Oct. 3, 2000
BOB DAVIE: I think any time you come off an open date, it’s always — you’re not quite sure what to expect. I think for us, although, you never know for sure, the open date came at a good time. But you never really know. You know, if you look at Stanford, certainly Stanford beats Texas in Palo Alto, has the open date, comes back and loses to Arizona. So you never know for sure what’s going to happen, obviously until after you play the next game.
But I think the open date probably came at a good time for some obvious reasons. I think, first of all, emotionally, I mean, let’s face it, losing that game on the last play of the game basically up there in East Lansing takes a lot of wind out of you. And you’re glad you don’t are to come back and play the next week, in some ways, you wish you could go play and win a game, but for us it probably did help having the open date from that standpoint. Gave our players a chance to get home for the weekend, first time they have had a chance to get home, the ones that could get home, since the first week in August. Gave the chance the coaches a chance to recruit Friday Saturday and Sunday.
I think also for us, physically we had five or six players last week that maybe could have played another week, but may not be ready to play the following week. You know, there’s some guys that pushed it pretty hard, Rocky Boiman, Anthony Denman, Brock Williams, those type of guys have been playing nicked up.
So I think physically, it helped us to have the open date, and obviously with somewhat of a transition right now offensively with young quarterbacks, I think certainly the more time that you have, the better you’re able to put a plan in and all of the checks and things. As I said, you don’t know until after you play that game Saturday.
I kind of look at it, every year, you look at your schedule, and I’ve always been someone that breaks thing down into parts, because sometimes a task might be a little overwhelming if you don’t do that. I think if you look at any football season that way — you know, I really looked at our season as the first four games was pretty much a season for us. When you look at A&M, Nebraska, Purdue, Michigan State and you have the open date and so you have the natural division there in your schedule.
And now to me it is the next four-game season and we’ll finish up certainly with Boston College, Rutgers and Southern Cal. But we enter this, we’re Stanford at home, at Navy at West Virginia and at Air Force, so two of our next four games are against wishbone teams. So you kind of break it down into a three-part season.
The thing I’m encouraged about, I think our players, you know, you can kind of talk yourselves into things and make yourself feel good and sometimes imagine things that are not there, but I think in the case of this football team, it’s really true that these guys are hungry and they are excited, and that’s the most important thing to me. You know, you sensed the energy yesterday. A lot of times what happens when you give guys some time off, it’s kind of like they realize that there’s a whole other world out there, and they come back and kind of feel sorry for themselves, that they have got to go back to work.
With this team it was the opposite of that. There was a genuine excitement yesterday at practice. And I think having the weekend off, you know, you get to see a lot of things and you get to see a lot of football, and I think this team realizes that even though it has two losses, there’s an awful lot to play for. No. 1, we have a chance to be really a good football team. No. 2, I think you see that there’s a lot of teams out there, that a lot of good teams have two losses, a lot of real good teams have one loss and have difficult schedules ahead of them. So I think this team sees that there certainly is a lot to play for, and because of that, it is excited.
You know, you look at college football right now, the thing that you see is now that teams are through their non-conference schedules and they are faced with playing good teams pretty much every week with conference schedules, you see teams start to get knocked off because you have to go out there and do it week after week after week now for the first time. When you look at some of the early season schedules, they were not forced to do that.
Now I think you see that — what college football has become, it is every week. So the fact that nine of the Top-25 were knocked off, that’s going to happen probably again this year, just because teams are starting to play good teams now.
So I think this football team sees that it has a chance to be a good team. We all realize what the challenge is, and that is, No. 1, offensively, you know, we have to do it with some young players at quarterback. But all of the sudden, those young players, now because we’ve had this situation for a couple weeks, they are no longer young players. We all realize what it is now. So we have to move forward.
You know as far as the Stanford game, you know, Stanford is the kind of team obviously that it is capable of beating anybody in the country, any given Saturday. They are a team last year that lost some games early in the season, lost in Austin to Texas, came back and went to the Rose Bowl. Last year was one of the best offensive football teams I’ve coached when they were No. 1 in the Pac 10 in offense, last in defense.
