Sept. 19, 2009

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COACH Charlie Weis

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Weis.

Q. How does this feel, getting a win like this?
COACH WEIS: I tell you what, after last week, how badly everyone felt last week, in a very similar situation, ending of the game, you know, to make a play to change the outcome in favor of us, I’m really, really happy for those kids in there. It’s really nice to see how genuinely excited they are and I feel great for them.

Q. How important is it for you to win a game like this?
COACH WEIS: Well, I think it was just win a game, period. However you won it, just win a game. Michigan State is Michigan State. They never give up. They’re a hard nosed team. They’re going to play hard. They got down, didn’t phase them. They kept on playing. Came back, took the lead. We came back, took the lead, then they came back and took the lead, then we came back and took the lead. They’re driving at the end of the game with an opportunity to either tie or win. We made the big play at the end. That being said, you know, I’m just happy for our guys because one went our way.

Q. Do you know much about Floyd right now?
COACH WEIS: I think he’s got a broken clavicle. They told me clavicle. All they told me before I walked out is clavicle. I’m assuming that’s what it is. I haven’t talked to them yet. I saw him on the sideline. Didn’t even go over to him because I had too many other things to worry about at the time.

Q. I’m sure you don’t want to have to rely on your offense to bail you out every time, but if it’s going to come down to that, just how good is your quarterback?
COACH WEIS: Well, good enough where I let him sing the fight song today. The kid got banged up a little bit himself in the second quarter. He wasn’t full speed the rest of the way. He had a toe, I believe. Even though he was hobbling around, he’s really evolved from not just a good football player but a leader of the team. And you just watch it. He has that confidence in his own ability that he’s bringing some people along with him.

Games like this, if you need to score 33, that’s what you need to do.

Q. As a play caller, do you have to amp up your aggressiveness going into the game if it appears your defense isn’t going to be able to shut people down?
COACH WEIS: You have to be ready for it. I’m always ready for it. We started off the game in no huddle, spread ’em out. It was a very easy explanation for that. For four years I’ve been here, we started off slow against them every time, just playing normal football. Then we’ve rallied. When we have rallied, we’ve rallied spreading them out. So I just figured we’d take the opposite tack and spread ’em out early. You have to be ready in case that’s the way the game plays out.

Q. Were you watching the last stand by your defense?
COACH WEIS: I got to watch a lot more defense than I have the first couple games. But when that ball went through Ray’s hands, flipped off his hands, they got it for a first down, Oh, no, go from interception to quite possible field goal or touchdown. I did have an opportunity to watch that.

Q. Seemed like today when Floyd did go out, your other guys really stepped up. Can you talk about that.
COACH WEIS: Yeah, we had different modes planned for the game. We had different modes. When Michael is in there, he’s heavy involved in the schematics of play call. When he’s not in there, you have to kind of throw that stuff out. Not that you’re shunning the backups right there, but go more to the stuff that’s geared towards getting the ball in the hand of the other guys, letting Armando, making sure he got his touches. Here is another guy that came on and off the field, he ran great, I’m going to have to hear about him throwing for the next month now.

Q. The wildcat formation was effective. How long has Armando been campaigning for a pass, period?
COACH WEIS: He’s been throwing it in the dirt most of the times we practiced it. But today was in an exact situation where I wanted to call the play.

We’ve sprinkled it in the first few games. Going against Michigan State, who is a four cover team, you have to be concerned with them having double fours, which they have by nature. You end up playing minus one football, which means they got one more guy than you do when your running the ball. The wildcat allows you to even up because now the quarterback, somebody has to cover him when you go out there, because the guy with the ball in his hands now is the runner, you can play even up and have an opportunity to run the ball. That’s what the plan was.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WEIS: It’s a different team than I’ve had. In the past, what might have happened is when we went down in the second half, it might have been deflating, but not this team. This team just expects they’re going to come back and make a play and win. We drove some first. It wasn’t just a 70 yard touchdown pass. We drove some, go down there and score. A couple of possessions and Kyle makes the big play at the end of the game.

Q. After last week and the way the game unfolded, did you find yourself drifting back to last weekend?
COACH WEIS: No, I was actually getting ready to call time out. I still had time outs left. I was getting ready to use my time outs so I had a minute left on the clock. We had three time outs left. I was waiting for the time to go ahead and utilize them because I wanted to make sure we had enough time, if they did score, give us enough time to go down and score ourselves.

