Irish Feel Obligation to Play Well

Weary like the rest of you from watching CNN for countless hours, Bob Davie feels his team has "an obligation" to play well Saturday versus Michigan State. It seems like a hundred years since the Irish were beaten at Nebraska, and the Irish now are battling conflicing emotions. How does one deal with the current events and also prepare with urgency for an important game? Major life lessons for young adults. IrishEyes has the report from Monday's practice at Cartier Field.

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September 18, 2001

Irish Feel Obligation to Play Well

By The IrishEyes.Com News Service

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) – Now one week removed from the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the nation struggles to return to normalcy.

The same can be said for the Notre Dame football program. The Irish are doing their best to put on a brave face and head coach Bob Davie feels his team has had "the proper urgency" in practice. But is there the same passion in Notre Dame Nation for this Saturday’s game against Michigan State? Should there be?

"I think everybody is anxious to get some people here on campus this weekend," said Davie, whose team played poorly in a 27-10 loss at Nebraska on September 8. "And I'm sure a bunch of people are anxious to come into town and looking forward to the simple things of trying to win a football game. I think our team is the same way."

The Nebraska loss, the evening of and morning after, seemed catastrophic. Of course, we know different now. Under normal conditions, Davie’s 0-4 head coaching record against Michigan State would be a hot topic this week. It might have been written that, unless the Irish turn things around fast, this might be Davie’s last chance to beat the Spartans.

We won’t go there now. Life needs to go on, but sports need to be put in the perspective of entertainment, a pleasant diversion from the graphic CNN footage. There will be a more appropriate time for candid analysis of performance.

The facts are these: Notre Dame is an 8-½ point favorite on Saturday to end its four-game losing skid against the Spartans. The Irish are looking to avoid going 0-2 for the first time since 1986.

It could be a crossroads game for the Irish and Davie, at least this season. A trip to College Station, Texas looms on September 29 against a Texas A&M that rarely loses at home. A loss this Saturday and Notre Dame could be looking at 0-3 for the first time ever.

And Davie realizes, for his team to avoid such a historical fall from grace, it will need to improve remarkably from its loss at Nebraska and the 41-9 Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon State. 

"What we’re teaching is that from the time you walk onto the field to the time it ends, every play is important," Davie told reporters Monday night following a light practice at Cartier Field. "Certainly with the teams we're playing, the level of competition, you can't waste a snap. We found out the last two games we've played, if you don't execute at the beginning…the game is over early. From a psychological standpoint of trying to start fast, I think it's important to do that."

Davie feels the football game on campus this weekend is important in the healing process for the country. "It will be good to have people here and see Notre Dame, and football is a big part of what Notre Dame is all about," said Davie.

The players and coaches have, understandably, had some trouble focusing. But Davie said the football team has an obligation to have tunnel vision and "Just control the things we can control. That’s probably a good message for Americans right now.

"Anyone who reads a newspaper or anyone who watches television at all, you can't help but get into a negative concern frame of mind," said Davie. "That's just the reality of where we are. When we come here at 2:15 everyday, this has to be our little haven, where we just focus on the positive things."


INJURY UPDATE: Senior center JW Jordan will not play Saturday with a sprained left knee. Junior free safety Glenn Earl out with quadriceps injury. Junior offensive guard Sean Milligan is questionable with an injured knee. Senior offensive guard John Teasdale, who did not play vs. Nebraska, is expected to be back from shoulder injury.

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