Sept. 2, 2008
COACH Charlie Weis: Good afternoon. First of all, before I get started on San Diego State, I think on behalf of the whole Notre Dame family we’d like to send our well wishes to the people on the Gulf Coast that are going through, either going through or going through the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. We all remember Katrina, and we just want to send our best wishes to the people on the Gulf Coast.
On to San Diego State and Coach (Chuck) Long. Been here for three years now. He’s been well groomed. After working for Hayden (Fry) at Iowa, and Kirk (Ferentz), and then Bob Stoops, obviously besides having an illustrious career as a quarterback, I mean he obviously is a guy who has good pedigree. His offensive coordinator, Del Miller, last week they threw the ball for 352 yards, with a redshirt freshman quarterback which we’ll talk about.
Obviously they lost a close game, but really the game was lost because they turned it over five times. They had three fumbles and two interceptions. Last year they averaged over 25 points a game and threw it for 273.
And when they got in the red zone, they usually scored touchdowns. Two thirds of the time they scored touchdowns. They scored 90 percent of the time in the red zone. So they’ve been pretty efficient offensively.
Ryan Lindley came in there and I thought did an admirable job as a redshirt freshman quarterback. I thought he was a little erratic in the beginning of the game; but as the game went on, he got better.
He was tough. He showed good poise. He showed a good arm and showed he’s accurate. You know, they played two running backs last week. (Brandon) Sullivan obviously was the main dog. He was the leading rusher and leading receiver.
Dave Brown — Davon Brown got a little action as well as a speed back. They were missing (Atiyyah) Henderson. He didn’t play because he had a hamstring. But we expect to see him this week.
Tyler Campbell is their fullback. He’s a captain and son of Earl Campbell, by the way. So we talk about pedigree. Doesn’t get much better than that.
They played two tight ends most of the time. (Matthew) Kawulok is the smaller of the two. He’s more of their move tight end. And (Waika) Spencer is the bigger guy. He’s more of their on the line tight end and. Wide receiver Vincent Brown, a true freshman. You saw him as wide receiver and return. But now, in 2007, he was third in school history as the most receptions by a freshman.
So he’s like one of their go to guys. Last week he had seven for 98 in the touchdown. He’s got good speed and good ball skills. I’ll talk about (Mekell) Wesley a couple times. He’s a reserve receiver, but you’ll hear me talk about him a little bit later on as one of the returners as well.
Another one of their captains at wide receiver is (Darren) Mougey. He’s a tall guy. He’s like six six, 230. Even though they list him as a wide receiver, it’s almost like a big tight end that’s out there because he’s got good body presence. And (Roberto) Wallace is considered one of the more talented receivers on the roster. They usually play three wide receivers. Although they do have packages where they play 12 and some other personnel groups as well.
On the offensive line, it’s anchored by (Trask) Iosefa, who is the returning starter at center. And (Peter) Nelson on the left side. (Mike) Schmidt’s the captain who is playing left guard, former defensive line. Switched over to the offensive line.
As a matter of fact, they’ve got a couple of guys. They’re starting left tackles. Nelson was also a former defensive lineman. Switched over to the offensive line. (Ikaika Aken-)Moleta at right guard. And (Lance) Louis who is a former tight end who is now playing right tackle for them.
On defense, you know, there’s two veteran defensive players that are well known and well respected. Their linebacker (Russell) Allen and free safety (Corey) Boudreaux. And Bob Elliott is assistant head coach and also handles their inside linebackers.
The most impressive stat coming out of last week’s game for me was that they held Cal Poly to 2 of 13 on third down. And 0 of 2 on fourth down, three sacks. They were getting off the field on third down and were getting some pressure on the quarterback.
Defensive end, I’ll talk about this group. But there’s a bunch of guys that got banged up. They’re shuffling some guys in and out due to the injuries. It’s going to force us to have some contingency plans just in case they get, if they do get short at the position. And we have to go back and look at a situation that they had last year. In the second game last year, I think it was the second game, they played against Arizona State, they ended up playing some odd.