Q. The defensive penalties today…
COACH WEIS: I’ll just have to wait and see. I’ll just have to wait and see ’em. I really prefer not to comment on the penalties or the officiating at this time.

Q. 30 more points from Michigan State. Are you comfortable getting in these shootouts every week?
COACH WEIS: You prefer not to get into shootouts every week, to be honest with you. But I think one thing that’s important, what Michigan State did today, they’re running so many people on and off the field, if you watch them, it was a constant substitution pattern. A lot of times it was one for one. A tight end for a tight end, a receiver for a receiver. So they were causing some confusion just by the substitution pattern, not because we don’t know who their players are. Normally when you send a wide receiver on the field, it’s not just to exchange for a wide receiver. A lot of that happened in this game. They did a nice job of putting us in those situations and I think that that led to some of their production.

Q. Without having seen much of the defense, a lot of people suggest this be a more conventional offense to go against. When they get 449 yards, is that a matter of concern?
COACH WEIS: No, I’m sure it is. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that was an area of concern regardless of what we were going against, yes. It wasn’t just running the ball. The fact they threw it for over 300, you know, I think that we did a much better job on the day in the running game, okay. But they didn’t run it as much as they normally do because they figured, hey, Notre Dame is going to sell out and go try to stop the run, so we’re going to throw it a whole bunch. That’s a good strategy on their part. Them throwing for over 300, that’s definitely an area of concern and we have to continue working on the run game.

Q. Great first quarter, second quarter mistakes, quarterback hobbled. What was the message at halftime?
COACH WEIS: Score in the first possession and regain the momentum. The reason why you take a chance, as much confidence as I have in our offense, I like to take the ball every time we win the toss, okay. We started off the game, we won the toss, we deferred. We get ’em off the field. We go right down and score. So the first quarter started the way you’d like it. Really the message was very clearly we need to come and score in our first possession, which we did. By scoring in the first possession, we flipped the momentum back in our favor.

Q. The win streak was something you said you were going to talk to the guys about. You snapped it.
COACH WEIS: Yeah, I think that’s two streaks we’ve been talking about. We had that Bowl streak that they were getting drilled on that they got out of the way. They got this one out of the way. There’s a lot of football to be played. But I think there’s a bunch of happy campers in there today.

Q. You went a little deeper today in personnel, especially defensively. Was that a plan?
COACH WEIS: That was the plan that I felt from watching the tape after the Michigan game. Remember, it’s been well documented, I don’t get to see everything that happens on defense because of some of the adjustments I’m making on offense. One of the things I felt at the end of the Michigan game, our frontline players, some of them, weren’t getting any production. Could be for one of two reasons. They’re not playing very well or they’re spent. One of the plans today was to make sure, regardless where it was in the situation, we were rolling people through there.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports


COACH DANTONIO: Well, guys, that was a great football game, first of all. Went back and forth. Very proud of our football team coming back, continuing to play extremely hard. We came down here focused, a lot of energy. I don’t want any of our players to hang their head.

I continue to say this over and over. This is a game of inches here. Whether it’s a blocked extra point that later on all we have to do is kick a field goal with 30 seconds to go to win the football game from the 20 yard line or a missed interception they later go down and score, it’s thrown up for grabs, like in the backyard, or an interception in the end of the game where we get pressure over the middle, getting the on side kick and not doing anything with it, or getting the ball stripped out on the screen play for a fumble. We had plays. We left plays on the field. We can’t do that against a good football team. Can’t do that in an away game.

I was extremely proud of our football team. We go to Wisconsin next week. There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We can start the Big 10 play next week. We’ll be excited to do that.

The main thing I think we have to learn from this is, again, it takes everybody. Everybody’s accountable. But at the same time there’s no one person to point the finger at. It’s on all of us.

Again, I’m proud of our football team. Congratulations to Notre Dame. They played hard. I’m not taking anything away from anyone else. We’ll push it forward.

I’ll take questions.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH DANTONIO: I think he had eight catches for 121 yards. Played very well. Dropped the first one, then got back into rhythm. I thought Cousins played well with the exception of the last throw. Certainly played well. Keith Nichols came in in the second quarter, took us down for a touchdown, did some things very well as well.

Again, I think our quarterback play was very good. We can’t turn the ball over at the end of the game, obviously. No one feels worse than Kirk. But that’s the game, too. The game is played in a very tough situation sometimes, a lot of energy, a lot of pressure, a lot of things going on out there.

