Nov. 12, 1996
Off The Practice Field…Coach Lou Holtz
JOHN HEISLER: This is John Heisler here at theUniversity of Notre Dame. A couple of reminders, kickoff thisweekend is at 1:30. Our regular Sunday morning wrap-up withCoach Holtz will be 10:30 on Sunday. Coach Holtz will make someopening remarks then take some questions.
COACH HOLTZ: What is real difficult, I visited with some youhave after practice. I look out and see people that haven’tseen me for a week.
First of all, we will practice in the stadium tomorrow -practice in the stadium tomorrow afternoon. Be a first for usto practice in there. Even though it is going to be cold, theyneed to make sure the lights are adjusted properly and we wouldlike to get used to the lights a little bit. I guess, we are alittle bit different – I don’t know what could be differentabout it. We will go even though it is going to be coldtomorrow, we are going to go outside and go under the lights.
Injury-wise, talked to A’Jani Sanders yesterday. The funeral istomorrow. He might possibly be back here by Thursday. If hedoes, he would be available to play during the course of thegame.
We have some people really play well last week. Of course,everybody knows, Alton Maiden, Renaldo Wynn, Melvin Dansbyplayed his best game in several weeks. Kory Minor, Deke Cooper.Deke Cooper had an interception and a fumble recovery and sixtackles. We did have too many mis-tackles in the secondary butoverall, offensively, Mike Doughty is playing exceptionallywell. We had many of our backs played awfully, awfully well, all of them.
But we had 31 special team opportunities during the game lastweek. In other words, like one out of every five plays in thegame is some form of a kick. And as long as I have beencoaching, the first time I had an individual play in all 31plays in the special teams, without a minus. He played everyplay and every play was a plus, that was Kevin Carretta.
Our special teams were really playing well. But to play 31plays in special teams without a minus; plus he played 22 playsas a tight end. He and Peter Chryplewicz are really playingawfully well at tight end, but when we looked at the film, weplayed well.
The fumbles, the penalties and the mis-tackles on the secondarywere the three things. We made some mistakes, but,overall, we played very, very well. I feel very comfortablewith the runnin of the football team is in at the present time 73.They come to practice Monday and come today realizing it is aworkday. Doesn’t seem like we started the season over. Itdoesn’t seem like it is a long year, but I do dislike theweather that we will have to practice in right now. But justsort of falling into a rhythm.
Let me say a few things about the University of Pittsburgh.
I think Pittsburgh is probably as improved a football team as Ihave seen. I think Johnny Majors has done a tremendous job withhis team since he played Ohio State.
They have changed offensively. They have changed defensivelyafter they lost to Syracuse. They lost to Syracuse. They had anopen date. Their last two games they played Virginia Tech atVirginia Tech and they were ahead of Virginia Tech 17-13 in thefourth quarter and then, of course, they beat Boston College.
They changed their offense and defense. They have had 16 daysto prepare for the University of Notre Dame. I have never had ateam have that long to prepare for us unless it was an openingballgame. But, I am more concerned about our team and how wellwe play and what we do in the football game.
The guard situation will probably be Akers, Jeremy Akers and TimRidder. The defense has asked for Brett Williams back. We aregoing to look at him in a backup role at the present time indefense. I feel his best position is on defense. But, he didan awfully good job over there on offensive guard. I thinkthat, you know, that is where his future is on defense. That iswhere I think he can be an excellent player.
Jason Ching – we recruited two defensive linemen last year thatwere outstanding according to all the reports. One was BradWilliams. And, the other one was Jason Ching.
Jason Ching has a back problem at the present time. I believehe is going to have surgery. It is a serious back injury. Itcould very possibly jeopardize his future. And, that is sad forall of us because you get a young man with his talent, hisabilities, but we are just going to wait and see andsay a prayer.
The reports on Scott Cengia are very, very positive. There is adifference of opinions with the doctors down there. We willkeep you updated as we find more information, but talking toScotty he is very upbeat and very, very positive.
Pittsburgh always plays us very difficult. I think Pittsburghbeat us down there in 1987. They beat us up here in 1986. Iremember both games very, very vividly. We barely got by themin 1988. As you will recall, their quarterback was going in fora touchdown and fumbled just before the half. And six Pitt guyshad a chance to recover it and our Blessed Lady kept pushing ituntil Stan Smagala fell on it. We fought for our lives there. But, it will be interesting. I look forward to seeing ourfootball team play.