You look at their team this year, I think they are an improved defensive football team. There’s no question that they are playing hard and they are lining up with some good players. Offensively, they are still a team that concerns you with the wide receivers. They have got several wide receivers. Obviously, DeRonnie Pirts is their go-to guy. They have good strong running backs. They play two tailbacks, one of them is big and strong, the other one is quick. They have a real good fullback that they throw the football to some and he’s an explosive player. Their offensive line is solid. They have three starters back from last year. They have a good tight end. Their kicker is back from last year.
So it is a good football team that, you know, is capable of beating anyone, and I’m sure they will rebound this week and play their best football game of the year, and that’s what we’re counting on them to do. And that’s why we know that we have to raise our level of play in every area. But certainly, it is exciting, it is a great challenge for us, but any time you’ve got a team that enjoys what they are doing and works hard and is excited, you know, you have a chance.
As far as injuries, probably the only thing that is new, Tommy Lopienski right now would be doubtful for the game. He has actually gone from maybe questionable to doubtful. He has a nerve, I don’t know the exact situation of it with his shoulder, and it’s probably — it’s probably doubtful that he will play this week. So it will be Jason Murray and Mike McNair playing at fullback. Other than that, I expect everybody to play, other than Arnaz Battle, obviously and Grant Irons.
So I think, you know, just comparing it to other years, you know, we’ve lost some significant players, but overall, we’re healthier than we’ve been. A year ago we’ve had a bunch of injuries when we played Stanford. It’s not even close to that right now. I think this football team is energized. You know, if you look at our schedule, they have reason to be energized. By that I mean, we’ve had an open date. We have Stanford in our stadium. We go play Navy in Orlando which will be like a Bowl game playing down at the citrus bowl with the atmosphere. There’s no school the next week when we play West Virginia and we play Air Force and we have another open date. So there’s no reason for us to be worn out. We ought to be energized and we ought to be excited and I’m encouraged by that.
So we can take some questions now.
Q. You referred to the meeting after the Stanford game last year as kind of a turning point in terms of attitude. How much will that come up this week more than other weeks, or does that come up regularly? And what was it about that moment, was it the low point that you started to climb back why your team’s mind? .
BOB DAVIE: I don’t think that it is anything necessarily specific to Stanford. It just happened that Stanford was our last game last year. And I think that was the time right there that we knew we had to address some situations so that hopefully we would not be in that situation again. It’s not so much losing the football game, it’s the fact that you had 21 players that for some reason couldn’t be in there, be there in that locker room with you. And it’s a situation where you can’t wait until spring football to address it. You really can’t even wait until January to address it when the players come back.
It was more of a message of all of the things that all of us together have to do, to build this thing backup to where we at least give ourselves an opportunity to go out and win. And without going through all of the issues of why we had 21 players out, obviously, some of them were medical things that you can’t control. Some of them, a couple of them were academic things that you can control. A couple of them were behavior issues that you can control.
So we talked about doing everything that we could in our power to get this thing back on course and it was something that needed to be addressed right there at that moment, because it is too late when you come back in August and it is too late in pregame to worry about things. It is a foundation that needs to be built. And I think our players responded to that. And a lot of it had to do with just leadership, not so much of what we do in practice or not so much what we do during the games, but just leadership of the standpoint of you are only as strong as your weakest link, and we are all dependent on each other and we need everybody there in order for us to have a chance to be successful.
Q. Can you address the quarterback situation from Arnaz down to everybody else and the probably starter for Saturday?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I’ll start with Arnaz. He has a fractured navicular with a screw in it and a cast on his wrist, and he will be standing on the sidelines Saturday and helping us coach a little bit.
The next quarterback, if I had to say right now it would probably be Matt LoVecchio, if I based it just on yesterday’s practice. But I’m still not ready to say that it definitely is Matt LoVecchio.
Next it would probably be Gary Godsey and then Jared Clark. So that’s kind of how we’re going into today’s practice. I don’t know that there will be any dramatic changes between now and Friday or Saturday, but certainly there will be the opportunity for some changes, that if somebody comes out there and just does a tremendous job. But I think right now it is Matt LoVecchio and then Gary Godsey and then Jared Clark.
