What are your thoughts after watching Saturday's tape?"I'm never really happy, but I've been generally pleased with the elevated level of competition by a number of players, just not at the top, but from the bottom to the top. I wanted to test them a little bit, so what I did on Sunday morning, I let them sleep in and threw them a little bone. But psychologically, what I was trying to do is see how they would respond from me giving them a little leeway; and we probably had the best practice that we've had all year, on Sunday. Usually, that indicates that the team is starting to become more mature, that they're more serious about it, because the general tendency with these players is, when you take them out of their normal ritual or their daily grind, they are usually a little bit flat. But they passed my first test which I was encouraged by."
What was your quarterback evaluation after Saturday?"Let's get this now; I'm not going to announce the quarterback before we play Georgia Tech. I'm not going to announce the quarterback, and it's not because I'm trying to sandbag anyone. I'm going to be practical here. It's not because I'm trying to sandbag anyone, but it's the only game the entire year that I have any advantage going in, as the first one. That's the only one, because once you have played the game, you have now played your cards. They're on the table already. We don't have Brady Quinn anymore; everyone understands that. What we have is three guys who are all very good players, that are all inexperienced on the college level. They're three different types of players. So there's no intrinsic value of me saying which one is doing which before I go into the first game. It's to my advantage, and to Notre Dame football's advantage, to do it that way for the first game. I promise you, it's not because I'm trying to hold back from the guys that are here every day. It's that I'm trying to win the opener. I'm trying to beat Georgia Tech and it's the only game that I have this card to play, and I'm going to hold them. My answer won't change; it's going to be a game-time decision; that will be my answer on this one.
Do all the quarterbacks get the same number of reps?"The problem I have is that they are different players. So when they are in there, I have a set of core plays that I do with all three of them. I do different things with different players. So it causes me a little bit of extra thinking and distraction because I have to figure who am I going to use and what am I going to call. Once you have utilized that core, you want to expand from that. The only one that it is causing more of a headache on right now than anyone is me. Everyone else that goes in, whatever play is called; they just go ahead and run it. This is the one that is causing a little bit of mental overload for me."
Do you have a timetable when you will decide on the starting quarterback?"What I have to do is, I can't give them proportionately the same amount of work as you are getting ready to play because then you are not getting the team ready to play. So by next Monday, I want to start changing the percentages of who's doing what. When you do that, the obvious deduction is that everything is set in stone, but I can't say that totally to be the case. I'm not trying to be evasive, and I'm not trying to lie to anyone. That's where we are on that."
So on Monday, you could give all three the same amount of work, but if that person doesn't perform, then that changes things?"Exactly, take any of them, pick a name out of a hat; I say it's him. Now he's the lead guy and he spits the bit. Then you have to do something about it. You have to make sure the team is ready to go and my job is to make sure that I have the team ready to go; and I'll make sure that I have that done. I owe that to the team to make sure it's not one of those questions like what are we going to do now. Mine is to build confidence in all three of them so that whoever is in there, the team has confidence that they can win."
When will you begin practicing primarily for Georgia Tech?"We are going to start practicing for Georgia Tech on Monday of this coming week. We have done all the work on Georgia Tech. We watched every game from last year and did the scouting report. We did that before we went on vacation because there's not another game that's going to be played. We do the same thing they do, we track their personnel; hear if anyone has been injured; hear if anyone has been injured in training camp; try to follow what the media says - saying, hey so-and-so is really looking good; so-and-so is not looking really good. Unless you want to be unethical and sneak somebody into practice, which I have too many other things to worry about than that, you have to go just by what you are hearing, but more importantly, by what you saw when they played last year. You know they are going to tweak it. For example, I have two different things – they have a veteran defensive coordinator and a veteran head coach whose offense is his deal. Realistically, the offense might have more tweaks than the defense. I know John Tenuta is going to be ready for us. I know he's going to be ready."
How long will the advantage last with Georgia Tech not knowing who the starting quarterback will be?"We have our offense; we have an offensive package. We know we have it and they know we have it, and they're going to be practicing just like we know they pressure and they know that we have multiple personnel groups. We both know that and it's just going to be, we try to stay one step ahead of each other. Last year when everybody talked about all these guys we had, we were lucky to come out of there scoring 14. Fortunately for us, our defense held them to 10 and that's how we walked out of there with a win. I'll take any kind of a win in any game. I'd like to think what you do as a coaching staff is try to stay one step ahead of them. So as they are adjusting to what you are doing in the game, you also are adjusting. So you try to stay one step ahead of them."