I wish I knew a little bit more what Pitt was going to do withthe big open date. But, a young man by the name of Billy Westis from Buckeye Local High School, I think it is. He is having atremendous year and their tailback, Dwayne Schulters, is playingawfully well.
Since they changed quarterbacks and went to Matt Lytle, theiroffense has really had a good spark. He is a good scrambler. He runs the ball well; runs a lot of play action passin. He isa big young man, 6 foot 4. Throws the ball, strong arm. He isreally a good leader. I mean, their football team has justgotten better and better since they have gone with him. And,his screening ability bothers me.
Their offensive line is very well coached. They are a youngfootball team in some respects. They have good speed at widereceiver. Defensively they are a little bit undersized at thelinebacker position. They play hard. They have two excellentcorners. The one young man, Brown will be back for our game. He has missed the last couple.
But, their other corner Rasshad Whitmill made two of the mostincredible interceptions you have seen against Boston College.
We played Boston College in man-coverage much of the game anddid a very, very good job on it.
Their punter, they think, is the best in the country. He isaveraging about 45 yards a punt with tremendous height andtremendous hanging time. So their kicking game is good. Theyare averaging 24 yards a kickoff return which is one of the bestin the country. So, you know, we know that we are going to haveto play well. Everybody says, well, you are a prohibitivefavorite. That means nothing. I am going to tell you: This isnot the same Pitt team you saw earlier in the year. I told youthat Boston College would play against us and the way they’dplay and throw and catch the ball and they did.
I am going to tell you, you are going to see the same thingagainst Pitt. Pitt is a team that beat Boston College and couldhave very easily beat Virginia Tech.
Tennessee was a big favorite over Memphis. Michigan was a bigfavorite over Purdue. Vanderbilt lost by 7 to Florida and had atouchdown call back and missed a short field goal. So it’s acrazy game. When we are turning the football over and havingpenalties and worrying about having some missed assignments, weapproach every game the same way and that is with a tremendousfocus on the game. That is all our focus is on.
Now, what questions can I answer for you?
Q. Barring anymore injuries, such as Edwards, do you feelreasonably good about the team’s posture going into these threegames running toward the Bowl, the hopeful Bowl?
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah, I really do. We are hopeful to be able tomake the last Bowl. But, I feel comfortable. The loss ofEdwards and Cikai Champion has been a big hamper. The receivers- we haven’t thrown the ball the last two weeks and what littledegree of success we had, we haven’t been able to get the ballto the wide receivers on a consistent basis.
But, I think offensively, we are falling into a rhythm. Wewelcomed back Mike Rosenthal, obviously. He could possibly beback as early as Rutgers. But, Doughty and Clevinger andChryplewicz are really playing well.
Our backs are playing well. Other than the fumbles and thepenalties, and our inability to throw the ball on a consistentbasis against man-coverage, defensively, I think we are gettingbetter in the secondary. But, we still don’t — you know, westill have some problems there, although, Allen Rossum isplaying well. Covington is playing well. Cooper is makingplays. Benny Guilbeaux is playing hard. It would be nice toget A’Jani Sanders back and get him some practice time. And our front 7 is playing well. Yeah, I think ourplayers are not a great football team, but, I think we arefalling into a rhythm which, obviously, you heard me before,Jack, several weeks ago I commented we weren’t into a rhythm. Itwas distressing. We seem to be in one now.
Q. You expressed some concern about the fact that Pitt has had16 days to prepare for this. Can you just talk a little bitabout those times when you have had that kind of time to preparefor somebody, and what kind of advantage that gives you?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, it gives you tremendous advantage. Let ustalk, No. 1, that you can dictate what kind of physicalcondition your football team is going to be in. You give them acouple of days off or a day or two off; then you practice themphysically for a while and get the game plan. Then you perfectit. Then you back off so that they are really anxious to hit. I mean, you have 16 days. You can really do that.
The second thing you can do; spend a lot of time with specialteams. You get a lot of time with special teams.
Three, you get a lot of film study time. They get to watch uson film. Their coaches study us longer; decide exactly whatthey want to do. Their players get to see us longer. You justhave longer to put something in; just like playing in a Bowlgame. You play in Bowl Game, you may see something completelydifferent.