Q. Do you see Jared Clark getting playing time this season?
BOB DAVIE: You know, it’s tough to answer that. You know, sometimes when you have a bunch of quarterbacks, you don’t have one. And that’s certainly — I don’t want to get in that situation where you’re spreading yourself so thin that you’re trying to look at everybody, and then all of the sudden you haven’t had a chance to look at anyone.
So I would love to go with Matt LoVecchio and Gary Godsey and who knows, maybe get Arnaz back at some point, even though I’m not counting on that right now, because not so much as you’re trying to save eligibility, but I don’t think it’s practical to give guys so many reps either during practice or during the game. Somebody has to get a flow for it, and the other players around the quarterback, as well.
That’s probably the biggest reason we went with Gary Godsey. We had a bunch of other football players on the field that had been around him and been in the huddle with him and at least in Notre Dame Stadium in a game with him.
So I think you don’t want a revolving door at quarterback. So I would like to say it is Matt LoVecchio and Gary Godsey, but hopefully it is one of them. But being realistic, I could say it maybe being both of those. I’m not sure about Jared Clark. It is too early to say that he would play right now. I doubt that he would play Saturday, though.
Q. You said that Stanford is one of those teams that could beat anybody in the country on any given Saturday, realistically, how many of those teams are there in the country like that that you could say that about, and are there more now than ever before that you can remember?
BOB DAVIE: I think that thought, when I was watching the game this weekend, your first thought is: How many games or are on television. It’s remarkable. No wonder your wives get upset with you, sit there >from 11:00 clock in the morning and watch about 20 football games. And I’m on that poor man’s cable. I don’t have one of those — my wife won’t let me. I could probably afford one of those satellites, but my wife won’t let me. But just on the regular cable, you have access to so many games.
So me right now, there’s probably 30 teams or 35 teams in this country that on a week-to-week basis probably could consistently win games against good teams. Now, there’s probably more than that on a given Saturday, obviously, that can go out there and win a game against a good team. But there’s probably 30 to 35 I think that, you know, can win repeatedly against good teams. So there’s no question — there’s no question that that Top-25 now is an ever-changing thing and it’s probably a Top-30 or a Top-35.
Q. More general topic for you. The Internet is full of college football sites these days, and perhaps no team is discussed more than yours. How much of a distraction can Internet stories and rumors be, and as a coach when do you have to respond to some of these things that are out there on the Internet?
BOB DAVIE: No. Never. None. For me, that’s one thing I have not done probably for survival reasons, is got into a bunch of those, I guess so-called chat rooms or whatever they are. You know, I think it’s ridiculous. I heard some things — I just happened to hear some things this summer from some coaches. One of them was that I have a ranch that I own down in Texas and that I was on my way to the new Houston Texan team, and Joanne and I are still trying to find that property we own. It’s just crazy.
So rather than chase down a bunch of those things, you know, what I found out in all of this is that, you know, so many people have agendas. Just so many different agendas. And it’s unfortunate that people have access or can generate conversation with a deep-seated agenda in mind. And that’s one of the things that, you know, I’m not an expert on journalism at all, but I think it’s — I think all of us would have an obligation to truly look at source of who is saying what, and hopefully not get into something where you’re allowing somebody to have access that a bunch of people to read that really have an agenda. And sometimes that story can be too easy. I’m afraid sometimes people don’t want to really research it or really don’t want to look at all of the facts because there’s so much competition to get that story.
But I think if you get into the Internet thing, there’s a lot of people out there that for a lot of different reasons would love to have an agenda, and unfortunately, it hurts people. You know, it is hurtful to people, everything you say.
So I don’t get involved in that at all. I don’t get involved in that that the recruiting. Because I found out in recruiting, there will be quotes from people that we may not even be recruiting or quotes from high school coaches on people that we are not even recruiting players >from their school. And all of the sudden people are reading quotes >from people — and you’re darned right they are upset at Notre Dame because we are not recruiting that kid.
