Oct. 10, 2000
JOHN HEISLER: Kickoff is at noon eastern this time. That’s 11:00 here in South Bend. We still are waiting the definite kickoff for the following week’s game at West Virginia. We know it’s either going to be noon eastern or 7:00 p.m. eastern, but the decision will not be made until Saturday or Sunday. We’re still a few days away from knowing that one. Coach Davie is here. He’ll make some opening comments and take questions.
COACH DAVIE: I was thinking coming over here about, you know, when we first started, we talked about how the first five games would take care of themselves, regardless of how much conversation there was coming into the season about those first five games.
My point was that the last six games were what really mattered. Finishing the season was the No. 1 priority, keeping this football team together, getting stronger in the second half of the season – that’s really been the priority since last January. That’s kind of where we are right now.
The first five games are behind us. Certainly a lot has happened in the first five games. You know, you feel pretty good about some of the things that have happened, particularly the way the team has responded to some things.
But the priority for me is what happens obviously from this point on. We have six football games left. Two of the next three are against wishbone teams, against service academies, then we have an open date. We have three games right here. The way I look at it, a three-game stretch, two of which are against the academies.
It really is about how we finish. That’s easy to say, that’s pretty obvious to everyone. So many things go into that in college football. You’re impacted by so many different things.
Sitting here right now you feel pretty good about where we are, just the development of our team, certainly the chemistry of our team, the competitiveness of our team.
You know, I think the priorities right now for us, No. 1, would be offensively, you know, we got out of rhythm, we got out of sync a little bit there. We lost continuity in that two-game stretch, the Purdue and Michigan State games. We’re still in a work in progress on offense. What can we consistently do the rest of this season with Matt LoVecchio at quarterback or maybe one of those other young guys at quarterback? What can we consistently do?
It’s not realistic to come out like we did the first series of the Stanford game and kind of trick anybody. We did have the advantage of the open date. We did do some different things that Stanford hadn’t seen.
So my point is there’s some positive things happening right now. You feel a little bit better about the continuity on offense, but I certainly realize we have a long, long way to go each week. We have to coach as hard as we can possibly coach, each and every week, we have to play as hard as we can play and we have to play good to win every week.
I don’t think the fact that Navy has not won a game has a whole lot to do with this. You look at their schedule. They’ve played some good teams. More than looking at Navy, look at us. You know, we have to improve. So offensively I think it’s in consistency in what we do.
I think we have to take advantage of our opportunities on offense. You know, you wonder why you never get ahead in a game, get out of that one touchdown or that ten-point margin and get ahead. What that is is taking advantage of a lot of little things throughout the course of the game. You get a little bit at a time and pretty soon you have the other team out of sync in their offense because you’ve taken advantage of field position, you’ve taken advantage of maybe stepping up and making a play here and there, making a field goal. We really haven’t done that on a consistent basis.
So we’re locked in now scheme-wise. You know, there may be some surprises that happen on offense as far as with the quarterbacks, but I don’t think that’s any kind of an excuse. You know, we got blindsided a little bit probably with what happened to Arnaz at such an early date in the season. But we’re through all that now. We ought to be on rhythm, ought to be on sync in offense. We have to be.
Defensively I feel a little bit better about where we are. Obviously it’s a big challenge with the wishbone schemes, particularly after all the different offenses we’ve seen. I mean, we’ve run the gamut I guess on different schemes. I doubt that anybody in the country has played more of a diverse selection of offenses. Certainly from Nebraska to Purdue to Stanford, all those present unique challenges, now with the wishbone. But I like where we’re headed defensively. We have to stay healthy.
Our kicking game, I think it’s probably been as good as anyone’s in the country. I really don’t know what everybody else is doing, but it’s probably as good as I’ve ever been around. The concern right now is we missed our last two field goals, we had an extra point blocked. But I think that can be a weapon for us. We’ve got a lot of good players, a lot of good coaches on that thing. There’s an atmosphere now that they’re hungry to go do something each week.
