ESPN Network:  ESPN.com |  NHL.com |  ABCSports |  EXPN |  INSIDER  |  FANTASY




 
  

Keyword: ABC Sports 





































Q&A with Notre Dame's Bob Davie
By Mike Diegnan
ABC Sports Online

Bob Davie is preparing for his fifth season in South Bend. Last year, Notre Dame lost Arnaz Battle in the second game of the season, yet true freshman Matt LoVecchio engineered a nearly flawless offense as the Irish won their final seven games and qualified for their first BCS bowl. ABC Sports Online's Mike Diegnan spoke with Davie about the pressures of coaching at Notre Dame, the Irish's QB battle and his expectations this fall.

ABC Sports Online:
First off, what is it going to be like for you to play at Texas A&M, where you coached from 1985-93?

Bob Davie:
Davie_Bob
The pressure is never off for Bob Davie at notre Dame.
I wish I had the luxury of just thinking of looking ahead to the Texas A&M game in College Station. But as you realize, we have Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State before that game. But you can't help, having spent nine years down there playing all those games at Kyle Field, thinking what it would be like to go back there and play. I can remember every once in a while standing on the opposite sidelines, just looking up at the press box side of Kyle Field, wondering what it would be like to a head coach or assistant coach or player over on that side. I would be less than honest if I didn't say it was a special game for me. To go back there and play in that atmosphere is something I am really looking forward to. I just hope those Kyle Field fans keep that crowd noise down a little bit, since I have some allegiances to A&M.

ABC Sports Online:
There's always going to be pressure at Notre Dame, but do you feel less pressure entering this year after receiving a five-year contract extension?

Bob Davie:
No. To be honest, I don't. I don't feel a whole lot different than I did last year. At that time, I don't think you worry -- or at least I don't -- about the big picture of what it does from a job security standpoint. We're all human. That's back there in the back of your mind. That's obvious. What I have tried to do, and I did a year ago, was just totally immerse myself in the Xs and Os. I am heavily involved with the defense, I am heavily involved with the special teams. I don't spend a whole lot of time sitting back thinking about the big picture. I enjoy the competition of the practices and the competition of the games. The fact that you have a new contract doesn't change what you do day to day or week to week. It's all about winning with me. I really don't feel any less pressure, nor did I feel any more pressure last year.

ABC Sports Online:
You exceeded many people's expectations in winning nine games last year, but then you had a disastrous result in the Fiesta Bowl. Did that diminish the accomplishments?

Bob Davie:
I think it did. But that can be a valuable motivator and a valuable experience for our coaching staff and our football team because when you are 9-2 and preparing for the BCS game, there is tremendous momentum going on here and a positive feeling. We experienced the highs of winning and we felt good about ourselves. And then to get slapped in the Fiesta Bowl like we did really made it dramatic that you see the difference between winning and losing as a football team. I think that lesson has definitely raised the level during the offseason, especially when you look at who we play early. But the point I am making is that it really shows you how good it is when you win, preparing for the bowl game, and then how bad it is when you lose.

The second thing with that is we had a plan all year that we have every year: Of not turning the football over, playing better defense, not giving up big plays and the kicking game. We won nine games following that plan. In the Fiesta Bowl also showed us, that if you don't follow that plan, you're going to lose. I think it firmed even more our team's understanding of what it takes to win when you're playing good teams.

ABC Sports Online:
Have you improved your team's speed?

Bob Davie:
I can understand why after watching that game team speed would be a concern, but I really feel because of the circumstances of that game, and who we were playing, that has been made to be a bigger issue than it needs to be. I feel like we have really good team speed. It was enough speed for us to win nine games with, so we have enough team speed on our football team to win every game. I'll also say that every coach in the country would say their priority is to get faster as a football team. But we do have enough speed. We have some good athletes on this team.

ABC Sports Online:
You have another killer September schedule. You open at Nebraska, who will be playing its third game. Do you have to approach that game differently since you cannot work out the kinks then?