But, also what I have found is great when you have a lot of timein between a game, you can sit down and visit with the playersindividually. You can visit with them. You can talk to them. You can listen to them. You can go back to fundamentals. It isjust — there is a lot of things you can do. And, I say this,one thing we take pride in, we have come out of almost everyopen date a better football team than what we were. I don’tthink I can ever recall an open date that we didn’t do that. But, gee, you ought to be able to do that.
Q. I realize this is an issue that has been going on for awhile, but this is Pitt’s fourth game on grass. Last year theyonly had one. I am curious as to what your stance is on theturf versus grass?
COACH HOLTZ: I think it is easier to go from turf to grass thanit is from grass to turf. The games play quicker. People makebetter cuts. A team that goes from grass to astroturf normallywill not tackle as well as they do when they are on grassbecause the backs make cuts you just can’t believe that you canmake that on regular grass. I think it is easier to go fromastroturf to grass. That is why most teams that play onastroturf, when they play on grass will not practice on grassvery, very much because the adjustment is very, very easy. Whereas, teams used to playing on grass make a tremendousadjustment going to astroturf, so, I don’t think it will affectthem at all.
Q. What is the situation at the receiver spots with Cikai out,what kind of rotation are you looking at and what is the statusof Raki Nelson and Shannon Stephens?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, good question. I really can’t tell you whatrotation.
Cikai Champion really played well this year. He has been areal pleasant surprise – played well without the football.
Raki Nelson did not make the trip; nor did Shannon Stephens. Ivisited with both of them yesterday. I think Raki is going tohave excellent week. I think he is going to step up to theforefront. I am hopeful Shannon Stephens will do exactly thesame thing. If they step up, our split end would be MalcolmJohnson and Raki Nelson. That would be 1, 2.
And, the flanker would be Emmett Mosley and either Brown orStephens. But, depends what happens in practice. Raki had avery good practice yesterday.
Q. How would you assess Malcolm Johnson’s progress as a guythat didn’t play at all, a freshman, and barely played lastyear, how has he progressed from August to now?
COACH HOLTZ: I think Urban Meyer has done a tremendous job withour receivers in general. A lot of things that our receivers dodon’t show up in the stats. You don’t see them. But theirblocking downfield has been excellent. That is one of thereasons we have been able to break some big plays. I thinkMalcolm’s best football– what is Malcolm, 17 or 18? Malcolmwas a 16-year old when he came here, I think it was. He isvery, very young, but he has got a lot of talent. I think he isgetting quicker. I think he is going to be an excellentreceiver next year. He is getting better in receiving the ball. And, what I want to see him do is get comfortable catching theball and run with it. He is averaging about 1.21 after thecatch. And, a guy that big, I think, is going to become a bigplayer. He just has to mature. Right now he is so consciousabout catching the football and he doesn’t have a lot ofexperience there prior to this year; I think he has done awonderful job. But, I definitely think that he is only 50% ofthe receiver he is going to be next year.
Q. Last thing on Raki and Shannon, did either one or both ofthem indicate dissatisfaction with being here and indicate thatthey were looking elsewhere?
COACH HOLTZ: No. No, not at all. Not at all. They may be. But none whatsoever. None whatsoever. And I tell you, we madea decision and I felt it was the right decision.
Q. Realizing Boston College is behind you, one of the thingsthat came out of that week was this knowledge of how pervasivegambling is on campuses all over the country. And my questionis, because of that, have you thought about re-examining how youmonitor your own players as to how they may or may not beexposed to this sort of thing here at Notre Dame?
COACH HOLTZ: I think that is an excellent question and I wish Icould give you an intelligent answer, but I can’t. But I wantto say this: Gambling is part of our society. I mean, you getbehind a wheel, you gamble. You gamble every time you drive onthe snow here to a certain extent.
But, you know, we talk about what the odds are, all the time. You pick up USA TODAY and there is what the odds are. Ithink that you turn on TV and you get all these – “call thisnumber, be a guaranteed winner,” you know. I see you on thatstation – not on that show – but I see you on that station. Youknow, it is all around you. I never think twice about itbecause I don’t gamble. And none of our family gambles that Iknow of. So, it has never really been the top priority in mymind. But when it, happens somewhere else, you say, well, thatis something we have to address. Obviously if it happenedthere, it could happen here. And, we have addressed it.
