Oct. 3, 2009

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October 3, 2009

COACH Charlie Weis

Q. Charlie, can you talk about what a relief it is to win by seven instead of a three or four point game?
COACH WEIS: Touche. Okay, strike one for you on that one. (Laughter.)

I’ll tell you what, I’m just happy, really happy for these kids. They just keep on fighting and fighting and fighting. Four weeks in a row you get into the same situation, and the first one doesn’t turn out right, turn out the way you want it, and now three weeks in a row they’ve come up. There was a lot of bad stuff in the game, but I’m going to have a tough time feeling bad tonight.

Q. Has there been a more bizarre game you’ve coached in a while?
COACH WEIS: No, I think that probably other than my disappointment in our red zone efficiency early in the game that really kept the game closer than I thought it should have been and us laying one on the ground for them for a walk in touchdown on a lateral, on a screen pass, I think that the entire game, the ebb and flow of the game, probably the whole game came down to that double goal line stand not the goal line stand, the double goal line stand. If they go in, it’s a two score game, and the odds of us winning right there really, really aren’t very high, especially when all the clock is running during this one set. Now the next set right there. So if they end up going in for six right there, and it’s a two score game and now it’s 2:53 or whatever it is, we’re in big trouble.

Now, conversely, because the defense stopped them and held them to a field goal, I think now our team is confident enough that we’re down a score at the end of the game and No. 7 has got the ball and he’s got some time, usually something good is going to happen.

Q. Expanding on the double goal line stand, once there was the penalty, they go back out there, and that was incredible. Can you talk about that?
COACH WEIS: Well, I thought my concern is probably the same as yours, that they’d be a little bit deflated having to go out there. But there were no signs of it. They controlled the line of scrimmage, they got some penetration at the line of scrimmage, and you’ve always got to worry about 10. You’ve got to you’ve always got to worry about that No. 10, whether he quarterback sneaks or he keeps the ball himself or they boot and all those other things; you can’t just have to worry about the running game.

But a double goal line stand, not to mention that they had another goal line stand down at the other end in the third quarter, I believe. That’s a heck of a job on goal line defense.

Q. You were talking about the clock. Was there a part maybe at the 7:07 mark where you almost hoped they just scored quickly?
COACH WEIS: Well, I’m never hoping they score, but I was concerned because I was actually thinking about starting to call timeouts to give myself enough time because now all of a sudden if they go in and it’s four minutes to go in the game and you’ve got to score twice, you’re going to be in two minute offense, and even if you score the first time, how much time is going to be left at the end of the game to have an opportunity to get the ball back?

So yeah, I would be remiss if I said that I wasn’t really concerned about how much clock was getting eaten up while they were doing that.

Q. Talk about Robert, the two point conversion, him coming in for Armando, and could Armando have come back in?
COACH WEIS: Armando, it’s the same thing, that ankle that he was playing with and got rolled up a little bit on the one play. He could have gone, but I felt that Robert, when we went to the change of pace and had Robert going, and he was running north, and with the field starting to get a little sloppy, which it was starting to get, I thought that those running north runs were the best way to go. So Robert did a nice job and really changed field position and then obviously ran it in at the end, which was probably the most critical play.

Q. Why was that goal line defense able to work? What particularly?
COACH WEIS: It was penetration. I think that it all came down to penetration. When you’re on the goal line and you’re a yard away or a foot away let’s look at us early in the game. We either get the ball down there on the two yard line, and the penetration went the opposite way. We ran the ball once to the left and then we threw a play action pass and we ran the ball once to the right and the line of scrimmage was going the other way. At the end of the game it was totally different.

Now, when Robert went to run it in, now the line of scrimmage was moving the way you want it to be going. But I think on all those plays, the one thing you saw, you saw penetration across the front, and that gave you an opportunity.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Te’o and his performance today?
COACH WEIS: Well, you know, I told you guys last week, and sorry for you people from Washington, but when we talked for the locals, when we talked about Manti was going to play a whole bunch more, and as the week went on, John felt more comfortable with him in there in both base and nickel. To this point he’s really been repping a lot more nickel than base, but John felt confident that we could get some production out of him. I don’t know how many plays he played, but it certainly seemed like he was out there a lot.

