Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis held his weekly press conference on Tuesday, discussing this weekend's visit to #8/9 Pittsburgh.

Charlie Weis Press Conference Transcript - Washington Game Preview (Sept. 29)

Sept. 29, 2009

COACH WEIS: Good afternoon. Coach Sarkisian and Coach Holt came up in USC and really have changed the mentality of Washington in a hurry. They brought Doug Nussmeier in to coordinate the offense and then quarterback coach, and up you can see the signs that this offense is getting better in a hurry. Their average is 24 points a game, running for 108 and throwing for another 250. Very good on third down and converting; just about 60 percent on third down.

I think part of the turn around offensively is obviously Locker being back. He’s a frontline quarterback. He can make the tough throws. All have to do is see the last drive of the USC game and you know that the kid’s a playmaker.

You know, we saw Fouch last year. He played against us. You know, if anything happened, we’d obviously see him. But, you know, Locker is obviously the leader of their offense.

Chris Polk is their starting runner, started every game of the season after suffering a knee injury last year. Fogerson will also show up some as their second half back. And they do play some two back looks where he plays. Interesting because last year he played safety and he’s their second half back this year.

Homer is their fullback. He is a former linebacker. He looks to me like one of the tougher guys on the team. They like to move him around a lot.

Middleton is their starting tight end, or Izbicki. Sometimes they’ll use two tight ends.

At wide receiver, James Johnson will start. He is a true freshman who has worked his way into the starting wide receiver as the season’s gone on. He’s been very productive. For example, against USC he had 7 catches for 72 yards. They also use Kearse there. It acts as a good route runner makes tough catches in traffic and looks like a tough kid with good hands.

At Z, Jordan Polk is a true sophomore who is also their primary kickoff returner. He’ll play both Z and also in the slot. The thing about Polk is he looks, you know, he looks like their fastest guy. He is not real big, but he is very, very fast and very quick. They use Aguilar in there as well. He didn’t play last week, reportedly with a knee. I’m not sure whether or not we’ll see him or not.

I do know that we’ll see Goodwin in the slot. He was their leading receiver last season. He’s got good speed, and he can make you miss. And a little bit of Cody Bruns who looks to me like he is a very versatile athlete.

Now, on the offensive line, you know, Ossai starts at tackle. He is their most experienced lineman. He’s started, like, 36 games out of the last 41 games. He is a big body with long arm and he is physical.

Christine is their left guard. Tolar is their center. He’s started 22 games at either center or guard. Kelemete — he moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard in the spring. He is starting at right guard. And, Habben, he’ll start at right tackle for him. He is a returning starter with 19 starts under his belt. So there’s three guys, both their tackles and their center, that have vast experience for them, which has led to improvement in their offense.

As I mentioned previously, Coach Holt came up along with Coach Sarkisian to take over the defense. They’re giving up, oh, I’d say 183 yards passing per game, and they’re getting off the field on third down. The teams are converting only 37 percent on third down. Probably the stat that is most telling is teams got it into the red zone 16 times, and they’ve only scored six touchdowns in those 16 times, which is pretty impressive.

You know their defensive line started it all off and there’s no better player than Te’o Nesheim. He is a returning strong side end. He gave us problems last year. He looks really good. He is the most experienced guy on their defense, having started every game in the last three years. He’s got 41 starts under his belt. He’s active. He plays hard. He plays 100 miles an hour all the time. You guys know, Randy was the defensive line coach there last year, and he raves about this kid and about his motor.

Crichton will start at the weak side end. He is a true freshman who started the last couple weeks. The other guy that will show up there is Darrion Jones.

At 3-technique Elisara will handle the 3-technique and Everrette Thompson shows up there, too. He started defensive end last season, but this year he’s playing a lot of 3 technique. And Ta’amu is the big guy with on the nose; the 350 pounder; That’s a load in there in.

At linebacker the three leading tacklers on the team are the three linebackers. Now, the only question mark, their weak side linebacker Savannah was injured last week with a foot, and he didn’t play much in the second half. And his status is in the air. If he doesn’t play, Dennison will play. Dennison has played a bunch so it won’t come as a big surprise.

