Irish Working Towards Saturday

The Irish held their second team practice in preparation for Michigan State on Saturday. Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham met with the media after Wednesday's practice and said the Irish are trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

The Irish usually use Wednesday as the day they are in full pads and working through the game plan. This Wednesday was no different and Willingham said his team has been working hard this week in preparation for Saturday.

"Wednesday is usually a very difficult day for us because it is probably our heaviest workload of the week," Willingham said. "I thought our guys worked through it and as always there were ups and downs but for the most part it was a good effort."

The excitement from their big win against Michigan has subsided, but Willingham says he's hopeful that excitement has pushed his programs to new heights.

"I sincerely hope so," said Willingham when asked if his team was riding a high right now. "I think the workload has been good. I think the coaches have been demanding and the players have adapted and adjusted to that as we move forward to Michigan State."

The Irish have lost six out of their last seven games against Michigan State. Willingham was asked how he handles the psychology of this game to have his team prepared to face a confident Michigan State team.

"I think you make them aware of that, but as I said earlier in the week, this team will not play any of those teams," said Willingham about their recent record against the Spartans. "So, therefore, we have to be prepared to face this team. It is a brand new ballgame and the team that plays the best will be the victors."

The Spartans seem to play their best football against Notre Dame, and Willingham was asked why he thought they save their best for the Irish.

"I think it is not just Michigan State; I think it's everyone we play and that has been recognized around the country," he said. "Because of the great tradition and success that Notre Dame has had over the years, this has been a star program so therefore anyone at the top or anyone who is assumed to be at that position will shoot for them. So that's why we carry the bulls-eye."

Senior running back Ryan Grant has been hobbled for the first two games so far this season. Willingham was still not ready to say he was 100 percent at this time.

"He's had some good days so far, and we've just got to be very careful with him," Willingham said of Grant. "The thing that you don't want to do is overload him. But we think he is progressing better right now than he was last week."

Some bad news could be the status of Greg Pauly. The senior defensive tackle appears to be sitting out of Tuesday's practice and was scratched for interviews on Wednesday.

"I'm not sure on Greg's status right now," was Willingham's response when asked about Pauly's status.

Irish fans also saw a rotation with the offensive guard position against Michigan. Dan Santucci worked his way into the lineup and performed well enough to see more playing time according to Willingham.

"I think we would like to be able to continue that," said Willingham when asked if the rotation would continue. "I think it keeps those guys fresh; it keeps them involved and also helps us to develop depth too."


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