Q. On the two point conversion, your view on the two point conversion? Did you feel worried that Hughes was stopped?
COACH WEIS: Well, he was his initial thing was stopped, but there was a scrum in there, and he’s a big boy that’s pushing the pile north. You know, you get those scrums and all of a sudden you end up in the end zone, so score one for the good guys.

Q. Was that Stanford of ’05? Was it that play?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, similar play. That was the intent. The thing was, we knew that the front was going to be a little bit different, and Stanford in ’05 we expected them to have a wide open deal. So it’s a little different blocking scheme to run the same similar play.

Q. Their red zone defense, is it a personnel shift on their part?
COACH WEIS: Well, they play what we call Red 7, which is a form of quarters with doubles incorporated in there for most of the time. That’s why we came with Kyle out there. The first time when we didn’t end up scoring, we came back with Kyle out there, and we figured we’d just it didn’t make a difference which corner was over there, we were just going to go throw a back shoulder was when they got to that coverage. That’s the only thing you really had right there, throw it up to the big guy. And really Kyle was kind of replacing Michael in that situation right there so we could go use his 6’7″ and his hoop skills to go up and get it.

Q. What was the issue with Fleming?
COACH WEIS: He tweaked his hammy and went through warmups. We went through warmups, and I looked at him, and he told me he didn’t think he could go. It was like this was right after warmups. So after warmups it was a no go. Like a lot of other guys, they get bumps and bruises, but this is a guy who practiced Tuesday and Wednesday. It wasn’t like he didn’t practice Tuesday and Wednesday.

Q. What more can you do from a tackling standpoint in practice in terms of open field tacking, not goal line tackling.
COACH WEIS: I’ll worry about that tomorrow after I get a chance to watch it. There was a lot of things that happened in that game that I’d like to have back, but I liked the end all.

Q. Can you talk about the way Tate was able to get open?
COACH WEIS: We tried to put him in a lot of different spots. We motioned him out of the backfield, which was a new wrinkle that got us a couple of plays. We lined him up in the slot, we motioned him to the strong side, we motioned him to the weak side. But the bottom line is when we’re sending both he and Rudolph vertical, then you have to kind of pick your poison, who are you going to try to help there. We hit Kyle on the one seam ball, but for most of the time, most of the action ended up going Golden’s way.

Q. Did it give you a heart attack when he got up?
COACH WEIS: I just didn’t want the ball to come out. Trust me, if you were thinking that I wasn’t thinking that when all of a sudden he jumps up, and I said, oh, no, just take care of the football. That’s the only thing that went through my mind.

Q. Talk about Jimmy’s ability to stay alive in the pocket and especially how it links up with Golden’s ability to improvise down the field?
COACH WEIS: Physically it’s by far the No. 1 thing that Jimmy Clausen has gotten better at. He has taken it to a whole different level about moving in the pocket and moving from the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield. He’s not a 4’5 40 guy, but now what he’s now done totally different from year one to year two, now he feels the pressure, he gets himself out of bad situations, and he’s not looking to run it too often, which is a good thing. He’ll run it when he needs to, but his eyes are downfield, he remembers where the receivers are, and that gives him an opportunity to make a play.

Q. You talked about the red zone problems. It seems like Tausch is a guy is the kind of guy you can rely on now.
COACH WEIS: He’s going to have to pick up the slack for Michael because now I think that that’s one of the things we have to do is we have to find more ways to involve Kyle in the red zone. You get that big body and soft hands, I think that that’s what we’re going to have to continue game planning.

Q. And then Tausch kicking today, your thoughts on what he did.
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, there’s some inclement weather, and every field goal and extra point he made. Except for that one kickoff against the wind that looked a little bit short, I think he had a pretty good day at the office for a freshman.

Q. Last thing, Harrison’s hit at the end of the game, what was your view on that?
COACH WEIS: I thought it was sweet. (Laughter.)