Butler is a returning starter, and he’s been productive for them including 12 tackles in the last two games. And Foster is their starting Sam who is athletic, and he had 12 tackles last week alone.

In their secondary, Richardson will start on R-right. He is a returning starter at corner. And they have a true freshman, Trufant that will start on our left; looks to run pretty well. McDowell is another guy that we’ll see in there. We saw him last year against us, and he has started this year. Nate Williams is the key to their secondary, their strong safety. You know, he’s the returning starter for them and

Justin Glenn has been starting at free safety the last three weeks. We saw him play a little nickel last week against Stanford. Greg Walker started the first game at free safety, and he’ll also show up, especially when they go to nickel.

Coach Nansen handles the defensive line as well as the special teams. Last week their net punting was over 50 yards. Mahan handles the punting and Folk handles the kickoff and kickoff return. Fouch is their holder, and he is a back up quarterback. So you always have to be ready for gadgetry. Morovick’s their snapper. And when it comes to kickoff returns, as I mentioned before, I mentioned both Polk and Richardson, they’ll be back there on kickoff return, and Fogerson will be back there on punt return.

Q. Jimmy, any news on him at all?

COACH WEIS: Jimmy is ready to go today.

Q. Full practice?

COACH WEIS: Jimmy’s back. Armando’s back. They’re ready to go.

Q. Last year you talked about the fact the team has to learn to develop a killer instinct and not let games go down to the end; is that a message you plan to have with the team?

COACH WEIS: Well there’s two different subjects there. The first one — one subject is you have to learn how to win close games. So they didn’t learn — they didn’t put them away, but they did learn in the last two weeks how to win close games. So, you know, that’s as critical as anything else that you have going.

There’s a bunch of circumstances that happen every week that determine how the game goes. Last week was one of those games where it came down to the end. So lesson learned last week was, you know, winning the game on the road, a close game on the road. I think that was a vital lesson that was learned.

Q. Do you want to get the message across of putting the game away before the final seconds?

COACH WEIS: Yes, I do, but I don’t want to be over analytical about last week’s game, because then I could start making excuses for how things ended up going. Let me just say I thought a valuable lesson was learned last week and the one that I previously mentioned.

I mean, would you like to pull away from a team and win by three touchdowns and not have to have the heart palpitating in the last minute? You betcha. But I think that the last two weeks there’s been valuable lessons learned where, first, you won a game on defense and then you won a game on offense. I think that it really helped the confidence of our football team.

Q. So, this week special teams?

COACH WEIS: You’re joking. I had a similar comment about 30 minutes ago that was the same — we came up with the same deduction.

Q. You talked last week about, you always look for something to point the team to. Coming off the way you beat them last year, is their win over USC, is that really helpful this week, the way they played LSU, you point to them and say, `Hey, these aren’t the same guys that we met last year’?

COACH WEIS: Let’s just quickly look at their season. First of all, they opened up with LSU who is a tough team and they played them tough. Then they go and whooped up on Idaho. Then they go beat USC. Then they go out to Stanford and probably as a young team often will have, you know, after having such an emotional win over USC they had some things that didn’t happen so well in the Stanford game.

But, even the Stanford game, the game is sitting there at 17-14. It wasn’t like you look at the final score being 34-14 like this game’s a blowout. The game was 17-14. The game could go either way at that time, but Stanford ends up pulling away. It’s pretty easy for players when you have an attention getter. And them beating USC is definitely an attention getter.

Q. What is different besides from just being a year older, the defensive line, what are they doing better this year? I mean, what is the key to the success so far, do you think?

COACH WEIS: Well I think that they’ve seemed as a group just to be playing hard. You know, they’re playing hard. I mean, they’re running around to the football. I remember — they’re playing basically very similar concepts to USC’s defense, but with Washington’s players. But, as you watch them run around right there, you can see these guys are starting to get it. They’re playing hard. I think when you play hard it always gives you a chance for something good to happen.

