Sept. 21, 2008
Q. You know, we’ve been talking about the jury still being out on what kind of team this is. After the game yesterday, what does it teach you about where you are in terms of how the team’s progressing?
COACH Charlie Weis: First of all, not that I’m pleased with a lot of things, but I was pleased that the guys played hard throughout the entire game.
And there were times, last year, I didn’t feel that we were slugging it out right to the end of the game. But yesterday was not one of them. And I thought that the defense kept us in the game.
I think the offense was able to move the ball but didn’t capitalize when they got good field position. And I didn’t think that we made a game changing play on special teams that would make a difference maker in the game. So there were a lot of things, as I look at that game, where, as I said yesterday after the game, it’s not a game we deserved to win but it’s a game that we put ourselves in the position we could win if we made a few more plays in the fourth quarter.
Q. At the beginning of the season you talked about the desire to pound it. In three games doesn’t seem like you’re there. What have you seen and what do you need to do to get better there?
COACH Charlie Weis: It was very disappointing yesterday, because going into each game you have a different mentality that you go in with. For example, last week we figured that the long pass would soften up the running game.
This week we wanted to establish the running game to get going early in the game. And because we weren’t able to do that efficiently, you know, it forced us to spread them out and throw the ball more than we intended to going into the game.
So I think that although each week is its own set of encyclopedias, I think either way you can’t be satisfied with where you are at this point as far as how the running game is going.
Q. Have you identified the major problem and why you’re not able to pound it?
COACH Charlie Weis: As I talked to the offensive staff today, I kind of laid it on everybody. And I always include the coaches when I lay it on everyone.
But the easiest ones to hit are the offensive linemen, but it’s the offensive linemen and tight ends and running backs and wide receivers and running backs carrying the ball.
Obviously we’re not doing a good enough job blocking and we’re not doing a good enough job running. Pass blocking seems to have stayed at a pretty good constant. Even though there were three sacks in the game, the offensive line really can’t get credited for much of the blame as far as that goes when the action did come their way.
So although there was a little bit more duress yesterday and some pressures, I think that, collectively, with everyone who is throwing a block and involved in the run game, there’s some things we’re going to have to do significantly better or we’re just going to be a mediocre running team.
Q. Did you take a look at the schematics, do you think that might be a problem, too?
COACH Charlie Weis: We talked about a number of things as we’re going forward into Sunday/Monday and directions we might want to go to give us the best chance to be successful. So if you’re asking as you get ready for Purdue, the things that you’ll do differently, the answer is yes.
Q. And how do you approach the team? You talked about dealing with success. Do you hammer them now or do you how do you treat them this week?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think, first of all, I made my point in the locker room last night. So explaining to them how in a game like that how each play is important. There isn’t one play that takes place that isn’t important.
I think when they watch the tape tomorrow morning they’re going to see evidence of how many plays, that if one guy, one guy would have done his job better, the chance for success might have been that much better.
And when you’re a team that’s learning, that’s learning and growing and getting better, those are the types of mistakes that you can’t afford to make if you intend to win.
Q. The whole thing about the laptop, do you expect to hear anymore about that, and did you find out more about exactly what happened there?
COACH Charlie Weis: Because I had to do the due diligence on this one last night. You know, when we go on the road, what we do is a student manager is assigned to just, from a defensive staff standpoint, because it’s not on the offensive staff, okay, is assigned to type in on a laptop the down and distance in the defense. So when we come back here they can give it to (video coordinator) Tim Collins, and when they’re dubbing the tape for the next morning, it will just it just reads across, 1st and 10, under, bear. Whatever it is.
Now, you’re allowed to do that. But the one area where you’re not allowed to do that is in a coaching area. It wasn’t a coach doing it, but it was a student manager.
But their (Michigan State’s) coaches box is a 3 tiered one where the main coaches sat on the first tier and GAs and those guys sat on the second tier, then there was a third tier.
So we had a guy up there that was putting in the down and distance and the name of the defense so when we came back he wouldn’t have to stay up until 3:00 in the morning punching the stuff in.
To be honest with you, if he were sitting next to you in the press box, that’s perfectly legal for him to do the exact same thing. So if we were at fault, it was for the fact that he was at the top of the three tiers (in the coaches booth) doing exactly that.
