Charlie Weis will use Notre Dame's loss to Michigan State as a teaching tool for his players. Weis told his players after the loss that even though they did not deserve to win that game, they did have a chance in the end and the tape will back up that view.
"I made my point in the locker room (Saturday) night, explaining to them how in a game like that how each play is important. There isn't one play that takes place that isn't important," Weis said on Sunday. "I think that when they watch the tape (Monday) morning they're going to see evidence of how many plays that if one guy would have done his job better the chances for success might have been that much better. And when you're a team that is learning and growing and getting better, those are the types of mistakes that you can't afford to make if you intend on winning."
When the Notre Dame players come in Monday for their first day of work after a loss, Weis is going to be looking at their demeanor.
"In the morning I want to see them disappointed because when they watch the tape I want them to see evidence of the tape with that one-play-at-a-time mentality that I was talking about before, there were plenty of single plays that could have changed the complexion of that game," he said. "In the afternoon, it's got to be get back to business and moving forward."
Effort was never a concern according to Weis, which is different from a year ago.
"Not that I'm pleased with a lot of things, but I was pleased that the guys played hard throughout the entire game," he said. "There were times last year when I didn't feel that we were slugging it out right to the end of the game, but yesterday was not one of them."
While Weis shouldered almost all of the blame for the losses in 2007, as the team matures he thinks that it's important for them to take on more accountability.
"I think you can spread the wealth a little bit more. I thought that last year the appropriate thing to do would be really to start (with me), and it always does start with me, that doesn't change," he said. "Ultimately, when you lose a game and you're the head coach the main responsibility falls on you."
Weis pointed out a couple of key situations that the Irish did not take advantage of.
"For example, offensively, let's just talk about offense. You turn the ball over three times, twice that's going in, once in your own territory. You're either keeping you from scoring points or you're giving them points," said Weis. "Everyone wants to talk about Sam (Young's) penalty on the third play of the game, which is a dumb penalty now. But I'm more concerned with James (Aldridge's) false start because James' false start on that play, if you recall we complete a pass to get us 1st-and-goal on the 6 or 7-yard line."
The mistakes weren't limited to just offense either.
"Obviously our goalline defense was really good in the game, but we had one play down there where Terrail (Lambert) gets beat inside on a slant right there. They're probably kicking a field goal right there and now it's 6-0 instead of 10-0," he said.
"I hate ever to throw players under the bus, but I think that they have to accept a certain level of accountability on specific plays that happened during the game, realizing that we're all part of the success and we're all part of the failure."
Weis said that 2008 is different from last season.
"I just think that there were too many problems to do that (last year)," he said. "It was just an easier tact to take, to keep the direction or focus (on me.)"
One of the major problems with this year's team has been the lack of a running game and even though Notre Dame made it clear that it wanted to be a run-first offense that could change. Weis was asked if gaining more yards through the air would be fine with him.
"Yes, that would be OK."
Pressed further about the team's offensive identity changing to a team that passes to set up the run, the head coach said that it could happen, but would have to be evaluated weekly based on the opposition.
"I think you have to definitely explore that option," Weis said. "I think the most important thing is that you have to apply it to Purdue."
Defensively, Weis continues to be pleased with the production even though the sack numbers (still just one) are not what many had anticipated.
"A lot of the blitzes that we were running yesterday were more run-blitzes," he said. "With Javon Ringer being such a dynamic guy I think the one thing that you needed to do is make sure you had somebody in every gap. And the few times in the game when we didn't have somebody in every gap, like the one 60-yarder that he went for."
And just like on offense, the defensive approach will be different against Purdue next Saturday.
"This week you needed to get eight men in the box on a regular basis," said Weis. "Obviously the whole offensive scheme is different, so what you're going to do against (Purdue quarterback Curtis) Painter is going to be a lot different than what you're doing against (Brian) Hoyer and Ringer."
After watching the tape, Weis still believes that there were problems with the field goal unit before Brandon Walker ever got a chance to kick.
"I can't remember the last time in practice that we had a snap-hold problem and yesterday in the game I would say that the operation in both cases, both field goal operations weren't exactly smooth," Weis said.
Still, Weis admitted that the placekicking job could be opened up for Ryan Burkhart to compete with Walker.
"Just like we talked about in the running game, I think that you have to explore that option," he said.
WEIS ON THE COMPUTER: The incident with the laptop computer in the Notre Dame coaches' box seems to be being overblown by some outlets. Here is Weis' explanation of exactly what happened:
"When we go on the road, what we do is a student manager is assigned to just, from a defensive staff standpoint, because it's not on the offensive staff, OK, is assigned to type in on a laptop the down and distance in the defense. So when we come back here they can give it to (video coordinator) Tim Collins, and when they're dubbing the tape for the next morning, it will just -- it just reads across, '1st-and-10, Under Bear. Whatever it is. Now, you're allowed to do that, but the one area where you're not allowed to do that is in a coaching area. It wasn't a coach doing it, but it was a student manager. But their press box is a 3-tiered one where the main coaches sat on the first tier and GAs and those guys sat on the second tier, then there was a third tier. So we had a guy up there that was putting in the down and distance and the name of the defense so when we came back he wouldn't have to stay up until 3:00 in the morning punching the stuff in. To be honest with you, if he were sitting next to (reporters) in the press box, that's perfectly legal for him to do the exact same thing. So if we were at fault, it was for the fact that he was at the top of the three tiers doing exactly that.
"At first when an official came over to me, I said, ‘They're doing what? We're doing what?' So I was talking to (Michael) Haywood at the time on the headseat and I said, ‘Do you have a laptop up there?' He goes, ‘No.' I said to the guy who came over across the field, I said, ‘We don't have a laptop.' So about three minutes later I'm still talking to Haywood and Haywood says, ‘Hey, somebody up top, one of the student managers up top has a laptop.' I said, ‘Tell him to take the laptop and put it underneath his desk,' which he did. He cooperated with anyone, with anything that happened right there. What I did when I was walking off at halftime, I grabbed one of their coaches, I don't know which one, but I grabbed one of their coaches to tell them exactly what I'm telling you."