How is camp?"I think it is pretty grueling. Usually in training camp, we don't tackle on every play. Almost always we stay up. I think because I'm trying to develop a more physical mentality on both sides of the ball, both being able to run the ball with some physicality and pass block for that matter, and then be able to stop the run and set the edge. I think the only way you can do it, at this stage of the year with the limited amount of time you have, is to take them to the ground. So now, this is two days both Sunday and today where every play is full speed. It obviously brings a whole different tempo to practice."
What have you learned about this team these two days?"I wouldn't call it a surprise, but the thing I've been pleased about the most was Sunday, not today. Not that today was a bad practice because today wasn't a bad practice. On Sunday, you really didn't know how they would respond having just played a game and lost by a lopsided score. And now instead of run and lift and tape-watching sessions for four hours, them being out there going full pads, take them to the ground for the second day in a row, I was encouraged by how Sunday went and Tuesday has been more of the same. I've been encouraged by how the tempo goes, not the flipside to that, but when you're taking them to the ground, you have no way to hide. If you are a running back, you are going to go to the ground; if you are a receiver, you are going to go to the ground; if you are a tackler, you have to take them to the ground. There's no whistle that is going to blow the play dead in a hurry. So it forces you to finish plays. If nothing else, I think this week is about finishing plays. I think that's one area where we probably haven't done the best job on both sides of the ball is finishing, is finishing plays."
Other than training camp, what are you doing differently?"Sometimes when you try to do every game, you try to find the X's and O's schematics to best exploit a team's weaknesses. Sometimes you really don't have an identity. The identity that I have always dealt with, at least on the offensive side of the ball, is multiple formations and multiple personnel groups to run the same plays. That's my stereotype; that's my label. And I think that's what we really haven't gotten to. We're trying to get back to the basics and the core because you can always grow from the core. But I think right now we do not have a very established solid core. I think that's what this week has been about; I think we are going about establishing that core."
Do you think you are trying to learn who this team is?"I think that's a fair question and, more importantly, I think you have to start force-feeding who they are. In other words, instead of trying to feel them out and try to say what you can do, you have to say, we're going to do this; this is one thing we have to do. We are going to do it and do it and do it and do it until we get it right. If you go to that other extreme where you are trying to learn what they can do, and before you know it you have a 38-0 loss. So I think you have to establish a core. I've been coaching long enough to be able to identify what the problems are. The greater challenge is making sure that you fix them. And that's what we are trying to go about this week. We're trying to go about fixing what the problems are."
When you first got here, you talked about the team being nasty. Does this team need to get back to that a little bit?"That's what the last couple of days have been trying to do. One way of doing that is by everyone knowing what to do. And either you are going to whop them or they are going to whop you. And that really goes back to simplifying and getting back to that core group of things that you are going to do to try to have that happen. We're going to find out because, until that comes to fruition, you are going to be dealing with a similar set of circumstances."
With this being a more physical week, what does that mean for the guys in the trenches?"Part of that is we have kept it very simple on both sides of the ball. It's not like we're moving and blitz-zoning on every play or we're scheming on offense on every play. It's more of letting people tee-off on each other and see who is going to make a play. I think there is plenty evidence on tape of guys who are showing up and guys who aren't showing up. Then it is easier to go to a player who wants more time, for example, and say, look at these five plays. How can I put you on the field? I think the last two days have given me plenty of teaching tools. You could call it ammunition, but I call it teaching tools; plenty of information where I can show the players how to get better and why they are playing and why they are not playing."
What was it like for the offensive line before this camp and the reps they got?"They take almost all the reps, but they're going against the show team, and when you go against the show team, it is never full speed. Now, there has been no such thing as the show team for the last couple of days. Half of tomorrow's practice will be more of the same. Half of tomorrow's practice, there will still be no show team and it will still be the offense against the defense. Then we will start moving forward from there. What happens now is, when it is full speed, take them to the ground, good guys against good guys, usually things starting showing up positively and negatively."
Will there be major changes with the starters?"No I don't think there will be major changes. What I didn't want to do is come in here after that game and start firing people from their positions and making massive changes because then what you are doing is making sacrificial lambs and saying you are the problem. When you lose 38-0, there are plenty of problems out there. Obviously, I'm part of the problem too, but I don't play. I think the important thing is, as far as the roster goes, I think more guys are playing themselves into contention or out of contention in the last couple practices."
How close are you to the next step of throwing zone blitzes and things like that at these guys?"We'll go half of practice tomorrow doing things like we're doing right now. After that half of practice, all those exotics start coming into play. I don't think in one day you can answer the problems and I don't think in two days you can answer the problems, but there comes a point in time where you have to start moving on. Tomorrow, halfway through practice is that point in time."