Q. Do you respond a delay do you report to NCAA?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’ll say it to whoever. But I told them yesterday the same thing I’m telling you. Because at first, when an official came over to me, I said we’re doing what? So I was talking to Haywood at the time on the headset. I said: Have you got a laptop up there? He goes no. I said to the guy who came over across the field, I said: We don’t have a laptop.
Three minutes later I’m still talking to Haywood. Haywood said, hey, one of the student managers up top has a laptop. I said tell him to take the laptop and put it underneath his desk. Which he did. And he cooperated with anything that happened right there.
What I did, when I was walking off at halftime, I grabbed one of their coaches, I don’t know which one, but I grabbed one of their coaches to tell them exactly what I’m telling you so that he knew exactly what I was telling you, because as I said, after the game, I was unaware that the student manager was inside the press box doing that, inside the coaching box doing that instead of outside the coach’s box doing that.
Q. After the game yesterday you talked about accountability. Accountability being a big thing that you talk to them in the locker room that you wanted to get across to the players. Last year, I may be wrong in interpreting this, but I felt like after the game you would talk about the coaches, about the coaches doing a better job, about the coaches. As this team grows up, do you feel you can put more of it on the players?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think you can spread the wealth a little bit more. I thought that last year the appropriate thing to do would be really to start, and it always does start with me. That doesn’t change, Pete. Ultimately, when you lose a game, you’re the head coach and the main responsibility falls on you.
But, for example, offensively, let’s just talk about offensively. You turn the ball over three times. Twice it’s going in. Once in your own territory. You’re keeping you from scoring points or you’re giving them points. Obviously, when you throw two interceptions and you fumble in the red zone, I mean these are all point related circumstances.
You think about our penalties. Okay. On offense, everyone wants to talk about Sam’s penalty in the third play of the game, which is a dumb penalty now. But I’m more concerned with James’ false start, because James’s false start on that play, if you recall, we completed a pass to us first and goal on the 6 or 7 yard line, because the play actually took place. The play everything happened in the play, and then they came back and we false started on the play.
I think a play like that could make a big difference. Obviously our goal line defense was really good in the game. But one play down there, Terrell gets beat inside on the slant right there. Mean they’re probably kicking a field goal right there. Now it’s 6 nothing instead of 10 nothing in that same situation.
So I’m not stating anything I hate ever to throw players under the bus, but I think that they have to accept a certain level of accountability on specific plays that happened during the game, realizing we’re all part of the success and we’re all part of the failure.
Q. Last year were they not mentally prepared to accept that, do you think?
COACH Charlie Weis: I just think there were too many problems to do that with. I think that it was just an easier tact to take to keep the direction focused in one area.
Q. Whether the two minute early at San Diego State or bombs away last week or the spread out, seemed like you guys moved the ball efficiently when you’re chucking it around. Even though you talk about pound it, that’s the identity of the team, to chuck it around and spread it out. Is that okay?
COACH Charlie Weis: Yes, that would be okay. Because the bottom line is, when you go into a game, you want to give your guys the opportunity to do that.
But they have to give you evidence that they can do it. What you can’t do is you can’t just throw things out and just give up on your players saying we’re not capable of doing that.
We have to do just like we did yesterday. I mean I could have sat there and run it another 40 times if we wanted to. But at the same time you’re trying to win the football game.
And that game yesterday we spread it out. Now all of a sudden we start having some success throwing the ball. But the bottom line is whether it’s a turnover, turnovers in the red zone or missed field goal, those things at the end of the day, when you’re playing a 13 to 7 game which is where you were sitting there early in the fourth quarter. I mean you can’t be making mistakes like that and winning a close game.
Q. And you talked about having, seeing evidence of the passing game, the running game or the field goal operation has not shown some evidence. Are you seeing that during the week or
COACH Charlie Weis: Yes. See, that’s the problem is during the week I think that the running game has continue to look better and better each day in practice. And the practice has been physical, and that includes when we’re running the ball once against the 1s. The 1s against the 1s, offense against defense. So there’s been plenty evidence of things moving in the right direction.
