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Thoughts on the Presser

Tuesday session with the media was a combination platter of sorts. Charlie Weis first addressed questions regarding the USC game, then went on to preview Boston College.

We’ll have video highlights for you to watch, but here are some interesting bits from the presser:

* The defense has officially been put on notice.

“I been spending a lot of time meeting with the defensive coaches now. I mean, it isn’t like -- my emphasis or my involvement is really from Sunday night through Monday night. Because come Tuesday, once they’ve, you know, put the game plan in, at least first and second down of, I think at that time -- and now it becomes into installing the game plan, I’m well aware what they’re doing. I think the most important thing is we have to do it better. I mean, cut way down to the number of packages they’re using. I mean, there aren’t very many mental mistakes now it’s just going ahead and going out and executing. And we have to do a better job coaching. We have to do a better job playing. That’s what we have to do.”

It also includes looking at the secondary, and possibly getting some better tackling from the safety position. Since we can all assume from Weis’ remarks and his play on the field that Kyle McCarthy hasn’t been the problem, Harrison Smith has probably come under fire a bit in film sessions from the past few weeks.

I think an underrated factor in all of this was Smith spending last season as a linebacker. Linebackers and safeties think two very different ways when it comes to playing defense. And playing as an undersized linebacker like Smith was last year, probably forced him into some ultra-aggressive habits last year that have contributed to him biting so badly on play-action, as well as losing some much needed mental development as a free safety, a position that needs to be cerebral.

One of the beneficiaries of Smith’s struggles could be Jarmoris Slaughter.

“Jamoris is a guy that we’re going to cross train and cross train at both corner and safety this week. We’re going to look at him in both positions, you know, because he’s been such a sound tackler. He is having a tough time getting on the field. So we’re going to take a good look at seeing if we can’t get him on the field some. Not as a starter but we’re going to see if we can’t work him there. Then there are a couple guys we weren’t really pleased with how it went so we’re going to give them competition in practice and depending how it goes would not be afraid to move one guy ahead of another guy.”

* Weis’ late-game clock management has been a spot of concern for many CW detractors, and he was asked early-on about his thought process for those final 30 seconds against the Trojans.

“The one thing we were kind of torn in between whether or not to go ahead and burn the time-out or not. I had a good feeling for the number of plays that we were going to have at our disposal. We almost cut it little too close . Because they had to put the one second back on the clock. But we knew how much time -- we were well aware of the time and the time-out situation. Robby got up, considering how beat up he was, he got up a little too fast. Normally the old Patriot way is they would have been on the field a little bit longer than we were right there. But we were well aware what the time was, and we knew the number of plays that we anticipated getting if we needed them. Like I said, we cut it a little close, but I think it worked out. Didn’t work out score-wise, the way we planned, but time-wise it worked out fine.”

That answer didn’t satisfy someone (and rightfully so), so Charlie was pressed on the subject again. He was asked, “if you knew in your mind that you wanted to run six plays, wouldn’t eight plays be better?”

“Well you are trying to score on each one of them. I mean, it wasn’t about how many plays. You know, we tried to score on the pass to Rudolph. We tried to score on the pass to Golden. I mean, it wasn’t like you are not trying to score on those plays either. You just have to know how much time each one of them is going to take.

“For example, in the next to last play when we threw the slant to Golden at the corner, drove in and made the play, we knew that with four seconds left to go in the game, that we were going to throw a slant. It was either going to be complete for a touchdown or incomplete and still have an opportunity for another play.

“Whereas, if we would have thrown on the very same play, if we would have thrown a fade ball to Rudolph over on the right who was over on the right, either he catches it to tie slash win the game or the clock’s over. Because a fade ball takes more time to throw. So you really have to do your due diligence and know not only what you are calling but, you know, what it’s going to take, how much time it’s going to take.”

To me, the main question you could have with the end of the game sequence is whether or not to call a timeout after Parris got hurt. I don’t think Jimmy and the offense did that great of job showing an urgency at the line, but I’d much rather take 3 good shots at the end zone than hurry up and rush two additional plays, especially with a ball-hawking defense like USC’s in the redzone.

