Question: What do you talk to the scouts about?
Weis: Let me just try and give you a gist of the day. The only day they can come in and watch any practice is Thursday. And they can watch the first half of practice before we go to move-the-field segments. It is a little bit more than you get and gives them an opportunity to evaluate for draft purposes. They come here in the morning and have tape available from then on and what happens is they have appointments where Ron Powlus talks about our guys, Jim Russ talks about the health our guys, Reuben Mendoza talks about the condition of our guys. So we set up times where those people are available to talk to the whole group. The rest of the time they sit there and just evaluate tape and then I spend 10 minutes just answering big picture questions. And most of them either know me personally or know of me so they know when they ask me a question I'm going to answer as honestly as I possibly can. I'm not going to say one thing to one guy and something to somebody else, because if you lie to them and say something that is not true it is going to come out in the wash anyways, so you just have to tell them how you observe it. I'll give you an example: Ndu. I say to them, don't watch junior tape because you are watching a guy who is 20 lbs. less than he was as a junior. Normally you will watch junior and senior tape. Really it is a different player you are looking out. There is the 210 lb. player vs. the 230 lb. player so they are two different players. So I said don't waste your time looking at this when you should spend your time…regardless of what you think of him, watch what you have seen this year vs. what you have seen last year.
Q: What do the scouts look for at practice?
W: They try and verify that what they see on tape is what they see at practice. Fortunately for our guys we have very few guys who dog. In some places I've gone to guys are just going through the motions. It creates a negative impression on you. They are trying to verify that what somebody looks like is what they are like. To see if they are as smooth or as stiff, plus or minus, to verify what they are seeing on tape.
Q: How much negative feedback do you give?
W: I'll be honest, say if they say compare him to him. I'll say he is not nearly as physical as that guy. Now that is not dinging your guy, it is just telling he is not as physical. A guy asked about Ryan Harris vs. Willy Rolf. Well Willy is huge. We used to call it girth. He is just a wide body so in addition to being a very athletic player he was a big man. So it is like comparing apples to oranges. When they ask me what I think of Ryan Harris I say he can play left tackle. For anyone who coaches in the league, they understand that is a pretty ringing endorsement. Most times a guy isn't athletic enough to play defending the quarterback's blind side and get moved to right tackle so the quarterback can see what is coming right in front of his face.
Q: What is your evaluation of Ndukwe?
W: I think he is much improved.
Q: In what ways? Do you project him to the next level?
W: In every way. He makes more plays, his stamina alone is so much better. He is playing with a lot more confidence. He is far from perfect but he is a much better player. They wouldn't be asking me about him otherwise. I can go by the volume of questions the scouts are asking me. There are several people asking. I no longer have to worry about that, about projecting. All I have to do is answer the questions now. I'm on the other side of the fence.
Q: How was Asaph's surgery today?
W: It went well, but he won't be back before the end of the year. It wasn't as bad as we thought it was, but it was bad enough to end him for the season. The timeline right about now is for spring.
Q: What was wrong with the knee?
W: They thought it was going to be cartilage and ligament, but there was no cartilage wrong. There was a ligament fixed. It wasn't completely ruptured. It wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be but definitely bad enough to be out for the rest of the year.
Q: Ambrose said he was completely healthy. Is he? Will he be playing this weekend?
W: I wouldn't say he is completely healthy, but at this stage of the year about half the team is in that category now where they are not completely healthy. It's who can best play with bumps and bruises and who isn't bruised at all. Some guys are pretty fresh because they haven't played much.
Q: Has Travis improved his status?
W: He will go right to game day. When I am at practice he looks like the best guy out there because we aren't letting him hit anybody. He runs all over the place but his thing is different than everyone else because this is how sore you will be when you start hitting? This has nothing to do with him running around or being able to tackle, it is how much pain will happen when you do tackle. It is a different hurt than most guys.
Q: Will Joe start then?
W: If I played Travis I'd play him, but Joe's getting the majority of the reps if there is any contact and is ready to go.
Q: How do you test if Travis is ready to go on game day?
W: There are things that we do that you won't see. Sometimes you get another guy in the locker room and just go ahead. We have had full-fledged workouts with some people depending on locker room space. I'm serious. Over the years I've seen some crazy stuff. It's not about people getting shot up and stuff, I'm talking about getting tested out to find out whether or not you can go. If you go out and do it on the field everyone in the free world is sitting there watching the workout. You have to be very cautious about passing on information.
Q: So you have people observing in the pre-game?
W: Several. Are you talking about the spies, is that what you are saying (laughing)? I have several people to watch them.
Q: My son had a rib injury this year. He could rest until the pain is all gone or he could play but risk then playing with that pain the remainder of the year. Is that what you worry about with Travis?
W: That is where we are. That analogy is a perfect one. Do you want to let it get fully healed and then not be dealing with it or play with it and have it recurring until the season is over. As a head coach that is the dilemma I am faced with. You want to do everything to win this game on the one hand, but on the other hand you say if he doesn't play in this game you say it is weeks before he has to play again. I don't know the answer.
Q: Did you have to remind the guys about the game with Stanford last year?
W: Oh, they've seen it. I think that Tuesday's practice was far from perfect, Wednesday's was pretty good. Today's practice was good as well. What we did a few weeks ago after some flat performances was we had changed our attire in practice. And I think that has had a very positive effect on our practices. We had been going full pads on Tuesday, shoulder pads on Wednesday, and shells on Thursdays. Now we go full on Tuesday and Wednesday, shoulder pads on Thursday. That has really helped with the tempo of practice. I believe we went to that after the Michigan game and it is paying some dividends.
Q: Have you been happy with the focus in practice?
W: Yes, the focus has been good. I think that you can watch that tape, show it and show it. We watched that kickoff for a touchdown everyday too. It isn't just offense and defense now. So many people are involved in special teams. You watch a guy go for 85 yards pretty much untouched, that is another play that has often been flashed up for special team meetings.
Q: When you study film on Stanford, what do you see?
W: I see a veteran offense that is just starting to get their players back. It looks like Traverso is ready to come back, your veteran running back back, one of your 2 wide receivers is ready to come back. All these guys who have hurt the continuity of the offense by not having them in there are all of sudden coming back. One of the things as an offensive football team is that an easy way to break up the continuity is to have a lot of key guys out. Defensively all you have to do is watch the UCLA game last week. They basically didn't give up a point until the 43 minute mark. The only touchdown was off a blocked punt and they were on the road at UCLA. I thought their defense played pretty impressive last week.
Q: How do you prevent the team from looking past Stanford?
W: The last thing is said to them…I'm going to give you a bit of my New Jersey sarcasm. I said just food for thought. If you lay an egg on Saturday just imagine how bye week is going to be around here. That was the last thing I said today. They knew very clearly my implication. You could call it negative coaching, but that's what I said.
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