So we’re into the second half of the season in my mind. We’ve played those first five games. We have to get better. Certainly that has impacted a lot of things as you go down the stretch. I like this team. I like where we are. I also know that coaching as hard as we can coach every week and playing as hard as we can play and as well as we can play is what it takes for us to beat anybody left on our schedule. It’s going to be every week, because that’s where we are right now, that’s where a lot of people are in college football.
As far as injuries, I think right now the doubtful list to maybe somewhat hopefully, Jordan Black, he’s probably coming on a little better than maybe we thought. I’d say he’s hopeful. Javin Hunter would probably be doubtful to hopeful. Patrick Ryan is probably doubtful.
Other than that, Lapinski will be back, Shane Walton and Clifford will be back practicing today. So really we’re in pretty good shape. So that probably is the No. 1 most positive thing we have going right now. We’ve got to keep that thing going.
John, we can take some questions.
JOHN HEISLER: Questions from people on the telephone.
Q. Coming into the season, if someone told you you would lose your quarterback and be only three our four plays from being undefeated through that rough stretch, what would you have said?
COACH DAVIE: Probably your worst nightmare coming into this season is that you would lose Arnaz Battle. That was quite obvious. You know, I think probably we’ve played as well as we could play with the situations we’ve had. Obviously, we are a couple plays away from being undefeated. But on the other hand, we’re a couple plays away from maybe being 1-4 right now, as well.
You know, I think all things considered, you know, I feel pretty good about it, to be quite honest. I mean Grant Irons is a guy — the thought of losing both Grant Irons and Arnaz Battle in a Nebraska game, Grant Irons didn’t play against Nebraska, he was hurt in the first quarter. All of a sudden it’s Ryan Roberts who wasn’t even here in the spring. I’m glad the reality of that didn’t hit until it hit. In other words, I’d hate to have thought forward in the summer and think about that scenario.
All things considered, I think we’ve done some positive things, but I also know these next six games are what everything is based on.
Q. Are the demands, not only that, the scrutiny of the Notre Dame job beyond what you could have envisioned when you first took it?
COACH DAVIE: Not really. You know, I’m probably, quite honestly, enjoying myself now as much as I’ve ever enjoyed myself in coaching. I mean that sincerely. You know, I enjoy it. I look forward to the challenge every day of coaching. You know, to be quite honest, probably at any phase in my coaching career, I’m enjoying this right now as much as I have at any step. It really has not overwhelmed me.
You know, obviously there’s a lot of things – if you allow yourself to pay attention to a lot of things – there’s certainly a lot of factors if you do that. You know, the best way is just do what you do best and get right in the middle of it and coach. Because of that, I’m enjoying this.
It really hasn’t been more than I thought it would be, quite honestly. I know that doesn’t bode well for a great story or anything, not the most clever thing to say. To be quite honest, it really hasn’t.
Q. What about some concerns that you may have about continuing to be able to recruit the very best athletes in the nation?
COACH DAVIE: I feel pretty confident we can do that. In fact, I know we can. We spent a lot of time — we finish up coaching probably about 9:30 at night, then we make recruiting calls. Based on how those recruiting calls have gone and the conversations we’ve had with people, it’s very positive.
I think if you look at our football team, the NFL scouts are in Mondays and Tuesdays. If you talk to them, there’s no questions that we are very, very much on the upswing as far as the talent level of our football team. We’ve got a lot of good young players that we’ve recruited. I think the recruiting is going very well.
Obviously, playing well in these last six games helps that. But I think we’ve done a good job recruiting. I think we’ve probably recruited as well as you can possibly recruit. I know we’ve worked as hard at it as we possibly can. I don’t really have a concern with that.
If we can continue, if we can have some success down the stretch, I think we’re in pretty good shape because we have good players and we’re in the mix with a lot of good players around the country. I don’t know that people realize to what degree that challenge is here, to recruit players around this country, but it is. I think we’re in pretty good shape with it right now.
