Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com™
October 6, 2001
Weaver Devours Panthers
By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com News Service
NOTRE DAME, Ind., Oct. 6, 2001 (IE) – It was pretty ugly on campus earlier this week. A pair of banners "Fire Davie Now" and "Save Notre Dame Football" were ordered removed from the residence halls. "We sort of had to drag ourselves to practice," said defensive end Anthony Weaver.
But then Weaver saw the early Pittsburgh scouting report, and noticed that the Panthers started a freshman, Rob Petitti at one tackle, and a sophomore, Matt Morgan, at the other.
"That made my day," Weaver smiled. "I thought to myself, ‘Those young men are going to have a long day in Notre Dame Stadium'."
Indeed. The senior Weaver had an outstanding day with three tackles for loss (including a quarterback sack), a pass deflection and his third career interception. The pick set up Notre Dame's final touchdown in the 24-7 victory over Pittsburgh.
"It's about time we all stepped up and made plays," said Weaver, the Saratoga Springs, New York product who was making his 34th Irish start. "Everybody has been talking about the offense, but as a defense we had to step up and contribute."
No Irish fan would dream to doubt Weaver. From his first Irish start in September, 1998 when he turned the Michigan game around with a caused fumble to today, the 6-3, 286-pounder has been consistent and productive.
"Anthony just grinds it game-in and game-out," said defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. "He's been steady through all of this."
STATS TO SAVOR: Notre Dame entered having rushed for just 269 yards in three games, a measly 89.7 per contest and 2.5 yards per rush. In this game alone, the Irish had a virtual Holtz-ian 249 yards, with Carlyle Holiday contributing 122.
"We just have to be patient, patient with the offense, patient with ourselves," said Holiday. "We're the type of team right now that has to pick its spots, and then when presented with the opportunity take advantage. Now that we have a couple of big plays behind us, we'll have more confidence."
Holiday looked the part of a Notre Dame starting quarterback post-game, dressed splendidly in a sharply-pressed blue dress shirt with a presidential red tie. He stood with aplomb behind the interview podium.
"I need to be a leader," he said. "I have to feel comfortable saying this is my team now, my turn. We need leaders."
Tony Fisher provided a big spark with 55 yards on 10 carries and the game-turning 28-yard carry that rescued the Irish from their goal-line in the third quarter. Fisher, however, hyperextended his knee on the run and was caught from behind, preventing what looked initially like a coast-to-coast touchdown run.
"My knee hurt, but my pride hurt more," laughed Fisher. "I should not get caught from behind."
THE NOTEBOOK: There was a legitimate full-house at Notre Dame Stadium, with very few no-shows. While there have been clearly more festive football Saturdays on this campus, the mood was not truly hostile. The "Dump Davie" sweatshirts were prevalent and perhaps most surprising was the student section chanting "Lou, Lou" in the post-game 1812 Overture, after the players and coaches had left the field…….Holiday's 67-yard touchdown run was the longest rush for a Notre Dame quarterback since Blair Kiel galloped 80 yards with a fake punt against Arizona in 1980. Jarious Jackson, in the '99 Oklahoma game, was the last Irish QB before today to rush for 100 yards in a game…..Nick Setta continues to be an outstanding place-kicker for the Irish. He gave ND the lead with a 40-yard field goal against a challenging wind and also extended his consecutive PAT string to 37, fourth longest in school history…….Courtney Watson stayed productive on defense with four tackles and a fumble recovery…….Head coach Bob Davie has used self-effacing humor all year to disarm the media, and this day was no exception. "Last night I told the players the best move I made as a head coach was to fire our song leader," Davie began. "Cedric Hilliard was 0-for-2001 so (Friday night) in Plymouth I fired him, put Casey Robin in charge of the Victory March. You guys can have fun with that quote that the best move I made as coach was firing that song leader. You take that quote and run with it." …..Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris has received nothing but positive reviews from the Pittsburgh media since taking over in 1997. But the bloom might be off the rose as the Steel City scribes were scratching their heads over Harris' use of quarterbacks David Priestly and Rod Rutherford. Davie, who was calling many of the defensive signals from the sidelines, got the better of Harris, who was directing the offense. "It was an X's and O's game and I enjoyed it," said Davie…..Notre Dame's offensive line continues to be a work in progress with even JW Jordan seeing some quality time at right guard…….Clifford Jefferson (shoulder), Ron Israel (groin) and Grant Irons were out.