games to 12 games, you can play in the first four games of a 12 game season. It’s 30%, but they round it up. So you could play in the first four games of the regular season and still be eligible for a medical redshirt. An example, last year, Braxston Cave played in the first couple games as a short snapper, hurt his wrist, didn’t play the rest of the year. Therefore, he was eligible because how he played as a short snapper, he couldn’t short snap, put him in a position to be eligible to have an extra year.
Q. Any word from Jimmy on the x rays on his foot?
COACH WEIS: Dr. Clausen (laughter)? No, because it’s somewhere between a turf toe and an arch or something like that. The plan is sometime today we’ll MRI it to make sure we know exactly what we have here.
Q. You’re going on the assumption he’ll be ready to play?
COACH WEIS: I’m under the assumption he’ll try to milk as much time off of me as he can. Will he be hobbled some? We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.
Jimmy is a tough guy. Unless there’s a serious injury, he’s going to do all he can to play. But we’ll just see where we are.
Q. The game in general, a little concerned, a lot of the same mistakes that hurt you against Michigan seemed to hurt you yesterday, too.
COACH WEIS: I’m willing to talk about anything, just start somewhere.
Q. The penalties.
COACH WEIS: That’s a good place to start. I was disappointed not only at the volume of penalties but the type of penalties we had in a couple cases. For example, we had two on offense. We had four on offense, but two of the penalties, the two holding penalties happened in the course of a play.
I have a problem with it, but sometimes you get a holding penalty on a play. We got a holding on a screen pass, third and 35 drive. We had a holding penalty on the one time where Jimmy flushed out to the left and scrambled out and threw the ball to Kyle (Rudolph). Those two penalties didn’t bother me nearly as much as the false start. A line of scrimmage penalty at home, which you should never have, and the late hit at the end of the game.
Obviously, the mistake, critical errors from last week’s game against Michigan was not being able to finish out the game, okay? We run the ball on first down. We gain five yards. We’re in good position, second and five. Now we get a late hit. It’s post possession. So not only do we lose yardage, but we don’t get the down back either.
Fortunately, Golden goes and bails us out of that one. When you’re trying to stress running out the clock at the end of the game, finishing out of the game, you can’t have a penalty like that.
They’re the type of things that happen in the game that frustrate you more than something that happens during the game.
Q. You had a chance at the end to run the clock longer, kept a march going. You weren’t able to finish it off.
COACH WEIS: You get the ball with a little less than five minutes, somewhere in that mark right there. The intent is to try to use it all up. You’re exactly right. We put ourselves in the same position that we did the previous week. But the difference between one week and the next week was somebody making a play. The week before we didn’t make a play on offense. We didn’t make a play in the kicking game. We didn’t make a play on defense in the end of the game. We ended up losing. This week we made a play. That was the difference between winning and losing.
Q. The defense came up big when it had to. Giving up 30 points two straight games, with the yards you’re giving up, that’s not the type of yardage that BCS teams give up.
COACH WEIS: That’s also not the type of game we want to be playing in. We don’t want to be playing in a game where we want to win 35 to 34 every week. That’s not our intent to be playing in those games where you feel like you have to score in the 30s or 40s to win.
From the offensive standpoint, last week we didn’t score enough. This week we scored barely enough. But the bottom line is that’s certainly not the way we want to play the game.
Q. Comment on Kyle McCarthy’s excellent play this whole season so far.
COACH WEIS: Kyle, this is going on two years of doing this, where he’s been a steady Eddie for us. He always seems to make a big play. Tom brought up a point which is very true about the yardage we’re giving up on defense. If it weren’t for Kyle McCarthy and sometimes Harrison Smith, as well, they’ve saved us on a number of occasions. Obviously, the play at the end of the game, nothing was more critical than that one.
Q. Also your thoughts on how Darrin Walls has played this year.
COACH WEIS: I can’t sit there and tell you I’ve studied it as much as (defensive backs coach) Corwin (Brown) has. I think that’s a question you should ask Corwin come Wednesday. I think he’d be much more analytical of Darrin than I would be.
