Sept. 3, 2008
Q. Talking to Coach Weis the other day. He basically talked about managing the game, those kinds of things. He mentioned last year kind of going from one play to the next play. Talk about that process.
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, last year, you know, coming in as a freshman, it’s pretty tough coming in, know the entire playbook, go out on the field, execute it, let alone be in the huddle, if the guys have questions, help them out. And I definitely wasn’t able to do that last year. I was pretty much overwhelmed last year. You know, just try to do as best as I could. Wasn’t good enough.
This year, coming around, you know, I’ve worked hard in the off season with the coaches, Coach Weis and Coach Powlus, the rest of the guys like David (Grimes), the running backs, tight ends, just trying to get on the same page, get ready to go for this season.
Q. Were there times last season where you thought you were managing the game pretty well or were you just uncertain about it?
Jimmy Clausen: I think I was uncertain about it. It’s pretty tough, like I said, coming in as a freshman and playing. But, you know, I did as best as I could last year. We’re done with last year, moved on. You know, we’re looking forward to this Saturday.
Q. Looking ahead, can you imagine a day when you know much more than you know now, and what would those things be?
Jimmy Clausen: You know, I’m not really trying to look ahead right now. I’m just trying to focus on getting better each and every day, you know, getting ready for this Saturday.
Q. You always mention hots and sights. Can you give a layman’s interpretation of those terms?
Jimmy Clausen: A hot is when the front seven interior defensive linemen, when they’re blitzing, say they’re blitzing two guys, a Mike and Sam, we can only pick up one of them. The tight end is going to run a hot route. A sight adjust is when the secondary blitzes are coming and we don’t have enough guys to pick them up. The wide receiver is going to run a sight adjust, whether it’s a slant, an out, a hitch, depending on what the situation is.
Q. David, was there a time earlier in your career that you had aspirations or thoughts you might be a captain of this football team?
David Grimes: My freshman year, I was one of the few guys who played. I kind of did some calculations, like if I’m a senior, I’ll be one of the more experienced guys around. It was always a thought in my head. But I never thought it would be a reality.
Q. Because of your quiet nature, did you think maybe the guys on the team wouldn’t like to you as a guy they would elect as captain?
David Grimes: No, not at all. Leaders can lead in many different ways. You know, I like to think of myself as a person who leads by example. You know, we have a lot of guys on the team like that. That never came across my mind, not at all.
Q. Jimmy, do you expect to be a captain of this team someday?
Jimmy Clausen: I hope so. I think that’s one of my good aspects, is my leadership skills. I take that really highly. That’s what I look at myself as, as a leader, on and off the field. I just hope one day I can be a captain like David is.
Q. Jimmy, having Rick and Casey, how much of a help is that? How much have you talked to them, not so much X’s and O’s, but just getting ready for a season, for you being a starter?
Jimmy Clausen: It helps a lot. A lot of guys out there don’t have the opportunity to have two older brothers that played major college football. And to have the experiences they’ve experienced, I thank them for everything they’ve done for me, taking me in to media stuff, just showing me a lot of different things that a lot of guys coming to college haven’t seen. They’ve really helped me a lot.
Q. Jimmy, Coach Weis talked about yesterday that him and Coach Powlus sat you down and said your week is going to be a little bit different as far as preparation. Can you talk about that conversation a little bit?
Jimmy Clausen: It was just talking about game week. You know, game week is here. It’s not camp. It’s not spring football. It’s game week. You just got to take a different look to practice. It’s not just going out and just practicing; it’s actually going out, practicing, getting ready to play a game on Saturday. I think that’s the biggest thing.
Q. He also said he expected that you had played the game out in your head. Is that accurate?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, you know, whenever I go out to practice, I just see myself in a game situation, whether it’s going through the run game, individual, 9 on 7, going through the pass game 7 on 7, or on team. I just view it as a game. I think that’s the best thing to do, go out there, see it like a game situation, play it like you’re in a game.
Q. Jimmy, can you talk about Coach Haywood, how he’s adjusted his play calling, obviously you’re the first one to really notice that, getting the calls from him, and how he’s done so far doing that?
