Oct. 8, 2008
Q. You didn’t play against USC last year. Do you feel like this is maybe your biggest challenge as far as secondaries go since you’ve become a starter?
Jimmy Clausen: What was that?
Q. Do you feel this is the biggest challenge you’ve had this week as a starter with the way North Carolina’s secondary plays?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I think so. Every secondary that I play is a new secondary to me. You know, they’re all good secondaries. And watching tape on North Carolina, they’re pretty good, pretty fast, physical as well. So it will be a good challenge for us.
Q. Is there something specifically that you think is the reason why they’re so good?
Jimmy Clausen: They’re coached really well. They get after it on each and every play. They’re a real fast defense coming from the ACC. They fly around with the ball and make plays.
Q. Are you surprised that you’ve gone from a team that wanted to pound it on offense this year to a team that spreads it out with three wide receivers and one running back?
David Grimes: I don’t know. Every week is a different week playing different teams. You know, our game plan strategy changes week to week as well. We take emphasis on what we can use as our strength and what we see as their weaknesses.
Jimmy Clausen: I think the same thing. Like David said, it’s week to week game planning to what they do and what we do best. You know, I think we’re in a groove right now. You know, the coaching staff is doing a great job of getting us put into the right situations to be able to make good plays.
Q. Do you feel most comfortable in this type of attack where you can stand at the line of scrimmage to look things over and make some adjustments before you actually snap the ball?
Jimmy Clausen: To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what we’re in, whether it’s two backs, one tight end or two tight end, two receivers. It really doesn’t matter to me. I think we’re really comfortable in what we’re doing right now and we’re making progress.
Q. Coach Weis said that you probably have to be as patient as you have been at any point in your career this weekend going into this style of defense. Why is patience so important against this team?
Jimmy Clausen: What North Carolina likes to do is rush their front four and drop seven. Their front four is pretty good. They get a lot of pressure upfront. It makes it hard on the quarterback with the front four getting a lot of pressure and seven guys drop into coverage. There are tight windows, small windows, and you’ve got to take what they give you.
Q. Is this a game where the receivers have to be of course you’re always trying to be very precise, but because they do drop more people in coverage, do you have to be that much more precise with your routes?
David Grimes: Yes, we have to be very precise and patient as well. Like Jimmy said, they play the zone defense a lot of times. As receivers, we’ve got to find those holes and sit down and let Jimmy get us the ball.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about Coach Powlus and what impact and influence he’s had on you, and have you ever seen any tape of him when he played or do you remember him when he played?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I remember him when he played. When we’d go over to his house he’s got this tape of some guy made for him of that has all his touchdown passes on it. It’s pretty cool to see him throwing the ball around and him being my coach and stuff like that.
It’s great having Coach Powlus as the quarterback coach. He’s been through a lot of the same things that I’m going through. He was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, just like myself. It’s been great to be able to talk to him, not about just football, but things off the field that he’s been through to help me progress through my career.
Q. What is his area of expertise? Is there some aspect of the game that he teaches you or coaches you that you feel he has a really good grasp of?
Jimmy Clausen: He’s got a really good grasp of everything. Of him playing the position I play, which is quarterback, he understands some things that I do. Whether it’s a read, why I’m going here in a situation rather than going to another place. He can see that because he views it the same way as I do.
He can see himself on the field making the same play or same mistake that I did. So me and him really relate to one another.
Q. We were talking to the offensive linemen last night, and a few of them when we brought up TV timeouts they kind of let a big sigh out, because it slows the game down and gets you out of your rhythm. How frustrating are those TV timeouts? Especially when you’re starting to move the football a little bit more and all of a sudden you’ve got to hurry up and wait?
David Grimes: Well, I don’t know if the linemen get frustrated. I think they might see that as a chance to get rested.
But as far as the rhythm thing, it’s not a problem for us. We’ve been playing and TV timeouts happen all the time. We just try to keep the momentum going regardless of what’s going on.
Q. Do you ever find it kind of takes you out of your rhythm a little bit? You’ve got some momentum going and the tempo of the game slows down because of it?