Q. Floyd went out last year. You struggled to find somebody else to step up. Yet yesterday (Duval) Kamara three catches, (Robby) Parris two catches. Does that give you a small amount of comfort going forward?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I had a plan, based off of expecting Michael to be out for at least quite some time. Last night before I went to sleep, I already had a pretty good idea how we’d handle this. We talked about it as the offensive staff.
You never really can replace Michael Floyd, a guy that is that caliber of player. But what you have to do is put other people in position to go ahead and pick up some of that responsibility. Having some veterans in there in that mix certainly makes it a little bit easier to do that.
Q. You have a young guy in there, Shaq Evans, didn’t play a whole lot.
COACH WEIS: You can anticipate seeing him a heck of a lot more.
Q. Last year, I think about this time, you kind of shifted from that pound it mentality that you opened with to taking advantage of Floyd and Tate. Is there a similar change you can make on defense or is that apples and oranges?
COACH WEIS: I think the first thing we have to do better on defense, to be perfectly honest with you, is be better fundamentally. I think sometimes we miss the obvious, and the obvious in this case is just heavy stressing of fundamentals, which is the message that the coaching staff and I talked about on our staff meeting at 11:00. We think across the board, there’s a number of things we just got to get better at.
You don’t throw things away, yet there’s things you have to get significantly better at, whether it be tackling, whether it be coverage, whether it be off coverage versus cover two. I mean, there’s just too many easy yards, too many easy yards that we’re giving up that we have to make those yards tougher.
Q. Anything you can point to about why that’s happening? Anything jump out in that regard?
COACH WEIS: No. I just think you have to maybe I’m not saying cut down or simplify, but I think you got to be able to hang your hat on something that’s working on a regular basis. And I think that’s what Jon (Tenuta) and Corwin (Brown) and the rest of the defensive staff have focused their energies here towards speaking of today, getting some things we can hang our hat on as we go forward to Purdue this week.
Q. You talked about Armando’s toughness coming into the season, a much more powerful back. Talk about his play. Busting eight yard runs, limping back to the huddle, doing it again.
COACH WEIS: I can’t be any more pleased with the effort I’m getting out of Armando and the production. I mean, he’s running tough. He’s breaking tackles. He’s getting key conversions for us. He’s very, very good in blitz pickup. I think sometimes we underrate that. But, I mean, he’s good at it, too. I thought Armando played a heck of a game.
Q. What changes about Kyle Rudolph’s role in formation or how much frequency he sees the ball now that Michael is gone?
COACH WEIS: He got it a bunch yesterday, even when Michael was still in the game. Kyle was one of the guys we were trying to get the ball to.
I think the most important thing we need to do is don’t let the defenses just roll into Golden Tate. I think that’s the first thing we have to do, don’t let them roll into Golden Tate. When you have two dynamic receivers on the outside, it’s kind of tough to roll into both of ’em and not give you the tight end.
So there are some coverage schemes people could play, if they only have to worry about one wide receiver. Part of Kyle’s production will be making sure we have receivers opposite of Golden that the defense can’t just say, It’s just a guy out there.
Q. Would there ever be a time you would make Kyle that receiver opposite Golden, given his height?
COACH WEIS: No, that won’t happen. Kyle is best with his hand on the ground, attached to the formation, because when you’re that tall, one of the things it’s a little bit tougher to get off the line of scrimmage when you’re in a two point stance than when you’re in a three point stance.
Q. In the past, players like Brady Quinn come to mind, talk about how scouts come in and ask about him. Have you had anything like that with Kyle McCarthy so far?
COACH WEIS: They all ask about him because when you watch on tape, he’s one of those guys no one ever talks about until after you sit there and watch a tape. Scouts don’t miss too much now. All of a sudden they start watching on tape and say, I kind of like this 28. I get that a whole bunch.
Now, he’s not as unknown as you might think he is. When you play good for a while, you know, you might not be the household name all across the country, but he’s gaining popularity. He gained a few fans yesterday, I promise you that for sure.
Q. The different nature in the NFL and injuries, is there any reason why you would let us know or the fans know the nature of Jimmy’s injury if he’s suiting up next Saturday?