I thought our quarterbacks played well. I thought our young players played well. Capers played well. Did some nice things.

Q. Talk about how Notre Dame’s offensive dynamic changes with Floyd out.
COACH DANTONIO: I guess he went out. I’m not sure what his injury was. They kept us off balance throwing the football, empty sets. We were down 13 3. We bounced back. Floyd is obviously a very good football player. I thought that Armando Allen played very well. Quarterback played very well. Got some big plays from Golden Tate. You can see the experience on this football team. They have 10 starters back on offense and you can see that work. But I thought they protected the quarterback pretty well, as well.

Q. Can you talk about that last play. What did you see on the last play, the interception? Did you get any chance to talk to Kirk after the game?
COACH DANTONIO: Yeah, got pressure. Not sure where the pressure came from. Forced him out of the pocket. You try to make a play throwing late over the middle, it’s a little bit blind, you don’t really know when it’s happening. I think it was a second down play. Probably just needs to ditch the ball. Line up and kick the ball if we can. Go to overtime if that’s what we have to do. Again, I guess I want to point at the other things. Great play by Notre Dame blocking the extra point. Probably the play of the game when you really look at it. If everything else unfolds as is, we’re kicking a field goal to win it. We’re not getting down the field without Kirk Cousins. He did an outstanding job. No one feels worse than he does about this. He will rise again. He will rise up.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH DANTONIO: Two good quarterbacks. Both guys have a lot of experience. I thought both guys played pretty well against us, kept us off balance. That’s the thing that I felt that their offense did, sort of kept us off balance. Went to wildcat stuff. Allen did a pretty good job with it, hit the touchdown pass.

I thought Clausen threw the ball effectively. You know, could see that he was physically hurt a little bit. He kept playing, played through it, so he showed some toughness there. I thought he made some pretty good decisions. Other than the one deep route that should have been picked, he made good decisions. Ball was on the money, he played pretty well.

Q. Did you get a good look at the one where he overshot Caper?
COACH DANTONIO: The one that went through Rucker’s hands, yes, back of the end zone, you’re right. Not sure how close that one was because I was on the opposite sideline. You got to come up with the play. There’s no secret there. You got a lot of people in this room. You got a lot of media exposure. But you got to come up with the play.

Again, I go back to what I said to our football team. I’m extremely proud of our guys because we came to play after a tough loss last week and we came together to play. We had that energy and we have to have it next week, as well. It has to be a consistent thing.

Q. You haven’t got to see the film, but two weeks in a row the defensive backs have struggled. Is this something you can coach out of?
COACH DANTONIO: We’re playing them all. We’ve got to keep coaching them. A guy has to make a play on the deep ball. That’s what has to happen. We can’t blow a coverage. Did some things in the flat, just bubbles and things of that nature.

Tough to answer that question without seeing it on film. There will be a lot of talk, a lot of instruction. Again, it’s disappointing. Pressure, you got to get there, play coverage if you don’t. We had our opportunities. Defensively as well. Got to make plays. But, again, the energy level was there. The intent was there. The toughness was there. You got to make the play.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH DANTONIO: Got the lead, keep playing, finish, finish. I thought we came out second half ready to go. This is all a little bit of a blur to me. Did they go down and score? I’m not sure. I think they did. Yeah, they did very quickly. So must not have said anything good, okay?

But, you know, we responded. We came back. That’s how I evaluate our players. Can you bounce back? There’s going to be a winner, a loser in this game, but can you bounce back? Those are life lessons. We’re teaching life lessons here, too. Nobody wants to hear that when you lose a football game. But can you bring it back? Can you get your momentum back? Can you reestablish a lead? Can you drive it down the field the last two minutes of a game? Can you stop and get the ball back? Can you do the things that you have to do from a mental standpoint to be successful? And we’ll continue to work on that.

But we’ll continue to grow with these things, too. We have players in positions of leadership that are relatively young, such as quarterback. So there’s a growing. We have to grow as well, too. As I said before, I’m very proud of ’em. Thank you very much.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Notre Dame Player Quotes

#5 Armando Allen – Jr, – Running Back

On his third quarter touchdown pass to Robby Parris …
It was something we worked on all week. It felt a little different than normal running the ball or catching the ball, but I’ll do whatever I can to help the team. I was just looking at Robby if he gets free, and Jimmy [Clausen] too. Actually [Clausen] was open. They ran a weak corner blitz and he came wide open. We joked about that, but I had to go to my first read and it worked out great.