So it’s all silly to me. I stay away from it. It can be frustrating sometimes for our coaches, but I’ve tried to educate our coaches on staying away from it, too. So I don’t get caught up on all that. I know a lot of coaches spend a lot of time reading all that. I don’t do it. Let’s say there’s something on there that they say — when we were getting ready for Michigan State. Let’s say they say Michigan State word out of practice is they are running a no-huddle offense. So does that mean we go talk to our players about a no-huddle, no-back offense? Do we take that matter of factly? You just don’t know what’s fact and what’ fiction so you’re better off staying completely away >from it.
Q. Is there any benefit to the Internet and to all perhaps this information, some good, some bad, for you as a coach?
BOB DAVIE: I don’t know. I don’t know because once again, you know, I’ve seen things that take on a life of their own. So maybe you could say, look, if this was said repeatedly over and over on the Internet, then maybe there’s some fact to it. But.
I found out that that’s not true, because once that thing starts going and starts spiraling, it’s just a bunch of people repeating something that’s not true.
So once again, I’m not really prepared to get into this whole discussion — but philosophically, I just don’t know how you separate what’s fact and what’s fiction. So you’re going to wear yourself out trying to figure it out. So I stay away from it completely.
Q. If it is Matt and Gary on Saturday, and say it is Matt that starts, do you go the whole game or do you have both of them play regardless of what’s going on on the field?
BOB DAVIE: I’ve always been one that I would hope a guy would go the whole game. And I said that with Gary two weeks ago, that I didn’t want him looking over his shoulder. And you know, I can remember when I played, you know we had a guy named Tommy Height (phonetic), another tight end who I was afraid every time I topped dropped ball, all of the sudden, Tommy was coming in, and I never liked that.
So I would rather have one guy go, and certainly whoever that starter is, and right now, it probably does lean towards Matt LoVecchio right now. You would hope Matt LoVecchio goes and that we have success and that would be our plan. Once again, though, you have to make a change when you have to make a change.
Q. You mentioned yesterday that if you got to five down, you wouldn’t hesitate to bring another quarterback inm but if you bring Godsey in, isn’t that a signal to the other team that you are looking to pass more?
BOB DAVIE: I think that’s accurate. And that’s kind of the situation that we got ourselves into, you know, when Gary was the quarterback against Purdue and Michigan State. We were — obviously, it took a big chunk of our offense away and that’s why I do not want to get into a situation where it’s Matt on first and second down and then Gary Godsey comes in on third down. I just don’t think that you can win at this level doing that.
Now if it is something that we have to do, I wouldn’t want to do it, but I would do it. But I do think Matt LoVecchio is capable of throwing the ball and, we did that a little against Michigan State, not because we wanted to, but because it gave us our best chance in that situation.
And now with another week of practice, I don’t think we’ll do that. And I agree with you, you know, that’s hard. It’s hard on Gary Godsey comes in and everyone in the ballpark knows he’s going to throw it. So once again, with Gary in the game, we’ve had a little more time to do some things scheme-wise, that it’s not all pass obviously with Gary in there, but certainly the option part of it is missing.
Q. You mentioned this weekend having a chance to glance at some football games. Was there one that caught your eye, just as a coach?
BOB DAVIE: I watched a bunch of them. You know how you just, you wear out that remote control. I watched Michigan State and Northwestern and I was really impressed with Northwestern offensively. I thought they did a great job. I watched Michigan and Wisconsin. I watched — I watched some Purdue, Penn State. I didn’t watch all of that but I watched some of that. I watched some Memphis/Southern Miss. I watched LSU and Auburn which was an unbelievable game. I watched Stanford — Arizona State/UCLA. So whatever was on, I watched a little bit of Syracuse/BYU, too. And also it was my birthday, so my wife and I, Clay, Audra and her boyfriend went out to eat and I listened on the radio a couple games while we were going out to eat.
Q. You mentioned Jared Clark earlier, what you saw of him in practice. What kind of blend does he bring with this pass/run?
BOB DAVIE: He’s strong. A real strong arm. Right now would have the strongest arm of any of our quarterbacks, quick release, strong arm. Athletic, not necessarily a real quick option kind of guy, but athletic, can run. He’s talented. Really talented.
Same things we saw in our summer camp with him. He’s probably 6’3, 220, really strong and throws the ball well.