Jimmy Clausen: You know, it can in certain situations. Say we just have a turnover, you know, you want to get out there and keep the momentum going. Then a guy walks out with his arms crossed and the sleeves on or whatever, and he’s got 30 or 15 seconds. You just want to get out there and keep the rhythm going and keep the crowd going.
It can be a buzz kill sometimes, but you’ve just got to get over it. The buzz in the stadium.
Q. Sam Young was saying it’s during those long timeouts that he gets to know the referees a little bit more and talks to them. Do you engage in conversation with the referees during those long timeouts?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I do. The white hat’s always behind our huddle. So I always go over there and goof around with him get to know him a little bit. It’s fun getting to know different referees.
Q. You look a lot more comfortable in the pocket this year. Can you talk about how you developed that pocket presence this year?
Jimmy Clausen: Just coming in last year it was hard getting used to playing in college. The more you can play and the more times that you can face different defenses and different looks, you get more comfortable with yourself and the rest of the guys on the field.
Q. Is that difficult considering I know you’ve talked a lot about how you never really got hit in high school. Was it a lot different in college now?
Jimmy Clausen: It was last year. I got hit quite a bit last year. But that’s just something that comes with playing the game of football. You’re going to get hit, and that’s a fact. You’ve just got to move around the pocket and get throwing lanes and just get the ball to the playmakers.
Q. Coach Weis and Coach Powlus were talking yesterday about the difference between seeing it and feeling it. Do you feel you’re starting to feel the pressure now even at times when you can’t see it?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, like I said, you have to on get used to those things as well. Coming in out of high school, the pass rush was a lot faster than high school. That is one of the things that I had to get used to. It took me a little bit of time. But I feel good right now. This team feels good.
Q. Talk about how important it is if you win, you could be in the rankings? It is a ranked team and it’s on the road. This is a big game for you guys?
David Grimes: Most definitely. It is a big game, just like any other game on our schedule to be honest. Lot of people are hyping it up that this could possibly put us in the rankings.
But when it comes down to it, we’re not worried about that, you know. We’re just worried about playing on Saturdays and controlling what we can control.
Q. How about momentum? You guys have it now, you’re feeling it, and it should keep the ball rolling?
David Grimes: A win against North Carolina will keep the ball rolling. Like I said earlier, the sky’s the limit for this team. North Carolina coming off a win after that game would be huge for this team.
Q. On the road, I was able to see against Michigan State it seemed like it was almost two personalities. At one point fans were heckling you and you’re smiling and taking it in, but then another point probably closer to the national anthem, you were just serious and closing your eyes. Is there a nice balance there that you find you need to keep you ready for the game but also take it as a game?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, going in to play in an environment like Michigan State or going to Chapel Hill and playing at North Carolina, you’ve just got to embrace the atmosphere. Like Coach Haywood always says, Embrace the atmosphere and have a lot of fun. But at the same time you’ve got to be ready to go once the game starts.
So I think you’ve got to have a fine line between having a good time out there, but you’ve got to be ready to go.
Q. Not that people haven’t known you since you’ve been on campus, but the last few games you’ve been on a roll. Do you find anything different? Are people treating you different in the community or getting different emails or anything like that now that you’re having a lot of success?
Jimmy Clausen: No, just some people here and there say, Good game. I just say, Thanks. And it’s pretty much the same.
Q. To follow up on the rankings. Obviously you can’t focus on that because you have to focus on the task at hand. But Coach Weis said with as tough as everything was, it would be nice to feel like you’re really on track to getting back on track. It can’t be something that you focus on, but it’s got to be something that you’re looking towards?
David Grimes: I think it would definitely boost our confidence, you know, coming off a season like we did last year, coming from there and potentially being ranked. It would definitely boost our confidence and show our team that we can accomplish a lot more things in the future.
Jimmy Clausen: I feel the same thing. I don’t think this team’s worried about rankings at all. I think we’re just trying to get better each and every day and get ready to go for North Carolina come Saturday. I think that’s the only thing that the team’s worried about right now.
Q. Coach Weis said yesterday that he felt like the light switch really came on for you when you sat out the two games last season. Looking back now, what did that do for you?