The guy had the ball in his hands, now Harrison is going to lay him out, but the guy had the ball in his hands. When I saw him hit him, the next thing I was seeing, is that going to ball going to bounce to somebody else, the way this game is going. Would it have surprised you the way that game went? No, it wouldn’t have surprised me, either. When that ball hit the ground, there was nobody happier than me, I promise you.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH WEIS: I think that Manti put himself in a position where now he’s gotten past that game where he has to play a whole bunch of plays and playing base and playing nickel, and I think that it’s just going to be a steady climb for Manti.


COACH SARKISIAN: Well, great college football game, you know, for everybody. It was exciting. Obviously it’s frustrating when you had an opportunity like we had there in the fourth quarter to put the game in a situation to be a two score game, and we weren’t able to do it.

You know, the bottom line is this game came down to we had two opportunities to score touchdowns from the one yard line, two separate occasions, and we came away with three total points. That’s the bottom line.

Our kids played hard, I’m proud of them, and they battled a very good football team, a very well coached team. Our kids played hard. I’m proud of them.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: No, I wanted to make it a situation in the game where the field goal, just the structure of the game gave us that opportunity. Trust me, I thought about it, and you know me probably as well as anybody in the room right now. I’m very aggressive. I believe in our guys and I believe in what we do, but at that time that was the right thing to do.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: He’s okay. He got his bell rung. He got a concussion. It was a great hit, almost one of the greatest catches of all time. But he’ll be okay.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know where he was, I didn’t know if the momentum had stopped. It’s tough to tell when you’re not right on the line of scrimmage. It’s tough to tell.

Q. It looked like on the 1st downs especially earlier on, it looked like you were trying to exploit something they were doing, maybe passing it as opposed to running it?
COACH SARKISIAN: Yeah, we thought we had an opportunity to spread them out and run some things on the perimeter. We didn’t execute the way I wanted to early in the game, but we came out in the third quarter and started executing the way we wanted to, and our guys performed well. We functioned.

Q. Can you talk about Clausen for Notre Dame, just what you saw in him?
COACH SARKISIAN: He played a terrific game. There weren’t very many things that were just clean for him in the pocket. A lot of what he did was when pressure came, he was able to avoid the rush, buy time, kept his vision extremely well and made a lot of plays down the field. Obviously 23, Golden Tate, a fantastic game for him, as well.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: I love what Chris Polk brought. He’s a tough kid. He’s a red shirt freshman and he’s still learning, but valiant effort. Really, really played extremely well.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: Well, when we got down there, we obviously did some things to get to that point, and then there’s not a whole lot of secrets, but we have a great belief in our quarterback, which I think we should. He’s a tremendous player. He’s a tremendous athlete. So we sneaked twice in a row. The first one was so close, we almost challenged it. So we came with a different formation and tried it again, and they did a great job. You know, they did a good job. It was so close. It felt almost odd when you look at both drives, I’ve never seen guys get tackled that close to the goal line that many times. I don’t know if maybe some frustration set in on my part or on our kids’ part not getting in the end zone, to make it a mindset thing. But great job on their part of just staying tall and believing in the next play, and they held up.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: No, there was a lot going on. To score a touchdown and then it get called back, there were some big 3rd down conversions in there. It was, like I said in the opening, a great college football game. For all the things that happened in this ballgame, I think as a fan everybody loved it. It obviously hurts in our locker room right now. Our kids performed with great effort, and it was something we wanted to address after last week’s game versus Stanford, and I thought they did that. We played extremely hard in a very good college football game. Unfortunately it just didn’t come out for us.

Q. On the replay it looked like it was good. Did you get a vantage point on it?
COACH SARKISIAN: It looked good, but there’s no replay in the stadium, so we have to go with what they said. If he was down, he was down. We’ve got to call another play. The thing when you look at it from our perspective is we didn’t get in the end zone after that. And when you have the ball 1st and goal at the 1, you should score a touchdown, and we were not able to do it.

Q. Talking about not getting into the end zone, you were able to hold them to field goals five times, as well. Can you talk about your defensive effort in the red zone?
COACH SARKISIAN: It was huge. They were able to move the ball. They’re a very good offensive football team. We knew for us to really play the way we wanted to play on defense we had to create turnovers, which we were obviously able to do; and two, we had to hold them to field goals, not touchdowns in the red zone, and we were able to do that. Our defense gave us an opportunity to win the game, no doubt.