On his advantage running from the wildcat formation …
The wildcat allows us to spread people out. Also, instead of receiving the handoff, having the ball in your hands already allows you to get a quicker read than you normally do.

#23 Golden Tate – Jr., – WR

On how he felt with Floyd out…
I felt like I had to make a few more plays than I would have with Michael on the field, but I like the pressure.

On coming back after the loss last week …
We kind of just remember what it felt like last week, how bad we felt, and I think Kyle McCarthy came up and made a big play and stole the game.

On how he felt after the game…
Michigan State’s always going to be a good game no matter how great one team is, how bad one team is, or no matter what the scenario. They play hard and they play every play. I think coming off of the Michigan loss we had to make statement.

On his dropped pass…
I guess I’m just not focusing still. My hands were just really low and they should be up high. I honestly don’t remember the last time I dropped the ball before last week since high school.

On falling into Michigan State’s band…
The funny thing is I didn’t know there was chairs there. I figured they were going to catch me, but then I forgot that that was Michigan State, and I jumped up and they scattered really quick and it was the ground hitting me hard.

#58 Brian Smith – Jr. – LB
On what he was thinking during Michigan State’s last drive down the field…
Exactly what was going through my mind on Michigan’s last drive down the field last week. You know, we just had to find some way to make a play. Kyle came in big for us, as he’s done the past few weeks.

On how he feels about the defense at this point…
We’ve made it hard on our offense. We’ve forced our offense to score. We need to stop giving up so many points. But we’ll take it with a grain of salt right now and go into the film room to see what we did wrong.

On getting the victory…
I’m just glad we won. We just try to go out and do it every Saturday.

On how long he will celebrate this win before preparing for next week…
We’ll celebrate this one until tomorrow when we watch the tape and then it’s on to the next opponent.

On the difference between last week’s final drive and this week’s final drive…
We were in the same position we were in last week. We didn’t want to feel the same way after the game as we did last week. So Kyle made a great play for us and we got off the field. Thoughts of last week are gone period. The feelings of last week aren’t but the thoughts of last week are gone. We just need to get out there and get off the field at the end of the day.

On how he felt after the game…
Hey, we won. And who wouldn’t be fired up after a win?

#28 Kyle McCarthy – Sr. – S

On the game-saving interception…
It was a big play. I’m glad I could help the team out, but I couldn’t do it by myself. I know Darius Fleming got some pressure on him, made him throw it bad without reading me, and I just came up with a play.

On the post-interception celebration…
I was tired, I just wanted everyone to get off of me. I know I went and pointed at my parents, and then looked for my teammates and they were all just kind of tackling me. I was just happy to make a play.

On three interceptions in as many games…
I was just in the right spot at the right time I guess. Being a fifth-year guy, I have seen a whole bunch of offenses, and I recognize some things that have happened in the past, and I think it’s paying off for me.

On the resemblance between Michigan State’s final drive to Michigan’s last week …
It absolutely crossed our minds. It was freakishly similar, and the difference was coming up with a stop this time. There wasn’t a whole lot of talk (about last week); we were all aware of the situation we were in, and the leaders on the defense just said to step up, make a play this time, and luckily we did.

On the pass defense giving up over 400 yards…
I honestly haven’t seen the stats, but it’s definitely something we are aware of and that we will be out there Tuesday practicing and we’ll be in the film room tomorrow trying to correct it, because that is something as a defensive back we take pride in. Our guys have a lot of pride in the defensive secondary, so we will get to work.

On the play before the interception…
My heart about dropped when I saw [MSU RB Larry Capers]. That’s something we have to work on. I wasn’t on that side so I don’t exactly know what happened, but obviously there was a breakdown and we’ll get that fixed tomorrow.

On missed opportunities by MSU…
Coming off of last week, that [Michigan] game was probably the toughest loss I have ever experienced as a player. It was so disheartening, and it kind of shows the character [of the team] because Michigan State is a good football team. They could have easily come in here and just whooped us. So we put it behind us on Sunday and just kind of kept working. Last week was a fluke for [Michigan State]. They are a good football team, a physical football team, and this was a good win for us.

#95 Ian Williams – Jr. NT

On pressure on the defensive line to perform…
I felt that there was a lot of pressure on us, but I think we came out and we played our hearts out. We got the victory, and that’s what we wanted. It started in practice early this week. Coach Weis came out and said we need to play hard, play with intensity.