Q. With Arnaz being out of the mix, at least for now for you, I mean, is he — is he helping these guys in practice? Is he working on getting himself better, a little bit of a blend?
BOB DAVIE: He’s out there all day and he’s in all of the meetings. And he is helping those young guys. He’s also conditioning some. You know, he can run, he can ride the bike, he can lift weights with his legs. So it is a combination of conditioning, and also trying to help the young guys and staying abreast of it himself. He’s getting a lot of things done. We took him to Indianapolis last week. Saw the Colts physician who is also a hand surgeon. We are trying to explore all options with him and make sure we do the right things with him.
Q. Lewis and Johnson, how close did you look at those two guys in recruiting and what are your impressions of them?
BOB DAVIE: We tried to recruit both of them, particularly Chris Lewis, as a quarterback. He came out here, I think on an unofficial visit, and we really couldn’t get started with him. His sister, I believe is on the volleyball team at Stanford. We never got very far along, but we really liked him. He is the style of quarterback that we — that we play with. He can run. He has a strong, strong arm. He is athletic. And if you read what they say about him, he is definitely going to be the star of the future out there. And the other young man is a big, tall guy that we recruited, and we didn’t have a whole lot of success with him either.
Q. Were you looking at him as a tight end?
BOB DAVIE: More of an athlete, yeah, exactly. Just for the same reasonings it was going to be a Matt LoVecchio, Jared Clark, Holloway style quarterback. With Gary Godsey, we felt we had a big tall guy on board and we didn’t need another one. We were actually going the other direction.
Q. In talking to Kevin Rogers, he took responsibility for the play selection, the decisions behind running on first down the first 15 times or so. But obviously you guys, I mean that is part of the game plan that you talk about during the week. During the game, how much control over those kind of decisions that you have or do you allow yourself to have?
BOB DAVIE: Well, I could have control over all of them. But I have always been someone that, you know, you get into a flow as a coach, and I’m so involved in the defense right now, and I’m so involved with special teams that, you know, you can’t, you can’t do it all. You cannot do it all.
And you know, it is Kevin’s responsibility to call what he thinks is going to work during the game obviously. I am not going to get involved in that unless I really need to, and at times I will.
But I think, you know, looking at it, it still comes down to us on fourth and ten not stopping Michigan State or we beat Michigan State.
So hindsight is 20/20, but the thing we have not done is turned the ball over. We are second or third in the country right now in fewest numbers of turnovers. We have not turned the ball over. So, sure, everybody after you lose the game, says: “Let’s throw on first down and open it up.” They wouldn’t be saying that if the ball was up in the air . We had a chance to win the last two weeks doing what we were doing. Sure, Kevin is going to take responsibility because he is that type of person, but it’s all of us. What gave us the best chance to win the last two weeks, I think the road we went down gave us the best chance.
As we move forward, though, we all realize that we have to open things up and we have to become a little more creative, but we are creative. If you watched our offense the last few years, we’re creative when we have a guy behind that center that can do and that’s where we’re heading right now.
Q. Not to get to you put Godsey down, but during the week Gary, didn’t give you the confidence you felt you needed in order to open things up a little bit more —
BOB DAVIE: We talked about this before. Not that Gary didn’t, because Gary finished the game before in a two-minute situation taking us down the field. And in some ways maybe we gave Michigan State too much credit, and I’m just being dead honest of going in that stadium with the crowd noise where ’97, ’98 the crowd noise just took us out. But it was a night game.
And then the blitzing style that Michigan State — we really thought that looking at the Purdue game that Michigan State would flat pin their ears back and come after us. We said we’re going to practice a bunch of stuff, we’re going to get in the game and it’s going to be a blitz fest, and our best chance is to line the ball up, and if they are blitzing us, let’s throw the ball at them, let’s turn it over.
It wasn’t so much Gary individually, but just the situation itself with Gary going there. So, you know, we went into the game with a little more diversified playing. And the other thing was we were playing good defense early. You really felt like we were going to play them good the whole day. Once we got through the first quarter we felt like —
Q. So if you’re Stanford, they are thinking — they are going to get a blitz fest this week after what Arizona did with them?