What is hard for me is they get up and they go to class all day.From the minute class is over they run over there and get tapedand go to a meeting. And, they go to practice; get done frompractice, they run to eat. And they run to Study Hall. And,then if they can find sometime to sleep, so I just never thoughtthat you had much time here. Plus, we have a special situationbecause our athletes are located in all the dorms. The dorm’srectors, that is their life. I think that is what makes Notre Dame special – all the rectors there because I lived in adorm while I was in college for part of the time and the wholethink was don’t bother me and I won’t bother you, I am here toget a Masters Degree. And, just don’t blow up the building andI won’t say anything and so — I am serious. This is theattitude it was. Whereas here, there isn’t much that can go onin the dorm without the students and without the dorm rectorknowing. And, I probably rely on the University of Notre Dameand the dorm rectors are probably more aware of what is goingon. And, I have never heard anything along that line. And onething about Notre Dame: It is hard to keep a secret at NotreDame.
So, that is all I can tell you, is we do address it. But, Ithink we have some built-in reflectors that other schools maynot have. Now, does that mean that we have no problems? No, Ican’t sit here and say I promise you, we have no problems. Ican sit here and say I firmly believe in my heart we don’t. Ican’t guarantee it.
Q. How much more do you worry about keepin team’s concentrationlevel near the end of the week before a home game rather thanwhen you travel together?
COACH HOLTZ: Oh, boy, oh, boy, I will tell you what, as soon asI get done here, we are going to pass out pencils and papers; Iwill take all suggestions everybody wishes to give us on playingat home.
We have a much easier time playing on the road than we do athome. We play pretty well on the road. At home, it isdifficult. We have looked at everything.
Now, why is it different? One, we don’t spend much timetogether during the week, period. We just don’t. We get on theairplane and they are laughing and joking. You are together inthe hotel; you are grinning with one another. You have meetingsand whatever lounge time, they are there.
We don’t have that on the weekend. One, there isn’t an awfullot of time. You have so many people coming in; people fromtheir home and everything else to occupy them. So you have ameeting and then you come back and you have the pep rally. And,the pep rally is great. But when we are on the road we leaveafter classes. Like we left for BC, the buses left 2:45, theplane left 3:30. We got at BC at about 5:30. Got to the motelat 6. Ate at 6:15. Had a kicking game meeting. Had a longposition meeting. Had a long offensive, defensive meeting. Hada long team meeting. Went to bed.
With the pep rally, because we have to go down to Plymouth, wedon’t have long meetings. We have meetings on Friday afternoonat 3:15. We usually have a kicking game meeting, but this week,I think, Mr. Tagliabue is going to be on campus and we haveasked him to speak to our team. I don’t know whether he isgoing to agree or consent. But, I think it will be nice to havehim talk to our team.
But, then we have a kicking game meeting, you have a offensive,defensive meeting. Then they eat. Then you got the pep rally. And, my meeting can’t be real long because of the long busride. Then you get up Saturday and you come up here and you eatup here and then you get on their coat and tied and you go tochurch. Then did you to the stadium. And, that is our schedule.I have looked at it. It is hard. But, would I change theluncheon? No. I love the hamburgers. Would I change the peprally? Absolutely not. Do I think we need to get away fromcampus? Absolutely. We don’t go to a movie and do — we don’thave time. Time is a problem at home and I don’t know, but Ican assure you, we are looking at it and if anybody has anysuggestions, instead of all the alumni saying put in thispattern and pass rush, show me a schedule for a weekend at home.
I will tell you right now. The stadium expansion is comingalong great. I have asked the University of Notre Dame to lookat doming it. I think if we put a dome on it, it is applicableand needed. We need a dome stadium.
Q. Going along with the schedule at home, you talked earlier inthe season about November being the toughest month because ofthe five straight games. This will be the middle one. How doyou keep the team focused through that and especiallyinjury-wise, how do you deal with this long month and how areyou doing with that?
COACH HOLTZ: Injury-wise really starts cropping up on you. And, we knew that coming in that when we came out here the opendate and going to Navy and then coming back and the jet lag andgoing to BC and now, you know, cold weather, etcetera, we havemade our plans. For example, I told the players last week wewill only be in full gear today. Today will be a good physicalpractice. Whereas, Tuesday and Wednesday have always beenphysical practices. Tomorrow we will be in head gears andshoulder pads. I know that the players will be excited; thenthey will ask to wear pants because we are going outside. But,we are trying to cut it back. We are trying to cut back on ourwork time; on what we do. We are trying to cut back on thethings we change, add. And, just trying to keep simplifying fromthis point forward. We have the nucleus of our offense and justtrying to keep it simplified.
