Countdown to Kickoff: Weis discusses young players, new duties

NewsCenter 16 has all the angles covered as you get ready to see the Irish take the field Saturday, September 6 against the San Diego State Aztecs.

We’ve put together a “Countdown to Kickoff” pre-season special to catch you up on the state of the Notre Dame football program heading into the 2008 season.

Today, Charlie Weis talks about playing with a lot more depth this year, coaching young players, and turning over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.

Interview with Charlie Weis
NewsCenter 16’s conversation with Charlie Weis continues, and touches on his team’s depth, coaching younger players, and an issue that’s gotten a lot of attention this off-season: Weis’ decision to turn over play-calling.

We begin by asking how he feels playing freshmen and sophomores.

Charlie Weis: "Well I think the one thing that was a little different that, you know, obviously it’s been well-documented how I handled the off-season being around these kinds more because they’re kids, rather than the juniors and seniors who’ve been around three, four, or five years – it’s different.
But even for, take a guy like Eric Olsen, now Eric Olsen is in his third year here, but last year was his first year ever playing, so all those freshmen are really not that much different than a guy who is in his third year here that played for his first time last year."

"So I think that it’s not really about what year they are, with exception of the incoming freshmen, it’s how much experience playing they have, and I think that because we played so many of those young guys it’s not nearly the same as if you hadn’t played them yet and now they’re gonna go play for the first time."

And how about playing with depth?

Charlie Weis: "Well, I mean, people have been clamoring for us to just smack each other on the mouth the whole practice all the time, but you know, one thing they’re forgetting was you have only six or seven offensive linemen you can count on, and one of them and two of them go down, you’re in big, big trouble."
"You know, we’re scrimmaging three deep, not just two deep. And I’m not saying that the level of the third guys are anywhere near the level of the first guys, that’s not what I’m saying, but if somebody gets hurt in practice you put the next guy in. We really haven’t been in that situation to be able to do that."

And lastly, we ask him about his decision to turn over play-calling this season to offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.

Charlie Weis: "I think that it’s a growing process, but it’s really been a fairly smooth transition because the offensive staff with Michael at the helm, but with the whole offensive staff, they’ve been with me for three years now so you know formationing, and scripting and motioning for them – if there’s something I don’t like I say, ‘why are we doing that?’ so then we won’t do it anymore, or ‘why don’t we do that?’ then we will do that. Like I said, it’s a growing process, but it’s a fairly smooth transition."

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