Q. What was Tate doing to get so open?
COACH SARKISIAN: You know, I think he’s a really good player, one; and they do a nice job with their scheme of moving him around to put him this spots. He does not line up to one spot on the field. He’s all over the place; he’s in the backfield, he’s in the slot, he’s at wide receiver. Then I thought the second thing that played a big factor is the quarterback did a good job of buying time, and so there was designed routes for him, but then his football savvy kicked in, and then Golden Tate is wandering across the field and now coverages break down, and when you buy that much time and a guy is back there for five, six, seven seconds, that’s how people get open.

Q. Justin Glenn, do you have an update on him?
COACH SARKISIAN: He’s got a broken fibula.

Q. Were there any other injuries?
COACH SARKISIAN: I think Nate Williams got a concussion, and D’Andre looks like he has a concussion.

Q. Troufant had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and also made a couple tackles that allowed you to get some stops there. Talk a little bit about his performance.
COACH SARKISIAN: I think Desmond Troufant is a premier football player. For a true freshman to continue to make the plays he’s making, it’s not just on defense, he covers punts, he covers kicks, he’s on the field all the time, he makes plays on the ball. I’m very proud of Desmond. He’s a tough minded kid, and he’s also just tough hearted. He stands in there tall and believes in himself.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: Well, nothing surprises me. We’ve never tried to put limitations on our kids of how long it’s supposed to take for you to play. Coming here with the belief of you’re going to play right now, and if you show us that you can, we’re going to keep putting you out there. I think James Johnson has done that, Desmond Troufant has done that, Talia Crichton has done that, Andru Pulu, that’s why those guys play.

Q. Just within this half a season, the culture has changed immediately in Washington. USC wins, great game today. Can you point to any one or two things that have just changed what looked like to be an absolutely dismal situation in a short period of time for you?
COACH SARKISIAN: I think it’s a credit to our coaching staff, the intensity but yet their ability to teach good football. And our kids to their credit have been extremely willing. Everything we’ve asked them to do they’ve bought in, they’ve been willing. So you know, I’m proud of our guys in the sense that it doesn’t matter what the other team wears on the other sidelines. It doesn’t matter if it’s LSU or USC or Notre Dame. They’re not as concerned about that. They’re concerned about going out and playing a brand of football they believe in, and I think we’ve been doing that.

Q. What did you say to your guys before overtime? It didn’t look like there was much chatter on the sideline, but what was the message before OT started?
COACH SARKISIAN: The message is any time you get into overtime it’s execution. It’s not one play, it’s a series of plays, you need to go out and execute it. We didn’t in my opinion execute the way we had been performing in the second half. I know that for sure offensively. We took a big sack that we didn’t need to take, and there were some things that occurred there in that overtime that we hadn’t been doing. So we’ve got to address it better. We need to stick to our plan of just keep playing football.

Q. What happened out there?
COACH SARKISIAN: I’m not real sure.

Q. Can you talk about the mood of the team after the two point conversion, and what did you tell them to get them ready for that last drive?
COACH SARKISIAN: Here we go. This is our opportunity. We’ve been here before. We’ve driven in tough situations before, in two minute situations. We obviously have a very big belief in our quarterback and we’ve got a nice receiving corps that we can count on to make plays. Obviously the big play to James Johnson was there, and I was proud of our guys because we missed the one to Kearse earlier that could have been a big play, and Jake came right back and hit James Johnson for the big one.

Q. (Inaudible.)
COACH SARKISIAN: He’s a nice player. I’ve known Manti now for some years in recruiting him. He’s a nice player. He’s a guy that is obviously a physical kid, and he’s got a bright future.

Washington Player Quotes

15 Jermaine Kearse – Sophomore – Wide Receiver

On answering Notre Dame’s fourth quarter touchdown …
“To get into overtime we fought our way back. A lot of people probably didn’t think we were going to drive down the field with that much time left. And we came back, but that makes it a tough loss.”

On the season’s trajectory …
“We’re going with the flow. We had two good wins but now back-to-back losses. We have to watch the film, get things corrected, and move on to the next game. It’s still like normal in the locker room. Coach Sark [Sarkisian] told us to use the 24-hour rule and move on to the next game.”