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, but Arizona is a little more — Arizona didn’t necessarily blitz them. Arizona just does a lot of different things with double-eagle, and that’s been their defense for years. But if you look at last year, Stanford scored 50 on Arizona. Stanford turned the football over six times. If you turn the ball over six times, it doesn’t matter. They just could not sustain anything because of turnovers. Some of them were self-inflicted and some of them were Arizona. Arizona is capable of doing that to you. They are chaotic. They are jumping around a lot. I don’t think it is in our best interest to go in and just blitz them every down. They have seen a bunch of that before, and they do a great job of throwing those jailbreak screens and stuff, too.
Q. Can you tell us what the quarterback situation is, what you will be doing at this point?
BOB DAVIE: Where are you calling from again? (Laughs).
Us being such nice guys I’m going to give you the whole deal. Now, as you know, Arnaz battle is out indefinitely. May be out for the rest of the season.
We started Gary Godsey who is, you know, a sophomore who didn’t play at all last year against — we started him against Purdue, and also, Michigan State.
With the open date, and with the results we’ve had the last two weeks on offense, we opened that position up, and we’ve got several young guys. We have Matt LoVecchio who is a true freshman from New Jersey. We have Jared Clark who is a true freshman from Sarasota. So those who along with Gary Godsey are in competition this week to be the starting quarterback.
You know, if I had to say right now, I would say that Matt LoVecchio has a slight edge as we enter today’s practice. But it’s going to be an ongoing thing for us. It may be a game-time decision, although, we don’t want it to be.
Q. Could you talk about the defensive changes you’ve made this year to help improve that unit?
BOB DAVIE: We are probably a lot like Stanford. I look at Stanford as being an improved defensive football team. I think first of all, the thing that has helped us, by no means are we a finished product on defense. You know, we’re still a work in progress. But we’ve got some players back that we do not have last year. We’ve got a corner No. 1 Brock Williams who did not play at all last year. We have a free safety Tony Driver who didn’t play. I think we’re able to do a few more things defensively because we have a few more healthy players than we had, particularly late last season.
You know, we’re just trying to do what we’re trying to do our personnel. And we’re probably playing a little better than we did. I think we are probably a bit more aggressive, and it’s mostly because of some players that we had back that we didn’t have this year.
Q. Can you talk about the differences been Matt LoVecchio and Gary Godsey, Jared Clark, all three of them, I guess?
BOB DAVIE: Gary Godsey is a 6’7 245 pound quarterback who is a drop-back style quarterback. And you guys all realize that we are a little bit more of a — we are not an option offense, but we always have some option. We are an offense that needs to get productivity out of our quarterback running the football. So Gary doesn’t totally fit what we do, but Gary was here in the spring and he had a good solid spring for us.
And we only had two scholarship quarterbacks, Arnaz Battle and Gary Godsey. We went out and recruited three quarterbacks, Matt LoVecchio, Gary Godsey and Jared Clark. In summer camp (inaudible) Gary Godsey, because he has the confidence of our other players has the confidence of the coaches, remains the backup quarterback. None of the freshmen are able to unseed him.
So the injury happens with Arnaz. We have a short-term plan that we are going to go with Gary Godsey to hopefully give us an opportunity. Even though it is not the exact fit, it gives us the opportunity to beat Purdue and maybe Michigan State and try to get to the open date.
And we get to the open date, it looks like we need to have maybe a more mobile style that allows us to do what we do on offense. So we have really taken a good hard look at the two quarterbacks. Gary Godsey is still in the mix. They are all different. Matt LoVecchio and Jared Clark would be more mobile than Godsey.
BOB DAVIE: We’re very cautious. There’s so many different ways to go about these. From what I understand, the basketball player at Michigan State last year, I believe Peterson had a fractured navicular and came back and played right after that.
There’s so many stories, Shaun King, the quarterback from Tulane that’s now with Tampa, his juror year he fractured his navicular and played. Obviously, they are all a little bit different. And we are just trying to do what’s right for Arnaz Battle. You know, he came back out and he did some things, not much. He did some things, and he had some soreness. So we didn’t — I say “we,” the medical people, we just backed off it completely and we had him look at some different people. And I think it was just best that he remains in that cast the next several weeks, and we’ll start rehab again out of the cast.
