Charlie Weis said that his most important job following the loss to Pittsburgh was to make sure that he keeps this team in the right frame of mind and that nobody took the blame on themselves alone. But that does not mean that the head coach would be massaging their egos.
Weis moved up this week's practice schedule in attempt to move on to Boston College quicker.
"Normally what happens on a Monday is the previous game gets carried over from the morning into the afternoon before you start really get going on the next game," he said. "I felt the best thing to do would be to get the previous game out of the way in the morning so that by the time we came here in the afternoon you weren't dealing with a previous game anymore. So I was the one who took care of the previous game. And then in the afternoon the assistant coaches got to get working on the next game. So I was the bad cop."
Weis' message was clear.
"The message is it's not OK," he said. "You know, you lose a game and people come to you, ‘God, that was a tough game. Four overtimes, that was a good game. God, it was close.' Well, from my standpoint, the message was it's not OK."
Weis was asked if the same performance would have been more acceptable in 2007. The head coach understood the question, but said that the standard is always the same.
"It wouldn't have been OK last year either. It wouldn't have made any difference between last year and this year," he said.
Weis was impressed with the job his assistants did in building the team back up.
"You could tell very clearly that we had moved on. When you do something like that, also the assistant coaches were under my guidance, I said, ‘OK, fellas, I've already taken care of that stuff. Now let's start dealing with the things that I was talking about by getting a team ready to go against Boston College,'" he said. "So what I didn't want to do is me hammer them and hammer them and have it prolonged into the day and now you leave here on Monday no better than when you left on Saturday. But that was not the case (Monday)."
The role of the good cop was an unfamiliar one for offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.
"I don't think that I'm a good cop too often," he said. "I'm a good cop off the field, I'm not a good cop on the field."
Still, Haywood believes that the staff accomplished the goal.
"We just try to build confidence from here on out," he said. "Letting them know, ‘This is what you did good. These are the mistakes in which you made, this is what we can do and this is what we have to do to get better.'"
Junior right tackle Sam Young said that he does not believe that the team's confidence has been shaken and that it will take the lessons that it learned forward.
"We expect more of ourselves," Sam Young said. "We expect to win. You play the game to win."
Center Dan Wenger said that he has a chip on his shoulder.
"I think I do. I think it's just tough. I'm just ready to get back to work," he said. "Everyone wants to win. We need to go, we need to have a great game, we need to work hard this week, we need to work hard everyday for the rest of the season. It's just a matter of the want and the will to compete and to win."
WEIS CALLS FORMATION, HAYWOOD CALLS PLAYS: Weis explained his role in the playcalling when the Irish offense goes without a huddle. Weis said that he gives Haywood and the team a formation and then the offensive coordinator calls the play.
"When we go no-huddle it goes that way. And all's that is is to go ahead and get the guys lined up," Weis said. "Right when the play is over I give him a formation, now Michael has time to look down to that formation and decide what play he's going to run and the guys can kind of go to the right areas, can get to the right areas while we're waiting for the play to come in.
"All it does is expedites getting people lined up so that once the play, once Michael does give the play to Ron (Powlus) and then Ron signals the number of the play in, now everyone can get ready to go."
Haywood agreed that it helps to speed up the process.
"The operation goes a lot faster. I think you have a quicker operation by that time because by the hash the formation is already signaled in and depending on down and distance or what we've set up going into that drive is the next set of plays in which we're going to call," Haywood said. "One of the things that we do in between drives is we say, ‘Alright, this is what they're on defense, this is what we need to do on offense,' and we get a list of plays and we go from there."
According to Weis, the playcaller is not limited by having the formation called for him.
"There's only a couple of formations we line up in. We might line up in one of two formations," Weis said. "If the ball is on the right hash mark we're either going to line up in a two-by-two to the right or three-by-one to the left. That's the only two formations we're in.
"There's a big volume in both those formations. And there's runs, play-actions, dropbacks in both those formations. So that doesn't get your hands tied behind your back."
Weis said that when the team is operating out of a huddle Haywood calls both the formation and the play.
DEFENDING 5-WIDE: A lot of fans wonder why Notre Dame would ever get away from the five-wide, spread-‘em-out offense that seems to eat up yards easily, but Weis spoke about how defenses counter.
"There's two things that teams do that put a little extra thinking when you do this," he said. "One is you go five-wide and they just bring six guys. You've got five to block six. And it forces you every time you're out there, you're going to have to be ready to throw the ball quick, and you're going to be ready to get the quarterback hit. And I'm not really big on getting the quarterback hit on free runs that often.
"Number two, what a lot of teams do on the complete flip side of that is they just rush three guys and they drop eight. So now you've got five guys out there, but like you've seen in the last couple of games - you saw it in North Carolina, you saw it in Pitt - now they're in five under three deep. So now the windows to throw the ball become that much smaller, too. So those two extremes are the things that you have to guard against. Everything in between becomes throw and catch. But those are the two -- when you're practicing, you can't just line up in a four-man rush every time because that's not what people do on every play."
One way to stop defenses from dropping eight into coverage is to have the quarterback run the ball, but Weis does not want to put Clausen in that position.
"What a lot of teams will do when they get into that is when they go a three-man rush, tell them to pull it down and go," he said. "That's not really our deal."
BACK TO BEANTOWN: Weis will be returning to the Boston area as a coach for the first time since leaving the New England Patriots, but he has made it clear that this is a business trip.
"I have a lot of close friends there and I've let them all know that I won't be seeing them because I'm not going there to go hang out with my boys," he said. "I'm going there to help our team beat Boston College. That's one thing they don't get; you come into town, they figure you're just going to have all sorts of free time for them. It just doesn't work out that way."
Weis said that he has memories, both good and bad, from his time in Massachusetts.
"Both my kids were born there. Relatively close to where we're going to be," he said. "I've got a lot of memories there. A lot of good memories there. I've got some bad memories there too, going through the problems with Hannah we had there. Trust me, there's a lot of bad memories there. Going through a bad operation. That doesn't bode too well for my memory banks early."
WEIS CALLS BS ON BQ: Weis talked to former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn this week after it was announced that Quinn will make his first NFL start for the Browns against the Broncos on Thursday night. Quinn gave his college coach the same line that you would expect him to feed the media, but Weis told him to save it.
"He said, ‘Well, it's the same as every week. I prepare the same every week,'" Weis said as he recounted their conversation. "I said, ‘Hey, Brady that's a bunch of garbage. You can tell it to someone else who wants to hear that stuff.' I go, ‘You can say you're preparing the same every week, but it's one thing when you're the backup, the other thing is when you're the starter.' Which is exactly what I said, ‘You can tell somebody else that wants to hear that.'"