Jimmy Clausen: I thought just a game at a time to get healthy a little bit, and also see how the game is going from a different perspective. Being on the sideline, things slowed down a lot for anyone who is playing. I think it helped me a lot.
Q. Do you think it helped actually having some live time before you sat down? Do you think that helped you sort of evaluate what was going on even more so?
Jimmy Clausen: I’m not too sure whether it was playing a little bit and sitting down for a little bit and playing again or just sitting and playing after that. Coming in as a freshman, it’s hard just to go out there and play and be really good and be real effective. So I really don’t know that answer.
Q. How important now looking back was it to have the experiences that you had last year as you really start to show your stuff this year?
Jimmy Clausen: I think it was great for this whole entire team. Whether it was younger guys or guys who have been here for a while and who have had a lot of success to come out of last year not having a lot of success, you don’t want to have that same feeling that you did last year. I think that’s helped this team a lot.
Q. David, what do you see the difference between Jimmy this year and Jimmy last year?
David Grimes: Jimmy this year, you know, he’s playing a lot more confident. He has a new haircut. He’s having fun out there. He’s not necessarily asking questions anymore, but more so telling guys what they need to do.
Q. As a veteran you’re okay with that?
David Grimes: Oh, well, I mean guys like Golden (Tate) and Mike Floyd.
Q. The idea that Notre Dame obviously is one of the storied programs in college football. Last year you guys had a difficult year. How much do you guys think about getting back to elite status and getting this program back to elite status? And how does this team and your success this year fit into that?
David Grimes: Well, I think it’s always on our mind that we’re trying to get this team back to where it needs to be. You know, coming off a year like last year, it was not our best effort. But we try to put that behind us and try to move on, and we’re doing a really good job this year.
Q. Do you feel like given the way things have gone the last couple of years if Notre Dame still has the same mystique it once did? And how much does that come into play when you go into a place like Chapel Hill where it’s a huge game, probably the biggest game of the year there. They haven’t seen Notre Dame in a long time?
David Grimes: Personally I think Notre Dame does have that mystique. Coming into a place like Chapel Hill, it’s a great venue to display that and show the rest of the country that this team is a viable team.
Q. Do you think it works to your advantage in a place like that? Do you think there is an intimidation factor because you’re Notre Dame?
David Grimes: To be honest with you, I’m not sure.
Q. Jimmy, how about you?
Jimmy Clausen: I feel that it’s whatever North Carolina thinks of us, whether they respect us or don’t respect us. I think speaking for our team we’ve just got to be ready to go on Saturday at Chapel Hill.
Q. Do you feel like people still look at Notre Dame like it once was or do they have a different opinion of it because of what happened last year?
Jimmy Clausen: Every program has a bad year. You can talk about a bunch of different teams in the country that have been really successful in the past and have had a few down years and have come back up. But I think this team’s back and is ready to go, and we’ve just got to get ready to go on Saturday.
Q. I know if you look at this week there are goals for the week as you look at your opponent, North Carolina. What top three goals has Coach Weis been stressing this week for you guys in practice?
David Grimes: I think some points of emphasis that Coach Weis told the team was just to play consistent. Start fast and finish fast. Obviously we came out good last week against Stanford, but we didn’t finish too well. His point was just to play a consistent game.
Q. Anything else?
Jimmy Clausen: Another point that Coach Weis mentioned and everyone is talking about is can we win on the road? We haven’t lost at home yet, and we had one away game at Michigan State and we lost. The question that is still out is if we can win on the road.
Q. How have you guys addressed that in the locker room?
Jimmy Clausen: We’ve got to get ready to go. We started by practicing on Monday. All our focus is on North Carolina and going out each day and working hard. We can’t take any days off. We’ve got to be ready to go on Saturday and be fired up. Because I know and we know that North Carolina is going to be fired up especially playing in Chapel Hill.
Q. When you mentioned the fact that you’re in the groove right now and you feel comfortable, why? What specifically is unique about the groove or the rhythm that you’re in?
Jimmy Clausen: I feel comfortable in what we’re doing right now, confident, and I think the rest of the offense does. When the rest of the offense is confident, I think things are going to go well. We’ve just got to keep practicing hard and keep getting that confidence up and keep doing what we’re doing.
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