On the offensive series in overtime …
“We had several problems, but we didn’t execute the way we should have and that was the one big problem for us. The ball just slipped through my fingers and I took my head off the ball and I dropped the pass. It was like that.”

24 Joshua Gage – Senior – Linebacker

On the defensive erffort …
“Our whole philosophy is we bend, don’t break. No matter what happens we think ‘next play next play.’ Never let them [the opponent] get the edge.”

On Giving up a lot of yards…
“It’s frustrating because we were hoping to get a lot of three and outs, but they are a really good team. What it comes down to is bending but not breaking.”

17 Erik Folk – Sophomore – Placekicker

On the Notre Dame roughing the center penalty…
“I started off the fielding thinking we had another four downs to score a touchdown.”

On his mindset when kicking under pressure…
“You have to treat every kick the same even if it’s to tie the game or win the game. It doesn’t matter where it’s from you just go out there and kick. It’s the same routine, nothing changes.”

6 Desmond Trufant – Freshman – Cornerback

On making plays today…
“I did alright, I knew it was a big game coming in since we were at Notre Dame Stadium. You always want to perform well. I knew what my assignments were and it’s helping me to play better.”

On the fumble recovery…
“We were in the cover two and I saw the ball on the ground and scooped it and ran with it.”

Notre Dame Player Quotes

#23 Golden Tate – Jr., – WR

On the last catch that set up the winning touchdown…
Coach called a great play that we had success with all night and he called it while I was scrambling and I thought that the guy was going to try to tackle me with my knees so I figured leaping could be a touchdown, but it ended up not that way at all.

On his day overall…
I think I had a decent day, I think some of my routes were poor but overall I think I played decent. I think some other guys came up big and opened it up for me but you know we had a great game plan going into the game so I think we executed it fairly well.

On what was going through his mind watching the goal-line stand…
I was scared. I thought, ‘uh oh this is time going off the clock.’ It was a two score game if they would have scored. But the defense showed a lot of heart down on the goal line.

On how he would sum up the team…
We’re just clutch. We’re a clutch team. In the trenches we know what to do and we’ve been doing a good job of that, I think.

On how fun it’s been to play the last few weeks…
It’s fun, but these are some exciting football games. Today was fun because I knew that we were going back on the field with two minutes to go and we’ve been doing it so it’s almost like this is just our job to make plays when it’s late in the game. It’s scary when the defense is on the field because I can’t do anything but cheer them on and try to get the crowd loud. When you win it’s fun but when you lose it’s ‘we should’ve won that one.’

#28 Kyle McCarthy – Sr. – S

On the final goal-line stand…
I knew we still had a chance. Coach Tenuta always preaches that if you always give yourself a chance, good things can happen. So hats off to our defense, we came out big there.

On how he feels when he’s out there, even if the game looks lost…
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be in these situations, but I think we’ve learned a lot from the past couple years and last couple weeks and I think it’s going to help us in the long run. Obviously the last couple weeks these games could’ve gone either way and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we came out on top the last three weeks, so hats off to our team.

On how nervous he felt in the last couple minutes…
It’s football and in a game like that it’s a huge game, there’s 80,000 people and this is Notre Dame so you know there’s a whole bunch of fans living and dying with every pl ay. So it’s an honor to play in these types of games and I’m just really happy to get out of here with a W.

On the last play…
I was just basically reading Locker’s eyes, looked and saw the receiver and saw he was open so I just tried to get there as fast as I could. I haven’t seen the play, I don’t know where the ball was, but I was just going for the hit. And obviously something good happened.

#58 Brian Smith – Jr. – LB

On how the game worked out…
This team kind of feeds off of each other. Whenever one unit needs the other, they always come through. And the defense needed the offense, the offense needed the defense. It just shows the love we have for each other.

On if it’s getting any easier to play in close games…
As long as we win, I don’t care how we win. As long as we win.

On the goal-line stands…
Like I said, all we needed to do was make the play. And we made the plays we needed to. We were on the goal line, we had to put our foot down and make a play. And we did.

#89 Kapron Lewis-Moore – So. – DE

On today’s win over Washington …
It feels great. I know it was another close win, but as long as we get the win it feels great.

