"I prefer not to have to use that approach. I prefer not to," Weis said at his Sunday afternoon press conference. But every once in awhile you're forced to go to that level, and fortunately they responded."
The Irish looked like a much different team, not only in the second half but for the season, playing their way back into the game. Golden Tate's diving 25-yard touchdown reception got Notre Dame to within 26-19 with just under eight minutes remaining in the game. But Purdue (5-0) was able to close the Irish (0-5) out on the next possession, answering with a quick touchdown of their own, for a 33-19 victory.
"You don't want to get in there at halftime, really at halftime what you want to be doing is you want to be critically evaluating what happened. You have a 20-minute time period and you have time to evaluate what happened in the first half, what the problem areas were and then what you're going to do in the second half. But I think we spent a good portion of our time talking about showing up."
Though Weis stated that his team is yet again not accepting moral victories, they definitely did show up the final 30 minutes of play. The nation's worst statistical offense gained 294 of its season-high 426 yards after intermission in a frantic effort for an upset victory over three-touchdown favorite Purdue. Only 109 of the Boilermakers 371 yards of offense came in the second half, and Purdue entered the game ranked eighth nationally in total yards.
Notre Dame's previous season high for total yards of offense was 203 against Michigan State the week before. Now Weis has to find away to get his team to come out better in the first half against UCLA (4-1), when the Irish visit the Rose Bowl next Saturday. He is again making tweaks to the weekly practice schedule.
"Today is going to be more like I did last Sunday, where in addition to running and lifting and watching the tape, we're also going to walk through things from yesterday," Weis explained.
"Tuesday we are going to hit again but I'm adapting a little bit again so I continue trying to upgrade our toughness at the line of scrimmage. This week what we're going to do, and the players don't even no this yet so I'm telling you before I tell them, this week on Tuesday there is not going to be show teams for most of the practice. That means the first offense will run UCLA's plays for the defense, and the first defense will run UCLA's defense for the offense. This way, instead of wasting the reps and going us against us, it will be good guys giving the look of the opposing team this week."
***Last week against Michigan State, the Irish offense showed some semblance of a running game. Saturday against Purdue, the team showed that when clicking, they can be pretty potent throwing the ball.
Before leaving the game with a hip injury in the third quarter, starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed 18-of-26 passes for 169 yards, and the first touchdown pass of his career and first touchdown pass of the season for the Irish. The freshman was not sacked and threw just one interception while throwing across his body desperately trying to make a play.
"Jimmy was playing pretty well to tell you the truth," Weis stated.
Backup Evan Sharpley continued where Clausen left off and then some. The junior came in to complete 16-of-26 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, including the one to Tate that brought the Irish to within the one score. Coming in cold off the pine, Sharpley was poised, made good decisions and was accurate in leading two quick scoring drives.
"I'd have to evaluate him actually as being pretty good," Weis said. "I would say above average, but I'd move that to pretty good due to the number of reps he got in relation to Jimmy. I'd say he probably got a quarter to a third of the reps."
That will likely be the case for Sharpley again this week. Clausen and Weis texted back and forth a few times last night, and Clausen said that he thinks he will be ready to go this week for practice and against the Bruins next Saturday. Weis said that if that's the case, Clausen is the probable starter.
"At least the team now knows that we have two guys we can put in at quarterback that can move the team and give us a chance of winning," Weis said. "A couple weeks ago we didn't know we had one. Now we're getting to the point where now instead of not having one, you have two guys you feel can move the team, that's encouraging.
"It gives me now some weapons to work with that I feel with a lot more confidence we can throw the football."
***Another reason why Weis has confidence he can throw the football is the quick emergence of freshman receivers Tate and Duval Kamara.
Tate made the first three receptions of his career against the Boilermakers, all on go-routes where got behind the Purdue defense. The speedy 5-foot-11, 188-pound Tate had catches for 36, 43 and 25 yards to spark the Irish offense.
"He's been our best offensive scout team player every week for the last bunch of weeks," Weis said. "He goes down there and all those plays you saw in the game, he makes those in practice every single day against our defense. We had a big conversation at our staff meeting today about guys who go down to show team and use show team to make themselves better versus guys that go to show team and look at it as a punishment. I think what he's done is he's played himself more and more into the other end of the field by what he's been doing on show team alone. I think you'll see more and more of Golden every week."
Weis said they've been working on fast tracking Tate, but that the former high school running back has to become more consistent on all aspects of the position other than just running by the defense.
Kamara on the other hand came to Notre Dame more polished than Tate at receiver, and that's why he's seen more game reps. Against Purdue, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound Hoboken, N.J. product caught six passes for 68 yards, including the first touchdown of his career, a seven-yard pass from Sharpley.
***The Irish had a field goal blocked and missed two extra points against Purdue. Weis equally blamed the kicker, the protection, and the holder. At practice on Tuesday, instead of watching the players perform position drills, the media will see the whole team go full speed for five minutes working on field goal and field goal block.
***Starting receiver David Grimes did not play in the second half with an ankle injury. He caught three passes for 34 yards before leaving the game. Like Clausen, Weis expects to know more about the junior's status later today.
"I don't know if it was a low-ankle sprain or a high-ankle sprain, I don't know which one it was," Weis said. "I just know he had that brace on there. I know that he got taped up and tried to go and run a little bit on the sideline, and I could see how he was running on the sideline it didn't look like it was going to be a go."
***The Irish were flagged 11 times for 110 yards, including three times one drive, setting up a Purdue field goal and a 26-6 lead.
"I agree with almost every call, even the one which I disagreed with, I can see why they called it," Weis said. "Even though they shouldn't of called it, I can see why they did call it. I think that sometimes they're dumb penalties, sometimes they're lack of awareness penalties, sometimes they're lack of concentration penalties.
"The lack of concentration penalties you can work on. Like when we're jumping offsides on defense. You can work on snap counts and doing 100 up-downs if you jump offsides."