Sept. 24, 2008
Q. Jimmy, where did all the hair go?
Jimmy Clausen: I cut it off, as you can see. I don’t know why I really did it. But one of the things I said was, I’ve been growing it out for a long time, I said if we lost, once we lost, I’d cut it off. Had to cut it off.
Q. Was that kind of like a painful process for you?
Jimmy Clausen: No, not really. It was getting old, so…
Q. Turning to more football matters. I know you’ve always said, Wait and see on Michael Floyd. You were saying that in the pre season. What is it that he does that makes him such a good and easy target for you?
Jimmy Clausen: He’s a good athlete. He gets open. I think the biggest thing for him, you know, being a young receiver is he knows the offense like an older guy does. I think that’s pretty hard. I give him a lot of credit for coming in and working real hard to learn the offense `cause it is real difficult to come in and be able to play and learn the whole offense.
Q. Is he one of the more gifted athletes you’ve ever seen in your whole experience, be it high school, who you’ve played against?
Jimmy Clausen: He’s a good athlete. I’ve played with and played against a lot of great athletes. He’s up there in that category.
Q. Was there a catch maybe he made over the summer that made you say, Whoa, this kid is really good?
Jimmy Clausen: He just made a lot of catches during camp when he first got here. He’s making a lot of catches in the games, as you saw in the game against Michigan State, that one touchdown he had.
Q. For both of you. How do you bounce back? What is the process on and off the field to reverse what happened Saturday?
David Grimes: I think the biggest thing is that we have to come out in practice, be ready to go, and not dwell on last week. Got to have a short term memory and realize that we still have a long season ahead of us.
Jimmy Clausen: I think the same thing. The biggest thing for us coming off a loss is that’s behind us now and we got to get ready to go for Purdue. I think that’s what the team’s doing right now. We’re doing a good job of that. We came in Monday morning, watched the tape, learned from all the mistakes that we had. We turned the page. It’s time to move on and be 3 1.
Q. David, with Michael (Floyd) and to a lesser degree Golden (Tate), as Golden said yesterday, he kind of asked God how God could have given Michael so much ability and didn’t pass it around a little bit. These guys basically follow you around on the field and off the field. You’re sort of like their dad getting used to Notre Dame football. What is it like to have those guys, Golden last year and now Michael?
David Grimes: It’s definitely a pleasure to have those guys look up to me. With Golden and Michael, you never know what you’re going to get day in, day out (laughter).
But they’re good company. I’m doing the best that I can to guide those guys. But, yeah, you’ve seen their athleticism. They’re both great players.
Q. For both of you guys. Why would you say you’re better prepared to deal with adversity this year as opposed to last year?
Jimmy Clausen: I think we’re better prepared because we had to deal with it all last year. Not having a great season, having a loss, then coming back, trying to fight, having another loss and another loss. I think we’ve been through so much, this team has been through so much, that we don’t want the same feeling that we had last year. And I think that’s the biggest thing for us.
David Grimes: Yeah, experience is the biggest teacher. We’ve been there. Now we feel that we know how to, you know, deal with adversity and bounce back to get us where we need to be.
Q. David, Jimmy was talking about how quickly Michael Floyd has picked up the offense. For a receiver, what are some of the key things that make it so difficult to grasp the offense early?
David Grimes: Coming from high school, this is a pro style offense. It’s a lot to grasp. It’s very intimidating as a freshman. It’s a lot of mental work. It’s not just going out there and running routes. It’s thinking on the fly, seeing the defenses, converting your routes, being on the same page with the quarterback. It’s a lot to handle, especially as a freshman.
And Michael Floyd, he’s doing a great job. He’s probably handled it the best as I’ve seen any freshman ever handle it.
Q. Did you know the offense as a freshman as well as he knows it now?
David Grimes: I would like to think so (laughter).
Q. Jimmy, I was wondering if this is an accurate portrayal of where you are today compared to last year in terms of what was expected of you. Last year it was more manage the game, don’t lose it, whereas this year you’re expected a little bit more to be the guy that leads the team to victory. Would that be accurate?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I think so. You know, I think the coaches put a lot of hard work and time in trying to get me prepared to help the team win. Last year was run the offense, not lose the game. I think this year the coaches trust me and try to get the team the best play to succeed and help the team win.
Q. In accordance with that, I know you don’t worry about individual statistics, but your interceptions are equal to last year. Do you feel you need to make things happen, force things a little bit in order to make a play?
