Irish Eyes Transcript: Mike Haywood

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Haywood met with the media after practice on Tuesday. Here is an exclusive transcript of that meeting.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Haywood met with the media after Tuesday's practice as the team prepares to go against Michigan State on Saturday. Coach Haywood began the session by relating that 18 members of his family and friends were with him over the weekend due to the storms in Texas, and he was pleased to have all the company. He was also able to get tickets for all of them on Saturday. He still has five family members with him, including his Mother and Dad who were at practice today. Their return home will depend upon the weather conditions in Texas.

Talk about the progress you think the team made between game one and game two.

"You usually make your significant strides in week two between your first game and your second game. I think they became a little bit more comfortable in their execution. We limited a lot of the things that we did. We provided a little more repetition because, when you get a lot more reps, you become a lot more comfortable at a lot of things on first and second down which provided to have success early, developed a core of plays in the red zone and on goal line so that we would become a little more consistent with. I think we made a lot of strides and the offensive line played a lot better."

Getting into the red zone so quickly Saturday, did that provide a different situation?

"Jumping into the red zone right away, we just went to the red-zone call. We primarily called the top three plays in the red zone so we jumped right into it. Then we came back and went into the red zone again at the 14-yard line. So then we jumped back into the red-zone calls again and really ran the things that we ran the most in practice."

The fact that this team is more confident, does that make it easier to call plays?

"I think it is important that you consistently and constantly build the confidence of the young men. I think you build confidence by repetition and asking them to do the things that they do the best. We had some success in practice and one of the things that we changed is that in practice we go offense versus defense toward the end of practice. I think the speed of the game has helped us tremendously in going into the game and playing in the speed of the game and then running the same plays. One of the things that happens is you may be scheming certain things against certain defensive fronts. However you run the same plays against the different fronts or different coverage against our team and it forces guys to think and become better football players and students of the game."

Last year it seems like you were just looking for things that they could execute. Now that they have got that, how much further ahead does that put you?

"It provides us the opportunity to do a few more check-with-me plays, maybe a run-to-run check or run-to-pass check in those situations. The guys are grasping that pretty good."

How are you working to solve third-down problems?

"That is one of the main issues that we have discussed. We are spending a great deal of time on it this week. One of the things that we did, Ron Powlus and I sat down and we analyzed every third down and wrote up a situation of what happened on every third down. Then we came in and addressed the team and said this is what happened and this is the reason why and this is how we are going to have to get better. What we have to do is develop a core of third-down calls in which they are more consistent with and they feel more confident with. I think that's where we are headed this week."

Coach Weis said he was amused by Golden Tate's confidence after he scored the touchdown. As his confidence grows, does your confidence in him grow also?

"People seldom realize that Golden Tate is only a sophomore. He is a comical kid that has a personality and I'm sure he is a media darling. But the thing that you have to realize is that he has great athletic ability and great ball skills. Maybe the ball skills come from being a baseball player. He can go up and get a ball in traffic in any point in time. You just have to suffer through the growing pains because he may blow a route here; may blow a route there; may not convert on this play. So what! He's going up and making plays. So you just keep getting him the ball."

He showed good hands in the rain.

"Right. On those kickoff returns, those were hot kickoffs and I think Michigan did a great job of squibbing the ball because it is a difficult play to field. But he showed great hand-eye coordination like he's an outfielder or a shortstop."

Charlie credited the success of the touchdown pass because he sold the fake. You think last year he would have sold the fake?

"No, last year he wouldn't have understood. I think it is through growing pains, which I said previously, he understands what has to be done and now he is able to execute the play. He's a great young man and I love him. I just sit there and laugh at him all the time. For example, the stare that he gave in the end zone on the first touchdown pass, we threw a slant to him and he broke down the field in practice and he's running past everybody and he just stops at the 50-yard line. So I blow the whistle because he stopped and is staring. So I said, ‘Golden, tell me what you are thinking.' He said, ‘Coach, when I get my first touchdown, I was thinking about what I was going to do. So the stare was the best thing for me to do and not get a 15-yarder.' He's a different bird."

Was this in practice?

"It was in practice. He practiced it and practiced it and then did it in the game. He's a different bird."

Have you had a guy like him before?

"No. He's fun to watch in practice. He acts like he's going to pass out because he goes a hundred miles a minute, then the next thing you know he's running 4.4 down the field catching another ball. He comes back acting like he's about to die. Then he goes and runs his 4.4 down the field again."

Did you know what you were getting personality-wise when you were recruiting him?

"Oh yeah, because first of all we were recruiting him as a running back, so he comes over and stands behind the running backs when we were going through drills. Then the next thing I notice, he's over by the wide receivers. So afterwards, he comes over and meets with me and I said, ‘Golden, why were you over by the wide receivers?' ‘Because,' he said, ‘I realize I have a better chance of playing over there than over here.' So I said to Coach, ‘We might be recruiting him as a wide receiver because he's pretty smart.' He's a good kid."

Coach Weis commented that Asaph Schwapp had the best game since he's been there. Can you comment on that?

"I think he was extremely physical at the point of attack. When you watch the different situations throughout the game; for example, when we were ‘isoing' on the Sam linebacker No. 49, he just started turning down and jumping around him. I think he was really a hammer and did an outstanding job in his pass protections along with his run-blocking. Maurice Stovall lost all that weight before his senior year and he was a young man that wasn't even going to be drafted and all of a sudden he ends up being drafted in the second round. Asaph Schwapp has lost over 20 some pounds so he's in better physical condition and doesn't have to worry about getting tired in practice. He's able to go a hundred miles a minute. He has better lateral movement in practice and in the games. He's doing a better job in his individual one-on-one blocks. He's a better run-blocker and he's a better pass-protector."

Is he almost too strong?

"No, he was too big. He's lost a lot of weight and he's doing a great job with his weight now."

Does he still want the ball?

"He never says anything about anything. He never asks us for the ball. All he wants to do is go hit people."

Robert Hughes got most of the carries Saturday. What determined that?

"You look at the situation of the game. It turned from a game where we had decent weather to start off with and we were able to throw the ball. Then you get into a situation where it is a downpour and you now have to pound the football. When you're pounding the ball, it goes to two people, Robert Hughes and James Aldridge because that's not Armando Allen's type of game. So the complexity of the game changes a little bit."

How much better are the backs at run-blocking now?

"I think it speaks for itself because the offensive line has done a tremendous job and Coach Latina has done a really good job with those guys. The backs are consistently getting better because that's one thing we do every day and fortunately enough we have been able to protect the quarterback so far this year."

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