* Kyle Rudolph’s numbers weren’t what people hoped against the Trojans, but Weis explained that there was a very good reason for that.

“I think it was more what we did than what they did. Because of the duress we were under the first half, I had to do an adjustment and turn him for most of the day he was in protection. So if you noticed most of the rest of the day it was, you know, he wasn’t even releasing into patterns.

“So when you take one of your best guys -- you have to pick your poison, Tim. The quarterback is under duress in the first half, only thrown for about 50 yards, I figured we were going to have to throw the ball in the second half to win, especially when we got down 20 we knew me were definitely going to have to throw the ball. So I had to use him in protection a whole bunch which you know cuts down his, the volume of opportunities that he would have in the passing game.

“I mean, Rudy was supposed to be a big portion in this game of us throwing the ball to him, but the way the game went, I had to adjust and put him in protection to give us a little bit more time so we could throw the ball vertically down the field.”

I think this is a credit to both Weis’ ability as a playcaller, as well as Rudolph’s improved physicality as a blocker. It was clear that it was going to be a long day for Paul Duncan against Everson Griffen, and the only chance to get the offense unhinged was, ironically, to keep one of it’s main weapons in to block.

* Sam Young had been drawing the ire of fans lately with some boneheaded penalties and an aversion to remembering the snap count. Yet the last few weeks, we’ve heard his name a lot less and when keeping an eye on him, it’s been clear that he’s a dominant presence on the offensive line. It sounds like Weis agrees.

“With the exception of a couple plays in that game early, you know, because there were a couple of plays in that game early where they got some edge pressure, what Sam’s been able to do even in a game like that is quickly adjust. Where when he was younger he couldn’t adjust. You know, how he quickly adjusts and gets it figured out and then you don’t end up noticing, you know, for the rest of the day.

“And that is what good players do, You know, they adjust -- they get the feel for who they’re going against and what they can do and what they can’t do, then it becomes less of an issue.”

I fully expect Sam Young’s play to really take off these next few weeks. He’s going to be a big part of the rushing offense, and his improvements as the game against USC went on will hopefully springboard him during this second half.

* It’ll be interesting to see if the mainstream media latches onto the Charlie Weis - Mark Herzlich story this week. I fully expect the NBC crew to have something on this, but I wonder if the fine folks over at ESPN will mention it.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s what Weis had to say when asked about his relationship with the All-American linebacker who is sitting out the season while he battles cancer.

“My boy. I tell you what, you want to talk about a winner, that kid’s a winner. And you know what I found out, I heard about him having cancer, I got a hold of Barry Gallup, Sr., you know, who is at Boston College and asked him if I could -- if it would be okay if I spoke with the kid. So Barry Gallup, Sr., then asked his family . You know, because it comes quite a shock, you know, hearing that news, and his family said yes. Then they gave me his cell phone number. Then I texted him, then we traded phone calls, and it has really, really grown from there. Where, you know, we communicate regularly.

“I mean, even something little. I just push him, you know. I don’t let him feel sorry for himself. So just the way you would expect me to. But, at the same time, we do -- there’s some cool things we do. Like when I was gonna surprise the team with going to the lake, he knew about it. My team didn’t know about it, but he knew bit. I said, What do you think of this idea? Because I was asking a player’s perspective. I’m thinking about canceling the second practice and taking them up to the lake. He said, Oh I think that would be awesome.

“And, as a matter of fact, when we were on the bus -- he’s also friends with Golden Tate. So we’re on the bus on the way up to the lake and he texted Golden Tate saying, Hey have a good time at the lake. So Golden texted him back and said, How the hell did you know we were going to the lake? He goes, I was in on this the whole time.

“So I think probably the funniest thing he said he was asked a question, and he goes, If the people from Boston College knew that the head coach from Notre Dame and I are friends, he goes, They would probably disown me. I have a lot of respect -- I already had respect for him as a player, I have much more respect for him as a person.”

I’ll probably write more about this angle during the week. I think this facet of Charlie Weis is one of the least talked about. He’s a guy that really does care about other people in the game. Most of the people that pile on Weis for being arrogant, brash, and standoffish, should ask a guy like Mark Herzlich his feelings about Charlie Weis. I think it could surprise a lot of people.