Bobby's Corner

Notre Dame's victory at Air Force helped the Irish improve to 7-0 and move up a spot to No. 6 in the AP Top 25. It's the school's highest ranking since the opening game of coach Lou Holtz's final season in 1996. Of course, Saturday's game will mark Notre Dame's first visit to Doak Campbell Stadium. The Irish also don't have to look very far for incentive -- ND is a 10 1/2-point underdog. "It's really hard for me to understand. Of course, Notre Dame loves that," coach Bobby Bowden said Monday.

b>Here are coach Bobby Bowden's comments following Monday's practice. The seession was interrupted by rain, forcing the team indoors for nearly 25 minutes.

Did you watch the Notre Dame-Air Force game Saturday? What were your impressions?

"I watched the first half. They looked solid as heck. They are as good as their record. I didn't realize they had as many seniors as they got. They have seven on defense, eight on offense. The whole offensive line is seniors. The whole defensive line is seniors. They play like it. They are very. ... they've gotten better offensively now to go along with their defense. So, they are just getting stronger as the year goes (on). They are good."

Do approach this as the start of a second season for your team?

"Very much so. Half of your season is gone. You have an open date in there between. Now, you start that second half and you hope you pick up where you left off against Miami. We will be anxious to get another game underneath our belt Saturday."

Is this another chance for this team to make a statement?

"This would because you are playing a nationally-ranked team. Sixth in the nation, and they are very deserving of it. Again, it's always a chance if you win that one you will move back up. That's what we want."

Your running game is obviously carrying the offense right now but how important is it to get the passing game going against Notre Dame?

"We must be able to do both. You simply can not win one dimensionally. Air Force last week was run, run, run, run. Didn't want to throw the football. It just shows you when they can bring everybody up there and get after that ball, it's just hard to run the ball. That's the same with us. If our running game is going real good, they are going to bring them all up there. They are going to force you eventually to put that ball in the air. You have to be able to do both. We are working hard on both of them."

Do you think Notre Dame is peaking?

"I think they are getting better and better. The first of the year they were kind of one-dimensional. Defense scoring and picking up for the lack of scoring for the offense. Now, their offense has gotten better and better and better. Their blocking is superb. Again, their offensive line is superb blockers. They like to run that ball but they can throw it, too. Their quarterback is a dangerous quarterback. Last week he pulled it down and ran, what, 56 yards for a touchdown? That's one of his dangers. He also has a strong arm and can throw it to all parts of the field. And they have an excellent receiver and the other kid is pretty good, too. At first you might think it's just a new coach and he's getting that new break and all that. No, they've earned everything they have garnered this year."

You are also favored by 10 ½ points against an undefeated team ranked sixth nationally?

"I know it. It's really hard for me to understand. Of course, Notre Dame loves that. I heard one of their players last week on televsion say, ‘Yeah, I hope we are underdogs again.' I don't know how many times they've been underdogs this year. They were underdogs last week. They just keep winning. They haven't felt defeat yet."

Talk about the Notre Dame mystique and the Irish coming to Doak Campbell Stadium.

"It has been that way for years and years and years. Ever since I can remember it. The mystique of Notre Dame. This team fits right into the mold of the some of the other great teams that they've had."

Nobody in August felt this Notre Dame team would be coming in here undefeated. You always wanted to play them here in Tallahassee.

"They come in here with an unblurred record. That really makes it a great game. Of course, it has national prestige when they are playing, no matter what is happening. Of course, them being undefeated and ranked in front of us and playing here in Tallahassee, it has the setting of a great football game. As I look at it, too, there ain't no easy way to win it. There's no easy way to win it. They are a solid defensive football team that if you make a mistake, they've been able to capitalize on it. When you look at their personnel you say ‘Good gracious.' Senior end. Senior tackle. Senior tackle. Senior end. Senior linebacker. Senior corner. A bunch of seniors. They know what they are doing. There's no luck in where they are. But it does have the makings of a good game."

How well do you know Tyrone Willingham?

"No. 1, he has done a great job. He's coach of the year in my book right now. He has just done a masterful job of getting that football team and getting back in a winning mode. And they are well coached. You can see they are well coached."

How does their defensive line compare to Miam?

"Pretty doggone close. Their tackles are probably more productive, whereas Miami's ends maybe are more productive. Their tackles, whew, they are hard to block. They are strong where we are strong. That's why I say I can't see it being anything but a physical football game that might be boring for the fans for a while. They just have to realize that Notre Dame's defense, they've won for them all year."

There's not a lot you can take from watching Air Force can you?

"You play the wishbone differently. The other team did not like to throw the football. From a tactical, stratigic point of view, you can throw that one out."

Talk about Buster Davis.

"Buster has really practiced well lately. I've been very pleased with him. He seems to be excited again and has really done a good job out there. We will probably try to redshirt him this year if we can since it's so late. But his attitude has been a big plus."

Do you sense a special buzz this week with Notre Dame?

"I am excited. But I was excited against Miami, too. Yeah, these kind of games excite me much more than when you are favored by 18 points. I can't believe we are favored like we are this week. I really can't."


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