Q. What is something that Coach Verducci brought that has changed the mindset of your offensive line?

COACH WEIS: I think that his mentality is one to challenge each guy both individually but also to get them to think as a whole. It’s an interesting approach that I’ve seen before, but I think it puts accountability on each one of these players where they know that it’s not just how they play, but it’s how all five of them play.

And I think that the group of offensive linemen have definitely become more cohesive. As the season’s going on they’re playing together so much. A little bit of Danny (Wenger) in there, a little bit of (Matt) Romine, a little bit more Danny than Romine, but really the first five guys have seen most of the action and I think they’re kind of growing together.

Q. Anything schematically that he’s done to change them?

COACH WEIS: I think there are things that we’ve done and we’ve expanded. We’ve been able to expand our packages based on what we’re doing, but I think that he’s taken a lot of the pressure off of me personally by allowing us to separate, then come together game plan wise and pull it all together. You know, like last week, there was a lot of stuff that we did in that game. There was a lot of stuff. And we had to use almost everything we had to have an opportunity to win that game.

When we go into this game, there’s a lot of stuff again. It’s not all the same. I think you can’t get that done without assistant coaches that you rely on and you trust.

Q. Can you talk a little about what Randy Hart has brought to the program?

COACH WEIS: Let’s start with the obvious ones. He is experienced and a technician. He is a fundamental coach to start off with. But just as important has been his very apparent energy that he brings with him. I’ve never been around a guy any more energetic than this guy.

Sign me up to have his energy at any time the rest of my life, okay, and he’s eight years older than me, sign me up. Because he just exudes it. And he expects it from the people around him. And I think that the players and coaches and everyone that’s around it kind of feeds off that.

Q. Wanted to get one more on Coach Verducci. As running game coordinator, how much input or what was his role when it came to devising the Wildcat scheme?

COACH WEIS: That was a staff project in the offseason. That wasn’t something that we just put together. We did this all last spring. We started putting it in last spring and we went through it in the summertime. That was a staff project.

He was able to bring some of the ideas from the Browns that they were doing with (Joshua) Cribbs that we incorporated, but we did a lot of study in the off season from different teams that had this package to try to get something that we could use with our players then to get them to do because there’s a lot of other things you could do. His experience with what they did in Cleveland was one of the things we utilized.

Q. People are talking about the close games and whatnot. From the outside looking in, it almost seems like as a coach, perhaps, winning close games might be better off for the team than blowing everybody out; is there any truth to that theory?

COACH WEIS: Sign me up for Tom’s program. I’d rather be on that other program. I only can really answer on what happened. We didn’t get in into one of those games where we won by multiple touchdowns. We had to fight right to the end of the game. Now we’re starting to win those games, so that’s one thing now. The next time this team’s on the road in a close game, we don’t have to question about whether or not we’re going win or not because we already have that experience to fall back on. I think that’s part of turning the corner. I think it was a critical lesson learned.

Q. What did it mean to you and your family with the opening of the Hannah and Friends Farm?

COACH WEIS: My wife and I talked about that late last night. We didn’t get a chance to talk too much during the day about it. But any time you have this dream and vision of being able to do something good for somebody other than yourself and other than your family and then look at the faces and see it come to fruition, it’s a good feeling.

Q. Robert’s (Hughes) role this week, does it go back to filling in for James or has he earned himself a little bit more?

COACH WEIS: We’ll list him as a starting fullback. In reality, he is really looking for more halfback reps. Trust me, he wants the halfback reps. So the one thing that he’s going to have to fight is Armando being back and going. But I don’t think Armando’s going to be able to play every play, so he is really now fighting with Jonas to get the rest of those reps. Based off last week’s performance, he’s earned the right to fight for those reps.

Q. Is your scheme the biggest challenge for a young receiver like Shaq (Evans) being able to read coverages?

COACH WEIS: Oh I think that Shaq can read the coverage. I think the nuances of the routes are sometimes more challenging than reading — they can read rather they have a press or roll corner.

