Oct. 29, 2000

October 29, 2000

An Interview With:BOB DAVIE

BOB DAVIE: They had some big throws, and big catches, we had some good runs, you know, Julius Jones for 112 yards. Other times we got stoned, they had some good runs, other times they got stoned.

So it was, really, I thought, an exceptional college football game. And, you know, I realize that it comes down to winning and sometimes maybe it’s easier to appreciate those kind of games when you win, but I hope I’m not in this profession so long that it is not all totally about the wins and that you don’t really appreciate the efforts of both of those teams. You know, sometimes we always look for someone to blame when things don’t go well. We always say somebody played great, somebody played poorly. It’s not always the case. You know, sometimes it’s two teams that battle.

And anyone that thinks because this was Air Force or because this was a service academy that that score should have been different or maybe the flow of that game should have been different, I don’t think really appreciates football.

So it was a huge win for us. I certainly can understand how Air Force and Fisher DeBarry feel today, because, you know, we were in East Lansing, doesn’t seem all that long ago, that you thought that you had a sure victory that was snatched away from you at the end. I’m sure Air Force felt yesterday with three seconds left in the game that they had a sure victory and it was snatched away.

I think it was one of those moments in college football that all of us should appreciate and appreciate the efforts of a bunch of real good players, and not only good players on that field — if you somehow could look in that crystal ball ten or 15 years from now, and if the 100 players we had on our sidelines and the 80 players they had on their sidelines, you talk about successful people, I imagine it would probably be close to 100% on both sidelines would be tremendously successful.

If you’re a guy that you had a chance to coach in a game like that, if you look at the game, certainly we get the opening kickoff, well we stopped them early in the game. We get the ball on the very first possession. Julius fumbles the ball so we have a sudden change opportunity right there. Defense comes out, we stop them. Actually get the sack, the game goes on, we get the ball again. Matt LoVecchio makes a couple of big third down conversions, but we don’t get any points.

The game kind of unfolded in the first half. We go in. It’s 10-7, we’re down at half-time, a little bit back on our heels. They had run the reverse on us. They had run the boot pass on us, got us back on our heels defensively. Offensively, we had dropped the wheel route. Tony Fisher dropped it, so we were back on our heels, and we would come out on the second half — any time you’ve heard it said a thousand times on how the first drive of the second half is so important and, it is, we’re going to take the football down the field. We have the one-man route to Joey Getherall for the big touchdown which puts us ahead 14-10.

We come with the on-sight kick. It’s unfortunate we didn’t recover. The thing was set up really well. They, once again, had really good field position, but we were able to stop them. We come back a little bit later. It’s third and 11 on offense. Tremendous call. You know, you see how you kind of do things by committee when you hear it on the headset. Urban Game (ph) with the idea that we should run what we call, really, “The Vinny Reverse,” that we got from Purdue, Joey Getherall comes a cross on reverse, hands it to David, great execution. They have got a defensive lineman sitting right in the middle of it and Givens goes 38 yards for a touchdown. So we go up 21-10.

We come back the very next series, first down and ten. We hit — Matt LoVecchio hits Joey Getherall on a 68-yard touchdown pass. I mean, great throw. Joey Getherall looks like he shot out of a cannon. We go up 28-10.

You know, you feel pretty good right there, and I thought a big, big series in the game, obviously, was that next series, where Air Force goes down and scores. A couple plays, I thought it to be quite honest, I thought we got clipped twice in that series. They did make some catches, but we had them third down and 11, and Anthony Denman had to come out of the game for one play. We come with a stealer blitz where Brock Williams comes from the field and our linebacker that had come in didn’t run the blitz, and we could have sacked but they throw the ball to No. 5 and they go in and score for the first down. That was the big drive that got their confidence back. And from that point on, I thought they executed at a tremendously high level.

They come back again, you know, No. 5 puts on a show late in the game. No. 3 makes some great throws. It’s 28-28. I think another big play in the game when it’s 28-28, we get the ball back with 1:51 left and we’re backed up, we decide to go for it with 1:51 seconds left, we’ve got several time-outs. First down we have a procedure penalty which is kind of difficult to see on tape. Second down, we get sacked. And then Matt LoVecchio on second and 23, I guess it is, it would have been first down because we got sacked on first and 15. But second and 23, Matt kind of squirts out of there, runs away from his protection. We almost get sacked in the end with the safety. Vollers almost collides with him, but Matt LoVecchio is mobile enough that he gets out of the jam and throws the ball to Javin Hunter.