We went back and took a look at that just in case they get short manned with the number of guys that they’ve got banged up. Like (Tony) DeMartinis, who was listed at both tight end and defensive end who started for them last week.
Well, he’s not playing. And (Siaosi) Fifita, who is one of their captains, they’ve been trying to get back so they can move Soto back out to the end. He’s supposedly not playing again.
So on the left side, on their right defensive end we’re expecting them to see Ryan Williams or (Eric) Ikonne at the three. (Jonathan) Soto is probably going to have to hang in there. They can play him or Long in there. But they’d like to get Soto back out there if they could. Lawson or Darius Jones will end up playing nose tackle or shade. And B.J. Williams will be over on the other side.
They have four linebackers they play a whole bunch. Two linebackers, both play, (Andrew) Preston and (Jerry) Milling, (Luke) Laolagi is their starting middle linebacker. And is I mentioned before Russell Allen, the returning captain, three year starter at linebacker.
So at both the linebacker position and the secondary position, I think they feel very comfortable with the health of the guys they have here. Like in the secondary, three of their four starters are back. Both corners are returning starters. Both (Aaron) Moore and (Vonnie) Holmes are returning starters. I mentioned Boudreaux several times, captain. Granted sixth year of eligibility this spring.
So this is his sixth go around. Obviously is a veteran. And T.J. McKay will handle the other safety spot. They do have new specialists, new kicker, new punter, new long snapper.
Toby Neinas handles the special teams. Also coaches the outside linebackers. (Lane) Yoshida, will handle both the place kicking and the kickoffs. (Brian) Stahovich will handle their punting. And then they have a true freshman long snapper by the name of Aaron Brewer.
And that returner, there’s two dynamic guys. I mentioned Wesley before because of his speed. But the other guy, who has a big track record in junior college, I believe at Ceritos, as a returner, even though he’s listed as their fifth corner, we expect to see (Davion) Mauldin back on kickoff return and probably see him on punt return as well.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. I guess you never know until you know, until a team starts the season, but I guess compared to — how would you compare the way you feel about this team this year to the other teams, the feeling you’ve had with other teams here, good, bad or indifferent?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I feel the best way for me is just to go from year to year, because these guys were the same, a lot of these guys were the guys that played last year.
I think that Sam (Young) now is — I could go right, start with the offensive line. I feel a lot better on our offensive line now than any time last year. Everyone has played on the offensive line at least through the first six guys have all been starters at different times during the year.
I know that you’re not officially listed as a starter on the flip card unless you’ve started at least six games. But we’ve got six linemen that have all started. We’re excited about our tight end situation. Do we miss John (Carlson)? Yes, but we like our tight ends.
Are we relatively young at wide receiver with the exception of David Grimes? As far as the two deep goes? Yes, we are, but we’re pretty excited there.
We’re really happy with where we are at the running back position. Flipping over to the defensive line, I really like the increase in athleticism that we have on the defensive line and the defense for that matter.
I mean, I think we’re very athletic at linebacker. I think we’re athletic in the secondary. And although at some positions on the defensive line you see we might be a bit undersized. I’d have to say that I like their athleticism which is going to bode into what we’re doing this year.
And last but not least, for kind of a complicated answer to your question, Brian, as our specialists, are all kind of returning. So I think that with the exception of J.J. Jansen, I think that our punter’s back, our kicker’s back, and we feel we’ll be upgraded in those positions as well.
Q. Can you talk about talent, the different positions, how did you feel about execution going out playing clean, not having a lot of penalties, everyone being on the same page, they’ll throw some things at you, how do you think this team is prepared for that kind of thing?
COACH Charlie Weis: I always do a team top 10 and some of those issues in the first game are more general than specific, because the first game, like one of the team top 10, I think it’s like No. 8, I have down like expect the unexpected. But the first one, one of the early ones I have are no substitution errors.