Jimmy Clausen: He’s done a great job. Coach Haywood knows a lot about the game of football. He is a great teacher of it. You know, it’s different for him, too, because it’s the first time he’s been able to call plays. I think he’s done a great job of calling plays, different situations. He knows the game, like I said. I think it just comes natural for him.
Q. A lot of guys have said it’s not that much different. Charlie said it’s not that much different. You’re the guy who knows that best. Is there that much of a difference the way they’re calling plays?
Jimmy Clausen: I don’t think the way they’re calling plays is different. I just think it’s different in a sense for Coach Haywood has never called plays before and he’s never had that responsibility.
But, you know, like I say, he’s done a great job. I’m just looking forward to him calling plays in the season.
Q. David, we talked media day about your progression as a wide receiver. When I asked you then, you kind of were like you couldn’t put your finger on how much better a wide receiver you are now than maybe a year or two ago. At this point have you been able maybe to do that?
David Grimes: I would say the game has slowed down tremendously. I’m able to work on some of the smaller things like using my hands better, being patient, my route running. I mean, I know timing is everything, but at the same time you have to realize doing things right instead of rushing them helps a lot getting open as a receiver.
Q. You’re a leader now as a captain, but also a leader of the wide receivers. Talk about wanting to get yourself open, give Jimmy a friendly target throughout the season.
David Grimes: Definitely. Guys look up to me. They expect me to make something happen on this offense and on this team. That just gives me more motivation to do so.
Q. Can you talk about what you saw from the San Diego State defense, what you need to do to be successful?
David Grimes: The San Diego State defense, they’re a pretty physical team. Got some nice size in the secondary and the front seven. But, you know, I think if we stick with our game plan, we do what the coaches have asked us to do, I think we’ll be successful.
Jimmy Clausen: I think the same thing, what David said. Their defense is a fast defense, swarm to the ball, arrive to the ball as a unit. I think the biggest thing for us is just executing the game plan, what the coaches want us to do. Can’t be one of us messing up; it’s got to be all 11 of us on the same page, just doing our individual assignments, just executing the game plan.
Q. Especially with it being the first game, is it really more about you guys than about what they present?
Jimmy Clausen: I think so. You know, going into every game, we just have to do what we have to do to win the game. We look at tape and different things like that. But when it comes down to it, we just have to do what we have to do.
Q. David, talking to Charlie about the freshmen coming in playing for the first time, could you take me back to your first experience getting on the field, the nerves you felt, any advice you would give to those going through it for the first time Saturday?
David Grimes: It’s definitely going to be exciting. It’s going to be 10 times faster than high school. My freshman year, when I was out there, it was a blur.
But I can just tell these guys, you know, just take it in as the game comes to you. I mean, when they first get out there, it’s going to be something like they never experienced before.
Q. What kind of helped you through it?
David Grimes: I don’t think you can overcome that just in your first game. I think it’s a matter of, you know, practicing full speed and even playing in games. It actually takes a while. I mean, I would say it slowed down for me probably maybe halfway into the season my freshman year. I guess, you know, to each his own.
Q. We’ve heard so much about a fast start, a talking point of the pre season. Why do you think you guys are more prepared to start fast this year than last year?
David Grimes: I would say because we had a lot of young guys last year. A lot of those young guys got a lot of experience. You know, starting fast means a lot to the success of our team. We just want to get out there, first play, first series, score early and often.
Q. Jimmy, your perspective on that?
Jimmy Clausen: I think the same thing. Last year there were a lot of guys that hadn’t played college football, come from high school, the transition was a lot different. I think the speed of the game, like David said, was a blur for a lot of us freshmen, especially for me.
Just getting off to a fast start. We just got to come out with a lot of enthusiasm. I think the main thing is just go out there, have fun, execute the game plan. For us on the offensive side, we just got to come out, run the ball, get first downs, score on that first drive.
Q. The quarterback situation obviously is a lot different coming into this year than last year. Can both of you talk a little bit about how that has affected the offense coming into this season?
Jimmy Clausen: I think it’s a lot better for just the team, the team chemistry. The team knows who the quarterback is now. Last year it was up in the air who was going to be the quarterback. I think going into spring, you know, I was going to be the quarterback. During the off season, I got to spend a lot of time with the receivers, running backs and tight ends just throwing routes, getting our chemistry down, knowing in different situations what the receiver’s going to do on different coverages. I think that’s the biggest thing, you know, knowing what each other is going to do in different situations.