Q. You said that you are hopeful to make an Alliance Bowl. Mike Doughty was in here earlier and said that at the(inaudible) yesterday a coach basically told the linemen, it isup to you guys to decide if you want to play in a January 1st bowlgame. Have you addressed at all the situation with the bowlswith your players and if you continue to win these next three,would you start talking post-season on what they may have anopportunity to maybe do?
COACH HOLTZ: I always try to praise the situation with them. Ido try to cover it. I explained to them if we did win and itwas possible to go to a January 1st bowl, if we went to a January 1stbowl, we would play a very, very good opponent. We couldpossibly, the maximum we can do, is playing in two and — butthat is the very best.
Now, what is important now, is Pittsburgh. What is the best waythat you can do it – is to stay focused on what you have at thepresent time. But, I always talk to our football team, not ingreat depth or detail, about polls or Bowls or anything else,but about winning and going from there and they understand –remember, last year you all do a good job of it. You talkedabout the 8 million dollar game last year, I think. I hope weget to the point where you write about it again this year. Butthey understand. Contrary to what you might think Notre Dame isa good academic school. Everybody that comes here come haspretty good intelligence far greater than I have and I mentionedit on Friday night briefly. Just — I don’t mean to have youstand up there, but, just one second, my whole preparation withthe team focuses on two things.
If anybody said, “what do you say to them Friday night; what doyou say to them during the game?” One, I say to them is “why isthis game important.” The second thing I say to them then “howdo we win it.” Here is why this game is important; here is whatwe have to do to win it and everything falls into those twocategories.
Q. Kind of expand on what was just talked about with thecurrent Bowl Alliance with only two at large slots open, it is conceivable that Notre Dame could win out; go 9 and 2 and beaced out of all the bowls whatsoever. Is there a need for theUniversity to kind of re-examine that and maybe had a fall-backposition in the future?
COACH HOLTZ: I really don’t know. If we go 9 and 2 and don’tend up in a bowl game then there is nothing I can do. Thatwould not be the biggest disappointment in life because we havehad some other votes that we felt were a little bit unfair andwe survived those. I don’t recall what they are exactly, but, Iam sure there were.
I think that, you know, the different conferences set up theirown deals with the different bowls and I don’t even know how itworks. The Outback Bowl has the fourth team from thisconference and the second from this and this conference; thisbowl tie one this conference — I really don’t know. You wouldhave to ask somebody far more aware of it. Only thing I want todo is I want to be 7 and 2. Come Saturday night when I go homeand sit down, just before I do the dishes and scrub the floor Iwant to be able to look in the mirror and say “we are 7 and 2.”
Q. There has been a number of firings and resignations in themidwest, and you can throw Kentucky into that. Do you see thisas a disturbing trend especially since most of them are atschools that traditionally have been middle of the pack orbottom of the pack and have had trouble no matter who the head coach is; what is your perspective on the whole thing?
COACH HOLTZ: I don’t think there is any job that is a dead end. I don’t believe there is any job that is a dead end. I believethat in the bottom tomorrow of my heart. I think when BillMallory first went to Indiana, they did a nice job there. LeeCorso had some very competitive football teams. I think — letme ask Mr. Historian, what was Ara’s record against Purdue whenhe was here?
What I am saying is it wasn’t because they didn’t have greatfootball teams or have the team well prepared, but in ’68 I wasat Ohio State. We played Purdue. I mean, they had Ohio State35-nothing at halftime the year before in ’67 and in ’68 weplayed them when they were No. 1 in the country. So, Purdue hadsome outstanding teams.
Now, Minnesota at one time had some outstanding teams. Illinois.I have always felt Illinois does an excellent job. I reallydo. I think they are good athletes.
I think Indiana does a good job. You are close to Ohio. Youhave athletes in Indiana. You can recruit Chicago. I think thesame thing with Purdue. Purdue can recruit Ohio. Purdue had alot of good Ohio football players. Two of the best quarterbackswere Len Dawson and Bernie Allen (phonetic).
I played with Bernie and they had Barnett, the great tailback. I want to tell you, my last game in high school, I was themiddle linebacker assigned to Barnett. He was a Junior, 1953,season of 1953, everywhere he went, I was to go. He scored 5touchdowns. (LAUGHTER).