Will you determine on Saturday if the camp is going to continue?"You'll know before you ask me. I do know that I have learned from this right here. If this pays huge dividends, which I'm counting on, I think you have to keep some element of this in your planning so you don't have a setback. Let's say you go and win this week. It's not all of a sudden everything is okay. You still got the crap kicked out of you for three games and you're 1-3. So you have to keep in mind that you're worrying about this game, but you're trying to learn what things help us get prepared for this game. I think we'll re-evaluate that but I think you will have a pretty good idea."
One of the theories why you are 0-3 is because your pro background doesn't translate well to the college game. Could you comment on this?"You have to elaborate because I need to know what that means (laughing)."
Because of your pro background, you coach them differently. You coach them like a pro coach would opposed to how a college coach would."I don't see it that way. I just don't see it that way. Why don't you ask the players? You have a whole bunch of guys coming in today. I can't answer that question. I don't see it that way."
What is the major difference between coaching on that level and this level?"Time management. In the pros if you have a practice and you don't like how it's going, you start it over. We have done do-overs plenty of times. You might be halfway through the practice and you don't like it so you send everybody back to the stretching lines and you start from scratch and you do the whole thing over. There have also been practices where we've been in practice for 15 minutes and the practice has been so crummy, we just walked off the field and gone in, as a coaching staff. Now the next day, they pay the piper because the next day's practice might be four hours. But in college you have a four-hour day; that's what you have. You have a 20-hour week so you don't get do-overs. The biggest difference is you don't get a chance to do what I'm just talking about. If you don't like the way things are going, four hours is still four hours."
Have you talked to Demetrius (Jones)?"I talked to him about 9:00 last night and it was a cordial conversation. I wouldn't say we aired it out, but we just cleared up what was going on and he said he has moved on. I wished him well and that's about it."
Somebody had to know he wasn't making the trip. Does it concern you that one of the assistants didn't come and tell you?"One of my assistant coaches got told at 2:10 and he came to me when he got told at 2:10. One of the player's text message said he isn't showing up. So the coach went down to verify that that was exactly the case before he came up to me. Literally, at 2:10, I was walking out of the office, and I have no reason to say it differently, that's exactly how it happened. The player was informed that he wasn't coming by Demetrius, then the player told the coach who then told me."
Was he going to get that first snap?"I don't know. From what I understand, you and him had a conversation on Wednesday, Tim. Why don't you tell me? I have ears, too (laughing)."
Has he been released from his scholarship?"I'm not involved in any of that stuff right there. I have not talked to anyone. I talked to him for the first time last night at 9:00. I told you I called him and I text him and finally I said with another assistant coach, let's have this conversation and get this over with, because he hadn't called me back, so I said let's run him down and try to reach him so I can get this over with and at least we've had a conversation. Because what, am I supposed to chase him down (laughing)? I thought the right thing in that case would be for him to call me."
What is the process for his release? Does it need your okay?"No, it goes from athletic director to athletic director. That's where that goes and if it comes to me, it comes to me, but nothing has come to me. All I can tell you is, nothing has come to me."
Lots of talk out there that Notre Dame has no talent. How do you respond to this?"Well, they said the same thing when I got here. When I got here, everyone said we have no talent. For a couple years, we played pretty competitive football and right now, I would say we have not played very competitive football for three weeks. I think we're going to have to be judged by how the season goes. And right now, if I was looking at them and watching how we are playing, I could see how they could make statements like that, but I obviously feel different about this team. We are going to have to find out. There is a whole group of problems. I didn't turn into a crummy coach overnight; my staff didn't turn into crummy coaches overnight; and the players didn't turn crummy overnight either. So, there are a whole bunch of problems that are involved right there. But I think we are going to be judged on how it goes from here. Let's face it, it doesn't get much lower than where you are right now. So we're going to be judged from where it goes right here."
You said you needed a core coming out of this training camp, did you have a core coming out of training camp part one?"I thought we had one, but it hasn't materialized the way you'd want it to."
Do you try to create the same core or just elements of it?"No, there are elements of it. I can't go into anymore detail than that. There's elements of it though."
What is the status of Dan Wenger?"I would say he is iffy for a little while."
Will Hand (Derrell) be available?"Hand is available and I expect him to play."