So we get out of a really desperate situation right there. So we throw the curler to Tony Fisher — we have to pump the ball at the end of the game, but it could have been a safety, if Matt isn’t as mobile as he is, and they come back. And they have the big pass, you know, the kid throws the ball right on the money, No. 5 pushes off a little bit and makes a great catch, next thing you know, there’s three seconds left in the game and they are going to win it, almost from the same spot they did back in ’96. It was an amazing feeling. And Glenn Earl just had a great block, but tremendous push, tremendous push.

And it’s amazing how in football, you know you look back this week, we really did make a big emphasis on field goal extra-point block and we had to change our block a little bit because they align differently on field goals, but Glenn Earl goes up and gets it and spirals out of there. He didn’t get all of it, but he got enough of it.

We go into overtime. They get the ball on the 25. They make a first down. Anthony Denman makes a great play on the next third down. They are going to run the quarterback duck to our right to the tight end side, and Anthony Denman comes from the back side and stops the quarterback or they may have converted that.

We get the ball on offense. First down, we throw a touchdown pass to David Givens, and that was a touchdown, I think credit to our football team. Though Julius Jones comes back the next two plays, and I think plays really hard, we’re able to run the punt (ph) play that sprints off our first down. And then we come back and we get stopped on the first down play. We run the same play and they hit us. We come back and run the screen, we run the screen and Julius makes a great play and makes a miss, or it would have been third and probably 12.

And then, you know, the call on the reverse for the touchdown on third and six. And that’s going to be either real good or real bad, but it turns out to be real good. And you know, you go through that whole situation there, the different suggestions, you know, we had two different two-point plays that we were ready to run. We thought about running the two-point play. One of them was the shuffle pass, but we ran the shuffle pass the week before against West Virginia and Julius dropped ball on third down. So we said: Let’s stay away from that. We had the tight end drag all the way across the field, but Kevin Rogers made the call, and he went with the reverse, and it was a great call. It was a great call and it was well executed and we win the game.

But one heck of a game. Some great individual efforts. I thought on defense, Brock Williams played really well. He played rocket corner. I think Brock could have lined up on five and gave us our best opportunity and cover, but you look at Brock being the nickel in a game like this, he made a lot of tackles and a lot of plays. I thought Anthony Denman played really hard and played well. B.J. Scott and Lance Legree both played solid football.

On offense, I thought Julius Jones, he’s back to playing a little more like he played at the end of last season. This will be a big week for him getting healthy, but he did have 110 yards rushing. And those last two plays in overtime, he played at a different level.

I thought Joey Getherall, I mean, everyone is going to talk about that, but his performance was outstanding. Our wide receiver scored every touchdown in the game for us yesterday. I thought our wide receivers as a group played well. David Givens again played well.

The quarterback, Matt LoVecchio, did some great things. You know, he’s a freshman quarterback. He still threw the ball into traffic. There were really two plays that probably should have been intercepted that they didn’t intercept. You know, he probably could have got the ball to Javin Hunter on the double-post we ran, didn’t throw it to the right guy. But we also dropped two balls.

Jeff Faine played his best football game of the year. Came back and really played solid. Vollers played his best football game of the year. Jabari Holloway blocked well. We’ve got to get him healthy. He’s got the angle and the Achilles. This week off will do them good.

Looking at the injury report, the only new injury would be Clifford Jefferson severely sprained his angle in the second quarter and complicated things for us. Jason Beckstrom played a lot of football for us yesterday I think that Clifford is probably doubtful for Boston College. It was pretty severely sprained.

Ron Israel (ph) we did not play at all. Ron has tendonitis and it’s a chronic problem. We’re hoping that this week let’s that thing cool down a little bit. He needs to strengthen it. He needs some weight lifting, something that he just could not play with, could not play a down with.

Jim Jones, he has a turf toe. He’ll be probable for Boston College. Gerald Morgan had his knee scoped. They removed a cartilage. He may be back to be the back-up deep snapper. It wasn’t quite as bad as they thought it would be.

Johnson is probable for Boston College. And we have got a long list of guys that won’t practice this week, but will play, those guys that have been playing that have been injured, guys like Jordan Black, Rocky Boiman, David Givens, Joey Getherall, Lance Legree, O’Leary, Roberts, and Jerome Sapp, all of those guys need time off, but I’m sure it’s the same that way at most college programs.

