Question: Did you go into the last time ND and Penn State played with the players at all? Do you do things like that?
Weis: Sometimes. I think that a game that is played over a decade ago, it doesn't have as much significance as a game played a year ago or more recently. I'm familiar with it. Sometimes I have to read up on it to tell you the truth. Sometimes I get information to look up, but only to use if there is a lot of significance in the current timing.
Q: Any significance to this one?
W: It's been a long time since we played. It is obviously a nice natural rivalry, but it has been a long time. I think the longer the time period goes, the less significant it becomes. I try to use that as some kind of psychological ploy and there is nothing I am gaining out of that one, so I moved in a different direction.
Q: What was to be gained by being inside today?
W: I was inside every Thursday last year. I continued what I did every Thursday last year. One of the things we do is we always practice some level of noise on Thursdays. So today the noise we practiced was when the defense was out there. People miss the boat sometimes on noise. Everyone practices it when you are going away, but you forget your own defense has to deal with crowd noise at home every week. A lot of people don't practice their home crowd noise. It is just as significant for the nonverbal communication on defense as it is on offense.
Q: Talk about your stint upstairs in the box in New England.
W: Well, I was upstairs until Bledsoe got hurt in 2001, and when Tommy took over as quarterback, Bledsoe had been the leader of our team. So now the leader of our team is in the hospital and he is gone for a good portion of the year and we are playing a second year quarterback, so really I came downstairs so the next perceived leader, me, was down there to kind of…
Q: And you never went back up?
W: Well, after we won the super bowl, we thought that that would be bad luck. We talked about it and Bill said "we can't do that."
Q: Is there a difference being upstairs as offensive coordinator?
W: You can see way more upstairs than downstairs.
Q: I mean is there a benefit for offense over defense?
W: No, you take away the emotion of the game. It is a very objective view up there. You aren't looking into people's faces. Now, there is a downside to that too. But you are getting a very objective view because you are making calls based on evidence rather than your feel. I think you can see the field 10 times better from upstairs.
Q: How do you see on the field then?
W: By experience. You have to know what you are looking for because you have 11 guys out there. By research of who you are going against and pre-snap reads, what you see them getting ready to do, then rotation of the safeties, then is it a blitz-zone, are they dropping out, sugaring it. Usually you have a pretty good idea of what happened.
Q: You can focus on one area and see the other things happening then?
W: I focus on the ball and work my way out. If I see where coverage is, I know where the ball is supposed to go. So instead of looking at this side, I'm only looking where the ball is supposed to go. If I see pressure coming, I may not even see the routes run on that play because I might zero in on the pickup, then react to the ball being thrown. For a young coach it is impossible to do. It used to befuddle me when I was young in my career and they would say this is what they are doing and I'd watch tape the next day and they would be right. I'd say, "How did they know that?" I was in enough trouble watching only a couple guys out there, getting them right.
Q: Do you ever worry about providing the other team with things to put up on their bulletin board?
W: You respect your opponent. If you know and respect your opponent you will never cause a negative reaction by your opponent. If you ever talk in a condescending or demeaning way about your opponent or in a favorable light about your team like you expect to roll over somebody you will usually suffer the consequences accordingly insofar as how they respond to that. I try to do my utmost to show respect to everyone we play against.
Q: In turn, do you lecture your players about this as well?
W: When you are coaching your players about dealing with the media, you have to let them be honest, but avoid the traps that you could get into. Even if your intent was not to be harmful, you could say something that could be used in a very detrimental way. All you can do is educate them. That's all we try to do. I try to do it, John and Brian try to do it. That's what we try to do to make sure they don't get themselves into that kind of situation.
Q: Any occasion that you would do what Paterno did this week?
W: I would doubt that. I may limit it, but I don't think I would shut it down. Once I've established a system here and it seems to be working relatively fine between us and the media, from my standpoint I think it is a cordial environment, so therefore I don't think I would do that.
Q: Any positive residual effect for the freshman who played last game?