I mean ourselves, not them. All of a sudden you go from regular to nickel to multiple DBs. Just to make sure we have the right guys on the field and to carry that over into special teams as well, to make sure that people all remember when they’re supposed to be on the field and sometimes that’s easier said than done when you’re dealing with communication first go around.
But I think that this game’s really important for our team in the whole mantra of getting off to a fast start. I think that this game has more importance than a lot of other first games for us, because we need to get out of the gate, need to get out of the gate fast.
Q. You probably addressed this before, but is there a disadvantage, or how do you feel about advantage/disadvantage in terms of being a week behind?
COACH Charlie Weis: There’s pros and cons. The negative is that they already have the rust knocked off. They’ve already got it out of the way. The positive we got to watch them play with their current personnel. So their new personnel is in there. And we’re as fresh as we could possibly be.
We’ve got fresh legs and one game in the bank of being able to see their current players play and look at their depth chart and make sure where you’re not guessing about which people are going to be out there. But still it’s our first rattle out of the box. So I think that the jury is still out. We’ll see how it goes.
Q. What are some of your expectations specifically for Jimmy Clausen with regard to things that he can handle this year that he couldn’t handle last year? I know identifying the linebacker isn’t one of them, but what are the specific things?
COACH Charlie Weis: First of all, just running the offense. Managing, controlling the offense. I think that issue is part of running the offense. I mean from presence in the huddle to demeanor, to making sure the 40 second clock is a non issue, so all of a sudden you’re not calling timeouts because you’re getting down to the last two seconds because we took too long to do it. Whether it’s to check with me or a check at the line of scrimmage or making sure you go through a progression or making sure you do all those things. I’m expecting him mentally to play a very sharp game.
Even though it’s the opener, I think he’s mentally played this game multiple times already.
Q. Those were things last year you could — not that you would give him a pass on it, certainly — but things you had a little bit more leeway with him just because he was going through it for the first time?
COACH Charlie Weis: That’s right. He was more play to play last year. Like let’s get this play run and then we’ll start worrying about the next one. Where now he’s a lot more forward thinking, where I met with him at the beginning of the week, I met with him on Monday for an hour with him and (quarterbacks coach) Ron (Powlus). And in that conversation tried to give him a prelude of, okay, here’s what’s different this year from last year.
Here’s how you should be thinking. Here’s how the week should play out for you. And in there you have to put class and study hall and everything else. But you have to tell him this is how your preparation should change this year from how it was last year.
Q. Terrail Lambert is kind of your veteran old guy there at cornerback. And he’s an interesting guy to interview. He seems pretty thoughtful. Would you describe his personality and what it’s like coaching him?
COACH Charlie Weis: You’re actually getting him to say more words this year than he’s ever said. He’s not a guy who makes a living on doing a lot of talking. He’s a fairly quiet guy. But he definitely has a big personality. It’s just that when you’re a quiet guy, usually it’s tough to read and tough to get out. But I think he’s got a lot of confidence.
One thing he’s done is he’s really spent a lot of time taking those young corners under his wing. And I think he might be the oldest guy on the team. I think he told me that. So I think he’s taken a little pride of being called the old man all the time. So he likes that.
Q. So many of these early season games in the heat, but even not necessarily when it’s that hot, you see guys cramping up and dehydrating, what are some of the things you guys do to try to avoid that? And it obviously goes beyond dehydration I would think?
COACH Charlie Weis: That’s funny, because I was talking to a recruit about this last night, who he had cramped up in a game, and he told me I’m trying during the game every time there’s a timeout I’m trying to drink Gatorade. I explained to him we believe 48 hours before the game is when hydration really starts taking place. So you’ll see our guys all walk into meeting rooms at the end of the week all carrying water jugs or Gatorade with them because we’re trying to get them to hydrate starting Thursday, not hydrate starting Saturday.
