2008 The Same For Haywood

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Michael Haywood met with the media to discuss the Irish offense through camp and his role as the new playcaller. Since Charlie Weis announced that he would no longer call plays, Haywood has been adamant that he would prepare the same way as he always had.

You'd never know that Notre Dame offensive coordinator Michael Haywood was less than two weeks away from his first game with the Irish as the playcaller.

Haywood was asked on Tuesday if he was getting excited for his first opportunity to send the plays into the Notre Dame huddle.

"No, not really. I really don't. I spend a number of hours primarily doing the same thing in which I've been doing over the last several years," Haywood said. "However I spend a little bit more late nights, instead of going home at 10:00, 10:30, I may stay until 12:30 or 1:00 because of thoughts that come up and different things to discuss with the offensive staff, different things to pass by Coach (Weis) when he gets in."

Maybe another reason why the fourth-year Notre Dame offensive coordinator is not going crazy with anxiety is because of the length of the time that he has had to get himself ready for the matchup against San Diego State.

"We started the gameplan back in May. The only thing we're doing right now is refining the gameplan. We've added a couple of new wrinkles to it in the running game and in the pass game," he said. "The vast majority of the work was done back in May and June when we came off the road from recruiting. This provides us an opportunity just to refine it, add a couple of different things in the passing game and also in the run game."

But as gameday draws near the gameplan begins to take a more solid form. The staff has already started working on its opening script of plays, but it won't be completely done until after the staff evaluates the Aztecs in their matchup against Cal Poly on Saturday.

"We started last night actually thinking about openers. The one thing that we have to think about primarily is the opponent in which they're facing may not provide us with enough information to use because of the various offense in which they run and the offense that we run," Haywood said. "So it may not help us as far as scheme goes, however it provides us an opportunity to look at their personnel and by looking at their personnel you can create matchups by formations and those things. That will help us with the openers also."

Weis made the general idea for the gameplan against San Diego State, and for the entire season for that matter, obvious on Monday when he said that the Irish were "going to pound it."

"He's the head coach and if he wants to pound it, I'll call the pound-it plays," Haywood said simply. "I think what Coach (Weis) is really saying is that we have an offensive line who is a lot bigger and stronger, we have multiple backs that are running a lot better than they've run in the past years. So it creates an opportunity now for us to run the ball a little bit more effective in which we've run over the past several years. So that may be what he's talking about."

Like Weis said on Monday, Haywood mentioned that running the ball effectively will open up the rest of the offense, but he also said that the increased knowledge of this year's offense will help.

"We're creating an identity by being able to run the football, play-action pass, dropback pass. But the most important thing in which we're doing is that we're teaching guys football, we're teaching guys situational football," Haywood said. "We're teaching them that on first and ten when we call this play, we're expecting four yards on this play to make it second and six. On the next call, we're making a call to get us in third and short or to pick up the first down.

"We're teaching them to stay on schedule. The importance of down and distance, red zone football, coming out football, taking shots. We're basically doing a lot more because we've had a lot more time also in which we're spending on teaching football and which some of them didn't have any knowledge of the game as far as that's concerned."

The players have improved physically as well as mentally according to Haywood.

"These guys have really got significantly better in the offseason. The spring was really important for some of the new things that we added offensively and some of the things in which we simplified," he said. "It gave each individual an opportunity to consistently run the plays over and over again against various defensive fronts, various blitzes, various coverages so they understand where the reads are and understanding where the free defenders are. I think each one of them has improved significantly since last fall."


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