Irish Gaining Confidence

Notre Dame closed their second practice of the week on Wednesday in good spirits. The Irish seem to be walking a little different lately after recording two wins in their last two contests. We spoke with offensive guard, Mark LeVoir and Coach Tyrone Willingham after Wednesday's practice to get an idea on how the team is approaching the off-week.

LeVoir says the offensive line wants to finish this season as winners. "We're looking to finish strong and still improve," said LeVoir when asked what the line will focus on this week. "What we've done to get to this point is to work hard. Now, throughout the experience, and working hard on our technique, it's kind of becoming second nature. We just need to finish the season on a good note."

LeVoir is a junior, but he is also inexperienced seeing his first year of real action on the offensive line. LeVoir says he still has a lot to learn. "I still have a lot of things I still need to work on, but I feel I've definitely improved a lot. I'm not thinking as much, it's more reacting. I already kind of know what's going to happen beforehand, based on different looks or how the defensive lineman is lined up. I could always be lower, I could always have a better base, I could always use better hand technique. I'm just working on that."

We asked LeVoir how this team practices during the off-week. "We do it against Stanford's look. This week is working against Stanford, as well as working on our technique. Just kind of going back to the basic fundamentals and revisiting what we've learned, but doing it against Stanford's look."

The Minnesota native says this Stanford team is better than many realize. "They're a good team. Their record really doesn't indicate how good they are. Their defensive linemen are good, they're athletic, their feisty, and they're going to play hard, just like Navy. They like to shift their defense into cadence. Try to get you confused, shift their alignment. It's nothing we haven't seen all year. We've just got to prepare for them and how they do it."

The Irish seem to be a much more confident team this week in our time spent with the team. We asked LeVoir if he sees the confidence in his team. "Confidence is a big deal. Everyone is walking differently here. We're more confident in what we're doing. We've kind of got the attitude that ‘we don't care what they're doing; we're going to kick their butts.' I think that's going to help us in the next two games. We can't get too overconfident though."

The Cardinal will likely be highly motivated to beat their former coaches. LeVoir says the Irish will be ready for a very fired up team. "We're going to try to prepare as much as we can. We know it's going to be a battle for 60 minutes, but we want to win as much as they will. We know what is coming and we've just got to be prepared for it."

Coach Tyrone Willingham said this off-week came at a good time for Notre Dame. "You take advantage of all opportunities presented you, said Willingham. "This opportunity gives us a chance to hopefully be a little healthier going into our last two ballgames. In my opinion, it's a great advantage for us if we use it that way."

We asked Willingham if Stanford looks like a different team from a year ago under Coach Buddy Teeven's tutelage. "I think they're doing some things a little bit different. I think he made some adjustments based on his personnel. I think he's doing some things that maybe they didn't evolve to year one, and that's both offensively and defensively."

Recruiting season will heat up very soon for the Irish. The Irish have had to push their football banquet back to December 13th during the weekend before finals week. With students studying for finals, we asked Willingham if that was a concern for him. Can these young recruits still have fun on this weekend?

"You want a mixed environment. The whole key is to do what ever is done with young people to be done respectably. There will still be opportunities to do that. There are plenty of people that will find social events during finals week."

The conference debate continues to heat up. Plenty are wondering what Notre Dame will do in the future about joining a conference. Willingham was asked his opinion on joining a conference. "We've done a great job of maintaining a very special place in collegiate football history. No one has done that role any better than Notre Dame. I do think you have to keep an eye out and an awareness of what's going around you."

"I think you always monitor what's going on, and I think our administration would be well-advised to do that," Willingham continued. "And, I think they're doing that. You keep a constant visual of the landscape, and at the right time, you do what's best for Notre Dame."

The Irish do appear to be walking with a lot more confidence lately—including Willingham. The off-week comes at a good time for Notre Dame to heal the nicks and bruises many on this team must have at this point. The Irish look to be in a good position to finish the season strong. Top Stories