Q. Are there other factors besides the hydration? It’s almost like they’re exerting to a level that they haven’t done in nine months.
COACH Charlie Weis: I don’t know if the anxiety comes into play, because really what’s the only difference between practicing? We practice at a very high tempo. The only thing I could imagine is there’s 80 some thousand people there and national TV. Maybe that comes into play. Maybe you’re using more energy. I’m not a doctor. I just know that Thursday and Friday we’re saying hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And hopefully we keep that cramping to a minimum.
Q. Your theme of fast start has been talked about for a long time. How important is it to the team’s psyche; you worried that things go wrong, how quickly doubts might creep in? Is that why that theme is there?
COACH Charlie Weis: The flip side is what if they don’t go wrong? You’re counting on it just the other way. But I think what we talked about as a staff is if there’s some rough periods in the game, just have calm demeanor. We’ve been this camaraderie group this whole spring and this training camp. What you can’t do is all of a sudden flip the switch and turn into a raving maniac after you’ve built on this team and picking up for everyone else right there.
So I talked about it this morning in our staff meeting about making sure we keep our composure and make sure we keep with the same mantra, like something bad happens, don’t worry about it, we’ll go ahead and fix it and move forward.
Q. And also the theme of the other day — pound it. Is this a game that you have to set the impression for the season right away with that?
COACH Charlie Weis: You would like to hope so. But the flip side of that is when you say pound it, the other team’s going to sit there and load up the box and see if they can keep that from happening. So something’s going to have to give.
Q. The other day someone asked you about this team, what you know. You said certain things you’re counting on. Certain things you have to wait and see. What are some of those things you’re counting on?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’m counting on the team to play with a lot of enthusiasm and emotion. And that’s been one of my main deals in this whole off-season was you can’t have any fun if you’re not playing with any emotion, and you can’t fake emotion. It’s got to be something that just becomes part of your personality.
Now, as far as the execution goes, I think their execution has been fairly refined here in the last week or so. But, still, until you start going against somebody else. And it’s the known versus the unknown that comes into play.
You don’t know if you’re going to get everything that you expect to see or all of a sudden you get a whole bunch of different things right there. So until you start going midway into the season and it becomes fairly, here’s their five games, here’s what they’re doing, they might do something a little different. But teams usually fall into a personality. And each year their personality is tweaked some based off their personnel.
Q. And so far in the opening week you saw a lot of special teams big plays. The reason I’m talking about that is the reason is in practice teams don’t go full speed a lot. How do you guard against that happening to you, and how do you try to take advantage of that?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, we do go full speed. That’s one. I mean as a matter of fact part of this new schedule on Monday is Monday — half of Monday is a special teams practice. And it’s with full pads and it’s full speed and it’s all four coverage units.
So it’s kickoff, kickoff return and punt return and it’s full go. I think that what happens is a lot of times people don’t dedicate the time, like you’re saying, Tom, and when you don’t dedicate the time, you leave yourself vulnerable.
Teams are always going to have wrinkles that you’re going to have to adjust to. But I think that, like I said, as we’ve tweaked a lot of things, that’s one of the things we’ve done. And this Monday schedule right after stretch it’s full go special teams until break.
Q. After fall camp is over and you’re getting into regular season preparation, I know going into fall camp you had an idea how the off-season conditioning went. After a few weeks of pretty tough practice, how would you grade or how would you estimate the off season conditioning was as far as the duration they’ve been through?
COACH Charlie Weis: The easiest way for me to say that, with the exception of one guy, Jashaad Gaines will be the only guy that would definitely will not play in the game because there’s a health issue that he’s dealing with at home that he asked if I could excuse him for a few days until Sunday.
