On the starting quarterback and injuries for the USC game:
First of all, a couple of our own personnel issues. Evan Sharpley will start at quarterback. Both Evan and Jimmy (Clausen) were told that yesterday afternoon after I had time to visit with our medical staff and our coaching staff, and that’s the way we’re going. So Evan will be one, Jimmy will be two.
In addition to that, the only person that I know that is listed as doubtful for this game would be James Aldridge. A follow up from a question the other day in here, he had a bit of a high ankle sprain, and he intends to play this week, but I’d say the odds of that happening aren’t real high.
On why Sharpley is being given the start this weekend:
I think there’s a lot of people with bumps and bruises. That’s not the sole reason why we’re doing this. But I think Evan this week gives us the best chance of winning. And it’s the exact same thing I told both quarterbacks, just so you know. I met with them yesterday and I told them exactly what I just said to you.
On all of the transfers this season:
Usually the guys that transfer got beaten out. That’s why they leave. It would be one thing if it was — if you’re telling me that John Carlson is transferring tomorrow, I’m going to start worrying, okay? But I really can’t worry too much about guys that leave that aren’t starting. I’ve got to worry about the guys that are playing.
On the development of both Sharpley and Clausen this year:
They’ve both improved from the start of last spring. See, neither one of them did I spend a whole heck of a lot of time with before last spring. Even when Evan was here last year, I spent most of my time with Brady. So now I’m spending almost all my time with, along with Ron, with these guys, and I’ve seen them both mentally and physically become much better players and become more capable of running more information each week in practice.
On the health of Mo Crum and David Grimes:
It sounds like both of them have a legitimate chance of playing this week. Mo is walking without a limp this week, and that’s a good thing. And David was close to being able to go on Saturday, but it’s always tough when you haven’t practiced all week long to try to go when you haven’t had a meaningful rep in practice. So I’ll have to wait until after today’s practice. I’ll probably have a better idea and be able to answer that one tomorrow.
On the lower number of early offers out to junior recruits at this point:
Because we don’t have very many numbers to be able to give out. That has a lot to do with it. When you have 70 guys on scholarship and you’re going to have a full 25, you can be more aggressive. But next year that number might be 15. So you’ve got to be very cautious.
On how permanent of a switch making Sharpley the starter is:
We’re just talking about USC. That’s all we’re talking about. Evan Sharpley is the quarterback for USC. That’s all we’re talking about. How would I know if it’s permanent? I don’t know that answer. It’s a permanent switch for the USC game.
On the development of Robby Parris:
He’s not acted like a sophomore. He’s playing with more savvy and somebody who’s got more real experience than he has. This is his first time really playing. He runs good routes. He’s dependable for the quarterbacks. They know where he’s going to be. He’s fairly smooth for a guy as big, and he’s got good hands.
On why Golden Tate wasn’t involved much in the BC game:
That was because we were going to play a significant amount of no huddle in the game, and in the no huddle our outside receivers do not flip flop positions, so they need to know both outside positions both as the weak side receiver and the strong side receiver. And really at his experience level, you want him to be able to play one position. Not where he has to know both the X and the F and know both right and left. That was not the type of game that you want a guy with very little experience to be involved in.
On how the running backs will be used if Aldridge can’t go Saturday:
I think what we would not do this week, since this is USC, is just throw Robert in and Armando in there right off the bat. I think that we would go a little heavier with Travis being involved in this mix, too, more than he has this year. I think that that would be part of that combination. I’m not saying by committee, but I think that he would probably take off some of the pressure of James, and obviously Robert and Armando would be much more involved.
On the status of Dan Wenger:
He’s back. I think I would list Tom down there, but I think if I needed a backup inside, Danny would be the first backup inside at all three positions. I know I only list him at one. I list him as the backup center but he’d probably go in first at right guard and he’d probably go in first at left guard, as well.
On wearing the throwback jerseys to commemorate the 1977 team this weekend:
We are 1 and 6. It would be a heck of a thing to come out wearing the green jerseys. But I think at the time it was presented to me, to get that out of the way then so you didn’t turn into doing it for the wrong reason, if we were going to use the jerseys for motivation, I’d use the ones that we have, the newer green ones that I really like.