For example, when you run a comeback and it’s at 14 yards and you plant your inside foot and you’re coming down the stem at a 45-degree angle. And in high school the guy couldn’t throw it on the button right on the sideline because you didn’t have that same type of timing issue. The corner was off you 20 yards so you came out of the route and just kind of turned around and the ball was there and you went and caught it. Now, you got a guy driving on you, because the corner’s closer to you because you have less separation, and now that cornerback is bringing you down to the sideline. If you don’t come down the stem and go make that play, it’s an incomplete pass, and somebody looked bad in the play.

So I think that learning how precise you have to be and the precision that goes with route running is probably the bigger issue.

Q. Is it something that you’ve seen progress from him over the past year?

COACH WEIS: Significantly. Part of the answer to that is the quarterback’s letting him know what they’re expecting. Besides coach (Rob) Ianello letting him know what he is expecting, the quarterback is letting him know what he is expecting as well. Now, he is hearing it from both the coaches and the quarterbacks. It doesn’t take long for fliers to get it when they get it from both those sides.

Q. Front page of our paper after the Michigan game was a big picture of Darius Fleming kind of facing the wrong way. Since then he’s had seven tackles for loss — talk about his rebound?

COACH WEIS: He really, this past week especially, was in the backfield all day whether it was tackles for loss or sacks. I think he had three tackles for a loss and a sack. He’s most comfortable when he’s turned loose to get after the quarterback. And, he plays with a high motor at a high speed, and I think that he is starting to get more comfortable what he’s doing.

Q. Notice that you flip-flopped on the punter Ben Turk, and he is punting now; can you talk about what you see from him?

COACH WEIS: Well, we’ve gone for the last several weeks with Eric (Maust), and it’s been kind of close in practice, so we went with the experience. But I think the only facet of special teams that we were disappointed with in last week’s game was our punt team. Now, it’s not all Eric’s fault, but we were disappointed with the punt team. So based off the fact that it’s been pretty even in practice between the two of them, we figured we’d give the freshman a chance.

Q. I know Brady’s junior year there was lot of talk about him and the draft, and you didn’t shy away from that. You thought that wasn’t a bad thing for him to be thinking about, and being asked about it. In this game you have two guys that are really moving up the draft board in (Jake) Locker and (Jimmy) Clausen. Talk about those two guys, and is your thinking still the same?

COACH WEIS: Well let’s just say in Jimmy’s case, you know, if you move yourself up so high in the draft that it’s an offer you can’t refuse, then you have to seriously consider it. But I think that you never want to walk away from a Notre Dame education unless that was presented to you.

As for Jake, I just know he picked up $300,000 from the Angels so I think he can take his time on what he wants to do because he has a couple of different options. But I don’t know him. You know, I’d love to have Jimmy here for this year and next year, but if he ends up playing so well this year that it warrants him making that decision, that probably will be a good thing for the success of our football team this year.

Q. On a kickoff last week they ended up calling a personal foul on Purdue but you were very upset. Did you think the personal foul call was against your team or was it something else?

COACH WEIS: I thought they should have thrown the guy out of the game for hitting the kicker behind the play. I mean the kicker was 20 yards behind the play.

Q. We never saw it.

COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, he got annihilated. Just picture it now. The play’s over by Mike and the kicker’s getting wiped out over here. I mean, I wasn’t too happy with that. That’s correct, I wasn’t very happy, and I thought that they should consider that player not being out there for the rest of the evening.

Q. Were you aware of the statistic that you are 18-0 when your team out rushes the opponent?

COACH WEIS: Is Tom sitting here? (Laughter.) Yeah, somebody informed me of that this week. You know, I think somebody brought it up at the press conference on Sunday. I forget who it was.

Q. That is no coincidence I take it?

COACH WEIS: Well, it usually means that when you run the football effectively everything else works easier. And, that’s a fact. Regardless of whether you start off throwing or start off running, when you run the ball effectively, makes it easier for everything else you are doing.

Q. Throwing the ball to the middle of the field, which opponents have taken advantage of a lot of times when you have blitzed on the outside and vacated the middle, but you have not utilized the middle of the field a lot in your passing game; is that something the opposition is doing or is there a reason behind you not going into that area?