So he’s the only guy who definitely won’t play in the game. And obviously Mike Ragone, as we know. But everyone else. (Anthony) McDonald’s back out there. George West is back out there. A couple of guys are still hobbled some. But the best answer I could give to that one is the fact that if your whole team is still out there, with the exception of Mike’s knee, if they’re all out there and either playing or close to playing, then obviously the conditioning and condition along with the banging really has put us in a fairly healthy situation going into the opener.
Q. Has there been any surprises? Again, when the guys get here in the fall, you’re expecting things. But anybody really maybe in the last week or 10 days really stepped up?
COACH Charlie Weis: There’s been a few, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see them on Saturday.
Q. Speaking of waiting and seeing until Saturday, how anxious are you to see this defense which you’ve now been able to observe in practice go up against an actual team and see what can be tinkered with and what you can do?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’m looking forward to it for two reasons. First of all, the first reason I’ll have more time to actually watch it during the game because when you’re making adjustments offensively during the game, you know there’s several periods of the game where you’re catching up with the defense, not knowing everything that’s happening.
And second of all, because I’ve been around the defense so much more, now I know more what to expect. Not only from our personnel, but from the scheme of what we’re doing right here. And I’m anxious to see it play out.
Q. There was a little bit of talk about the mental approach you have to take with this team. I’m sure some guys watched football over the weekend, saw some of the upsets. Obviously you can’t take anybody for granted. And, on the other hand, you’ve got a team coming off a bit of a shell shock last year where you want to move forward and put everything behind you. How do you walk that fine line between being confident and being overly cautious?
COACH Charlie Weis: First of all, I think our team is just ready to play against somebody else. And they’re tired of hitting each other. And I think that just having a fresh opponent will be exciting in its own right. Take that and put it into Notre Dame Stadium over 80,000 people, home opener, all our college kids are here in town, all the fans come rolling in, the band’s playing. I think they’ll be plenty excited for this at 3:40 on Saturday, I think they’ll be ready to go.
Q. Charlie, during the game on Saturday, are you going to wear a headset the whole time or wear the model where you can’t talk back?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’ll wear a headset but just not going to hold a call sheet. Because a call sheet would be just like asking for trouble. So what I’ll do is I’m going to have one of my guys hold onto a call sheet both offensively and defensively so that if there’s lulls in the action, I want to go look at it, I’ll have something available to me. But I’ll have a headset and I’ll click it off on both offense and defense unless I have to say something.
Like one of the things I probably feel that I’m going to have to say to Michael (Haywood) early in the game is get him used to the timing of the 40 second clock. I’ll say, okay, let’s go personnel.
And it will be my way of making sure that I kind of expedite the process. It will have nothing to do with calling plays. Or I might go to Corwin (Brown), what have you got? And what’s their personnel? Just things to more speed up the process, because sometimes one of my pet peeves is when things go in too slow.
I like when they get in where the players have enough time to get the call and be able to line up and play the call. But I’ll try my best to be a head coach.
Q. I would imagine, knowing you, you’ve done some dry runs with this. How has it felt? Has it felt awkward? Are you in a comfort zone?
COACH Charlie Weis: To be honest, it’s been very comfortable for me. It really has. And I’ve been able to interject in all three levels things that come into play. Obviously, when Brian (Polian) and I are getting ready to make a call on special teams, Brian’s making it. We’ve already got our lead things we’re doing on all the special teams.
It isn’t like we don’t know what the first rattle out of the box is going to be on every one of them. But as we make adjustments during the game, do you want to do this, do you want to do that? We’ll talk about it. But even on offense and defense, we’ve gone through on offense. We’ve gone through on defense. And I feel very comfortable with it.
Q. Sam Young’s physical improvement, just watching him in practice a little bit and also sitting there talking to him you can see the physical difference from last year. How about mentally? Seems like he has an edge to him this year. Do you see that in him?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think these guys have a lot of pride and it wasn’t a good year for any of us. Beside the fact that he’s 30 pounds bigger and he’s healthy and he’s back settled in at the right tackle position. And he’s not playing one handed and all those things, might sound like excuses, but they’re reality, too.