Bob Davie:
I think we do. And if you look at our schedule closer, Purdue actually opens before we do on Sept. 1 and then they have an open date on Sept. 8 and we play them on the 15th. So both of the teams we play right off the bat will have played games. It changes a little bit in how you approach training camp because there is no way for us to make that difference unless we scrimmage a little bit. We have to scrimmage more game-time situations, I believe. And we all know anytime you scrimmage in camp, you have 22 players on the field instead of 11. We have to do that. We have to scrimmage more under game situations to prepare us for playing in the places we play at the beginning of the season.

One other thing with that is that our football team -- one point that we have hit on through the spring and the summer is that we have to be that much more efficient in our training camp. Everything we have to do we have to really be doing it at a high level. Those weeks we are practicing, we've got teams that are playing games, so we have to pick the level up.

ABC Sports Online:
Last year, you succeeded with a very conservative approach. Do you plan to stick with that or open it up more this year?

Bob Davie:
Matt LoVecchio
Matt LoVecchio was 7-1 last year for the Irish.
Our No. 1 priority as a team is to protect the football. Number One. That will not change. We do have to be a little more open for us to be able to successfully move the football. The second thing is that we always win by running the football here, but we feel we have to throw a little more efficiently to be able to do that, to keep people from ganging up on us at the line of scrimmage. So we are going to be more open, but the No. 1 criterion here is to protect the football. That is why Matt LoVecchio will be our starting quarterback going into Lincoln, Neb., because he has played and he's protected the football.

ABC Sports Online:
Matt was a big key to last year's success, but many people around the country are hyping Carlyle Holiday. Are you preparing two different types of offenses because their talents are so different?

Bob Davie:
The head coach and the starting quarterback at Notre Dame have something in common: All Notre Dame fans want to talk about is who is going to replace you. Matt's fallen under the same thing that I have fallen under. That's why there is so much conversation about Carlyle Holiday and Jared Clark. Both of those players are talented, but Matt LoVecchio is our starting quarterback going into Lincoln, Neb., barring any unforeseen circumstances.

ABC Sports Online:
Are Carlyle and Jared much different than Matt?

Bob Davie:
No. One thing that we have tried to do, and we've been successful at, is having some continuity in our offense and in our style of our quarterbacks. The reason we moved Arnaz Battle to wide receiver was so that we had three quarterbacks -- Matt, Jared and Carlyle -- they were all the same style. Obviously, one might run a little bit better than the other or one might throw a little bit better than the other, but basically, all three are the same.

ABC Sports Online:
You have three talented running backs. Have you figured out how you are going to use all three of them?

Bob Davie:
There is some continuity there because last year, it was kind of the same kind of plan. We had all three of those guys play last year for us. We've looked a little bit of Tony Fisher being a fullback to give us two tailbacks on the field at the same time. But it's going to be a rotation.

The thing that is exciting is special teams are important to us. All three of those players are heavily in special teams. Tony Fisher and Terrance Howard are on a lot of return teams and punt teams. There are enough snaps for those guys to go around in different situations.

ABC Sports Online:
Are you planning on ditching the option?

Bob Davie:
No, we still have some option involved. We're not as heavily option-oriented as we would have been if Arnaz Battle was our quarterback, but we still have some option.

ABC Sports Online:
How has Arnaz Battle fit in at receiver? Is he giving the offense a new element?

Bob Davie:
It sounds funny, but the first thing we wanted to make sure of was that Arnaz Battle could catch. If he is going to be a receiver, and that was the biggest thing in the spring, was that we came out of it so positive. He really does have excellent hands. He gives us another weapon at the receiver position. Also, he gives us some flexibility that he maybe could take a snap as a quarterback. And he's also a return guy in the kicking game. He adds a weapon to our team.

ABC Sports Online:
Is he going to replace what Joey Getherall did?

Bob Davie:
I think with David Givens, Javin Hunter and Arnaz Battle, I am not sure who is actually going to replace Joey Getherall as our go-to kind of guy. But Arnaz is a guy who is capable of doing a lot of things, whether it is running with the football, throwing the football or catching the football. So I'm not sure if he is going to be Joey Getherall. One of those guys is going to have step up and be that though.

ABC Sports Online:
You lost both tight ends to the NFL. Could 6-foot-7, 310-pound freshman Mark LeVoir see some time there this fall?