COACH WEIS: Well in this game they started playing a lot of 2-Tampa where they drop the middle linebacker deep into that zone right there. So really where you throw the ball versus 2-Tampa is not in the middle of the field. Because although it’s called 2, the guy who is dropping really makes it like a 3-deep zone without the corners getting whipped. Because those corners are actually safeties. With that being said, there are areas that you attack 2-Tampa and in the middle is not one of them.

Q. So in general is that how teams are playing you?

COACH WEIS: No, that’s what we saw last week. We’ve thrown plenty of in cuts this year. That’s definitely the middle of the field. But in cuts are one way you high low the middle of the field. You run a check down, you run an in cut behind it then you run a middle linebacker. But when the middle linebacker drops toward the middle of this field, you don’t throw the ball in the middle of field.

Q. Regarding injuries and talking about injuries, you talked about it after practice on Thursday and by in large what you told us was absolutely accurate. But you are not obligated, like in the NFL, to be completely forthcoming with that. What’s your attitude with regard to talking about injuries and would it have been in your best interest to deceive us a little bit Thursday after practice?

COACH WEIS: The answer is: It would be easier not to say anything. It would be easier not to say anything, okay. I try with you guys as best I can, especially most of you are regulars here all the time. I try as best I can to tell you as truthfully as I can without giving away what we’re going do to the opponent. I try as best I can.

Q. When you spend all week working on a game plan and then at half time make adjustments, how significant are those adjustments to what you have worked on all week and planned for?

COACH WEIS: Well, what you do is you try to decide based off of the game. I had a couple different issues like this past week. One was Jimmy, and his health versus the score in the game and how to best handle both those things. So you normally aren’t dealing with two sets of circumstances at the same time that are really conflicting things. They are not one in the same.

Because if you decide you are going try to rest this kid and not play him, that takes all these things right here that you’d like to do to start off the second half and throw them out the window. So now you are taking these set of things and that’s what you end up doing and those and those only.

Now that is not the normal. Normally, you got your game plan and now some of the stuff that you game planned for just doesn’t look very good against what they’re doing. Whereas other things look really good about what you are doing and you haven’t gone to the well. You haven’t gone back to the well and taken another drink. So that’s what you try to do. You try to look at what looks good against what they’re doing, and let’s go back and try to do that again.

This week’s circumstances were a little bit different.

Q. What kind of temptation is there to not over-think yourself?

COACH WEIS: I’m a very objective person. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about being emotional. Here what’s they’re doing, here is what we’re doing, this doesn’t look any good. I might think some of the stuff I had was just great and it might look like garbage, so at halftime I just throw them out, we’re not running any of that stuff. On paper, I thought it was good or in practice it looked really good, but if it doesn’t look like it’s going to work in the game, I just don’t call it.

Q. What are the intangibles of a good second half team versus this team?

COACH WEIS: I think that you gain something from every game. So, what you didn’t gain by putting Purdue away when you are up 17-7, you did by having to run a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win the game. I mean, so there’s always something lost is something gain.

I think that part of when you really truly turn a corner, you put yourself in a position — and throw out extending circumstances you try to pull away. That’s the intent every week. You never want to be playing in a game where you are playing to the last minute. You know, that might be good for TV, but it’s not so good for programs that want to move forward.

Q. When you look at Dayne’s (Crist) performance on Saturday then all throughout last week getting the extra work, how big do you think that time span is for him moving forward, what do you try to do about it?

COACH WEIS: I think it is probably a turning point for him. He didn’t play all last year. This year, he’s gotten a couple plays. He had that one throw to Deion (Walker) where he goes and throws a comeback and a meaningful throw. But this was him running the offense with a game in jeopardy. This was him leading us to a couple of scores. And even though we were not throwing it all over the place, he is still the presence in the huddle. He is the guy in charge. I thought that experience for him will be invaluable for him personally and also for when Jimmy is not the quarterback anymore.

Q. You think you’ll try to give him a little more work in practice moving forward?

COACH WEIS: He’ll get more reps than he’s been getting. Not necessarily so that I can go in and out of packages, mind you, but it will be to get him prepared to play in the game on things that I would call with him in the game. You know, because they’re not necessarily the exact same things I would call with Jimmy in the game.

