Irish Looking For Third Win

The Irish returned home from Michigan State with a hard-earned victory. The offense had its moments and finished the day with 388 yards, but it was the defense that set the tone and carried the day for the Irish with three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. These six turnovers led to 17 points by the offense and six more points were credited to the defense.

Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn recorded the first rushing touchdown of his career on a one-yard run in the first quarter. In the passing game, Quinn was 11-24 with one interception, 215 yards, and one touchdown.

Quinn had looked over the tapes of the Spartan game and said he was happy with some of what he saw, but also saw room for improvement with the Irish offense.

"We obviously did some good things, but we missed some things and really could have put more points on the board," Quinn said.

Wide receivers Matt Shelton and Jeff Samardzija were effective weapons for the Irish Saturday. Shelton had three receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Samardzija chipped in with four receptions good for 65 yards.

The Irish quarterback said both players made a big impact in the game on Saturday.

"Obviously, when you have guys stepping up like that and making plays for us, it gives defenses more to worry about," Quinn said.

"Matt's knack for getting open and his speed helps with that, but at the same time, he is a smart player. He definitely sees the open space and gets to it.

"Jeff has great hands and anything thrown his way, he is going to catch. He has that big play capability and obviously you saw that on the big catches for third-down conversions. He just has so much talent."

The veteran quarterback is looking forward to this week's opponent, the Washington Huskies, and said he sees a lot of similiarities between the Huskies and their last opponent, Michigan State.

"They're kind of like Michigan State's and this helps us in game-planning and getting used to seeing the similarities between the schemes and what they like to do. Although there are different blitzes and things like that," Quinn said.

The Dublin, Ohio, native critiqued his play this past Saturday by saying, "Inconsistency was a concern. There were times in the game when we had a flow going, but when we got backed up and missed some deep balls. Things like that can really change the momentum of the game, and just the overall inconsistency of not making those plays when they need to be made.

"But on the other hand, in the fourth quarter we came down and made some pretty clutch third-down conversions. These kept the chains moving and the clock running. I'm really looking forward to having a good game by my standards."

Senior wide receiver/punt returner, Carlyle Holiday, said he watched tapes of the game against Michigan State and saw missed chances for him to make big returns.

"There were definitely opportunities there, but it will come. I just need to be patient," said Holiday.

Holiday has handled 10 punts for 120 yards in the last two games and has not signaled for a fair catch. Holiday says he isn't planning on practicing the fair catch this season.

"I haven't worked on that at all. I don't think I'm going to fair catch any," the senior said. "I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity to catch the ball. All the guys knew from the first game I was back there that I was going to take advantage of every opportunity I get and just give me some running room so I can do what I can do."

Holiday has watched tape of the Washington team and said their defense has plenty of athletic ability to give the Irish offense fits on Saturday.

"They're a fast defense and fly around the ball," Holiday said of the Husky defense. "They are 0-2, but if you look at them on film, it doesn't seem like they should be 0-2 as they are very aggressive, and we have a big challenge ahead of us.

"This is a big game. Washington has its back to the wall and they're going to come out and give all effort and we have to be able to control them and take advantage of it and come out of our stadium with a win."

Senior linebacker Derek Curry continues to be a force for the Irish defense. Against the Spartans he was credited with four tackles and picked off a pass, which he returned for 35 yards. Curry said the Irish defense will be ready for the Huskies.

"We always have the mind set to win the game regardless of who we are playing," Curry said. "There is always going to be a challenge, but our mind set is to go out there and play as hard as possible and win the game."

Curry was asked how he likes preparing for different offensive schemes each week.

"I love it. I love the fact that we don't play the same kind of team every week," he said. "We play BIG TEN teams that try and run it down our throats, and we play teams from the PAC-10 that are going to spread it out and pass.

"We play teams like Navy that run the option and cut block all day. That is one of the reasons you come to Notre Dame, to get a variety of everything. You get a variety of academics, a variety of football, and a variety of playing across the country I love it."

This award-winning player believes the Irish have their swagger back and said he expects big things from this Irish team the rest of the season.

"I think that is only going to help us down the road," Curry said of regaining their swagger. "The more confidence we have in ourselves and the defense is going to give more confidence to special teams and more confidence to the offense and more confidence to our fans."

At this point in the 2003 season, the Irish were 1-2 and headed for a 5-7 season record. The 2004 team stands at 2-1 going into their fourth game and Irish Eyes believes were seeing a very different team right now than the 2003 unit. Top Stories