Obviously we have not carried that over to the game. And as far as the field goal operation, I mean I can’t remember the last time in practice we’ve had a snap/hold problem. And yesterday in the game, I mean both of them, I’d say the operation in both cases, both field goal operations, weren’t exactly smooth.
Q. What point does the evidence you’re seeing on Saturday just trump what you’re seeing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday?
COACH Charlie Weis: When you feel you have to change the tempo of the game, because what you intended to do in the game wasn’t working.
Q. Obviously every game is its own entity unto itself but do you have to be more inclined to say we’re going to use the pass to set up the run to give yourself a better chance to run the football?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think you have to definitely explore that option. I think you have to look at but, Tim, I think the most important thing is you have to apply it to Purdue. You have to apply it to Purdue. You have to say, okay, what do we think gives us the best chance of winning against Purdue, because that might not be the same thing you’re seeing against Stanford.
I mean you have to apply it to Purdue. And whatever tact we need to take to move the football, you know, and that’s not even talking about not producing in the red zone, which is obviously when you get down there you don’t put points on the board. Moving the ball’s one thing but you’ve gotta be able to score points at the end of the day. But I think you have to be willing to, whatever you need to be able to do to do to move the ball and score touchdowns that’s what you need to do.
Q. Field goal kicking, it’s more than just the kicker obviously but the snap, is the competition open again? Does Burkhart get a shot here? Do you have other alternatives?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think just like you talked about in the running game, I think you have to at least explore that you have to explore that option. You just go based off the evidence you have to at least explore that option.
Q. Golden (Tate) showed some flashes, two back to back plays where he caught the ball, made the first down, and broke up that potential interception. About as good as it gets for a wide receiver. You think teams now will have to game plan specifically for him? Would that open up other things like Michael Floyd?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think that Michael (Floyd) had a pretty big day, too, yesterday. That’s without David (Grimes) playing, which was another thing in a way. Ended up holding David, which will have positive residual effects this week.
But I think Golden (Tate) showing play making ability, with speed and hands and obviously run after catch, I mean we spent a lot of time on that drill yesterday that run after catch drill.
But that was a joke, by the way. It didn’t go over too well. But he’s shown that with the ball in his hands he’s a pretty dangerous weapon.
Q. The Yankees closing Yankee Stadium tonight, can you give us your feelings?
COACH Charlie Weis: It breaks my heart. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve watched in Yankee Stadium, not just the Yankees, football Giants I watched in the Yankee Stadium. We used to sit in the left center field bleachers which was the end zone because the football Giants, the stadium ran from the first base dugout out to the left center field bleachers. I can’t tell you how many times I took the bus to the Port Authority, took the A train to 59th and the D train to 161st with the fellows. I probably did it 100 times.
I don’t know if I’d do it today. But when we were in high school, we used to do it all the time. And that’s back when, especially Friday nights, when they had double headers back in the old days go there for a 5:00 game. Nothing better than that go watch a doubleheader with the Yankees. Breaks my heart.
Q. How difficult is it when you completely change your game plan so early in the game?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think because I’ve had experience doing that, I can help Mike on the offensive staff get off of something if it’s not working and go in another direction. And I think that, for example, the third drive, you know that reverse we ran with Golden to start off the third drive, we’ve gone three and out and three and out. And there was some debate on whether we should call it or not.
That’s what Michael (Haywood) said next. I said what the hell, go ahead and call it. You might have a game changing play. To be honest with you, maybe if he stays outside he might take it to the house. But I think you’ve got to be willing to go off of your normal routine if early in the game, a quarter or so in, you look like you’re a little stagnant or in a rut.
Q. After that reverse, when you guys started passing it, was that still the script as far as those passes, or that tape run was that the last play?
COACH Charlie Weis: No, it was passes and runs. There just happened to be after that run there was a small sequences of passes before he went back to run.
Q. You got asked about what kind of tact you’re going to take with the team as far as your mood tomorrow. How about the players, when they come in, what do you want to see from them? Do you want to see them loose? Do you want to see them business like? What are you looking to see from them?
COACH Charlie Weis: In the morning I want to see them disappointed. Because when they watch the tape I want them to see evidence on the tape that that one play at a time mentality that I was talking about before, there were plenty of single plays that could have changed the complexion of that game.
