Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What's the plan? | by Pat

Charlie's presser to kick off Michigan week is up. Here are some of the more interesting questions and answers...

Q. How open is the competition on the offensive line this week?

COACH WEIS: Well, I spoke to a couple of the guys who were back ups last week and I said if they had done more in practice last week, they would have been in the game. And they were told the same thing going into this week.

I think that you have to go by what you see in practice because you have to believe that the guys you're going to put in there are going to give you a better chance than the guys that are already in there, and they have to give you some evidence. And I've always believed that by going by what I see in practice, and if it doesn't look any better in practice than the guys we've got, then I'm going with the guys we've got.

And they've been given that opportunity again this week. They've been told that, "hey, I'm not afraid to make a call, but you've got to give me a reason to do it." So until they do that, you don't change anything.
Q. The pass protection issues that you have had -- how much is that limiting what you can do with John (Carlson) and the rest of the tight ends?

COACH WEIS: That was significant last week. It was significant and we'll see if we can't begin to fix that problem this week.

Q. Do you have to take that risk at some point and get him involved?

COACH WEIS: Absolutely. When you don't get any offensive production for two weeks in a row, there comes a time where you have to take off the gloves and we're getting close to that time.

Q. Changing the subject a little bit. How do you coordinate your personnel with the play? For example, when (Tom) Zbikowski returned the punt inside the 10 (vs. Penn State), you tried the pass to the back of the end zone. You had your smaller receivers in there. Do you try to match personnel with the play, where you'd like to have a (Robby) Parris or a (Duval) Kamara in the game for a play like that?

COACH WEIS: Well, we have groups where we use big guys and groups where we use smaller guys. But what happens is sometimes you can telegraph a play by just putting in the big guys when you get into that area. So you have your starters for a play. It's the first play of the series. You go put your big guys in while everyone in the free world knows if you're doing that, that's what ends up happening. So you have to calculate, you have to go back and forth so that you don't out-think yourself. And every time you do something, make it so blatantly obvious what you're trying to do.

Q. In terms of (Duval) Kamara and (Golden) Tate, can you just evaluate what you're seeing from them?

COACH WEIS: I think they're both different players with huge upsides. I think that they definitely bring great athleticism to the wide receiver position. They're different players.

One of them is one of the fastest, if not the fastest guy on the team. And the other one is probably one of the best athletes on the team. So we're fortunate to have those two guys here in the program, and I think the future for both those guys is extremely bright.

Q. What category of penalties are you most concerned about? Is it the pre-snap ones, or the frustration things?

COACH WEIS: The false starts and delay of games are things that are intolerable. You can't have false start penalties, and you can't have delay of game penalties. That accounts for 6 of the 14 right there.

Now after that, for the second week in a row, we've had a flagrant personal foul that just that's not an intelligent play. So there's no tolerance for that either. Now there are things that happen in the course of the game. I'm not saying a holding penalty is any good.

You know, going down there hitting that guy. David (Bruton) was there, but he's a little shorter, it's a late fair catch signal, he's going down there. At least he's making an error trying to make a play. Even though I don't like the outcome, it's for the right reason that he's making a mistake, not the wrong reason.

I think that will be a point of emphasis -- it was with the team on Sunday. It was with the coaching staff today. And we're going to make it a major point of emphasis in everything that happens in practice this week because you can't have efficiency with that volume of penalties.

Q. Just a follow up: Did you ever get an explanation why six seconds ran off the clock after Trevor Laws recovered the fumble at the end of the first half (at Penn State)?

COACH WEIS: I asked that very question. They said I was in error, at the time. I told them we lost time on the clock. And they said, no, I must have misjudged. Amongst all the other mistakes I made in that game, you can maybe put timekeeper on that one as well. (laughter)
Weis had high praise for Kamara and Tate, along with the near admission that Carlson needs to be more a part of the passing game. Is Charlie planning on opening up the offense a bit more against Michigan? We all saw what the spread option attack did to the Wolverine defense the past two weeks. ND isn't going to have Clausen running all over the field, but we might see more four and five wide sets designed to spread out the Michigan defense. Of course, that means the offensive line needs to instill some confidence in Weis this week that they won't get Clausen killed if he takes the tight ends and backs out of the pass blocking equation. Which way will Charlie go?