Jimmy Clausen: In different situations. I forced the ball a few times, take too many chances in the past three games. That’s one of the things I’m working on during practice. If something’s not there, it’s not wide open, check the ball down to the backs.
After watching film, when I’m throwing the interceptions, the backs are wide open. I just got to stop taking as many chances as I am and just get the ball to play makers and let them make plays.
Q. Does that kind of go hand in hand with as your confidence grows, you think you can sneak a pass in, or throw that jump ball to a 6’5″ receiver and he’s going to come down with it?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I think that’s the thing right there. When your confidence is up, you think you can make every throw in the world. You know, the other guys on the other side of the ball have scholarships, too. They’re great players, as well. I think that’s just one of the things of learning to be a good quarterback is, you know, when it’s not there, drop the ball back down and let the running backs run around.
Q. Jimmy, the five wide stuff in the second half, how similar or different is that from what you did in high school?
Jimmy Clausen: That’s pretty similar to what we did. The plays were called differently. We had different plays. But it was pretty much the same operation as what I did in high school a lot of times.
Q. What is your comfort level with that?
Jimmy Clausen: I’m comfortable with that. I’ve done it all high school. That wasn’t the only thing that we did, was shotgun, five wides, four wides, whatever. But I’m comfortable with it.
Q. I know the coaches talk about being balanced. It was just put on you as a quarterback as part of the passing game to pass, set up the run, have a little more of a pass first identity. Is that okay with you?
Jimmy Clausen: That’s obviously okay by me and the receivers. They want to get the ball. But I think to be able to set up the run is the biggest way to help the passing game. I think that’s what we got to do, is keep running the ball, keep gaining yards, and that will open up things more in the passing game.
Q. David, your back is okay?
David Grimes: Yeah, I’m good to go.
Q. Are you feeling a hundred percent better; no lingering effects?
David Grimes: A hundred percent.
Q. When you look at the personnel here, you’re standing on the sidelines against Michigan State, watching the offense break out a little bit in the second half, what’s your take on that? Seemed to be the most positive yardage of the day when you went to that offense.
David Grimes: Well, I think we just took advantage of what — when we did move the ball, I think we took advantage of what they was giving us. The offense, Jimmy, the guys, did a great job of, you know, him getting the ball out of his hands and getting it to the open receiver.
It was good to watch on the sidelines. We showed a lot of potential out there.
Q. Jimmy, aside from the fact that you’ve done the five wide, shotgun, what do you like about that formation, that setup, surveying the field from that vantage point? What do you like about that system?
Jimmy Clausen: I like it because it makes my job a lot easier. To gain yards, I’m not going to be running the ball to gain yards. Running backs, receivers, tight ends are going to be the ones gaining yards. So it’s easy for me to be able to just catch the ball and get it to the play makers because those are the guys that are going to be making the plays in the game and scoring touchdowns. I think it’s easy for me, you know, to do my job, just get them the ball.
Q. Is it almost like the drop is wasted motion and you can survey the defense immediately as opposed to having to take the drop back and worry about your footwork?
Jimmy Clausen: It’s different. Sometimes you want to be under center so you have the ball quicker in your hands so can you get it out faster. It is faster to get the ball under center, take a three step drop and get it out rather than being shotgun, catching and throwing it. There’s good and bads that come with being in shotgun or under center.
Q. Charlie said when Brady was here one of the last things he learned or the toughest lessons learned for a quarterback is to take what the defense gives you. Is that a difficult lesson that you’re still going through? Why is that something hard for a quarterback to do?
Jimmy Clausen: I think it’s hard because you always want that home run. You always want to score a touchdown. If something’s not there and your confidence level’s up, you’re going to try to fit it in.
If you look at great quarterbacks in the NFL, if it’s not there, they’re dumping the ball back down to their back, their back’s running for 15, 20 yards. I’m trying to learn and get that at a fast process right now.
Q. Can you talk about what you’ve seen from Purdue’s defense that poses some problems, what their strengths are?
Jimmy Clausen: They’re a good defense. I was watching tape last night for quite a bit. One of the things I saw was their athleticism on the defensive line, linebackers, and their secondary. Big, physical guys. They’re going to come to play. Especially at Notre Dame, everyone wants to beat Notre Dame, beat us. It’s going to be a tough game for us.
David Grimes: Yeah, just watching the secondary, they got a bunch of talent back there. They’ve got some physical guys, some guys with a lot of speed. Like Jimmy said, it’s going to be a tough game for us. But, you know, we’re confident in our guys.