It is what it is. And I think that they’re just looking forward to going against somebody else and taking step one to progress into where they think they’re capable of being.
Q. Bruton, is he the kind of guy on defense that can kind of control things from his position? Make the big plays and so forth?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’m grouping him and Kyle McCarthy together, because he’s been probably one of the most — I wouldn’t call it a pleasant surprise. But the communication between Bruton and Kyle McCarthy, especially with all the stuff we’ve been doing, has been exceptional. I’ve been very, very happy. I think that those two guys will be able to quarterback our defense and keep our problems to a minimum.
Q. You’ve said that your team’s ready to play. And I’ve gotten that from hearing them as well. They’re ready to hit somebody else. So on the fact that they probably watched college football over the weekend, it’s Tuesday. How do you make sure that they wait until Saturday for that powder keg so to speak to erupt?
COACH Charlie Weis: Because we’re coming off a bye week at the end of the season that’s allowed me to put the schedule where I can tone back at the end of this week where you normally wouldn’t be able to do. So normally you wouldn’t be able to tone back. But I’m going to make sure their legs will never be fresher than they are this Saturday.
So we’re going to bang pretty hard today. We banged pretty hard yesterday. And tomorrow we’ll go to shoulder pads and knee braces and on Thursday we’ll go to shells. And we normally wouldn’t do that. Normally it would be shoulder pads on Thursday. But because I’m a day earlier and I’m going to make practice a little shorter on Thursday, so at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, come Saturday they should never feel better about themselves physically for the rest of the year for anyone who is playing.
Q. Delving into your fast start theme a little more. You talked about getting off to a fast start for the season. How about the game? I know when you script the openers, part of it is you want to get looks out there to see how the other team is reacts?
COACH Charlie Weis: Michael scripts the openers.
Q. Does he script them now?
COACH Charlie Weis: Absolutely.
Q. No input at all?
COACH Charlie Weis: I’m not scripting the openers. Offensive staff is scripting the openers. Now, they’ll run them by me on Friday morning before they laminate it.
And I mean why would they not do that, to not use that reference? But I told them to meet and let them do it. And if there’s something I would say why would you do that, we’ll just eliminate it. Or if it’s something that can we run this, too. So might there be a play or two that either gets eliminated or added? Yes. But I’m not doing that.
Q. I’ll ask, in your opinion, is it important not only to get those looks out there but to try and score first in the spirit of the fast start?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think that the whole idea is to try to score every time you have the football. I think that’s what you should be trying to do. And sometimes, as the game goes on, you have to set up to get looks on what they’re doing. But there’s never a time you go on the field where you’re saying, well, let’s go three and out and let’s just go get three looks right there.
I’m not being sarcastic, I’m saying when you go out there, you’re hoping every time you call a play that something positive happens.
Q. Jon Tenuta and Corwin have been working together for several months now. But how big will it be in actually getting a game under their belt and going through this together?
COACH Charlie Weis: I have a very unique experience that Corwin likes to be on the field and Tenuta likes to be in the press box, because we’ve talked about even the location of where the coaches would be. And Jon likes to be in the press box. He likes to see the game from the press box.
He says he can see everything a lot better. So what he’s going to be able to see and pass on to Corwin, I think, will be absolutely invaluable.
Q. Refresh my memory, was Corwin on the field last year?
COACH Charlie Weis: Yes.
Q. You like him to be down there, too, because of the chemistry with the players?
COACH Charlie Weis: He has that bubbly enthusiasm. He likes to chest bump and all that other stuff right there. But, you know, still you have Jon coming in. He’d like to be down on the field. Then you’d have another guy that was most natural. But he said for the last 20 years plus he’s always been in the press box. That’s where he likes to be.
