When you were a starter for the first time, was the whole package put in at one time or in increments?"We had it all in. In a way I was fortunate, I had the year to learn and see and watch. We didn't have to change much because I had been there for a year and a spring. So it was pretty much our whole offense."
What is your assessment of Jimmy's performance Saturday night?"I know Coach has recapped the games – the goods and the bads and dealt with you guys on that – for our quarterback to be playing in a game like that and the situation he was in as his first start, I thought Jimmy handled himself well. Certainly, we all have to do more from every position to win games and that is what our focus is. Very generally speaking, Jimmy handled himself very well."
Jimmy came in with a lot of polish. How has he added to that and progressed?"I think he has and that has come from a lot of hard work, determination, and study. Absolutely, he has progressed and he will continue to progress."
Going into the game, were you confident that he would do well?"Without getting too specific into our offense, he has shown to make good decisions and handled himself well. And that is what you felt you could count on with him and that is what he showed us. We didn't feel like there was any kind of a letdown with him."
With a young quarterback, do you go in with a priority of don't do this or don't do that?"No, living that experience - I don't know what's in another quarterback's head - but, living that experience, you really try not to play that kind of game. If you go and try not to lose, you are focused on the wrong thing; so Jimmy and any quarterback – and I am speaking from my own experience – you certainly don't want to go in trying not to lose or trying not to make a mistake because then your focus is not on winning."
Do you feel he did a good job of not putting the defense in bad spots like happened the week before?"Which is what he is supposed to do; you just play the position and the position says you don't put the defense in a bad spot. He played the position."
How do you measure how much to give a young quarterback?"At any position, you go on what they can handle and what you can teach them and how they perform with what you have taught them or given them."
Are you looking for him to say this is too much?"I wouldn't expect any competitor to say this is too much. You have to base it on how they perform with what they have. That's what we have done and the more he can do, the more he will get and that's true with any position, not just the quarterback position."
Can you talk about how hard it is for a quarterback to get the job done when there is little running game and the protection is weak?"There is really no differentiation in anything you have said because the bottom line to a quarterback is getting the ball in the end zone and leading the team to points. There is no – we didn't do this good, we didn't do that good – the bottom line is we didn't score enough points. They scored more points than we did and that falls on everybody. That's how you view it as a quarterback, as a coach, or any player on the team. Everybody on the team has to view it the same way and the quarterback is no different."
The saying is that teams improve most between games one and two. This will be Jimmy's second game, how much improvement do you expect?"Whether it's your eighteenth game or your second game or your sixth game, you become more comfortable as you play. So there is no question, a game under anybody's belt makes them more comfortable, and I don't think it will be any different with Jimmy."
How helpful is it to a young quarterback to get comfortable by using the short passing game?"Anything you can do with success helps you become more comfortable. If the coaches are confident a player can do a certain thing with success, then that will make him more comfortable. Whether it's a lineman blocking or a back running and hitting the hole, that we know this is a play he likes to run so let's run that one first and get him feeling good - or a quarterback throwing a ball we know he can complete and get him feeling good. That's smart coaching and you build off the positives. That's what you can do with the quarterback and the passing game, sure."
On the flip side, does the quarterback want to move the ball by throwing the ball down the field?"You mean throw it further down the field or move the ball down the field because we all want to move the ball down the field. As a quarterback, you're just one of the eleven on the field. And whatever is being called is what you do. If it's run the ball ten times in a row, that's what you do. If it means you run it or you throw it short or you throw it long, that's what you do. Any true team player has no feelings of I want to do more of this or I want to do more of that. So the quarterback is no different."
Going into Michigan 0-2, have you talked to the players about this?"No, I haven't. I don't talk in terms of 0-3. We don't talk in those terms because that doesn't need to enter into our minds. Just like you don't go into a game trying not to fail, you don't go into a game trying not to lose. Certainly we are preparing to win the game, but we want to win the game to win the game; not to have anything to do with our record. It's to win the game because that is who we are playing this week right now and that is where our focus is."
Do you have any memories of playing Michigan in the Big House?"Yeah, we played there one time in my senior year; it was '97 and they beat us – 21 to 14 I think; something like that. They had a pretty good team and we had a pretty good team. It was a good game and a fun game and one of the games that you look forward to as a college football player and a player at Notre Dame. It's certainly a traditional rivalry between our schools and in college football. I certainly have memories of the game – not all fond memories (laughing) but certainly it was a fun environment to play in."
What did you learn about Jimmy and the way he ran the operation Saturday night?"Again, with experience comes comfort in the operation and in the physical aspects of the game. The more you do it, the more comfortable you feel and I thought Jimmy handled himself very well in running the operation. He handled himself very well."