Q. Jimmy, going back to the turnovers, the interceptions from earlier. How frustrating are those situations when you’re trying to make a play happen and then you realize you’ve given up an opportunity?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, it’s real frustrating. Especially when we’re down in the red zone. Like I said after the game, the one I threw to Duval (Kamara) up in the air, Michael Floyd was running on the incut. If I would have thrown it to him, it would have been a touchdown. It was misread by me.
It is frustrating when you make bad reads or you’re trying to make a play and it turns into an interception. But, you know, you just got to learn from your mistakes and move on.
Q. The fourth game of the season, do you think this is going to be a pretty good indication of where you guys are at and where you’re headed? How you perform Saturday, is that going to be a pretty good gauge of what you have done in the off season, where you might be headed?
David Grimes: I think we have a pretty good gauge of what we’re capable of. But I think what we have to do is take each game at a time, you know, and not try to look to the future, look beyond any opponent. So our biggest thing is that we just have to take one game at a time and play it like that.
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I think gauging this team, we just got to keep going out each and every day and work hard and get better. We said before the sky’s the limit for this team. We’ve shown some good things offensively, defensively and special teams. I think the biggest thing for us is to start being consistent in how we’re playing. I think that will just gauge itself.
Q. Along those lines, is this the bigger game for that reason? You started 2-0. Michigan State didn’t work out that way. To come back with two straight losses as opposed to bouncing back, getting more of the consistency. Big difference between 3-1 and 2 2, but maybe more of a bigger difference with this game coming up.
David Grimes: I think your next game is your biggest game, regardless of where you’re at in the season. 3-1 makes a big difference from being 2-2, what you said. But, you know, your next game is your biggest game. So we can’t look further down the season. We have to take care of Purdue.
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I think this is our biggest game coming up. As David said, we’re just going to take each day at a time, each week at a time, each game at a time. I think this is going to show a lot of this team by coming off a loss, whether we’re just going to lay it down or whether we’re going to go out there and compete and fight, try to get that win. I think that’s what this team is going to do.
Q. David, with some of the negative distractions this week, coming off a loss, it’s got to be so much different this week than it was last week, the feeling you have. Does that make you even maybe a little more hungry to come out? I guess winning kind of makes a lot of things feel better.
David Grimes: Yeah, you just said it. Winning makes a lot of things feel better. This team is more motivated than ever. We had that feeling last weekend. Guys, they don’t want to feel like that any more.
I think our team’s going to go out there and do everything in our power, you know, to win this game.
Q. Jimmy, yesterday Joe Tiller was talking about your arm. I don’t know what the direct quote was, but he said something to the effect that you have one of the best deep balls he’s seen in a long time. Must be a compliment, especially after last year.
Jimmy Clausen: That is a compliment. I thank him for that quote. It feels good just to be healthy and be able to go out, just throw the ball around, have guys like David and all the rest of the receivers, tight ends and backs, just go up and get it.
Q. Is it interesting to you knowing when you got your hair cut it was going to be a story?
Jimmy Clausen: Well, it is interesting actually. But I just got a haircut.
Q. Did you expect that people were going to be talking about it?
Jimmy Clausen: I just wanted to get a haircut, so…
Q. You talked a lot in the off season about studying the playbook, getting to know it. Know that you’re in the season, can you still make drastic learning improvements or is it more week to week game plan?
Jimmy Clausen: I think now it’s just week to week game plan, the package we’re putting in for the game, what the defense is going to present to us, the different looks, variations of blitzes, coverages, different formations. So I think it’s just game to game right now.
Q. As one of the leaders of the offense, when you see the run game struggling, does that put more pressure on your game to step up and try to get the offense going?
Jimmy Clausen: It’s whatever the coaches want at that time. If they call me to throw the ball, I got to get the job done. If we want to keep running it, we just got to keep running it, keep working hard. The running game’s going to go some time hopefully sooner than later.
Q. Jimmy, snap counts, how much do you vary those and how important is that to keeping the defense out of rhythm with you guys?
Jimmy Clausen: We vary it quite a bit. It’s hard for both the offense and the defense. The offense has got to stay on count, know what the snap count is every other play. For the defense, it’s hard because they don’t know what the snap count’s going to be. That gives us a great advantage because they don’t know whether it’s going to be on the first sound, the second sound, whatever the cadence is. They got to stay on sides. They can’t get a good jump at snap count.
Q. Is it first sound the majority of the time?
Jimmy Clausen: Most of the time it’s just on one.
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