Put yourself in their shoes, are they reading tea leaves trying to figure out what you will be doing?"I think it's pretty simple. Here's what I think. They know Corwin's here and we are going to play a version of the 34. I know that they know our offense and in addition to our offense, they know we have this athletic quarterback in Demetrius. So what if he plays? Everyone says Weis went down to West Virginia for a day, and in a day I don't think I could throw out our whole offense and put in their whole offense. Could I have gotten a couple of ideas from them to go ahead and use? Absolutely, so now what you do is practice against a couple of those things to make sure you are prepared for those. You practice against our offense and you practice against the 34. Now if people want to sit there and say, why would Weis want to tell Georgia Tech what to do? That's what any staff is going to do. I'm only speaking the obvious. That's what they're going to do."
On Monday, when you begin to narrow the quarterback choice from three to two, how difficult will this be for the young offense to handle?"The team will know what we are doing. Instead of a three-way race, they will know it's more two-way, and they will know it's either what he does; or what he does. It's not either/or because there are three guys involved. We will run our offense, and I also add some stuff to add to the strength of that quarterback; that's only smart football."
With more depth on the defense this year, will that change the way you coach?"We haven't worried too much about that at this point, because last week was the big installation week. This week we have some installation, but it's more of a tweaking week where you take a lot of the stuff that you put in and, instead of just putting it in, now you try to get better at doing it. You add a little installation, but not a whole bunch because you've thrown in most of the installation in week one. Then when you get to week three, you start going to show teams. The only two times in the year where you have the advantage of not having a game the week before a game; and it's this and the week before we play Navy. For example, normally in training camp, you would have to spend some time on the option. Well, we're not spending any time in training camp on Navy's option. Why, because we have a bye before we play Navy. If we didn't have a bye before playing Navy, one of the things we would do in training camp, because it's so much different from what you normally see, is work on that defensively – trying to stop their option. But because we have a bye before playing them, we don't have to do that in this training camp, because we can work on that the week of the bye."
Is George West still considered the number two receiver?"It's still his spot, but I'm telling you what; they are all feeling the heat. There's people breathing down their necks; let me tell you that. There's a lot of heat out there in this competition. He's done a nice job for us; Grimes has done a nice job for us; but I can tell you, there's a whole bunch. It's like coming down to the finish line of the track. There's a whole bunch of closers here trying to get ahead."
How many starting jobs are still up for grabs?"As far as starting the game, barring injuries, I wouldn't say very many. The difference between this year and the past; in the past you would only play that many guys. This year there are a lot of those second guys who are going to play a significant role in the game. In the past, that wasn't the case here. I could see us playing six corners in the first game. Now two will start, but I can see six getting into the game. That's a lot of depth and it's a nice situation to be in. Whereas, there is always a first group; the difference this year, we are a lot happier where we are with the second groups."
How is the offensive line progressing as a unit?"For the first time, we have been able to line up a whole second line and change for that matter. We will call two; then we will call two plus, because there are some guys who aren't even running the second line that we think are good enough to play in the game. Since the first time in my stay here, we are at the point now where we have guys we can put on the field and not have to game play; what am I going to do if so-and-so has to play."
With the rule change on kickoffs, does that make you want to use more starters on kickoff?"It certainly wants you to use more speed on the field. It's a combination of starters and speed. You want to make sure you have guys who are going to get down there in a hurry. We have always believed in taking every guy that is a starter and have them involved in special teams; even if you back off on certain units. We believe in making sure our special teams have good players out there. So if you have a guy behind the starter that there isn't much drop-off on special teams, obviously, you'd like to get the starter out. In conjunction with your question, I think getting speed out there is important. You can't just put a bunch of slugs out there because it just might not work."
Evan has been a holder in the past. Would you use a starting quarterback as a holder?"Yes, we have a couple different scenarios right now because we have righty kickers and lefty kickers. So right now I'm using one guy to hold for the righty kickers and one guy to hold for the lefty kickers, because the technique is just opposite. So I'm using a combination of Evan (Sharpley) and Jeff (Samardzija) to work as holders. Depending upon who's kicking, I have a guy who has practiced holding from that side. If Evan was the starting quarterback and he was the holder; he would be the holder. I said this before and not being a wise guy, Joe Montana held; and if he can hold, I think Evan Sharpley can hold."
(This question was unclear. It pertains to the recruiting of Demetrius Jones and his skills as a quarterback coming into Notre Dame.)"First of all, Lexie (?) is a good coach at Morgan Park so it isn't like this kid came in here uncoached. Last year I didn't know as much about Demetrius during the season because he was down there running the show team. It was a split between him and Zack (Frazier). One of those guys would always be down with the show team and Evan was running number two. And I was predominantly talking with Brady and those guys would just listen to what I said. Now, he's been right in there with the other guys, and I think Ron (Powlus) and I would give you the same answer; we have been very pleased with his progress. I would like to think we have a pretty good eye for evaluating talent, and he is certainly talented."