This year he got 6. I did a heck of a job on him.But they have had good athletes from Purdue. They had them fromFlorida. I feel Illinois could do an excellent job. So there is– people make choices or make decisions. Last year thereweren’t any. Weren’t hardly any vacancies open, so, you know,coaches come and coaches go.
Q. Curiosity question on this subject. Are you surprised tosee some of these coaches resigning? It used to be when therewas a coaching change, it was a firing. We are seeing so manyare resigning before the end of season now. Does that surpriseyou, Lou?
COACH HOLTZ: I think that the way coaching is today it is alittle bit different in this respect: As soon as the last gameis over, you got recruiting. And, so, recruiting makes it very,very difficult and puts a premium on it. And, then you have theacademics, the finals. You are getting ready for winterprogram; getting your staff together. So, I think the peoplethat resign earlier are the ones that are looking at the bestinterest of the university.
Q. Off the subject. Actually this is in response to a letterthat we got. But, you have gotten away from the full housebackfield completely. You used to like that. You favor thatonce you got in the red zone. Is that because that is not Ron’sforte or are there other reasons behind getting away from itcompletely?
COACH HOLTZ: No, I think that is not Ron’s strong point on thatin the wishbone. I think we had some quarterbacks, you know,that did a nice job with the — Paul Fallon did a nice job withit. Tony Rice, obviously, did. Rick Mirer did a pretty good jobwith it. And, that is the reason we got away from it. Plus itwas — you needed about five plays and you need to rep them andyou had the full house backfield and I have always felt that isthe best goal line offense in the world but you need to rep itand you need the quarterback to be the trigger man on it.Whereas, I think — you know, our red zone offense has beenpretty good this year. But, we are in the straight T, it wasunbelievable. Where I miss a straight T is short yardage. Thathas been the most disappointing thing as what we have done onshort yardage. We have been stopped more on third and 2 thanany time that I could possibly remember.
Q. And next year Jarious Jackson quarterback, that would besomething that you will reinsert —
COACH HOLTZ: I think that is something you look at, absolutely.You need the fullback No. 1. You need the quarterback also. Marc Edwards is a pretty good fullback and Jamie Spencer andJoey Goodspeed is going to be an excellent fullback. He has gotsome quickness. And Jarious Jackson. And, what people do notrealize is our freshman quarterback Eric Shappel – he is 4.5. He had been timed just under 4.5, he doesn’t look quick, but hecan run. So, we will look at that as a possibility of goingback to it.
I also would not rule out the possibility of Ron Powlus comingback. And I certainly would welcome him back. But, I think thatI like it. I like the straight T down on the goal line.
See, goal line offense is attitude. It’s attitude. You get in astraight T, you are not fooling anybody. Here we are. Here wecome. Just your attitude and the way you got to coach it andwhere you put — where you — well, we got this guy to go lowand run a fade….. And, I will never forget — I forget –might have been my first year here. But, we are in a scrimmageand we were pounded. One of the offensive lineman said, “can’twe throw it? Can’t we get one easy?” You know, I lost my mind.Now, our offensive linemen, they don’t want to throw. Theywant to go run the ball. And, we have that mentality now whatwe didn’t have for a while. We got that mentality now wherethey sort of like running it.
Q. What does Jarious run 40 in?
COACH HOLTZ: I imagine Jarious would be 4.55. — just under4.6. He has got very, very good speed. Excellent quickness;has surprising strength. So, both those quarterbacks are sub4.6 and Eric may even be sub 4.5, although, Jarious is probablya little quicker than Eric. But, they are both excellent,excellent quarterbacks.
Q. You just brought up the subject of Ron. Has he given youany indication that he is thinking more seriously about comingback?
COACH HOLTZ: No. And I haven’t talk to him about it. Somebodysaid he is thinking about it. I will talk to him at the righttime. What is important for Ron Powlus is what is in his bestinterest. I don’t think he can make that decision now. I thinkhe can only make that decision when you have all the facts andeverything else. That is something that he will have to lookand way and evaluate at that time. I wouldn’t even considertalking to him at the present time. Wouldn’t even consider it.
Q. Going back to the coaching thing, in the last couple ofweeks you, yourself, have used the retirement word a couple oftimes. Is that supposed to be a hint or anything like that?