COACH WEIS: There’s no way I would do that (laughter), no. Look, you’re going to be out there practicing on Tuesday, okay? If Jimmy can go on Tuesday, he’ll be out there and practice on Tuesday as well. Actually, I’m hoping that Jimmy is out there on Tuesday throwing just like normal. I mean, it wasn’t too long ago I watched that Tommy Brady guy, everybody said he was shoulder and done. Next day at practice, they all came out there, he was slinging the ball all over the place. Hopefully on Tuesday we have a very similar pattern.
Q. Did you see Golden Tate in that last touchdown when he swan dived?
COACH WEIS: I didn’t see it till late last night. I didn’t see it when it happened. If I did, I might have had a couple of words for him at the time. At the time I was kind of happy he scored a touchdown. I was trying to make sure that we understood we were going for one, not two at the time. There were certain times in the game we were going to go for two versus going for one. There got to be some scores that you have to decide whether you’re going for one or two. We had a lot of conversation going on. But I just wanted to make sure after that touchdown, everyone understood we were going for one, so I didn’t really see the aftermath.
Q. Now that you have seen it, after what happened with Armando for getting in trouble for shifting.
COACH WEIS: I would tell him it was the wrong band. That’s the first thing I would tell him. Knowing Golden, he might not have known it was their band. If it was our band, he might have thought it was the Lambo leap he was doing. It was definitely the wrong band. In hindsight, if he knew it was their band, I wish he wouldn’t have jumped into their band.
Q. When you have a very aggressive play caller as a defensive coordinator, which Jon Tenuta is, do you have to adjust the way you call the game offensively?
COACH WEIS: Yes. And usually it limits your choices. It limits your choices, both the passing game and how you want to play in the run game. For example, if you want to spread out, if you want to spread out, the one thing you have to be ready for is throwing the ball relatively quickly. If you want to pack ’em in, you know you’re going to get some heat, but you’re going to get some time and get some opportunities to attack down the field. In a situation like that, you have to pick your poison.
There were a number of times yesterday they kept seven guys in to protect to throw the ball down the field. The little under that went for a bunch of yards, just past Toryan where the guy caught it in the middle of the field, took it up the sideline for 40 or whatever he did, that’s one of the ones where you’re throwing it ball quick, trying to get rid of it.
Q. Based upon the way your defensive coordinator is making calls, do you have to change the way you a would attack offensively? Do you have to coordinate with Jon?
COACH WEIS: We go into a game thinking how the game is going to go, okay? We go into a game thinking how the game is going to go. But in this game, regardless of how the defense was going to call the game, I had to make sure that we didn’t fall into the same trap that we’ve fallen into against Michigan State over the last several years where you just try to ram the ball right down their throat to start off the game, and now all of a sudden you’re playing from behind.
So how I started the game empty for a couple drives really had nothing to do with what the defense was going to do.
Q. How much would you dictate to Jon as far as pull back, be a little bit more run, a little more base defense, not so overly aggressive at times?
COACH WEIS: I think those conversations, as I’ve told you guys several times before, all happen early in the week. We don’t change the mentality on Saturday. We go into the game with a mentality, going into the Saturday. If the game needs some tweaks in it, the game needs some tweaks in it. How you’re going to call the game is determined long before Saturday.
Q. You have so many people to talk to and deal with and communicate with offensively. How much do you communicate with him during the game?
COACH WEIS: Oh, a good portion. I mean, yesterday was more than there were so many substitution situations going on. The week before, they didn’t do this mass substitutions that they were doing yesterday. They weren’t rolling people through there. The personnel was more stable. So at least until things started getting settled down, I actually was more involved not necessarily play call but trying to make sure after that one play where we had about 18 guys on the field where we got caught in the personnel substitution, might have been 14, but there were a whole bunch of them on the field, we got called for too many men on the field, I got involved to make sure they knew which people were on the field. Other than that, not very much.
Q. Your freshman kicker has missed a kick early in the game, field goal, against Michigan, extra point yesterday, and yet has bounced back later in the game and kicked well. Just your impression of him and how much leeway do you give a young kicker, especially when you have somebody that has kicked for you before.
COACH WEIS: Well, first of all, he was typical of how our special teams played in this game. I thought that the special teams in this game was a tale of two halves. I thought when you go back and review this game, you’re going to see that the first half, with the exception of Theo’s kickoff return, was not very productive on special teams, whereas the second half, you’re going to see was very productive on special teams. You’re going to see seeing (Zeke) Motta making two tackles inside the 20 on the kickoff return. I think he kind of was not only did he miss the extra point, but he also got called for a penalty on the same play because he got overanxious. That’s twice now his first kick he’s kind of got overanxious, rather than just settle down.