One thing that we’re going to do this week that we waited to the open date to do it, we’re going to move Gary Godsey to tight end for the rest of the season, and for hopefully his career here at Notre Dame. I talk to Gary about it last week. I talked to his father about it. I think Gary Godsey is really a good football player. When we recruited him, that’s what we thought he would be. I think it gives him the best opportunity to maybe be a starter for this football team next year.

I think Gary Godsey is really a good quarterback, but in our system, we need mobility out of our quarterback. You look at our play yesterday of the potential safety with Matt LoVecchio, you look at Matt LoVecchio on third and 13 scrambling early in the football game for a first down, you think back to West Virginia, us rubbing the boot off to the side play. We have to have a quarterback that’s mobile.

So this is about the future, we’re going to go with two freshman quarterbacks as the backup, Jared Clark and Carlyle Holiday, if we have to play them, we have to play them. I’m sure you’d like to keep four years of football intact for both of them, but there’s a bigger picture than all of that. This is what’s best for our football team. And we’re in a system right now that we’re really comfortable with. We’ve got continuity in the system. I don’t want to stake a step back. Gary Godsey did some great things for us. Gave us an opportunity to beat Michigan State and he did beat Purdue. He’s a good football player, but in our system, he’s not the right guy for us at quarterback.

And we’re looked at now, and it’s something that’s going to help us in the future, and that’s how we’re going to go with it. And we’re really excited about those young quarterbacks and their potential.

Q. The move good with Godsey and now going with the freshman as the backups, are you only going to play them if you have to, or would you hopefully look for a spot in the next game or two to try and get at least one of them on the field in case he has to come on?

BOB DAVIE: We’ll play him. We were prepared yesterday to play Jared Clark. You know, I didn’t want to talk about it, quite honest, I didn’t want to jinx us. I didn’t even talk to Kevin Rogers before the game about it to say if we’re ahead, here’s what we need to do. But we’re prepared to do that and that’s how we’re going to move forward.

Today Jared Clark would be the backup quarterback Carlyle Holiday put on a show last week on a scout team. He is tremendously talented, but those are the backup quarterbacks and that’s how we’re going with it, and if there’s an opportunity to play one of them, we’re going to play one of them.

Q. When you talked to Godsey about the move, what was his reaction? What was his mood?

BOB DAVIE: Gary Godsey, I think he trusts us. I think because the communication between us has been as open as it could be, I think Gary Godsey is excited about it, because deep down, I think he feels and I feel that his future is at tight end. And I think this gives him an opportunity to build on something for the future. You know, you don’t want to leave someone there. It would probably be easy for to us do it have him sit there as a safety net.

I just know the attitude of your team is so important and the attitude about getting better, about building for the future, you know with an open date, and hopefully a Bowl Game. I mean, it kind of becomes next year almost. I always like to be building and going in a positive direction. I feel like by not keeping Gary Godsey at tight end that we’re not really doing what’s best for our team. I don’t feel we’re really doing what’s best for Gary Godsey so we’re not doing it because Gary is not good enough to be a quarterback. We’re doing it because we think he can be a tremendous football player here.

I respect what he’s done for us, I love the kid and I want to put him in a position where he can have success, and I just feel in my heart it’s the best thing to do. And I know he trusts us. I know his dad does. I spoke to him at length on the phone. It’s a difficult situation. Gary’s brother threw for 450 yards yesterday. Just like I told him when I went in his house in December when I recruited him, everybody else is recruiting you as a quarterback, you may not come here, but I’m not going to tell you just what you want hear to get you. It’s the same thing now. I think being dead honest is the only way to go about it, and that’s how it is.

Q. With Jabari hobbled, will Godsey be playing significant time as backup?

BOB DAVIE: I don’t think I would qualify it as significant, but he will play this year. His biggest concern — I said Sunday, regardless of what happens, you’re going to be at tight end, and as we’ve been trading that number 14 you’re wearing — he looked at me I thought he was going to cry and he said, “Coach, can I keep 14?”

And so I said, “You can keep 14.” So you might see a big 14 in there at tight end.

I don’t think — that’s why we are doing it. Gary Godsey was a tight end last years, (inaudible) isn’t going to take all that long to get him coached up. I think he’ll probably play in some football games this year.