Q. How comfortable are you with how they’ve developed as a defensive staff, including Jappy (Oliver) as well?
COACH Charlie Weis: They’re always together. It’s kind of fun to watch. They were both football groupies. They’re sponges. They communicate from different levels of experience, too. They both feed off each other. Like I said, it’s kind of fun to watch.
Q. Following up on Pete a little bit. In terms of a fast start and building some early momentum for this season, does it matter? Is a win just a win, or how important is the sharpness of your team when it comes to measuring a fast start?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think it’s important that we play well from wire to wire in all three facets. And whatever that leads to I think it’s important that we play well on offense. I will not be happy if we sputter on offense. I will not be happy if we sputter on defense. And I will not be happy if we sputter on special teams. So you won’t have to ask me after the game how I feel.
Q. It sounds like execution is important, if not more important than what the scoreboard ultimately reads?
COACH Charlie Weis: Coming out of training camp that’s what it should be, that’s how you should feel. You should feel this is not a dry run anymore. This is the real thing and let’s see what happens. But that’s my expectations.
Q. Charlie, in the organization of play calling, you worked with Mike and Corwin. Are there still check with me instances where if they want to run something in particular they need to check with you before it goes in?
COACH Charlie Weis: No. No. First of all, they won’t have to ask me if they can pressure on defense, because I think they’ll be doing that a few times. And then on offense, probably about the only time that — first of all, fourth and one will always be my decision. I’d never hang the coordinator out to dry on that.
That is always the job of the head coach to have to make that decision, because right or wrong, you’re going to have to live with that decision. And you don’t hang your assistants out to dry on that one.
Okay. That being said, I’ll say to him, I might say to him on third and one, hey, if we don’t make it we’re going for it on fourth and one so go ahead and take a shot. And it’s incomplete and everyone is booing it could be because I’ve already told him to go ahead and take a shot because we’re going for it on fourth and one usually third and one and fourth and one could be a predetermined two play sequence when that ends up happening. They need to know that in advance.
Normally you wouldn’t throw the ball on third and one unless you already had the backing from the boss that you were going to go for it on fourth and one. Or if you didn’t, don’t worry about it, we’re going to just punt in that situation.
Q. Talked about knowns and unknowns. Are there universal unknowns that you’re not going to be able to know about your team until Saturday and do any of those jump out to you?
COACH Charlie Weis: Especially with the young guys, as well as a bunch of the young guys have practiced, now how many of them played in front of 80,000? None of them.
So that’s an unknown. And as we know there’s eight of them in the depth chart and two deep, and that’s not including a couple others being involved in special teams. So there’s a bunch of young guys that are going to be involved in the mix. So you don’t know how they’re going to do.
And then there’s a lot of guys who played last year who now it’s a year later and they’re a year more experienced and they’re in better shape. So let’s see how that manifests itself during the game.
Q. Can you talk about how Brian Smith transitioned from the outside to the inside so far this fall?
COACH Charlie Weis: Actually, we transitioned him during spring of last year. So he had already transitioned during the spring. So by the time we had finished with spring, we had kind of gotten to the position where that’s where he was going to be.
But at the end of the day, before this year’s out, I think you might see him in multiple spots. You might see him inside. You might see him outside. You might see that this week.
Q. Can you talk about the kind of role that Eric Olsen has developed with the offense?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, I kind of like Eric Olsen, because he’s one of my northeast comrades. I like his personality. I mean, he came in the spring — he was in great shape in the spring and he carried over into the fall during training camp, and I think that he’ll be a very good, dependable player for us on the offensive line who brings a lot of natural emotion to the game. He likes to play the game.
Q. How has his game changed since this same time last year, mentally and physically?
COACH Charlie Weis: Confidence. I mean, last year you’re wide eyed now. When you first start going out there and you’re lining up there the first time on the offensive line as a young guy, okay, it’s like, whoa, everything is happening real fast. Everything’s happening real fast and those guys you’re playing against are pretty good. Now it’s a year later and he thinks he’s one of those good guys now. Where last year he was trying to get his feet wet. I think there’s several guys, of which Eric’s in that group, that I think are in that group now that they’re looking forward to being on the other side of that fence.