On the difference between last week and this week…
I personally think we are a great defense, but we aren’t going to let the same thing happen again.

On rotation of players making a difference…
I think it helped out a lot with conditioning and stamina, but we were fresh to go at the end of the game and it showed.

On being worn out after last week…
I’m not going to lie, yes I was, but you just have to push through. We are showing this week that we forgot about last week and we just want to try hard in practice and just get better.

On the offense having to score a lot of points to make up for the defense…
There are going to be mistakes no matter what, but we are going to do our best in practice and try to clean everything up so we can get ready for next week. It’s great to have an offense [that puts a lot of points on the board]. It’s hard to sit down and try to get rest. I’m a college football player; I want to watch.

Michigan State Player Quotes

#82 Keyshawn Martin, So., WR

On this week’s loss compared to Central Michigan…
“It was a little tougher than Central Michigan, because it was such a big game for us. We were ready for it, but at the end it just didn’t go our way.”

On the outlook for the rest of the season…
“We haven’t started the Big Ten so we’re good there. The two losses that we have could have both been wins. It’s tough but we have to get over it. It’s a new season next week. We still have a shot to win a Big Ten Championship.”

#9 Jeremy Ware, Sr., CB

On practice after a loss…
“Practice is always going to be the same. We just have to come out and correct the mistakes we made. We just have to come to work willing and ready to work.”

On the mood in the locker room…
“We were down because it was a close game and we lost right at the end.”

#59 D.J. Young, Jr., OT

On today’s loss…
“Notre Dame is a good team. We just fought and fought and fought. I’m still stunned. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you have to bounce back.”

On the rest of the season…
“We just have to bounce back. The coaches have confidence in the players. We can’t have breakdowns. We’ve got to move forward. We can call it a new season. Notre Dame is a big rivalry team, but we play them like their Big Ten.”

#2 Mark Dell, Jr., WR

On hiding the disappointment of loss…
“Any time you lose a close game it’s heartbreaking, but next week we have a strong Wisconsin team. It’s a tough loss, but at the same time you’ve got to keep on the path and make corrections.”

On the upside of today’s game…
“There were positives to take out of this. We moved the ball better than last week. We showed we can play with a lot of teams.”

On preparing for two quarterbacks…
“During the off season I did a lot of work with both of the quarterbacks. That way when one quarterback comes in, I’m ready for them. Today both of the quarterbacks came in and executed well.”

#25 Blair White – Sr. – WR

On the way the game ended …..
That’s not the way we wanted it to end. We’ll continue to go and practice hard everyday on the two minute drill. We’ll learn from it, but you can’t expect guys to be perfect all the time. We’ll come back next week and get ready for the Big 10.

On the last play ….
I’m not really sure, but I think Kirk (Cousins) got hit. It’s just an unfortunate way to end the game after we played so well.

#7 – Keith Nichol – Fr. – QB.

On the team’s morale after the game …
They’re disappointed. Guys are angry. They are going to be looking at the game for the next couple of days, but we’re going to have to move on and get ready for the Big Ten. We need to come out rolling and win those games.

On being a couple of plays away from a win …
Words can’t describe it. Sometimes things just don’t work out and that’s just part of college football. Unfortunately they haven’t so far. Sometimes we need to force those plays. The guys stepped up and played hard throughout and played through some adversity early. We brought the momentum back and put the ball in the endzone and guys kept playing hard.

# 66 John Stipele – Jr. – C

On late game situations….
That is what we practice for. We go through simulations that occur by a field goal or four points. We’ve done it in practice; we work all the time on this.

On the last drive …
During the entire last drive I was talking to the offensive line. We ran the ball and protected the quarterback. The outcome though wasn’t the way we wanted it. We just have to move on and get ready for next week.

#53 Greg Jones – Jr. – LB

On coming back from being down …>
We know how to come back when we’re down. It’s unfortunate we just didn’t finish.

On losing by a field goal …
It was very devastating, but I am really proud of my guys. Everybody just came together when we were down and nobody was pointing fingers.

#58 Trevor Anderson – Sr. – DE

On losing the last two games on the last drive …
We have to get better on our pass rush. We have to come back and just take it one game at a time. Like coach told us we could have won by one or lost like we did. We just have to regroup next week.

On the offense’s last drive …
It was third down I said we aren’t going to kick a field goal I thought we were going to score a touchdown. It was a heart breaking loss and we’re not going to blame anybody. It happens with a young quarterback. The offense looked great, but the defense, we just have to step up.