So you’re trying to do whatever is best for him, obviously. And that’s why the decision was made to operate and put the screw in. And not every particular situation is that decision made, but I just think in Arnaz’s case everyone thought that was the best thing and the best route.
Q. On your birthday, is it pretty obvious that everybody in this room knows what your wish was when you were blowing out candles on the birthday cake?
BOB DAVIE: Now how do you presume that you know what my wish was.
Q. Just, “Please, Lord, just solve this quarterback thing one way or another”?
BOB DAVIE: Not to jump back at you, but you know what, there’s a big picture and what I do and what my family does, there’s always going to be those kind of issues. So if I wished for anything, it wasn’t going to be that. It would be on a much bigger scale than all that. You know, involving a lot of things, starting with my family, first. So I’m not trying to make that more dramatic than it is, but this is all part of coaching, and I plan an coaching a long, long time.
Q. I guess in the back of my mind I know you’ve been through a lot of different coaching stops and learned from a lot of people, but what prepares a coach from dealing with three quarterbacks in five weeks, possibly four quarterbacks? This has to be the worst-case scenario that you imagined?
BOB DAVIE: I think you play all those scenarios out, though. That’s why we went and worked as hard as we did at recruiting at getting three quarterbacks in here, three freshmen. That’s why we kept Gary Godsey at quarterback until the spring, just in case Arnaz went down early in the season before those freshmen had a chance to gain the confidence of their teammates.
So you prepare for that. We had a discussion this sum better what do we do. Do we keep moving forward with Gary Godsey? And unanimously, the answer was yes, because he has the respect of our football team, and if something happened short time he gives us the best chance to win. And it was almost a day-to-day conversation looking at the freshman quarterbacks once they were here, is one of them moving far enough ahead that we can look right now and say it’s going to be that freshman.
You always look at the worst-case scenario I think in coaching, because you’ve got to have a plan for it. I know with Kevin, I think we had this discussion — I think Kevin has coached quarterbacks for 12 years now or something. He said he’s never lost a quarterback. Never had a quarterback injured. So we talked about that. All of these issues have been talked about since day one.
So, you know, you’re disappointed, but it’s not something that just shocks you because it’s kind of what it is.
Q. In high school, Matt LoVecchio didn’t run the option he was more of a passing-type quarterback. What did you see in high school that led you to believe he could fit so well in this offense?
BOB DAVIE: What we did is we knew how important it was for us to recruit a quarterback. So in our summer camp, two summers ago, we probably had ten of the top quarterbacks in the country in our summer camp. So we had Matt LoVecchio here for three days practicing. We had Jared Clark here for three days practicing. So we knew.
It really doesn’t matter as much to us what style of offense they were in high school because we had the opportunity to have them in our camp and evaluate them and that’s why we made the decision to go with those guys. So what we saw with athleticism, both Jared and Matt are athletic and can run, and both of them are going to be good players.
I know the point you are making. It wasn’t so much watching that high school tape, which we did, but it was more what are these guys truly all about.
Q. Regardless of what starts at quarterback, I think you’re averaging 151 yards rushing this season. Regardless of who starts at quarterback is that the emphasis, to get more production on the ground?
BOB DAVIE: I think it is more production. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to line up and just try and throw it every down because I don’t think that’s possible. But definitely, more productivity in the running game. And in some ways, that may mean being a little more creative with what we did. So not so much running it more, but being more productive.
Q. When you talk about the Michigan State, you know, going through, can you see during the game and say to yourself during the game, we gave them too much credit in terms of what to expect, or is that something that you have to look at film afterwards?
BOB DAVIE: You know that. You know. But what happened was, you know, the game is going along, and there’s a point where you throw it and you don’t have success. You know, whether it was the bubble screen to Joey Getherall that we threw incomplete or the first and ten and we threw it — or the second down and we threw and they intercepted it in the second half. You get to where you just don’t feel good about your chances throwing it. So it’s a combination of things.