On being involved in more plays today …
I just go out there and give 100 percent, no matter what I do. I just try to give 100 percent.

On playing more inside …
When we play nickel, I go inside. So whenever they tell me to go inside, that’s what I do – just go inside and play.

On the goal-line stands …
We just kept our composure. We believed in each other and had each other’s backs every play.

On the momentum shift during a goal-line stand …
After every stop, we feel like we’re just gaining more and more momentum. By the time the fourth down came, we just felt like we could do it.

#56 Kerry Neal – Jr. – DE

On the goal-line stands …
We practiced goal-line stand all through camp, going against our guys. Our linemen are bigger than them (Washington), so we felt like we were ready for it.

On his sack at near the end of the game …
It was a call for me to just get up field and rush the passer. I don’t even know what happened to the lineman. When he tried to get me, I just beat him up field, then saw the quarterback and went after him.

On multiple goal-line stands …
I don’t think we’ve ever had that many in a row, but hard work pays off.

#9 Ethan Johnson – So. – DE

On the goal-line stands …
It was all heart, staying low and just wanting it more than them (Washington).

On the Irish confidence going into overtime …
We haven’t been in overtime before (this season), but we’ve been in that situation a lot more than most teams. The main thing is just stay calm and do your job and let the win come.

On his responsibility during goal-line stands …
The key is just go as low as possible while keeping your feet moving. It’s all about the first step and staying lower than the offensive line. Just make plays. It’s not that complicated.

On what winning three consecutive close games says about the Irish …
We’ve got guts. I feel like we could’ve won those games with a pretty good margin, but a win is a win.

#9 Kyle Rudolph – So. – TE

On winning three close games in a row at the end …
It’s a great feeling for the whole offense to be able to have the ball in our hands, three minutes on the clock, and it’s all up to us. Once again, it seems like it is exactly like last week, we came out of the huddle and everyone is like, ‘here we go’ and we knew what we had to do and just went down and did it. It’s a great feeling to come out on top. Now we are going into our bye week and just getting things rolling for the second half of the season.

On the wins being lucky …
I think luck has a little bit to do with it, but at the same time you have to create your own luck by going out there and everyone having confidence in themselves. Knowing how to win close games is huge for us.

On replacing Michael Floyd with the fade route …
I don’t know if I can replace Mike, but it’s an advantage being as tall as I am and I ran [the fade route] probably a hundred times in high school and it is something we practiced this week.

#33 Robert Hughes – Jr. – HB

On playing in the tough weather and field conditions …
Any conditions, it doesn’t matter to me; I’m a football player.

On the two point conversion … I was just driving. [The offensive line] picked me up after I scored and were yelling so I knew I was in. My main focus was just to get in the end zone; that was just my whole thought process. I knew when there was a pile there that I didn’t want them to stop the play because I still had my feet moving and those guys didn’t really have a hand on me.

On getting more playing time …
You just have to fight, go out there and play every play, that’s what I do. You know I just try to focus on that; every play that I get I try to make the best of it. I just work on staying consistent because in the past I have had great success.

#55 Eric Olsen – Sr. – C

On the closeness of the past several wins …
On the joking side, my heart is really struggling trying to get through these games. Being 310 pounds, it’s not fun or easy. But on a serious note, I think it speaks volumes for the maturity of this team and the ability to finish these games, whereas last year, obviously the [Pittsburgh] game went into a couple overtimes and we didn’t finish that game. Obviously, we don’t want to be in these close games but at the same time, our ability to finish these games and come out with a win definitely speaks volumes for our team.

On the offense and defense feeding off each other …
Obviously, the offense, defense, and special teams are three different entities in themselves, but anytime you have a defense out there making plays for your team it’s something that, as an offense, you know these guys have your back and you have to go get theirs. They’re doing their job and we have to go do our job, and obviously those eight or nine [defensive] plays on the goal line saved the game. That’s a tremendous effort for our defensive line, and that kind of thing is something that, as an offense, we definitely feed off and definitely get excited about. It helps us tremendously.

On Robert Hughes’ two point conversion run …
He just kept driving his legs, and it looked like he did a great job getting in there.