Defensive coordinator Kent Baer says his defense has a big challenge this Saturday. "They're a great offense," said Baer. "The more I watch them the more they scare you. It's going to take a total team effort. The give you a lot of formations, a lot of motion, different backfield sets, we're just going to have to be on top of our game. We've just got to play hard. If you watch our game from last year, we played hard, we were pretty physical. If we do that, I think we'll be OK."
Baer says his defense has played well at times but must be better on third down. "Play harder and play a little smarter, said Baer on how his unit can improve. "I'm not sure we're communicating as well as I'd like to. One of the things I really disappointed in is our third down defense. If we improve on that, we'll be OK."
Some might suggest that the lack of offense has worn the defense down. Baer says that is simply not true. "Most of those numbers are because of us and not the offense. Michigan had 19 third down tries and they had 12 conversions so that is not very good. Last year we were in the top two or three in the country in third down defense so that's something we've got to improve on."
Cornerback Vontez Duff said the defense will have to be ready to play to beat Purdue. "They're going to be ready to play just like we're going to be ready to play and we've got to play harder than they do," said Duff.
The Irish can help their cause by creating more turnovers and scoring off turnovers. The last three games against Purdue have been decided by turnovers and Duff says they will have to get more this Saturday to beat Purdue. "We say it every game. That's one thing as a defense that we really look for, turnovers and scoring off those turnovers. It's always important as a defense. It makes it a little easier on the offense when we're scoring on those turnovers."
The secondary played arguably their best game against Michigan State and appears to be coming together. Duff says the entire defense needs to get on the same page. "As a defense, we all have to come together a little bit better. We've got to put every unit out there on the same page. We all have got to be on the same page. The secondary is coming together, we've got a few games under our belt and guys are ready to play but as a unit, we're still not there yet and we've got to get there."
The Irish defense will have come together and will have to stop Purdue on third down if they have any chance to win this game.
Offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick said his unit had a very good week of practice. "I thought that this week was very, very good," said Diedrick. "I thought that it was not only emotionally very spirited, great deal of emotion, but I also thought our execution was quite a bit better. I thought our execution was very good on Tuesday, much better than it has been. Wednesday I think it picked up from there and I thought we had a good, polished day today."
Diedrick would not name a starter for Saturday's game. "There has been no decision made. There is no decision made to be announced at this time," said Diedrick when asked if they would name a starter.
Tyrone Willingham also said a decision has not been made at quarterback. "As of this moment, I have not made a decision on the quarterback situation," said Willingham. "Both young men have had a good week of work. I've been very pleased with what both of them have done. We'll make that decision before game time at some point or we'll do it with the actual start of the ball game."
Willingham and Diedrick won't announce their starter because there is no strong reason to. "I would say there is no benefit for us to announce it early," said Willingham when asked if there was an advantage to announce it early.
Diedrick said the decision has been discussed but no final decision has been made. "I think that we've probably assessed most of the factors," Diedrick said. "Now it will just be a matter of sit down, discussing the pluses and minuses and come to our decision."
"Not if it helps us be successful" was Diedrick's response when asked if he would be opposed to playing both quarterbacks.
Previous starter Carlyle Holiday said he tried to put the past games behind him and went to work this week. "I just tried to come out focused a let those other games pass behind me and then come out and try to execute in practice and just get better and I think I did that for the most part," said Holiday.
Holiday says this latest challenge for him is nothing new. He's had to fight for his job before. "I've been fighting the whole time--that is not a big concern to me. I just like the attitude when we win as a ball team, anyway that comes by, I'll take it."
"I'll be fine" was his response when asked if he would be upset if the staff went with Quinn. "I'll just try to make my presence felt in some other way. I have all the confidence in Brady. That's something I'll be fine with."
Holiday said he thought the entire team had a good week of practice including the quarterbacks. "I think we all did overall. Brady had a great week of practice. I had a great week of practice. I think we executed more than we have since the season started. We've just got to somehow get that into the game situation."
Quinn says he'll be ready if he is called upon this week. "I feel like this week, practice-wise, going through everything, I feel like I've been prepared," said Quinn.
This week has been the same as any other week for Quinn. He says he's always preparing to play. "I think any time you're in a position where you think it's a possibility of playing, you have to prepare yourself and that's really all I've been doing this entire week."
Quinn says winning this game will come down to two factors. "We've just got to execute and win the turnover game. We've got to make sure we don't turn over the ball the defense has to create some turnovers."
If Quinn doesn't start, he said he won't be disappointed. He's in a position to do something he's always dreamed about. "I would definitely say it was a dream, trying to come in and play for Notre Dame. Obviously right now, I'm having the opportunity to. I feel like I'm kind of living that, it's become a reality instead of a dream so now I've got to set my goals even higher and go out there and give it the best I can."
Both Quinn and Holiday appear to be handling this situation as well as anyone could imagine. Unfortunately, nobody in the media appeared interested in talking about Purdue. Irish fans have to hope the Irish haven't forgotten about Purdue in the midst of the controversy.