W: Almost all of them had positive residual effects, all across the board from Sam who started and right on through. But when you get out there, and you are used to playing against these high school kids that you are mauling all the time, and all of a sudden these people are flying around out there and they are bigger and faster and stronger, getting used to the speed of the game takes time. There isn't one of those 10 guys that saw time that didn't benefit from seeing some time.
Q: How close of attention do you put into your vote in the coaches' poll?
W: Tim McDonald and I do this every week. We study all the teams and all the games and we vote ourselves accordingly. We dropped ourselves this week. We try to vote accordingly. We try to be as practical as we can. We really have the biggest trouble between 12 and 25. Usually in the first 10 or so, they are so close early in the year, that one team could go form 10 to 4 by winning 50 to nothing against some team. Or we win 14 to 10 playing against a very good opponent. It's really not that important right now how that works. It is tough with 12, 13, 14, 15, and they all won 34 to 7. And you don't know if the team they are playing against is any good this year. So you try to be as honest as you possibly can and not be too wrapped into what other people are saying or thinking.
Q: So you dropped yourself more than one spot?
W: Yes. We aren't going into any more than that, that's the end of that.
Q: How much time do you spend on the coaches' poll?
W: About few hours a week. So we don't just slap it out there and say this is our poll. We take what we had last week, see what happened in this week's games. We have to have them in by late morning on Sunday. This week was late morning on Tuesday because of the Miami-FSU game. On top of watching tape, having official visits, and other things, you have to find time to get those polls ready to go.
Q: Should the polls be public?
W: I wouldn't care if it was public. The only thing is if mine was public I'd want everyone else's to be public. I have no problem with it, none. I try to do it with the honor of the game when I'm doing it.
Q: Any particular concerns about Penn State this week?
W: Well, first of all you have three different components. First, let's talk about their defense. The defense has very good skill and speed. They are in a bit of a transition in their front. They had multiple guys leave and multiple guys come in and changing guys from linebacker to defensive line and rolling people through. Besides their athleticism, the two biggest things you are concerned with is A, you don't know who is going to be in there doing what, and B, in week 2, after just playing Akron, what are they going to do this week. You can't expect what you saw last week is what you are going to get this week.
Q: You think they were holding something back?
W: I think everyone does. You are going to put your core offense and defense in there. Now, offensively, the scary thought is the more composure and confidence the quarterback gets, the more dangerous this team will get because they have a stable of wide receivers. They have athletic wide receivers with speed, they have a solid running back, and they have a quarterback with a big-time arm. That's always dangerous. My biggest concern on special team, besides matching up personnel wise, which is always a concern, is catching balls from a lefty kicker. That is a concern. It may not be a concern to you but it is a concern to me.
Q: You didn't show a lot of emotion last year, but do you appreciate the players, especially freshman doing so?
W: I love for them to be fired up, it's great for them. To me it is a little bit more of a job, for them it is more of a game. When I am walking out on the field I am worried about my job. That is what I'm worried about. I would think that if I were a freshman coming out for the first time…I remember the first time I was ever involved with a big crowd. I was a graduate assistant at South Carolina in 1985 and the biggest game I had ever been to had about 5,000 people at it on thanksgiving. I went out for the home opener with 72,000 at William Bryce stadium and half the time I'm looking at the stands. I was just saying, "Wow, this is it, I made the big time!" (laugter). If I had the wow factor and I was in my mid twenties, imagine what an 18 year old kid is going through the first time they are coming through.
Q: Anything the crowd can do better this year?
W: I thought the crowd was great last year. The crowd wasn't the problem; the head coach was the problem. The head coach is going to try and do better.
Q: Any closer of Frome?
W: Yes, we are closer. He won't play this week, but he's closer. He is starting to cut now, which he wasn't doing. I don't want to sit here and give you day to day. I told you he wouldn't be ready at the start of the year. I won't put him out there until I know that he can take blows to his legs and not be afraid.
Weis Thursday Transcript
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