David Grimes: Yeah, our team is pretty much settled in. We know who the quarterback is going to be. That helps a lot with timing, knowing what each other’s going to do.
Q. There was a lot of hype preceding you taking one snap here at Notre Dame. Do you now feel pressure to live up to that?
Jimmy Clausen: I think everyone feels pressure coming to the University of Notre Dame, so high profile. Once you step on the field, you’ve just got to be yourself and do what you did in practice. You’ve got to practice to play good. I think that’s what we’re doing right now.
Q. Jimmy, do you know any of the guys from San Diego State? The whole California thing. Most of their lineup is from California.
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I know quite a few of the guys on San Diego State’s team.
Q. Are you close with any of them? Talk with any of them this week?
Jimmy Clausen: I went to school with a few of the guys. They’re not starting or anything. I played against a few of the guys, but they’re not really starting either. There are a bunch of guys on the team that I do know.
Q. Coach last week said this season you’re going to pound it. From your perspective, what does that mean for you? Being on the passing side, what is your perspective of that?
David Grimes: As a receiver, that’s something I wouldn’t like to hear (laughter). But, you know, in the long run, that’s just going to open up our passing game. We’re going to establish a running game, get a lot of guys up in the box early and we can pick `em apart later.
Jimmy Clausen: I think it’s good for our team when we can be physical up front, pound the ball, like Coach Weis said. I think it’s going to open up a lot of play action pass, a lot of drop back pass. A lot of guys are going to be filling the box, like David said. There’s going to be a lot of one on one matchups with the receivers. All they’ve got to do is get open, I’ll get them the ball.
Q. Talking to the offensive linemen yesterday and earlier, they’ve been putting a lot of the blame for last year’s problem on themselves, saying they were lost out there at times, didn’t understand all the concepts they needed to know. What do you see in practice that makes you confident things are heading the right way and it will be better this year?
Jimmy Clausen: Well, first off, I know the protections and I know the hots and sights, if pressure is coming, where I’m going to throw the ball to. Last year, like I said, before I didn’t really know everything about the playbook, especially about the protections.
One thing about the linemen, I think they know exactly what they’re doing. They know the game plan. They’re ready to go. In practice they’re extremely physical. They’re getting after it. That’s a tight knit group, the offensive linemen, not just the starting five, but the whole entire group. I think they’re going to be ready to go Saturday.
Q. Jimmy, do quarterbacks have favorite receivers or are you instructed to hit the open man, go through progressions? Is there a tendency to lean toward another guy when in doubt? How does that work?
Jimmy Clausen: When the game’s on the line, I think you’re going to look for that receiver that you want to throw the ball to. The good thing about our team is that I feel extremely confident with every receiver that we’ve got, whether it’s David (Grimes), Golden (Tate), Duval (Kamara), Michael Floyd, George West, Robby Parris, any of the receivers. In a crucial situation, I’m going to get the ball to whoever I get it to.
David’s going to want the ball at all times. But like during a game, the coaches want you to stay on your progression. I think that’s one of the biggest things. It’s easy. Once you stay on your progression, one guy’s going to be open and you’re going to get him the ball. I think it goes back and forth on that.
Q. David, are you his favorite receiver?
David Grimes: I think you got to ask Jimmy that (laughter).
Jimmy Clausen: I love throwing the ball to Dave. He probably is one of my favorite targets to throw to just because he gets open every single time. Like I said, when he takes his time and runs the route like he’s supposed to, he gets open every single time. Just can’t rush it and juke me out so I throw an interception.
Like I said, he’s getting open every single time, and every time I’m throwing something he’s catching it, so…
Q. Jimmy, Coach Weis said what he expects from you in the opener. What do you expect from yourself, not only Saturday but this season?
Jimmy Clausen: You know, I expect to go out there and perform. I think not just only me, but the whole entire team is real anxious to get out there and just get on the field, get after somebody. We worked real hard this off season. We came together as a team. We’re just real excited to get out there and play.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.
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