Q. When you took the job, did you talk to any of the former coaches who have already been under fire there and just what the experience is like?
COACH DAVIE: Well, I think, you know, every one of them has been under fire. Certainly in talking to Ara, just about every conversation we have is about everything he went through as the head football coach here. Certainly with Lou Holtz, he and I were very close. I was in on a lot of the things in a one-on-one situation that he went through, particularly in his last year.
So, you know, I think with each and every one that has been the head coach, regardless of what your record is, there’s always a lot of issues. I don’t think that’s just unique to here, I think that’s anywhere all over the country. There’s certainly a lot of variables involved. Sometimes those issues are made to be bigger than they are here. I think there’s a certain romanticism maybe with that of people trying to make the scenario a little worse than it is.
In other words, people kind of like it to be that way here, you know, because they love the thing of it’s the second toughest job, tougher than being the President of the United States. That’s part of the romanticism I guess of it. I don’t certainly mean to downplay any of the significance of this job at all, but a little bit of that is kind of created. You know, I think we saw that this summer the way that whole thing mushroomed here where maybe it wouldn’t have mushroomed at other places across the country. All that goes with it.
There’s an awful lot of advantages with being the head football coach here, as well. You kind of realize what comes with the territory with this job, and you quickly learn what is reality and what is perception.
With all that said, I think with anything, with every step in your life, it takes a little longer, takes time to maybe get totally comfortable with the situation.
Right now, I mean, however this all plays out, I’m totally comfortable with it. I feel I have a good handle on it. Some of those issues are blown out of content a little bit here at Notre Dame.
Q. With all respect to you, do you feel that these last six games, that you’re on trial, or is the coach there always on trial?
COACH DAVIE: I think that’s probably accurate. I haven’t felt that since this season started. I mean, I never felt that, to be honest. I always realize what the head football coach at any University, that he’s going to be evaluated, not only on a season basis but on a weekly basis. That’s what this profession is. The bottom line is there are expectations. I’m comfortable with that. I haven’t felt any added pressure with that.
You know, there’s enough things to concern myself during the day, you know, without concerning myself with that. So, no, I really don’t. The amount of time we spend around this football team, preparing this football team, it’s about seeing what we prepare, how it comes out on that tape the next day more than all those kind of issues. I just want to play well because we put so much into this. I like these kids we’re coaching. Whatever happens is going to happen. That’s for somebody else to evaluate and somebody else to spend their time with. I really don’t. I don’t feel any pressure in that regard at all.
Q. What is great about being there?
COACH DAVIE: You know, I think that you get hooked on it, just probably the craziness of it maybe a little bit. I think you take great pride in being able to handle it on a day-to-day basis of all the issues that come way your way, being steady in the boat. I think it’s the unbelievable significance to so many people, so many people are impacted by what happens with Notre Dame football.
Our fans in my opinion are such a cross-section of people. We have everybody from CEOs of companies to people that never graduated from high school to people that have never been on this campus. We’ve got students here that probably have 1400 or 1500 SATs at those games, and people that never went past the eighth grade in those stands. The base of people that care about what happens in Notre Dame people is so broad. To me that’s what it is. I just love the magnitude of it.
I love coaching in a stadium every week that’s sold out. I love playing games that are on television every week. I love going out and recruiting the kind of players that have great academics and want to be pro football players, recruiting against other good schools. It’s just the magnitude of what you do.
With that, there has to be a trade-off. There has to be some so-called pressure or some so-called heat with that. That’s part of it. So I accept that. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I mean that. I still think it’s the best job in the country on a day-to-day basis.
JOHN HEISLER: We’ll take some questions here in person.
Q. You mentioned before about the continuity and things being so much in flux the last few weeks. You know who the quarterback is going to be, you have an idea how he’s going to play. Is this the point where you have to start moving forward again instead of maintaining?