With Jones gone, does this affect how you recruit quarterbacks next year?"Without getting into names, as you all know, we are pretty excited about one that is coming. Although that puts you down in numbers, there is room where you could bring in another player, but you would like that player to be able to play that position and other positions as well. This way, you don't bring in two from a class again that are both now gone from that class. You don't bring in two that are competing against each other with one not being able to play another position. So if I brought in another guy in addition to the young man that we already know has said yes, it would probably be somebody who could play another position other than quarterback."
How would that affect the following year?"I would look to take one the following year. I'm always in the market to take one. Because of the circumstances now, you would like to find one of those athletic type guys that can play another position but could still play quarterback as well."
How is Jimmy (Clausen) processing all that is happening?"This has been a good week for Jimmy because I have cut all the fluff out. I've gone from all of this and that and this and that to this. And it's easiest for a quarterback when we're doing it that way because they don't have as much thinking to do. The picture is very clear when they are doing it this way. You don't have a lot of fire power this way, but there aren't very many mental mistakes and it makes it a lot easier for the quarterback to go out there and play."
How is he handling losing?"He mentally and emotionally hasn't blinked an eye. He hasn't wavered one bit. He has also shown that on the sidelines when I looked into his face too. We call them far-away eyes and he hasn't shown one inch of that."
With a mix of offense and a new defense, do you think too much has been thrown at these guys? Could that be part of the problem?"Let's just say that too many X's and O's are on the right track. We maybe are trying to do too many different things to scheme week by week that doesn't give you a chance to have an identity."
Have you ever returned to basics like you are now at any time in your career?"The fourth game in, I've never done what I am doing either. I've never been in a program ever where at three games in you say we're going to have training camp. I just felt that's what had to be done. When you were watching that game in the fourth quarter the other day, I'm thinking, what is my approach going to be. It's 31/38-0, what's my approach going to be. Well, I'm certainly not going to throw in the towel. So you have to have some insight and give some thought as to what your approach is going to be. And that's one of the reasons I actually had to think about you guys as well. Not about all the questions that come with the loss, but how could I do diligence and answer your questions and start moving forward to fixing the problems. That's why I stayed around here longer to get them done on that day, so I could start moving forward."
Do you give advice to the guys on how to handle outside influences, questions, and negativity?"That's probably one of the toughest things. I actually have it a little easier than the players do. I don't look at the media. I don't go on-line and I don't read the papers; and when I'm told things, he tells me (pointing to Brian Hardin) or else I wouldn't even know them. I've been on a media ban for three weeks as he will tell you (laughing). When I walk into my house and the TV is on, I say change the channel if it's sports. Unless it's the Yankees, sports are forbidden. Well, Sunday night, that was an exception. They have to go to class. I'm in this bunker where I'm locked in here, where I can be sheltered from everyone else. I feel worse for them than I do for me because they have to go to class and hear, ‘What's up, what's going on with this, what's going on with that.' They have to live it all day long when they're in class all the time. So I actually feel for them. But I think the best thing that happens is when you're part of any team, is getting back with the team. Getting on the practice field is a very healthy thing now. It's almost like a cure-all. Not that you are curing all the problems, but it gives them a chance to get back with the fellows and getting back to building the camaraderie."
Do you address this with them?Absolutely, absolutely, you start addressing that with them when you walk into the locker room after the game. You can't wait on that. That isn't something you can wait a couple days to talk about. That's something you have to address right from the start."
When you were recruiting Jones, had you offered him a chance to change positions?"I told Demetrius when we were involved in recruiting, that I was recruiting him as a quarterback. If he wanted to play another position, that wouldn't have been a problem. But Demetrius wanted to play quarterback and I told him I would never lie to him. I would never recruit him as a quarterback just to make him a receiver or make him a safety. I don't lie to these kids. I told him I would recruit him as a quarterback and that is what he wanted to be. And that's what he was going to be."
Did he have the chance to change positions this year?"He could have played another position, but that is not what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a quarterback."
Do you have any concerns about being so physical in practice with a game just around the corner?"Yes, the answer to that is yes. But remember this is Tuesday. One of the benefits of using Sunday, which is usually a light day, as a hitting day, it would be a lot worse if I was doing this Tuesday and Wednesday. Remember, they did it Sunday and then they had Monday off and then they did it Tuesday. And tomorrow won't be nearly the same as it was today. I'd be more concerned if I was doing the same thing on Tuesday and Wednesday that I did on Sunday and Tuesday."
What do you think the confidence of this team is?"How do I think their confidence is; not very high. How do you think it is (laughing)? Right now, it's one of those things where we have to make some good things happen. Too many times when you get into a situation like this, you are hoping good things happen. When you hope for something good to happen, you might be waiting a long time. Saturday we have to make some good things happen."