I was talking more as a game plan going into the game we envisioned them just blitzing us. Once we get in the game, we are not really blitzing, but we are not really comfortable throwing the ball. I guess it was Woody Hays, three things can happen when you throw the ball and two of them are bad. It’s hard — (inaudible) — that way. When you’re coaching that way, you’re not going to be successful.
But, you know, you’re going along and you feel like you’re playing good enough defense, it’s all about just finding a way to win the game. The old “win ugly.” If you have to win ugly, and it’s however you can win.
So it’s always a combination of things. It’s not one simple thing. Everyone knows, sure, you keep them off balance when you throw on first down, but everyone also knows second and ten, it’s pretty difficult. You know, when you turn it over on first and ten, it’s real difficult.
So, you know, I understand, people are right when they say we should throw it more on first and ten. But once again, if we stopped them on fourth and ten, right — that fine line of what brilliant coaching is and finding a way to win compared to what, oh boy, they are so conservative, they played in a box and screwed it up. It really came down to the fourth and ten.
Q. How much did the decision to go with the freshman and his first start play into the fact that you are at home rather than a hostile environment?
BOB DAVIE: A little bit. A little bit. I think once again the scenario of those things we’re walking about, going to East Lansing, envisioning the success Purdue had blitzing, envisioning Michigan State blitzing, the crowd noise, it’s a difficult thing for a freshman, where you feel a little bit better about the open date and playing at home. I think that played a role in it. No question.
Q. You talked about knowing in the open date, and also coming back after such a disappointing loss, when did you know that the team would respond positively, and was that a concern on the way back from East Lansing?
BOB DAVIE: On the way back, you’re numb. You know you have an open date the next week.
No, I thought last week they responded well. It wasn’t a rah-rah, jump around, excited kind of deal, which you don’t expect it to be that during an open date.
But this football team has not disappointed me in any way, to be honest, with the way they have responded to anything. So I feel good about that. That’s probably the strength we have is we’ve got a bunch of guys that enjoy football, and really want to win. And so it’s been about what it’s been.
Certainly they came back from the couple days off energized.
Q. You’ve had three straight games now with total offense less than 250 yards, that doesn’t happen very often here. I know quarterback is a big deal, but do you see other problems, too? Is it just that you depend so much on the quarterback to be productive that that’s causing major problems?
BOB DAVIE: I think once again, it is a lot of things. I think we have played three pretty good defensive football teams. Although, those teams, if you look at Michigan State against Northwestern, if you look at Nebraska against Missouri, Missouri moved the ball, but I think those are pretty good defensive football teams.
You know, it comes back to us not really being in sync offensively. Either because we are calling plays a little bit different than what our normal style is. We’re playing in a box a little bit more than we normally do. I put most of it on the fact that we’ve — you know that our quarterback has been taken away. A guy that in this style offense is just critical. You know, there’s different styles of offense, but in our style, that quarterback has to be productive. And does have to be — you look at Arnaz at 110 yards rushing against Nebraska that’s part of our offense. If you look at McNabb when he was at Syracuse, you look at Jarious Jackson last year, that’s a big part of what we do.
So that’s a big part chunk of productivity gone and you start trying to be productive in other areas and you start becoming something you’re not. Nothing against Gary, but getting back to maybe a guy that can do the things we want to do.
Q. You talked about Jared Clark. Can you just quickly talk about what you think Matt LoVecchio’s strengths are?
BOB DAVIE: I think he’s really smart. I think you know, in high school, he played in a real good high school program that played for state championships. He’s smart and he’s honest. You know, and the players know he’s on it. Our other guys have confidence in him getting in the huddle getting up there and getting the ball snapped and those things. And I’m not downplaying his ability or saying anything that would hurt his feelings. He may not be the most talented guy of those three. There’s throws are three really talented quarterbacks, but you look back and they say that about a lot of guys here. And I’m not comparing him to Joe Montana, but whoever said he was the most gifted guy throwing the football — (inaudible) –he has those intangible things that puts him against those other quarterbacks. But don’t ever quote where Bob Davie said he’s comparing him to Joe Montana right now. That’s an example.
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