COACH DAVIE: I think that’s exactly the point. That’s what we have to do. We have to get better from this point forward. Not that anyone’s talking about excuses or making excuses, but there are no excuses. Now is the point where we’ve got to make the big push. That’s what we said since last January, the last six games.
We know what we have now. There’s no more shocks that are going to come our way basically that matter. We’ve got to be able to adjust to each situation. Right now offensively in particular we have to get in a mode of: “This is what we can do and this is what we will do the rest of the year.” That’s what it’s going to take.
You’re going to see a bunch of teams at the crossroads in college football. You’ve got to be one of those teams that are headed in the right direction right now.
Q. Can you name one or two things offensively that you have to do, that you want to do better?
COACH DAVIE: Sure. I think, first of all, I mentioned the field position that we’ve had this season has been incredible on offense. The productivity hasn’t been there based on the kind of field position we’ve received.
The second thing, I think, how do we consistently run the football? How do we consistently take a good offensive line and good runningbacks and sink our teeth into something we can do on a consist basis? Doesn’t mean you’re going to line up and try to run isolation plays every snap. No one can do that in college football anymore.
If you look at college football right now, the No. 1 play in the college football is the side play out of one back where you kind of read, you either run the draw, or the quarterback keeps it on the boot, or you watch Northwestern. That’s what football has become. Spreading people out and running the ball out of one back sets.
We have to figure out how are we going to do it? This is our quarterback, this is the style quarterback we have, this is what we’re going to do, and we’ve got to be able to do it.
Right now we’re through the transition phase and we’ve got to go. I don’t mean that in a negative spin at all. That’s just what we are right now and where we have to go to. So I think that becomes something.
If you look offensively, we had a couple penalties in the Stanford game on early downs. We had a shotgun snap that went over the quarterback’s head that resulted in 13 possessions in that game. On 13 offensive possessions we had 8 possessions that were 3rd and over 10. I mean, it’s 3rd and 10 or more on 8 of the 13 possessions. You can’t function that way. You can’t function that way. There’s no rhythm to what you’re doing. Too many self-inflicted mistakes. That’s another area.
We all see if we’re able to take a drive 91 yards on the first series of the game, we’re capable of doing it. We have a responsibility as coaches and players to become more consistent in what we’re doing. That’s the biggest thing right now for this football team.
Q. Dan O’Leary was in earlier. He said he noticed a difference in you this year, you looked to him that you feel more comfortable in what you’re doing, dealing with the players, dealing with the job. He said it’s a subtle difference. Do you feel that?
COACH DAVIE: I hate to sit here and talk about myself and be dramatic or anything about it. That’s just not really my style to do that.
I am more comfortable because I am totally involved from every minute of the day in coaching, totally involved. You know, we have the luncheons on Friday, we have the pep rallies on Friday. All those things are going to take care of themselves. The preparation time on those for me now is so minimal. So it’s all about walking in here to this press conference and just coming up here and rolling with whatever’s going to happen in this press conference.
I’ve been through the whole cycle. We have the recruiting organized. We have things in place with that. You know, we’ve had so many issues that we’ve had to deal with, honestly. I’m not going to go into every issue over the first four years, but I can right now sink every second of my thought and my time into coaching this football team. That may sound a little crazy to people, but that’s the reality of what this profession is.
You have some guys that are CEOs that all they do is delegate, delegate, delegate. That’s not me. I have got to be in the middle of it, coaching it. I’ve got to be right in the middle of those kids, coaching those kids. That’s me. Maybe you go through a period there where because of where you are and all the issues, it’s not realistic to do that. Maybe because when you first take over, there’s so many things that you feel like you’ve got to get in place. Maybe there’s some issues that complicate things. Maybe it’s just maturing a bit as a head coach. I don’t know.
But for me I know I’ve got to coach because that’s what I love to do. It’s just because I’m happier and I like what I’m doing every second of the day because I’m doing what I do.