These uniforms are ugly, but what the players like about them is that they’re throwbacks. Because they’re throwbacks, they’re unique. Remember what those jerseys looked like? Remember those ugly pants? That’s what they have to wear this week.
On the length of the grass this weekend
I knew that in that game, and I remember Desmond Reed got hurt in that game, okay, and no way do you ever want a player getting hurt from another team for any reason. But this is the Midwest, and we’re going to play five games in a row at home. That’s where we are right now. Now, fortunately this is only game two. But it isn’t like our grass grows like we’re living in the south. It is what it is. It’s patchy and it’s not the same as playing on Bermuda grass in the south.
On the players reactions to the retro jerseys this week:
When I showed it to them, I figured it was going to be an emphatic no. I brought them in here, `here’s this, do you want to wear it?’ `Yeah, yeah.’ I said, `you’ve got to be kidding me.’ It was unanimous. The captains, they couldn’t have been any more fired up about it. I told them at the time that we’re going to say it now, get it out of the way now, let everyone know that we’re doing it, and I think there will be a lot of people that like it. I like the new green jerseys that we wore last year. I like the color of those. But I got outvoted on this one.
On the 2005 game:
It was a great game. The problem is you hate to be remembered as the losing coach in an epic battle. You hate to be remembered that way. But it was a heck of a game. If I didn’t think the game was that big of a game, I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to let their players know that I thought it was a heck of a game because you knew that you had been part of something special. It just wasn’t just another regular season game. This was two teams going right to the end and them making a gutsy call at the end that ended up paying off. You’ve got to give it to them. Got to give it to the coach, got to give it to the quarterback, because it was ultimately his decision. You’ve got to give it to the running back for helping aid them in getting in there, a heads up play. I can whine all I want, but it was a heck of a game. I just wish it would have ended the other way.
On establishing the running game this weekend:
I think the more you can keep your offense off the field, the better chance you have of winning. I think that’s a very valid question because if you try to get into a score a thon with the lack of production we’re having, especially this year on offense, but even in the past, if you try to get a score a thon with them, it usually doesn’t turn out too well. So the more you control the ball, the better chance you have of winning the game.
On Stanford’s upset of USC two weeks ago:
I saw Stanford make a couple of lay up big plays where they threw the ball up for grabs a couple times and they made a couple of hellacious catches. I think for the most part USC has got the game under control. It was 23-14 with five minutes to go in the game, and it looked like the game was over. All of a sudden, they make a couple plays, you turn the ball over.
On the pyschological benefits from the Stanford upset:
Absolutely. They’ve seen that team lose at home. I think that any time you have evidence, any time you have evidence that – it’s one thing when you’re trying to get them into vision how you think the game is going to go. It’s another one when they actually can see it go that way. Stanford kept on plugging, they kept on plugging, next thing you know they kick a field goal and they’re down by six, and the next thing you know they get four shots from the end zone and they throw the ball and the guy makes a fabulous catch and now you win.
On whether or not Jimmy can play Saturday:
No, whoever is playing, plays. Questionable still means you’re playing. It’s when they can’t go, they can’t go. Now Jimmy can play; I don’t think he can play as good as Evan, that’s why Evan is going to quarterback.
On how the Notre Dame roster has changed since the 2005 USC game
Well, we’ve gone through significant changes personnel wise. That game we had a fairly veteran — very veteran offensive line, we had a veteran tight end, we had veteran receivers, we had a veteran quarterback, and we had a guy that had been starting for a few years at running back.
At defensive line we had a veteran defensive line. Linebackers for that game were two seniors and a sophomore, and in the secondary we had a couple kids who have gone on to fortunately make it to the NFL from that team, as well. So probably more than anything else there’s been — like every program — a significant transition. But the problem is the transition has been mainly to younger guys, not to another group of juniors and seniors. Although we have some very strong leaders in our upperclassmen, there’s significantly more younger guys involved in the mix now than there were at that time.
On the play of Kerry Neal and Brian Smith:
I can’t talk enough about them. I keep on saying how the arrow is pointing up on them. It’s not just because they get on the field and they make a few plays. It’s because they play this game with passion, and I think that any time you play the game with passion and have some athleticism, okay, you have a chance to be something special, and I think that both those guys have a chance to be. When it’s all said and done, by the time they leave here, they’ll be household names.