Bob Davie:
We're starting him off at tight end. He was here the entire summer. He came in and spent the summer here in South Bend. From what our strength coach tells me, he's a remarkable athlete. We're going to start him at tight end. He's down to 290 pounds, which kind of sounds strange when you're talking about tight end.

Also, John Owens is a senior. He has been a tight end for us for three years. He's going to be a good player. As well as Gary Godsey, who played quarterback last year.

ABC Sports Online:
You lost both guards on the line, but center Jeff Faine is one of the best in the country. Is the line ready to face Nebraska?

Bob Davie:
If we can play and coach as well as we are capable of, we should have a good offensive line. Jeff Faine is an outstanding center. Our two tackles, Jordan Black and Kurt Vollers, both started for us last year and we have a young guy, Brennan Curtin, that's a backup tackle.

Sean Mahan maybe could have started at guard for us last year but had some injuries. We feel good about Sean Mahan at one guard. And at the other guard, we have moved John Teasdale, who started at tackle last year. He's getting a lot of competition from Sean Milligan and Ryan Scarole. We have some competition going on there.

ABC Sports Online:
Are you looking forward to having a full season with Grant Irons and Anthony Weaver working together on the ends? Could this be your best D-line here?

Bob Davie:
Grant Irons
A healthy Grant Irons should bolster the defensive line.
It has the potential to be the best line we have had. If you talk to Anthony and talk to Grant, both those players would say they need to step up and really become productive this year. Both of them have a lot of ability. They need to go out and make some plays now. We also have Ryan Roberts back, who started all of last year with Grant being out. We have three defensive ends who have all have played in games. We should be really good in there.

ABC Sports Online:
Is Rocky Boiman becoming the emotional leader on defense?

Bob Davie:
I think so. He's one of our captains. I think we have some good leadership on defense. Rocky Boiman, just because of his style of his play, the way he attacks everything, whether it's weightlifting or conditioning, he can't help but be a leader. He's a great kid.

ABC Sports Online:
Outside of Joey Getherall, you have all the key players on special teams back. Those units almost beat Nebraska last year and saved you against Air Force. Are you expecting them to be better this season?

Bob Davie:
They have to be. Particularly playing who we play and where we play them, the special teams have to be huge. There's probably not a head coach you talked to that didn't say that. But last year, we really did accomplish something on special teams. It won games for us. And our players have bought into that. We have a lot of returners back, even though Joey Getherall is gone, with Julius Jones and David Givens and Arnaz and Vontez Duff. We have our punter back, our kicker back. All of our special teams are just about intact. That should be a strength for us.

ABC Sports Online:
With the schedule you are facing, what would you consider a successful season? And what would it take to get back to the BCS?

Bob Davie:
We need to win. I know we play in awfully difficult places. There's no way to skirt that issue. That's reality. We're going to play in places that people don't win at very often. But I can't think of a football team I would rather have than the one I am taking. Just because I think we have a lot of outstanding leaders. We have 21 seniors and eight fifth-year seniors on this team. We've been through a lot as a team. We have a lot invested. It's a huge challenge, but everyone here is as optimistic as I have ever seen because they know what we have in place right now. We're just excited to go. We're going to take our best shot every week and I think we have a chance to be very good.

ABC Sports Online:
Going into a season, is this the best team you've had in your five seasons?

Bob Davie:
You never like to say beforehand. Potentially, I don't think there is any question. I look at a lot of different factors, not just talent level. We're not so talented that we can just walk out there and beat anybody without playing well. But from an academic standpoint, we have done some remarkable things here, from a character standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, I think when you add all those things in, I think it has the chance to be the best team we've had. And that isn't just coach talk. That is legitimate. I feel really good about this team and what its foundation is.

Mike Diegnan is the college football editor for ABC Sports Online.

ESPN.com:  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
Copyright ©2001 ESPN Internet Group. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site. Employment opportunities at ESPN.com.


Notre Dame preview

Bob Stoops Q&A

Frank Solich Q&A

Mack Brown Q&A

Mike Bellotti Q&A

Dennis Erickson Q&A

Nick Saban Q&A

Barry Alvarez Q&A

Randy Walker Q&A

Larry Coker Q&A

Frank Beamer Q&A

George O'Leary Q&A

Bobby Bowden Q&A

Tommy Bowden Q&A