You know what? From the standpoint of, I’ve learned enough now about the offense, I’ve been in with the offense enough over my first couple years. I got the handle on the special teams completely. I’ve done that. I’ve gone through the period of spending half my time with the offense and half with the defense. If I would have never done that, it would probably be difficult to have enough of a handle on what we’re doing offensively. So I think it’s a positive for the future base I did take that time when I first became head coach to kind of be in that role of overseeing everything. You now have a foundation.
I’ve seen other coaches that started out staying as the offensive coordinator and that’s all they ever were, for the next 20 years as a head coach. You don’t ever have a handle on the defense. I think it worked well for me, what I did. I know now this is what I am and this is how I’m going to be successful as a head coach because it’s what makes me happy. I think it makes us most productive as a team.
Q. It always seems that the press conferences, the pep rallies, the luncheons, those kind of things were the most difficult thing for you. Once you get on the field, you felt more comfortable. Have you eased into that kind of role?
COACH DAVIE: You know, that’s easy for me now, to be honest, the pep rallies, luncheons, all those things. Let’s face it, you know, I think — I don’t care where you’ve been a head coach at, you come to Notre Dame and become the head coach, it’s a little bit different. There’s a lot of places that have little press conferences on Monday and do that whole thing in the cafeteria, there’s three or four guys there. There’s not anyplace that has a luncheon every Friday with 3500 people and a pep rally Friday night with 12,000 people. There’s no place in the country that does that.
Sure, there’s a little adjustment that goes on for everybody, not because of the fact you haven’t been a head coach, but you haven’t been a head coach at Notre Dame. That’s the difference.
I think that’s honestly how I feel. I feel right now totally comfortable with it. I really enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy this team. I think we’ve got it built back up to a point where we can be successful, you know. I’m sure a lot of things will factor into it as this season progresses or next season progresses. But I like it and I’m comfortable with it.
Q. David Miller, time to get a look at him this week?
COACH DAVIE: We did last night in practice a little bit. We have missed our last two field goals. David is a good kicker. We worked David a little bit last night in practice. There’s not quite a kicker controversy yet. I know there won’t be a headline in tomorrow’s South Bend Tribune about this kicker controversy, although you like going in that direction, don’t you (laughter)?
No, he kicked a little bit in practice, but Nick is still the kicker.
Q. Your comfort, how much of that is dictated by the players you’re dealing with, the kids that you’ve surrounded yourself by?
COACH DAVIE: You know, I hope — I’m just teasing you. Let’s not go off on the comfort level. I’m just coming in here, “What’s going on? How are we doing today?” I’m not quite that comfortable yet (laughter).
Yeah, there is a point where, you know, everybody is on the same page because it is — even though I’ve been here since ’94, it is the guys I’ve recruited, guys that I know the parents, been in the home with, been through a lot of things with.
It is guys that have been recruited by a different head coach, that whole thing is an issue, there’s no question about that. So you do have everybody on the same page, and they are all guys that we recruited. That doesn’t mean that the other guys aren’t great guys, they are great guys, but there’s a split there.
I think what people maybe don’t realize is how long it takes, you know. Someone is always going to say, “Bob Davie was there since ’94.” That doesn’t mean a darn thing. I became head coach in ’97. That’s when we changed the recruiting of this program, when I brought in coaches. That whole thing is an issue that certainly people are going to say and deal with, and it’s true. But the reality is not until ’97 did I start as the head coach of this program.
And it takes time, particularly at a place like this, particularly with some of the things that we’ve had to deal with. I’m comfortable because I’m surrounded by people that I know we’re all on the same page with.
Q. Getting back to the offense. If you look at the first drive the other day, you did a lot of things formation-wise, you revisited a little bit during the game, but didn’t really go back to that. Was that a gimmick?
