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Football: Weis embraces new role

Jay Fitzpatrick | Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis decided at the end of last season that he would relinquish play-calling duties. And so far, he has stayed committed to that.

Weis said in a press conference Tuesday that he would wear a headset during Saturday’s opener against San Diego State to communicate with the other coaches, but he would not hold a call sheet.

“A call sheet would be just like asking for trouble,” he said.

Weis said the main reason behind his wearing a headset would not be to influence offensive coordinator Michael Haywood’s play selection, but rather to give the first-time play-caller some assistance.

“Like one of the things I probably feel that I’m going to have to say to Michael [Haywood] early in the game is get him used to the timing of the 40 second clock. I’ll say, okay, let’s go personnel,” he said.

This expediting will not be limited to the offense, and Weis said he will also help make sure the defense is running smoothly through defensive coordinator Corwin Brown.

But Weis will not be in the dark about his team’s decision-making – on either side of the ball.

“I’m going to have one of my guys hold onto a call sheet both offensively and defensively so that if there’s a lull in the action, I want to go look at it, I’ll have something available to me,” he said.

Moreover, Weis will still make the big strategy decisions during the game to avoid putting pressure on his assistants. Weis said it is always the head coach’s call on whether to attempt a fourth-down conversion.

“That is always the job of the head coach to have to make that decision, because right or wrong, you’re going to have to live with that decision. And you don’t hang your assistants out to dry on that one,” Weis said.

Weis added that he and the offensive staff will know ahead of time which situations to attempt a fourth-down conversion so they can call an appropriate third-down play.

“Normally you wouldn’t throw the ball on third and one unless you already had the backing from the boss that you were going to go for it on fourth and one,” Weis said. “Or if you didn’t, don’t worry about it, we’re going to just punt in that situation.”

Weis said that, in addition to not calling plays during the game, he will not help script the opening drives of games as he did when he was the offensive play-caller. But this is not to say that he will have no input as to the opening drive; rather, he will review the offensive coaches’ script Friday morning.

“And if there’s something I would say ‘Why would you do that,’ we’ll just eliminate it. Or if it’s something that can we run this, too. So might there be a play or two that either gets eliminated or added? Yes. But I’m not [scripting] that.”


uHaywood and assistant head coach/defense Jon Tenuta will sit in the press box for Saturday’s game against San Diego State. Weis said Tenuta prefers to be in the press box to see the game better.

“What he’s going to be able to see and pass on to Corwin, I think, will be absolutely invaluable,” Weis said.

Weis added that Brown prefers to be on the field during games.

“He has that bubbly enthusiasm. He likes to chest bump and all that other stuff right there,” Weis said of Brown.

uWeis said Notre Dame will have only two players sit out of Saturday’s game: tight end Mike Ragone and safety Jashaad Gaines. Ragone is out for the season because of a torn ACL and Gaines was allowed to miss the opener due to a family illness.

Gaines was not listed on the two-deep, but was expected to contribute on special teams, where he played in four games last season.