Q. Sunday you mentioned that you just need to play Manti (Te’o) more and let him figure it out. What kind of game plan for him this week? Do you play him at multiple positions, what do you do with him to get him in position to play more?

COACH WEIS: He’ll play more this week, Pete, that’s all I’ll tell you. (Laughter) I’m not going to go over the game plan to tell you how we’re going play him more, but he’ll play more. Was that a joke? (Laughter.)

Q. With (Kyle) McCarthy leading the team in tackles, I know you are comfortable with rolling him up in the box and him leading the team in tackles. The disparity between his tackles and your linebackers, what’s led to that and is that a legitimate concern for you guys?

COACH WEIS: Well, one of the answers is where they attack you. So if they attack you to the edge and he’s the down safety to where they are attacking you hope that’s where they’re making plays. The bigger problem is when he is making tackles when they’re inside plays. That’s when it’s a bigger problem.

I’ve been very pleased overall with Kyle and he’s made a bunch of plays for us. I think that the linebackers are starting to make more plays and the defensive linemen are starting to make more plays. And hopefully as this thing grows, we’re moving this in the right direction.

Point number one was let’s see if we can start not getting exploited in the run game, and I think that was a good place to start. I think that there were signs of progress the previous week, and it really showed up very good last week.

Q. Could you just talk a little more about defending (Jake) Locker, the challenges he presents; is it like anybody that you guys have gone against in the past?

COACH WEIS: He’s a very good athlete. In the last system, he was a read option type of guy with that spread. But you can see that he’s settled in nicely into the old USC system that they have right now. And I think he’s a heck of a player.

Q. Couple years ago you had the whole situation with guys flipping commitments and things like that; does your stance stay the same with that?

COACH WEIS: Some of the things that these players tell you when you guys get a chance to communicate with them and what they say to me might not necessarily be the same thing; that’s the best way for me to say it.

I have a very strong view on what a commitment is, and all these players clearly understand what that stance is.

Q. When a kid may take a visit elsewhere, does a scholarship remain intact? How do you stand on that?

COACH WEIS: I’ll just once again — because I know the person in particular we’re getting at — just say the communication between us has been very good. Let’s just leave it at that.

Q. Flipping directions, the Wildcat, how does that work as a recruiting tool so far, you’ve seen more of it?

COACH WEIS: I mean, if you are a running back you like it. If you are a wide receiver, you like it. So if you are looking at skill positions and versatility, there’s a lot it brings to the table when you look at those people. Especially if you’re such a skill athlete that some people say he’s an athlete. We don’t know if he is a corner back, we don’t know if he is a running back, we don’t know if he is a receiver. We got them all there in one that package; the opportunity to do the best of all worlds.

Q. Are high schools running a lot of it or has it not filtered down that far yet?

COACH WEIS: Actually, it’s filtered up, which really surprised me. You know, really, to be honest with you, it’s really not much different than the single wing. People want to talk about football history, you want to talk about a complete 360, it’s really a version of the single wing.

I think eventually when people start realizing it and say, God, this is the single wing, you know, snap it to the guy and go. I mean, it’s kind of funny if you really think about it the evolution of football.

Bigger surprise isn’t that the high schools are running it, because they’ve been running spread, now they’ll running widecat. Whatever is in vogue, they’re going do. I am more surprised the number of teams on Sunday that are now using it. Saw it again last night.

Q. Kyle Rudolph “throw me the ball” play seemed to work pretty well on Saturday. If you can go one on one with Golden and be comfortable with that, how much more do you want to just say let’s get a play for Kyle one on one no one can take him?

COACH WEIS: We have more than one of those, you know. I wasn’t in the huddle when that communication took place, but I could see that happening. I could see them having it.

But, even with him saying that, if they would have double-teamed him and left Golden over the top — because if you went back and watched the play you saw Golden was open behind him. You know, so he was coming behind him. It just so happened that he was — that Kyle was one on one. So he was the one that was open. So that play was, even though Kyle said, give me the ball, if two guys were on him and one was on Golden, you know, the ball would have gone to Golden even though he requested the football.