COACH DAVIE: I think with that point, that is the emphasis on where we’re headed. You know, it’s obvious in today’s football, you have to spread the field some. We can do that as long as we have the right quarterback that can take advantage of spreading the field and creating plays, running the ball, doing some option things by spreading the field. That’s what we are. That’s what we are.
How much of the empty stuff and doing the whole different thing, we’re not much of that. We had the advantage of Stanford not knowing that was coming, we did a little bit of that. We’re not going to survive doing a whole lot of that. But certainly an element of that is tremendous for us with a quarterback that has legs. But that’s my point.
You know, where we head with what we can do on a consistent basis is very important to me. Navy now knows we do that. Where do we head? Where is our offense headed right now? Where we are headed, we are doing a lot of things. We have the capabilities to do a lot of things.
Q. (Inaudible) haven’t established an identity.
COACH DAVIE: I think we have. I think we spread the field. We are still a team that runs the football with spreading the field. We still have the ability to put two backs in the backfield. We have the total package of what we do. But it’s being able to execute doing a lot of different things.
We all realize we’re not going to rely on tricking somebody. You’re not going to trick anybody. So how much of those things do we continue to do, what percentage do we continue to do them so we can practice what we’re going to do?
Q. You run a risk then of doing too many things and not being good at any one of them.
COACH DAVIE: That’s the whole deal. I see it, Kevin sees it, our players see it. We’re all on the same page with that. That’s what I’m saying, we’ve had to do a lot of things now as we came through these last few weeks tweaking around. All that is done. What are we the next six games of this season, right? That’s the whole point of this.
I’d kind of like to keep it, you know, on that practice field a little bit and not tell everybody what we’re going to be so we maybe have an advantage there. You can kind of see it.
I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. If you guys were out there, you might not see it. We can’t figure it out ourselves half the time. I don’t know if you guys are going to figure it out (laughter).
Q. Not to put down Navy, but they are struggling this year. Is this the type of game where you would like to try to do some new things, experiment with some things on offense? Would you like to get this game to a situation where you would like to get Godsey and/or Clark into the game?
COACH DAVIE: Oh, man, I’d love to. I’m not even planning that. No, we are not going to do anything just to experiment with anything. It’s opposite of that, opposite of that. We have to take what we’ve done over the first six weeks of this season and what can we do effectively? We’re close.
This point of discussion should not be, “Notre Dame is everywhere on offense now. They’ve run the gamut.” We really haven’t. We had a package that we came into summer camp with that we’re now able to do again now that (inaudible) the young guys, the quarterback and his legs. That’s more of the point. It’s not like, “They’re searching for things, they put something on last week.” That’s where we were headed with Arnaz. It’s still that same package.
The package of Purdue and Michigan State, that’s gone now, just trying to buckle it up and hammer people and play so ultraconservative. But we do have to get some consistency where we’re not everything every week. There’s no way you can survive doing that.
Q. Talking to some of the other offensive players, other than the quarterback, they say it’s an adjustment whenever a new quarterback comes in. Specifically the lack of injuries on offense, how much has that helped to know that the other ten guys are moving together, embrace whoever the quarterback happens to be, bring him along?
COACH DAVIE: That’s a great point. I think that’s why we feel we should be better on offense because we do a good surrounding cast. Other than Jabari and Julius has had some things that have held him back, we’ve been healthy, we’ve been healthy. That is the emphasis right now.
The only new guy out there is the quarterback. A year ago it was Jarious with everybody else new, we were in chaos. With a pretty good offensive football team with one new guy, and that new guy is no longer a new guy, so let’s go. That’s big.
It is the surrounding cast, but we also know in any level of football that guy taking the snap is so big. His percentage isn’t 1 of the 11, his percentage might count for 4 of the 11. That percentage of what’s on that quarterback in your success is much more than 1 in 11 – it’s bigger than that. That’s what’s tough with a young quarterback. He’s so critical.