Q. Can you speak to the general hungriness factor of this team today?
COACH Charlie Weis: Hungriness, did you say? I just think that it’s been a long training camp, a long and grueling training camp. School is back in session. It feels like you should be playing football games. It was a long off-season. Seemed like an eternity from when you walked off the field against Stanford until now.
And I think there’s a lot of guys that have put in a lot of hard work between then and now. And I think that it’s time where they should go out and be able to go out and have a little fun for a change.
Q. You said the right things and certainly you look — you’ve had San Diego State on the board now for a week, I know, but it’s Tuesday. It’s game week. Does that give it kind of a different feel as well?
COACH Charlie Weis: Yesterday was the first time in a practice that it actually felt like a game week. They were chirpy. Normally, you know, you talk to them during stretching, they’re just trying to get to the next drill.
But you’ve got to say they were bouncing around, a little spring in their step, going a little higher tempo. You didn’t have to coerce high tempo out of them or even in individuals because they knew game week. And I think they’re all ready to play a game.
Q. Will you be glad that the media in general should now be moving forward we don’t have to back door any questions?
COACH Charlie Weis: You know what, it really comes with the territory. I think that you guys are ready for a game, too, to tell you the truth. I don’t think you’re any different than us. I mean I understand there’s a bunch of different angles you work and whether it’s freshman day and work that deal or with the coaching staff and the chemistry with the defensive staff and me not calling plays and special teams.
But I think we’re all ready for a game. I think we all want to get into our normal — a normal routine that centers around a game. So I’m taking care of that for you. We’re going to play Saturday afternoon at 3:40 against San Diego State. So we’ll see if we can’t get back into a normal routine.
Q. When you got here, there wasn’t a lot of depth behind Brady (Quinn) and you had to build that quarterback depth up. What’s your comfort level with where that’s going, the depth there?
COACH Charlie Weis: First of all, I think the team would have total confidence if Evan Sharpley went in the game at quarterback. I think the team sees how bright a future Dayne (Crist) has. But I think that we’ve already gone through that last year with a freshman quarterback playing that even though they have all the tools in the world to be a great quarterback, I think that right now with Jimmy (Clausen) having a year under his belt and Evan being a more than reliable back up, I think that the team believes that they could win with the first guy or second guy before you even got to the third guy.
And I think with a couple of young guys in the hole, with two guys with veteran experience, both started games for you, I think that that puts you in a pretty good situation. It’s totally different than the first year, because the drop off from Brady, I don’t remember if it was Evan who was number two the first year. Who was number two the first year? David (Wolke). So the drop off from Brady to David the first year was such a huge drop off that you just held your breath.
But I have total confidence in Jimmy. And I think the team would have total confidence in Evan if he went in there, too, because Evan’s had a very good camp. And I think if he walked into the huddle it isn’t like the team would say, oh, no, what are we going to do now.
Q. You took two quarterbacks in one year, they’re both gone. Would you do that again?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think you take two quarterbacks as long as they were different styles of quarterback. I mean you wouldn’t take the same type of quarterback, because you’d like to get them one at a time. Ideally, you’d like to get them one at a time.
In some years, I’ve always wanted to take one every year. But when you go boom, boom, with Jimmy and Dayne and back to back years, some years you might have to take a lapse in a year before you come back and take one or two the following year to try to get back on track. Just as long as you’re taking different styles of quarterback, because if you take exactly the same thing, then you’re going to get into the same situation that we had before, where you have a run of quarterbacks and then all want to be the starter and they all end up going somewhere else.
And I’m not in the business of bringing guys in to encourage them to go somewhere else. You’re bringing them in here to groom them to be the quarterback here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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