But I think that 47 yarder, that really did him wonders for his confidence.
Q. You just mentioned about rotating a lot of guys in on defense. I’m not sure you saw the impact of it Saturday, but do you feel that’s something that is going to play dividends down the road?
COACH WEIS: I think it definitely will and it’s definitely the way we have to go. There were a lot more people, it was true at every position. We try not to take those safeties out. A bunch of corners played. A bunch of linebackers played. Well, not a bunch of linebackers, but I know at least Scott Smith played, Manti played, and a bunch of those defensive linemen got in there, too. I really think that’s the way we got to go.
Q. Your optimistic about Jimmy (Clausen) being able to play Saturday. Where do you feel like Dayne (Crist) is right now?
COACH WEIS: If Dayne were going to be the guy for the game, I feel very confident that we’d go in with a good chance of being very productive on offense with Dayne at quarterback. I feel better about that every week. And I feel pretty good about it right now.
Q. Jonas (Gray) came back from the Michigan game and had some nice runs for you. Can you talk about his week.
COACH WEIS: He ran the ball exceptionally well. Now, he had a couple problems in blitz pickup, but he ran the ball exceptionally well and hard. You know, the one thing he’s earned more reps in the running game, but you have to be able to hold up your end of the bargain in the pass game, too, to be able to be put on the field. What I can’t do is put a guy out there just to run. They have to be able to do the whole you have to do it all. As far as him running, which was the specific question, I thought he ran very, very hard.
Q. Following up on an earlier question about who steps in for Michael Floyd, do you expand your wide receiver rotation to have more people in it?
COACH WEIS: Well, you know, I’ll elaborate a little bit more later in the week. But we’re going to move some people around to make sure we get the best people on the field. If that means shuffling some people, that’s what we’ll do. It won’t be to play eight people. I have no intention of doing that. Move some people around to make sure who we perceive to give us the best chance to pick up the slack from Michael, that’s what we’ll do.
Q. Following up on Shaq (Evans), how he responded to what happened to him at Michigan this week, and what we can expect to see from Shaq.
COACH WEIS: Well, Shaq was in a package that, because of how the game went, we weren’t going to expose ourselves to the package because based off of what they were doing, there were some vulnerabilities in the package. If they’re going to play a certain way, sometimes you have something that you think is just going to kill ’em. But they didn’t play that way, so therefore that package that he was involved in didn’t get much action.
But, as I said, going into this week, with Michael’s injury, that moves him up and I think you’ll see him on the field a bunch more this week.
Q. Had a lot of email questions about the catch that wasn’t a catch by Michael, ruled not a catch. I couldn’t explain to them what the referee said. What was the interpretation you were given?
COACH WEIS: Not really sure. You know, but here is all I can tell you. We send in a handful of plays every week. When the game is over, the game is over. I was confused myself because the way it looked to me, besides the fact that I waited as long as I could. First of all, I called a timeout. I called a timeout and didn’t use the challenge at first so I would have one of those marathon timeouts, hopefully that they’d watch it upstairs and overrule the call. So when they didn’t overrule the call, now at the end of the timeout, then I used the challenge. So now I got another couple of minutes where they get to look at the call.
The only thing that confused me, and I’m not positive of this, so don’t hold me to this, but I thought when the official came back and made the ruling, he said the ruling on the field is confirmed. I think that’s what I saw him do. The ruling on the field is confirmed. But the ruling on the field was an incomplete pass. So if the ruling on the field was confirmed by the upstairs guy, then the upstairs guy was calling it an incomplete pass.
I’ll find out, but it really doesn’t make a difference, it’s over.
Q. Not to harp on the play, is it your understanding that that would be a catch as if it were at the 50 yard line?
COACH WEIS: Look, I could talk about it. We’re not going to get into Notre Dame being the weekly whiners of officiating. When the games are over, every week we take a couple plays on offense, a couple plays on defense, a couple plays on special teams, we send them in that we disagree with. I obviously disagreed with that one. That will be one of the ones I send in. Whether they agree with me or not, I just want to hear their interpretation. But after that, it’s move on, on to Purdue. That game’s over with.