Q. In general in the offense, I know you guys use him, but isn’t he just such a super weapon that if there’s a one on one situation just let’s make more plays for him anyway?

COACH WEIS: We have some of those in there. Not every one of them gets an opportunity to get calls based off of — you have certain times you are going call certain things. Like it might be a red zone play, might be a goal line play. It might be a third down call. There’s just situations have to play out where you get to that point.

Q. I don’t know if this is student athlete privacy issue, but in terms of insurance going on to the NFL, you’ve got two players you can talk about Jimmy (Clausen) if he comes back next year, and Michael (Floyd) with his injuries, and I don’t know if that changes anything with the way he has to go for insurance?

COACH WEIS: Well that wouldn’t change his status in the eyes of the other people — his injury. There are two avenues that players can use to protect themselves. One is the NCAA has a rating system of where through in conjunction with the Player’s Association or whatever they project where a guy is going. Then you can get insurance based off of the round you are projected that you would go in.

And it’s not cheap now. You know, it’s not cheap, but you can get it. And then there are private vendors that offer comparative product for people that want to go ahead and protect against, you know, career ending injuries.

Q. One follow up on that is does the NCAA get involved with who is paying your premiums if you are an undergraduate student? Do they care the way you would care if you have an off campus apartment?

COACH WEIS: Oh, I’m sure that would come into play. But what a lot of these guys can do is, they can get loans to get those because other people are going to give them loans based off of the same thing. You know, so usually doesn’t become as big a issue, to be honest with you.

Q. Is it just harder in general to get really big plays out of a tight end given the nature of the position?

COACH WEIS: No, I mean, it all depends on the mentality of the coverage game. You know, if you are playing against a team that wants to play true Cover 2, let’s say, not Tampa which turns into a 3D version, but if a team wants to play Cover 2, usually the easiest way to exploit the defense is the tight end. The easiest because he’s usually one on one with the linebacker no matter where he runs an end, out, crosser, you know, flat, seam, flag, wherever, you know, he’s the guy that is often one on one; him and the halfback. They’re the two guys that you can isolate when teams are playing Cover 2.

Now, when they’re playing post safety or when they’re playing corner field safety to that side, it’s much more difficult task to feature him in a vertical passing game.

Q. There’s certain explosiveness with Michael Floyd that maybe outside of Golden is just not on the roster. Do have to change your mentality a little bit? You have to replace him in some ways and say look we’re just not going to get that?

COACH WEIS: There is only one pro that comes with that okay. There’s plenty of cons that I agree with you. But one pro is it forces you to do more game planning. You have to be more creative. You have to create more opportunities schematically rather than falling into the comfort zone that we’ll just throw it to Floyd and he’ll catch it. So it forces you to create plays that before you created them by seven dropping back and looking for three.

Q. I think we saw (Ethan) Johnson in spring practice. The guy was a monster. How would you evaluate him so far; are there things we don’t see that he is doing perfectly fine?

COACH WEIS: I think you have to get — the particulars, I think you have to talk to Randy, you know, on Wednesday. I just know production wise the numbers haven’t been big. But I think as far as particulars, I think you’d have to talk to him because schematically I can’t tell you right off the top of my head. I just know what the numbers are, and I know that there’s not been very much production. Now the answer to why, I’ll defer to the defensive coaches.

Q. How much would you view that to change from a guy who you projected a lot of expectations of?

COACH WEIS: I can’t tell you right off the top of my head whether or not they’re running at Ethan and he is not making every play. I do know it isn’t like he comes in and grades terrible. I read every write up of every coach on every guy and watch every play of every game. So I can tell you that production wise we’re not — it has not been a good thing. But as far as grade wise, he’s not coming out grading like he’s playing crummy.

Q. Coach, in addition to Darius (Fleming) it seems that (Kapron) Lewis Moore played probably the best game of his brief career. Can you just talk about him a little bit?

COACH WEIS: I think he is one of those guys that sometimes we forget this is his first year playing. You know, at least Darius had the opportunity where last year he played some on defense and a bunch of special teams. So with Kapron he had a year where he was on the show team for a whole year. Last week was the most production by far we’ve gotten out of him. And I think that he’s one of those guys that by the end of the year will be a totally different player than he was at the beginning of this year.

