Charlie Weis met with the media Sunday to wrap up the Boston College game and was pretty candid with his thoughts. Here are the greatest hits.
* Weis was asked to talk about the evolution of Armando Allen, who has quietly built himself into a very solid all-purpose running back, in many ways similar to his predecessor, Darius Walker.
When Armando Allen first came to Notre Dame, many thought the Irish were getting a back that had the chance to break a long one every time he touched it. That certainly hasn’t been the case with Allen, but he has become a dependable running back that’s be one of the Irish’s toughest interior runners. I still haven’t given up on the big play with Armando, only because he’s made such great developmental strides this season, and I expect to see even more during his senior season.
* Weis was asked about the divergent directions the Notre Dame defense is moving with regards to run stopping and pass coverage, and was later asked to expound on the problems of the secondary. I’ll just do a little cutting together, and give you all the relevant comments made in regards to stopping the pass.
When you stop the run, you leave yourself vulnerable in the pass. But you have to find a happy medium because what we can’t do, as much as our run defense has improved for the last four and a half games let’s say, where it’s just gotten better in good production, we have to get some things fixed in coverage because they’re not just getting yards, they’re getting too many easy yards.
I really believe our best play on defense is yet to come. I think at the beginning of the year we had a whole bunch of problems. I think that we had problems stopping the run, we had problems giving up chunks, we were giving up a lot of points. We had a whole bunch of problems.
Slowly but surely we’re starting to solve some of these problems to the point now -- remember, defense gives up two touchdowns in that game... The defense gives up 14 points in that game. You’d have to say most games you play, you give up 14, you’re going to win. It doesn’t make a difference who you’re playing against. Most times you’d have to assume that the defense holds them to 14, you’re going to come out on top.
At least now what I understand the problems are, if I thought the problems for the most part were just no good, it would be a bigger problem with -- we’d have to fix it. And I would think that with the exception of about one ball that clearly was a jump-ball situation where anyone could have -- either guy could have made the play or could have knocked it down, all the other plays were just a high-low, getting beat inside, more technique things than anything else.
And I think that because I know now what the coverage are and the answers to the test, I think there are some things that -- like I said, we’ve previously already addressed today. There’s some things that we can do to try to get that number down.
There’s a lot here, and there’s even more that we’ll get to later in the week when the video team can get us some visual aids to help better understand what the problem(s) is (are). I think some of the adjustments the Irish made to shore up the run defense might have hurt the passing D, so hearing Weis speak about a “happy medium” is encouraging. Also encouraging is Weis saying he understands the problems.
To me, they’re pretty obvious. This is a team playing a lot of Cover 2. Unfortunately, they play a shoddy Cover 2. Going back to Weis’ “hang your hat,” comment, if you’re hanging your hat on a coverage scheme that you’re mediocre at playing, well -- that’s why you’re giving up explosive plays by the dozen.
The coverage was better Saturday, even if it didn’t feel like it. And as the defensive backs get better at knowing their roles, they’ll get better at making plays on the football. It may feel like baby steps, but the Irish have two weeks against mediocre passing defenses to get things figured out.
* Mr. Floyd is close. Very close.
As a fan, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the Notre Dame offense back at full throttle. With Floyd back across from Tate, I expect the offense to be in a different stratosphere. All the complaints about Rudolph disappearing and the red zone struggles, I expect those to be silenced.
* After Ben Turk’s performance, the punting competition has reopened.
I’ve mentioned before how important field position has been, but our friends over at Blue-Gray Sky had a nice nugget illustrating just how badly ND’s specialist play has hurt.
ND needs to figure out a way to get this problem figured out. Whether it’s scouring the soccer team for a kickoff man or just getting the cobwebs between the ears of the punter cleaned out, the Irish have to get a better performance out of their kickoff man and punter.
* I probably got 100 comments asking where Shaq Evans was on Saturday. Rumors swirled that he was in the doghouse, but it turns out he just wasn’t in the offensive game plan.
In this game plan he was ready to play in the game plan as an outside receiver, but it was for Duval, and Duval actually had one of his better games, so I wasn’t looking to get Duval off the field the way Duval had a lot of production for us in that game yesterday for us.
People had high hopes for Evans, but it’s been clear that he isn’t quite ready to step onto the field for the Irish yet. I’ve got to say that I was surprised -- shocked, actually -- that Robby Toma was playing before Evans, but it makes sense if we take Weis at his word that Toma’s a slot guy and Shaq’s an outside guy.