Q. Did you see Air Force as having some vulnerability between the tackles? Seems like a lot of the first down plays were directed —

BOB DAVIE: We did. They were twisting that front a lot and moving their front, and we went back to what we called a paint play, which is the real slow developing draw play. So just let the offensive linemen sort out those twists. Sometimes you take the ball and run downhill too fast it’s hit or miss where if you get the ball off the line a little deep and a little slower tempo, you have the chance to block them.

And the other thing they were doing, they were bringing the strong safety a lot, and you’ve got to be able to sort out who to block. But, you know, I tell you, they were a good-looking football team physically, ’99, and their defensive front was big. It wasn’t so much of physically what they were. It was really what they were doing, and it gave us time to sort things out and run that draw play that’s been so successful for us.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: He very quietly had 112 yards. He had some good runs. I think all of us are waiting for him to break out and take one to the house. Get him healthy this week. He’s had a bunch of different bruises all year, from the broken thumb to the thigh to the quad to the hip pointer. We’re going to get him healthy this week.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: Unbelievable. It really was. And you watch the tape on Air Force, and I go back to when — this is 28, then and third and 11, all of the sudden Anthony Denman comes out. And I never put anything on one player, it’s bigger than all that. But I knew on third and 11 when we didn’t run that blitz and they had a guy bust and they started to curl, you could sense that starting. And so when they caught fire, they caught fire.

So, you know, it seems like that. I remember back in ’94, I think it was, or ’95, we played them at home here, and it was almost the same thing. You know, we were up 30-3 in the third quarter. We ran a reverse to the little kid Len Blun (ph). We put him in the game. We run a reverse. He drops the ball. The next play, they hit a wheel route for a touchdown. It’s 30-10. They kickoff to us, three plays out, they block the punt. It’s 30-17. And next thing you know, it’s 30-24. It was almost the same atmosphere as this game. It’s almost eerie how those things starts rolling on you.

And you know, it was an unbelievable momentum swing, but I think that’s what college football has kind of become. You know there’s so much parity that the team that gets hot and the team that has the momentum — a few years ago, it didn’t matter if you had momentum — when you play teams that all have enough talented players and the diversity and schemes and one of them catches fire, look out. You look at yesterday, you look at the Oregon/Arizona State game, you look at Florida beating Alabama and you look at Miami and Louisiana Tech, that’s what it has become, and I know the fans enjoy the heck out of it, but, it really is — it’s a different kind of feel. Momentum of the game is more significant now because of the parity and because of the diversity of schemes. It’s just closer.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: I’m going to go about that the right way. You know, we don’t gain anything, and I don’t gain anything from sitting here right now and just saying what my opinion of the officials was. I’m going to handle that in the right way.

And we’ve made a tape that is significant and lengthy. I’m going to first of all send it to Dave Perry of the Big 10 and let Dave Perry look at it and really cut it down and then I’m going to go based on what Dave Perry tells me he thinks and I’m going to send it to the Mountain West Conference, because there were things that happened in that football game. I’m standing on one sideline and I’m seeing it one way and I’m looking at the tape this morning as the coach one team. And I realize that — I made a tape of all of the calls on the game that affected both sides.

And, you know, I just think people have to be accountable. Coaches are accountable. Players are accountable. We all get critiqued. And I’m going to handle it the right way and I’m going to see where that leads.

Q. Does Matt LoVecchio energize the other two quarterbacks —

BOB DAVIE: Competitiveness brings out the best in everyone, and I think those three players are unique players. I’ve said this before: You’ll see this as this thing unwind, you have got three football players that are extremely talented, and I think Matt LoVecchio will raise the level of their play. I think that he will raise their confidence, that he’s proven that he can go in and do it.

And, you know there’s a point now where they are no longer freshman, they have been here a long time. We have gone through a lot of practice and I think that we have a clear picture and a clear focus of where we want to go. So things are in place and now is the time to do it. I don’t want to wait until the spring to do it when I know right now this is what I want to do.

Q. According to a coaches poll, you guys are up to —

BOB DAVIE: This is exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking it’s going to be three seconds left in that Air Force game, it’s all part of the script, you know.

No, you know, it’s all about getting healthy right now, it’s all about Boston College. That things is going to play out.