Q. Could you just talk about Manti (Te’o) and what he has shown this year?

COACH WEIS: We knew coming in the door that Manti was going to be one of the more athletic guys that we brought on to this team with his size and speed. And I think that as he’s gone through this learning process. I think he’s getting close to really getting the trust of the defensive coaches to able to put him on the field more. One of the issues as we’re talking about here in the press conference today is about getting him on the field more. I think you’re going start seeing him a whole bunch more here this week.

Q. Has he met you high expectations?

COACH WEIS: I have high expectations for Manti, and I think that you’ll see similar to Kapron that we were talking about here just a second ago. I think you will see Manti playing his best ball in October and November.

Q. On Randy Hart, he obviously was kind of a legendary guy out here. Just curious how you got involved with him when this job opened? And the other is if you can just assess is this team on track to where you hoped it would be right now?

COACH WEIS: Let’s start with Randy first of all. I had just been fortunate enough in the process of looking for a defensive line coach to get Bryant Young to come in here as a graduate assistant. And Bryant, one of the things I talked to Bryant was, you know, eventually hiring him on to the staff, but I wanted to make sure that that is something that he wanted to do. Because the last thing I want to do is hire a guy and then six months later him be miserable because the life of being a coach and the life of being a pro football player, the hours are totally different.

So once I got Bryant to come in as a graduate assistant, I wanted to go find a veteran defensive line coach that was a fundamental, technique guy with a lot of energy. And if you looked under Webster’s in the dictionary I think that would come back Randy. And he’s exactly what I was looking for. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

As far as where we are, I’d like to be 4-0, to be honest with you. But when you play three games that come down to the last minute and you lose one and win two, that’s probably about what you deserve. But I’d like to be sitting here 4-0 not sitting here 3-1. Right now we just have our hands full just trying to beat Washington.

Q. Coach Weis, I actually had a couple quick questions too. One of them, I just wanted to further ask about Jake Locker and maybe his pro prospects from what you have seen on tape?

COACH WEIS: I think that Jake’s value is probably going to continue to rise as the season goes on. Because you have to remember this kid’s coming from one system to an injury to another system. And I think as you evaluate from the pro angle, okay, I think that they’re watching a transformation going from him being a read option quarterback to more pro-style offense quarterback, and I think that’s only going to help up his stock and up his value.

Q. Coach Weis, two questions. One follow up on the Wildcat. Do you see this being a fixture in the sport, or maybe a fad until defenses find a way to maybe better neutralize it? And what convinced you to add it in the offseason? Was there a single thing that really kind of convinced you to do that?

COACH WEIS: Well I’ll start with that one. I don’t think that it’s going go away any time soon. And I think defenses have already zeroed in on how they’re going to play it. Because, even if a team doesn’t show it, I think everyone’s got to be ready for it, you know, ready for it every week.

I know our defensive staff has a plan for it every week. So that all of a sudden you are playing against a team that doesn’t show it and all of a sudden they run it, you better understand what you are going do against it. Really the reason why I don’t think it’s going to go away is because it allows you to play even up football. You know, usually you’re minus one in football. Meaning, you know, you got a quarterback so therefore they got 11 defenders and you only got ten guys on offense because the one guy is just handing the ball off. But what this does is gives you one for one because somebody’s got to cover the quarterback when he detaches from the back field.

Q. Finally, you mentioned kind of the similarities with USC and what Sarkisian has done at the University of Washington. Do you see any areas where maybe he’s sort of broken away from the USC mold and kind of put his own stamp on things?

COACH WEIS: First of all, I think Steve is a very, very good coach, and I think he is going to have his own personality. He is not going there to are USC North. There are things that they did, you know, he is running their offense and Nick is running the defense, that they had great success with so why would you change that? I mean, you take the things that you had great success with, and then you apply it to the players you currently have, and they’ll definitely branch off like everyone else does. And I think that, you know, there’s a bright future there.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.

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