Q. Are you at least a little bit more comfortable this week with what LoVecchio can do having handled a whole game?
COACH DAVIE: That’s why we have a chance to really build on the continuity of our scheme because know you now. How did we know going into the Stanford game that Matt LoVecchio may have — his heart rate might have raced to 300 before the game started, never played a game. We were back to Gary Godsey in that game. You go into it, “We have the Matt LoVecchio thing, but maybe Matt can’t do it, it’s Gary.” Kind of how we went into this season a bit.
My point now is we’re through that. It is going to be a mobile quarterback. Let’s tighten that package up and clean it up and let’s go now. Regardless of what happens now, let’s go with that.
Q. I know that injuries are something, if they’re not real serious, you’d just as soon not talk about them. Julius Jones looks like he’s running hurt or looks different than the back we saw at the beginning of the season. How much of that has affected the running game and how banged up is he?
COACH DAVIE: We talked about that a little bit this morning in our staff meeting. He’s done some great things. If you look at the kickoff returns, he takes that one 50 yards, made a great run for the touchdown.
Just looking at it, I think Julius would agree, right now he’s not playing maybe like he’s done at other times for us. But I think it is a little bit he hasn’t practiced a whole lot.
Last week we did not practice. With That hamstring, was doubtful for the game. Did not practice Wednesday, Thursday, goes and plays the game. He has the thumb in the cast. He’s a young guy that sometimes young guys, when they don’t practice, they don’t play as well, where maybe an older guy can get by. He needs to practice and he needs to be healthy.
I tend to agree that I’ve seen him at other times where every time he touched it, you felt he could possibly break it. You have not felt that quite the same these last couple weeks. I would tend to agree with that.
I think that the point right now of that surrounding cast has to raise their level of play. That’s what we need to have. I think Julius is included in that group.
Q. Playing Navy at home the last couple years, you’ve seen the effect of playing at Notre Dame stadium has. Is there any advantage of playing them at a neutral site where it’s not quite a crusade for them or coming into Notre Dame stadium?
COACH DAVIE: You know, I think you like our — our team likes playing games in different place. When we played in Redskins stadium, that was a tremendous atmosphere for both teams. I would think the Citrus Bowl is going to be a great atmosphere. I’m not sure what it does for Navy.
I know our players enjoy playing in a different atmosphere like that, kind of like a Bowl game. I also know they bring so many of those midshipmen. Somebody told me there’s going to be three thousand or something at Disneyworld Friday, they have a big thing going. It was like that in Redskins stadium. They travel a lot. That kind of adds to the flavor of it and the excitement of it.
I think it’s a good thing. I enjoy going and playing in different places, as well.
Q. I know you don’t want to get in the middle of this something like this, but after the Purdue game, (inaudible) flipped off students. Have you ever seen anything like that anywhere? Would you have a policy to discipline a player if he did the same?
COACH DAVIE: You know, you’re asking me about a situation I didn’t see. Things happen. Because I didn’t see it, I’ll be honest, you know, there was a situation after the Michigan State game where one of their players was a little bit volatile after the game. He really wasn’t volatile at me. He was just kind of out of control hollering and screaming. That kind of thing takes on a life of its own. He is over there barbing at Coach Davie. It wasn’t all about that. I kind of know how these things go.
If you’re telling me that a player did that on the field to the student section, you know, I personally would have a hard time with that. That would be something that would be unthinkable of me.
How I’d handle it? I’d have to be in that situation and know, in fact, if it wasn’t “We’re No. 1” or what it was (laughter). There’s so many variables that I’m not going to get into what Joe Tiller should have done or what Bob Davie would have done in that situation because I don’t know that situation.
COACH DAVIE: You’re talking about the big fraternity (laughter)? I had heard that. That’s unbelievable. I’ve had it happen to me at times on the reverse thing. I’ve seen a lot of people saying, “Coach Davie, you’re No. 1.” I’ve never seen the opposite of that happen (laughter).
