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Weis looks to USC for UW clues

Sep 30, 2009, 2:00 PM EDT

For any of his perceived faults, Charlie Weis is an analytical coach who pays great attention to detail. And for anyone who doesn’t believe that, watch, listen or read one of his press conferences.

(If you still care to object, here’s a brief snippet from his breakdown of route-running when asked about freshman Shaq Evans:

“When you run a comeback and it’s at 14 yards and you plant your inside
foot and you’re coming down the stem at a 45-degree angle. And in high
school the guy couldn’t throw it on the button right on the sideline,
you know, because you didn’t have that same type of timing issue
because the corner was off you 20 yards, so you came out of the route
and just kind of turned around and the ball was there, and you went and
caught it. Now you got a guy driving on you, because the corner’s
closer to you because you have less separation, and now that cornerback
is bringing you down to the sideline. If you don’t come down the stem
and go make that play, it’s an incomplete pass, and somebody looked bad
in the play. So I think that, you know, learning how precise you
have to be and the precision that goes with route running is probably
the bigger issue.”

That’s more than the usual coach-speak you get when most coaches talk to the media.)

Weis’ attention to detail was on full display yesterday. Weis is very deliberate in these sessions, often times reading from scripted notes and sparing no detail when talking about the upcoming opposition.

What was interesting to me, was how often he referenced USC when talking about the Huskies. It’s common knowledge that both Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt came over from Pete Carroll’s staff, but Weis almost emphasized that knowing USC’s offense and defense was imperative to solving the Huskies’ systems.

“They’re playing basically very similar concepts to USC’s defense, but
with Washington’s players,” Weis said of the Husky defense. “But, you know, as you watch them run around
right there, you can see, you know, these guys are starting to get it.”

Weis made similar comments about the offense, where Sarkisian calls the plays. When asked about defending quarterback Jake Locker, Weis again spoke of his familiarity with the system.

“In the
last system, you know, he was a read-option type of guy with that
spread,” Weis said. “But you can see that he’s settled in nicely into, you know, the
old USC system that they have right now.”

You can argue whether or not Weis’ knowledge of the USC systems has helped the Irish at all, they are, after all, winless in four tries against the Trojans. But when you’re playing a first time head coach and you’ve only got four games to get familiar with his system, it’s incredibly helpful to have the knowledge base Weis does on both Sarkisian and Holt. From the sound of it, Weis agrees.

“I think Steve is a very, very good coach, and I think he is going to
have his own personality,” Weis said. “He is not going there to are USC North. There
are things that they did, you know, he is running their offense and
Nick is running the defense, that they had great success with so why
would you change that? I mean, you take the things that you had great
success with, and then you apply it to the players you currently have,
and they’ll definitely branch off like everyone else does.”

We’ll find out Saturday if Weis’ hunch is correct.

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