COACH HOLTZ: I want to tell you, there have been rumors aboutme forever. I just want to win the last three football gamesand I tell you, I still have a strong desire to coach and havemore enthusiasm than I ever had and really looking forward tothe future.
Q. You mentioned several times about the pre-game meetings.Could you briefly take us through what happens there? Youmentioned the kicking pre-game meeting. Other than the obvious,who is there, what do you discuss?
COACH HOLTZ: You talk about when you meet with the team, youmean?
COACH HOLTZ: With the kicking team?
COACH HOLTZ: What we do is usually we have kicking gamemeetings during two-a-days and during the season, etcetera, but,basically what we do is we talk about each phase of it. We takeour punt team. We talk about what our goals are; what ourobjectives are; what they do. We will look at a short bit offilm on the opposition.
We then take the same thing with the punt return, what our goalsand objectives. On our punt return, there are six basicfundamental principles.
No. 1: You hold up and you hold up with your hips. You got to keep your hips squared. No. 2: You (inaudible) release away.No. 3: You keep separation and distance at a minimum.No. 4: You do not touch him until he breaks down in the football position.No. 5: You hit the play side number.No. 6: You never lose them back cross your tail. That is basic.
Everybody does the same thing. We will talk about that. Wereinforce it. We show it on film and then we talk about and thatwill work if the guy fields the ball. If he doesn’t field theball, then let him know and you are wasting your time. But wewill talk about our goals, objectives; look at film, etcetera. Then I will talk to them in general about the importance of thekicking game and challenge them. I think we have done very wellin the kicking game in the last three weeks. I think we havehad enthusiasm there. We have played well there.
Pitt has the best punter in the country. That is what HunterSmith says – not really, but I’d say to Hunter, geez, this guyis all-America, unbelievable. He is averaging 43,9. HunterSmith, oh, 43,8, you know, it is interesting. Same thing with– you jab them a little bit. You know, whatever, you try tohave some fun with them. But, then on Sunday we look at thefilm and I give them the grades. This person played 26 plays onspecial teams, got 23 pluses, three minuses. This person played7, got three pluses, three minuses. Would you please stand upso the teammates can see you. Because they aren’t going to seeyou on the kicking game again and I just want them to have agood picture of what you look like. Nothing real strong.(AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)
Q. If Ron were to come back, is he your starter or does Jarious get a shot at competing to the job?
COACH HOLTZ: I think you have to give Jarious a chance, but Ronis an excellent quarterback. I keep waiting to put Jarious inand what we have said is if an individual fouls up and has aturnover, that is his fault, or a penalty, then they are goingto be replaced for how long, I don’t know. If somebody has apenalty they are coming out of the game unless it is me.
I know I defy sometimes, I will say to the official, give me a15-yard penalty and they won’t do it. That tells me something. Next time I may get one, now that I said it. But if somebodyhas a penalty, they are coming out of the game; if somebody hasa turnover. Ron Powlus had two turnovers Saturday. Firstpenalty was an out and up; it was intercepted by the safety man.
That is not Ron Powlus’ fault and I say it this way: Because heis not supposed to read the free safety. I am supposed to readthe free safety and not call it if there is a chance, you followme?
Now, if the corner intercepted it then that is different. Hisjob is to make sure the corner doesn’t intercept it. When hefumbles the football, he felt his arm was coming forward, but heset up. He focused on the read. He was getting ready to throwit and he gets hit from the blind side. I don’t consider thathis fault. Now, if he is running with the ball here and getshit and tackled or something like that, then we will see otherpeople – you will see other people during the course of thefootball game.
Q. Have you considered a leash or anything for Robert Farmer soyou can find him?
COACH HOLTZ: Robert Farmer, you mean on the sideline?
COACH HOLTZ: That sucker is impossible. I didn’t even know hemade the trip ’til about the second — “where is Robert Farmer;anybody seen Farmer?”
“He is getting a hot dog.” It is incredible. I can’t find himand Kinder, but they need to get the ball more. Farmer isunbelievable. Where are the stats? I wanted to look this upmyself. What is the average that —
JOHN HEISLER: Farmer carried 172 yards in the last — 10.
COACH HOLTZ: He is averaging 10 yards. Got 34 carries, 349yards. That is rather impressive. What are we doing giving theball to Jarious Jackson at 1.4.
Farmer does need to get the ball more because you consider thisyear and you consider — add the Orange Bowl to it, add hisOrange Bowl stats, 9 carries, 90 something yards on it.