Now, the afternoon, because we split up the day on Monday, the morning we had taken an hour and a half of our four hours and wrapped up last week’s game. And in the afternoon it’s got to be get back to business and moving forward. So early in the day, disappointing. Later in the day let’s pick up the tempo and let’s get going.
Q. Follow up to the running game question. I think for the untrained eye people look at that and say well I wonder if it’s last year popping up. Do you see the same things or is this a completely set of encyclopedias, as you like to say?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think it’s more the latter, but I think that as an offense, we have to give you and everyone else, but more particularly, the team, confidence that when we call run something positive’s going to happen. So I think collectively we’ll pick it up.
Q. Charlie, this may be a nitpicky thing, and sort of an untrained eye question, too; but with all the pressure, with all the blitzing you guys are doing, you look at the numbers, there’s one fact, do you feel you’re getting the payoff that you want from that, or is there hidden things that don’t necessarily show up in the stat book that the pressure and the blitzing is actually helping?
COACH Charlie Weis: No, first of all, I think it’s a fair question. A lot of the blitzes we were running yesterday were more run blitzes mentality, because, see, there’s two different types of blitzes, one where you expect they’ll be throwing it on every down and the other one where you’re trying to blow up the run game.
With Javon Ringer being such a dynamic guy, I think the one thing you needed to do was make sure you had everybody in every gap. And the few times in the gap where we didn’t have somebody in every gap, like the one 60 yarder that he went for, was the one time if you go back and watch it you’ll see there was no one in that gap where he ended up running through.
But I think for a good portion of the day, as much stamina as he has, he’s averaging under four yards a carry for most of the day until after he breaks that big one later on.
So I think there’s really two types of blitzes. One where you’re expecting them to throw and you’re getting after the quarterback. But the other one where you expect them to run and you blow up the run at the same time.
Q. Philosophically, when you’re blitzing, is it as much to dictate to the offense just where to go? And I guess people think blitz and they think a big play is going to happen because we’re blitzing. Can it be more subtle than that?
COACH Charlie Weis: You can, especially dependent on how you’re playing your secondary, you can kind of force the direction of the ball. I think that’s one thing that can happen. And I think you’ll see their completion percentage was in the low 40s. I think one of the things that happens when you’re bringing pressure from a side you usually have a good idea what side the ball is going to end up going to.
Q. Can you talk about the one sack? You’re still playing pretty good defense. And you don’t have a defensive line. Going in, you didn’t have a bunch of defensive linemen, that were going to rack up a few sack numbers. So do you stay content playing good defense and maybe be a little bit less aggressive even though that goes against the nature of your defensive coaches?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think that this week you needed to get eight men in a box on a regular basis. I think that going in was the plan.
As you’re going against (Curtis) Painter this week, and I’m not talking about Purdue yet, but obviously the whole offensive scheme is different. So what you do against Painter is going to be a lot different than what you’re doing against Hoyer and Ringer, for that matter.
Q. You talk about offensive linemen and the less you see of them better. Sam Young’s problems have been pretty visible at times when the camera focuses in on him. Where is he in terms of reaching his potential, and how frustrated is he or is he frustrated in the way that, in his own play?
COACH Charlie Weis: Sam’s a guy who really likes to get into a slug it out type of game. And we’ve been getting in a lot of defense movement type game, and I think he’s getting better on the movement, which as all the pressures that we end up getting. We talk about the pressures we’re doing. But the number of pressures we end up getting, I think these guys would just continue to use him in particular, but I think all of them will continue getting the better and better handling the movement of the defensive linemen.
Q. Looking back now how good is Michigan State, how good do you think they’ll be? I think there’s the impression they’re not great at quarterback. They run the football well. When you look back and evaluate your play against them and watching them play how good is Michigan State?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think they’re solid. I think they play sound fundamental football on both sides of the ball. I think they play sound on offense. They play sound on defense. They play sound on special teams.
I think that they know who their play makers are. They know Ringer is a play maker. They know Lyle was a play maker. They know who their play makers are and they put them in positions to go ahead and make plays. I think they’re very well coached.