Weis Previews Notre Dame vs. Michigan

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel participated in Notre Dame's weekly presser this week and the new Irish coach discussed Michigan's rushing attack, Lloyd Carr, preparing to play in front 100,000 fans, and more.

Opening Statement:

"I have great respect for Coach Carr. Last I checked, his record at the Big House was 59-6. We know what we're getting ourselves into going there. As far as their three sides of the ball, starting with their offense and Coach Terry Malone, the biggest problem they present is that last year they scored over 30 points a game and last week was no different scoring the 33. They have a lot of weapons. Obviously we're very concerned about (Chad) Henne. Last year statistically he was the top freshman in Big Ten and in Michigan history. He started 13 games and he's thrown a touchdown pass every time he's played. Obviously we're concerned about him. (Mike) Hart, the running back, and (Kevin) Grady, their backup running back - Hart was a Big Ten freshman of the year, and of course all first-team Big Ten. You know, my biggest concern with Hart is in 283 touches in a row, he has not fumbled the ball. So obviously he's very good at ball possession, which was a critical factor in their win last week. (Jason) Avant, he had nine catches for over 100 yards last week as a front line receiver. Their tight end, (Tim) Massaquoi, he's all Big Ten. Obviously as you look at the weapons on offense, they are very strong up the middle, and on top of that they have a huge offensive line anchored by (Adam) Stenavich and (Matt) Lentz, and it's going to be quite a challenge for our defense to stand and go toe to toe with these guys."

"As far as their defense is concerned, Coach (Jim) Herrmann has been there forever. If you add all of the years he's been there it's over two decades, I think it's like 21 years he's been there. But last week, if you throw in the forced fumble that (Darnell) Hood caused on special teams, they caused five turnovers, four fumbles and an interception. I tell you right now if we do that, we'll lose. Their front four, (Jeremy) Van Alstyne, (LaMarr) Woodley at the end, and (Gabe) Watson and (Pat) Massey at the tackles; Massey who is a captain, and I know his father played at Notre Dame, so I know the game is going to be special for him. Their linebackers, I know (Prescott) Burgess and (Chris) Graham will be in there, whether it's (Scott) McClintock or (David) Harris as the other guy, I know they are flip flopping between the two. Harris didn't start last week but I'm expecting to see him some this week. Obviously their linebackers are some of the strengths of their defense, and (Leon) Hall really is the key figure in a very, very strong secondary."

"Last but not least with special teams, Coach (Mike) DeBord, since he's come over from Central, their special teams are really solid. Starts with that kicker who also punts, (Ross) Ryan. Last week, kicked off seven times; five of them were touch backs. Makes it a little easier to recover kicks when five of them are thrown out of the end zone. I'm concerned with (Steve) Breaston, both as a wide receiver, but especially as a kick receiver and a punt returner. He didn't get many opportunities last week. We know he's a dynamic returner and somebody who we're definitely concerned with."

"So that's kind of the lay of the land with offense and defense and special teams. We know that Michigan is going to be quite a challenge and we know we're going to have to play a lot better than we did last week if we're going to have an opportunity to win this game."

On if he has spoken to Tom Brady about the game:

"I talked to Tom multiple times last week and I think right now he's just worrying about the Raiders. I don't think he's spending a lot of time talking to anyone from Michigan or Notre Dame right now. He's just concerned on beating the Raiders on Thursday night, and I know Tommy and I can promise you that's what he's doing."

On Mike Hart and Kevin Grady:

"First of all, they are both good running backs. You talk about Grady who is not even the starter. Obviously got some action last week. He holds about every Michigan rushing record there is known to mankind. So you can't just be concerned with just one guy. But Hart is a very dynamic runner. He's got a lot of similarities to the guy we're playing with. They could run the ball inside; they could run the ball outside; they could run with speed. I mean, there's many similarities. I look at between the offensive players at Michigan and the offensive players at Notre Dame. I think that the one thing that both defenses will have a little bit of an advantage is that they have been going against similar players in practice every day in training camp."

On the rivalry with Michigan:

"Not to downplay it, but it's no different for me this week than it was last week. That's how I view it. Might be different emotions for the players who experience it, but I view it as going to Michigan Stadium and trying to win the game. We're going to have to play well just to try to win the game. That's all I'm worried about. I have no emotions at all about Notre Dame versus Michigan, none."

On preparing for a Michigan team that may have held something back defensively versus NIU:

"Well, I watched every game they played last year, so unless there's some big surprise from all of the games including the Bowl game. I watched them all. I've gone back to watch previous years games on top of that, so my reference isn't just one game against Northern Illinois. But what that does is gives you the most up to date personnel assessment because that's who they played. But you have to go back and look at even schematically, going between 3-4 defense and a 4-3 defense and how they mix and match and what they are doing right there. I think that you have to be prepared for a lot of things. I'm not expecting just to see what they did last week against Northern Illinois. They are not expecting for us just to do what we did against Pittsburgh. I think that we have to both be ready to adjust on the fly."

On playing in front of 100,000 fans:

"Well, first of all, you have to practice the silence count in case you can't hear, that's one thing. The other thing, we'll dedicate at least one day, at least Wednesday or Thursday, I'm leaning towards Thursday right now, where you blare the noise so loud that no one could hear and we'll be doing that. We did it last week and we'll be doing it again this week. I'm leaning towards Thursday rather than Wednesday, but one of those two days we'll have it where you'll barely be able to hear the quarterback give you the play in the huddle, and that's the best way of preparing people to handle the noise and to concentrate when you can't hear anything."

On Lloyd Carr:

"I've known Lloyd for some time, goes all the way back to the Giants and Jet days. He had a relationship with Coach (Bill) Parcells and they come in and they talk a couple of times. Matter of fact he and Coach Malone had come to visit us at one time. Oh, a few years ago they had asked me to come speak at their Spring Coaches Clinic. I have a lot of respect for their whole staff, and as a matter of fact their associate head coach, Fred Jackson, is a very close friend of mine. He's a friend of mine come Sunday; he's my enemy until then."

On Notre Dame joining a conference:

"Notre Dame is an independent. When the powers to be decide it's not to be independent, I'll deal with it at that time. But right now, we're an independent and we play a national schedule. We play everybody and I'm not really worrying about being a member of the Big Ten. I'm just worried about trying to win as many games that we can so that we can play past November 26. "

To view the presser in it's entirety, click here.

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