Q. So does he go in second series?
COACH HOLTZ: We are going to get a little bit more fairdistribution on the tailback. What we have done and I tell youwhat, (inaudible) We are going to be a little bit betterorganized on it.
I thought what we did at the end of the game of the lastquarter, you carry the ball one or two times and the next guygoes in carries it one or two. But, they are also playing wellwithout the ball.
Robert Farmer’s attitude is unbelievable. We now have to puthim on our punt return team. He is excited about it. We aregoing to put Jarious Jackson on the punt return team also.
Q. What about Randy Kinder? He has started a couple of timesand then come out and Denson has handled it. Has it beenmistakes on his part or —
COACH HOLTZ: No, it is a case where Autry Denson is going torun out on the field unless you got a leash on him. Talk aboutleash on Robert Farmer – and Autry, I tell what you what, thelast two weeks Autry has played well with the ball and withoutthe well. But so has Kinder and Farmer. They are playing wellwithout the football. They are doing things that you don’tnotice. But, I notice that when I stand up here and say this isprobably the best set of backs we have had as a group, I amsaying that not because of what you see with them with theball. I am talking about the way they are blocking; the waythey are picking up blitzes; the way they are doing things -other than protecting the football, which is not real minor, Imight add, but other than that, they are doing very well.
Q. I guess it is always assumed that the head coach makes everydecision. But, do you decide which tailback is in the game allthe time; part of the time?
COACH HOLTZ: No. This is one thing that, you know, it is likeall substitutions used to go through me. Now you got a receiverrunning a go-route and he is tired, so this guy goes in hisplace. And that is not necessarily real good because sometimesyou end up with the wrong combination of what you want to do.
As a coach, you try to look at the assets an individual has andtry to utilize those assets during the game and not ask him todo something they are not capable of doing. But, we are going tohave a little bit better control over it in the future than whatwe have had.
Q. How is your ham strings after that sprint?
COACH HOLTZ: Oh, down to the corner of the end zone. I don’tthink I did the 40 in about two days? You think 4,8. I wentdown there, but because I just wanted to go.
Q. You didn’t go to Chryplewicz at Boston College. You ran therocket screen a couple of times; appeared to be open and wellset up. Dan O’Leary, are we going to get a chance to see him? As the season progresses, if you do get a chance againstPittsburgh and Rutgers. And obviously, we don’t take anythingfor granted. But if you had a chance for some minutes forsomebody else to get in there, would it be a time maybe to givea freshman a minute or two of playing time seeing that you got alot of games in a short period of time?
COACH HOLTZ: Is there a lawyer in the house? I have got asplinter. And, if you look at this table there is no wonder Ido. That has cause me mental anguish.
Q. Just be careful of the soup, it may be hot.
COACH HOLTZ: I think that — I really don’t want to play DanO’Leary. But, if he could help us win, I certainly would. But,I would not want to play him in a makeup role.
He and Gandy. Gandy didn’t make the trip to BC. He had someacademic requirements he felt he — they are going to be twofine tight ends. You take those two along with Cerasani, I thinkif we lose Chryplewicz and Carretta but I think O’Leary andGandy are going to be fine, fine tight ends. And not looking fora fifth year or anything else, it is just that if somethinghappens, I don’t want to, you know, playing a few plays will notmake a difference, but maybe his fifth year or something, youknow, he may need it to get in grad school or something. But, Ilike O’Leary and Gandy. I think they are good two tight ends andCerasani.
We did not throw the ball to Peter Chryplewicz. We could have. We should have. That is one of the few times we didn’t. Webrought out the rocket screen. We haven’t had it out forawhile. And you know what? Sometimes your old things are best. I mean, that thing — we practiced it for a couple of weeksbefore I felt it was ready to go. We got the ball ten secondsto go. We ran a draw play. And, then called timeout. I knoweverybody thought that was crazy, but he might pop the draw playand then you see where you are. Taking the timeouts to thelocker room doesn’t help you. It ain’t like you get four thesecond half. Then we ran the rocket screen and he could havegotten in there — did get in there or could have if it just notleft any doubt. But, I think Peter Chryplewicz was very, veryinstrumental in that football game. I don’t think I have had atightend block better than he did last Saturday. That is why oneof the reasons we are able to run the ball.
I appreciate your coming. Have a good day.