Q. Back to Armando a little. You said in August, he’s your best runner, picks up the blitz the best. Are you a little worried in the future about his workload?
COACH WEIS: Anytime you have a 200 pound back that is touching the ball 25 times a game, that concerns you. It’s funny, before when I was giving it to him 20 times a game, everyone wanted to get it more. Now that I’m giving it to him 25 times, I’m giving it to him too much. Where is the happy medium?
The way he’s playing, I would like to give it to him as much as he could tolerate. So would you. If you were in the same boat, you would give it to him as much as you could. Remember now, the first quarter, he’s not even touching the ball. He knew the game plan was for him to get plenty of touches. He just didn’t get them spread throughout the game. He got them in a more concentrated time frame.
Q. Can you tell us what happened on the Michigan State play near the end of the game where they had a receiver open in the end zone?
COACH WEIS: They had been running this combination in the left flat and getting some mileage out of it. They ran the same thing to give that look like they were going to throw the ball in the left flat, then the guy ran a wheel up the sideline. I think we were fortunate. The receiver lost his bearings on the field and thought that they were towards the end of the end zone. He had more room than he thought he had. It looked to me like he started to slow down like he thought he was going to be out of the end zone. We were fortunate on that play because we took the bait. We took the bait to the left flat right there. That’s what got him so wide open.
Q. Talk about the evaluation of the defensive line that you saw and was there a difference between the first and second half in your eyes?
COACH WEIS: We only give up a couple of runs for over 10 yards this week. We gave up two. Where in the first two games I think we gave up something like 16 of them of 10 yards or more. I also know in the second half of the game, they averaged just a little over three yards a carry in the run game. You know, one of the goals going into the game was to not give up big plays in the run game, not to give up big plays in the run game, and to stifle them some. I thought the production in the second half, they gave up 29 yards rushing in the second half, something along those lines.
So, as I said, there was some improvement in some areas. But still, when the quarterback gets a throw for 350, there’s some breakdowns across the board.
Q. They only had four negative yards rushing.
COACH WEIS: For loss, right.
Q. How does that get worked on this week?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, you also had that interception at the end of the game where the quarterback is getting hit in the chest falling backwards. That’s not a sack, but that pressure ends the game. So I know we all remember the sacks. But go back and you can see the quarterback getting hit as he’s throwing it. Score one for the good guys. Sacks are part of it.
Look, we didn’t get nearly as much production, okay, in the pressure that you’d like to get. But that is one example I could see of critical pressure that made the difference between winning and losing.
Q. You talked about coming in with a game plan, spread them out, go to Armando in the second quarter. Is it tempting when you have that much success throwing short passes to stick with it till they drop it?
COACH WEIS: I think we did do that. I think we got to a point where I felt it was time to change modes. We felt pretty good about the next package we had. We got some good production out of that, too. I mean, really in the first half, Jimmy was just about perfect. Jimmy was just about perfect. We started off with a false start and a one drive. First and 15, was it first and 15, might have been second and 15, throw the screen pass, going backwards, call play action pass so we can throw a similar combination. That was on we ended up with third and 35. Other than that, for most of the first half we moved the ball very efficiently.
The thing I was probably pleased with most offensively is how we started both halves. It wasn’t just the first half. We came out and scored the first couple times we got the ball. But that drive to start off the second half, that was another critical drive because they had just gained momentum, taking the momentum 17 to 16, coming out and putting one on the board to start off the third quarter. I thought that was critical.
Q. Can you talk about Coach Verducci.
COACH WEIS: The two sacks that are attributed in this game, we didn’t attribute them to the offensive line. So far so good there. When the running backs were carrying the ball, let’s not include our quarterback as a running back, okay. Unlike Mr. Stats over there, I don’t include Jimmy’s carries as part of my run production. So when the running backs were carrying the ball, they’re averaging over five yards a carry, somewhere around five yards a carry. I think the offensive line, for those two aspects, are pretty good.
Now, we have four penalties in the game and they’re attributed to the offensive line. I just gave you the good and the bad all the time.
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