Q. Defense, especially at Michigan State, you seemed to do a really good job of not having one guy on attack but a lot of times eight, nine guys coming up. Is that something you’ve emphasized more, coming from Texas A&M, or finally you have enough healthy guys in the system?
COACH DAVIE: I think we’re a little better. We fly around a little bit better. We’ll hit you. I noticed that, as well. We’re more of — it ties into so many things. If can you play man-coverage a little bit, a bunch more people running to that ball, if you can blitz a little bit, look like you’re swarming a bit more. If you have guys that can do it, I’ll do it. I’ve done that my whole life. It’s having the guys to do it. It always comes back to players.
Yeah, we look a lot more swarming because of some of the things we can do scheme-wise, to be honest. As long as we have some healthy guys and we can cover, as long as we can cover, we’re still evolving there. We’re not the kind of team to go out there and say, “Here we are,” jump up in your face, see what happens. We’re not at that point yet, but it’s kind of a lot of things tied in together.
Q. 1963 last time Navy beat Notre Dame. I was wondering what you were doing then. If you don’t want to comment on that, maybe speak to the fact this is the longest winning streak in the series in the nation.
COACH DAVIE: I think as a coach you don’t pay any attention to that, but you can’t help but cringe a little bit when that is said. I’m sure Charlie feels the same. I do probably for a different reason maybe.
I don’t like that whole thing. I know I’ve been here and played Navy a bunch of times. I know how that game could have gone the other way so many times. I don’t think it’s really fair. Once again, I’m not going to say it is what it is. I’ll let you say that for me, but it is what it is. That statistic is true.
But if you’re looking at it as a coach and being fair to Navy, how many games have been right down to the end that Navy could have won? I don’t think that’s fair for Navy’s guys or Navy’s coaches to look like this has been such a lopsided series. Reality is, that’s what it’s been.
Dang, there’s been some great games. Those Navy guys play good, play hard. They are totally capable of beating us. So I cringe just because it’s not a fair assessment of this series. This is a great series. This is a great series. That’s why I cringe. I don’t think it’s fair.
Q. You talked about the problems preparing for a variety of different offenses. What exactly does Navy do? What concerns you?
COACH DAVIE: First of all, both they and Air Force, when you look at the formations, it doesn’t make sense to your players. They’re different formations than you see. There’s such a period of just getting players comfortable with, “What do we call this? What is this formation? Who are the eligible guys in this formation?” You’re out of your comfort zone. They have you out of your comfort zone. That’s probably the biggest thing.
The second biggest thing, anytime you can run option football and combine passes with option football, that’s a very volatile combination. That is a scheme that athleticism is not the biggest issue of trying to stop it. It’s an unbelievable offense. It’s amazing. It’s a big challenge as coaches. That’s why the academies are in it. They’ve got very cerebral guys that do exactly what you tell them to do. They play hard and they execute well. It’s a big challenge.
Q. Can you talk a bit of the play of Anthony Weaver on defense? Is he the defensive anchor up front?
COACH DAVIE: He has some juice to him. He has some juice to him. I told him, you know, just looking at No. 98 in a white shirt last year in Palo Alto on that tape, you never would have thought it was 98, the same 98, in the blue shirt this year against Stanford. It’s really been that way each week of the season. He looks like a different guy in 98. He has some juice, plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I’m proud of him for that.
I think moving him back to defensive end probably helped. But I think more than that, you know, he’s become a man. I think it’s the thing of playing as a freshman early. The old days of freshmen – I’m not trying to embarrass Tony – the old days of freshmen sitting on that scout team, freshmen not being eligible, paying the dues to play, made them frothing at the mouth when they did play. Sometimes you play a little bit early and maybe you don’t appreciate it quite as much.
Q. I asked Dan O’Leary earlier if winning was good enough. Last week you said to appreciate wins no matter what. Do you have to do more than winning this week?
COACH DAVIE: Winning is good enough, period:
JOHN HEISLER: Thank you.