Q. That’s what I mean, the playing-out factor, the teams above you playing each other and the moves start —

BOB DAVIE: Sure, I think coaches around this country and people that watch us play would like us as a football team, I would think. The feedback that I’ve gotten from other coaches, the feedback that I’ve gotten from people in the media that watch us play, I think people respect this team that we have and I think they see the potential in this team. And I think in the end, you know, we’ll get our fair due, if we’re good enough to do what we should do and what we’re capable of doing. It will all come out in the end. There’s an awful lot of football left. There’s a lot of good teams that have to play each other, and The Aggies step up and get help, Nebraska goes to Kansas State — there’s so much football left, but the only football I’m worried about is the football that’s going to be played out here in two weeks, and that’s Boston college.

Q. West Virginia, they made a game of it, Stanford — (inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: I think we have to get better. I don’t think it’s some complex thing that we’re losing focus late in the game or we’re worried about going in and singing a song in the locker room or that kind of thing. I think it’s just in our play and our level of performance, particularly in our pass coverage. And what happens, I think we probably get a little bit conservative at the end of the game.

If you look back again yesterday, not only were we giving up some plays on defense, but we kind of went into a shell offensively, and we were three and out, three and out late in the game. And there’s a little bit of human nature in there that when you feel the defense is holding on a little bit, you get back into that thing of being very conservative. First thing we have to do is get better on defense and not give up passes, not give up big plays. You know we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better.

And the second thing is offensively, we can’t allow the defense giving up those passes to let us go into a shell where all of the sudden you put the handcuffs on again. It’s a combination of a lot of things.

So one thing I didn’t talk about was once again, our special teams. You talk about every time that ball is kicked off, with our kick off — we had a good kickoff run team two years ago, we had good statistics, but it was like either we would get a big run or we didn’t. We’ve turned into every time that ball, is kicked you’re disappointed if it doesn’t come back to the 45-yard line or so. It is a legitimate weapon and it is the scheme and continuity of the scheme.

Our punt protection, Air Force was a team that blocked, I think, six kicks this year and they came after us. Really, every time they punted the ball they were coming after us. We didn’t — our slot didn’t do great, the one that we strong (inaudible) was not blocked, it maybe could have been, but by and large our punt protection was a team that was really good at coming after the punter.

Our kickoff coverage was good, it was not great, but it was good and we blocked a field goal with three seconds left to win. So if there was — had been one consistent thing on the football team all year, it as been special teams. And that to me is a really an indication of the attitude of your team, too, because I think special teams is a lot about attitude and about attention to detail.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: You know, I called Julius in this week again. In fact, I called Julius’s dad and mom and talked to them. After the Nebraska game, we made a decision. It was a difficult decision to communicate to Tony Fisher and Terrance Howard, but we made a decision that we thought Julius Jones should be the go-to tailback that they we needed to get his hand on the ball 20-some times on the game. Some things didn’t work out for us because of Julius’s injury. Terrance Howard and Tony Fisher took great advantage of their opportunities.

But I still feel Julius Jones is the go-to tailback, and I think Julius is a guy that gets stronger with carries when he is healthy, and I think that he is totally capable of exploding. I love Tony Fisher and Terrance Howard, but I think that we need to reestablish that and I wanted all of us to be on the same page with that.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: I left him out of the guys that I thought played well by mistake. He’s at the top of the list. Again early played 34 snaps, I believe it was on defense. Played on just about every special team, because he is a big-time special teams player for us. He played great. One time he got lined up on the wrong side, but we were fortunate that we don’t get supposed but he made some plays. The interception that he made was a big-time play, on the phantom pass interception. That was a big-time play by Glenn Earl. He made a big-time play on reverse. Played hard. First play of the game they run their form of the Vinny sweep, and he’s playing man coverage and comes off and stops it for no gain. He is going to be a good football player.

Q. (Inaudible)?

BOB DAVIE: We try to communicate. These guys have a lot invested. Their families have a lot invested. I know if it was my son and we were moving him to tight end, I know I would want to hear from the coach, and in Julius’s case, you know, we talked to the parents all the time, you know, whether it is about academics — we have a thing here Friday night, every Friday night after the pep rally. We have an assistant coach that stays, and all of the families and all of the players that are in town on Friday night, we get together and we show a highlight tape of the previous game. We go through a whole agenda of upcoming events where we talk about class attendance, we have all of the things that we get back.

So, you know, I think that’s probably the thing that I’m most excited about is that we really have a strong foundation, we have a bunch of good kids and we have a bunch of great family tease in this program, and I think that we can make some progress.

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