Greg Pauly has emerged as a factor this year along the defensive line. The 6-6, 290-pound nose guard has seen a lot of playing time this season with the nagging injuries to starters Darrell Campbell and Cedric Hilliard. Pauly has recorded 15 tackles on the season, and 1 ½ sacks.Pauly says playing experience has helped him become a factor this year. "I've been here a lot, I've got a lot of reps," said Pauly. "Darrell and Ced are great players, and I've learned a lot from them, and Coach Mattison. We're starting to come together and play like we can play."
The Waukesha, Wisconsin native says the Stanford offense will keep the Irish defense honest next weekend. "It's a pretty basic offense, really. There's not a lot of tricks to it. They have trick plays; of course, they run to strong side, they run to weak side, they don't really have any tendencies. You've really got to play their offense honest, and play with really good technique. It's really going to be a big challenge."
A lot of Pac 10 teams are labeled as finesse teams. We asked Pauly how Stanford compares to some of the power teams they've play this season. "They have some great skill position players, more than they've had in the past. It's different than a Big 10 team with big offensive lineman. It's a different type of offense that they play, different players."
The defensive line has started to play like the unit many anticipated this year. Pauly says the unit has started to play as one. "I think we're starting to come together. We're just practicing hard every day, no one is complaining, just busting our butts out there. I think that helps. Just coming together with everyone having the same desire."
The Irish seem to be more confident these days. Pauly believes this team is just tired of losing. "It'd be so much nicer to win the last few games, and maybe go to a bowl game, then it is to look at the season and not be a winning program. That's not how you want to end the season."
The Cardinal should be motivated to beat their former coaches in Palo Alto next weekend. We asked Pauly if the Irish would be as motivated as Stanford will be for this game. "I think it's a Notre Dame pride thing. Look at the tradition here. That's what we're playing for here. That's the past for him. Whatever happened there happened. He's here now. He never talks about Stanford."
Pauly is known as a scrapper. He's a fighter inside and big smile came across his faced when we mentioned that. "When you're out there against guys that are over 300 pounds, no one is going to move them often. You're just out there scrapping every single play. I think you have to play that way to be successful."
Coach Tyrone Willingham said the Irish used this week to get healthy, and to look at some of the younger Irish players. "What we're focused on is just trying to get healthy. We try to keep our timing and rhythm, and most importantly, try to work our younger guys."
Willingham didn't want to get into specifics about Stanford just yet. After coaching at Stanford, he knows how important the Cal game is to the Cardinal, and Stanford plays Cal this weekend. Willingham said he'd prefer to talk about Stanford after the Cal game. "It's a little early. I prefer to give you that conversation next week when we have a chance to get this final football game and really see what they look like, and have a much more detailed idea of what we think their approach might be for us. The things that you see in that game might not or might be the direction they go against us."
The Irish are off this weekend and will return on Sunday. We've been told that the Irish will practice on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week before leaving for Palo Alto.