Irish Hoping to Bounce Back

The Irish dropped to 3-2 on the season with their loss to Purdue on Saturday. The Irish will now face an improving Stanford (3-1) team. The Cardinal will likely be very motivated to have a good showing in Notre Dame Stadium after being blown out by the Irish 57-7 in Stanford Stadium last year. Irish Eyes spoke with a number of Irish players on Monday to get their thoughts on the Purdue loss and the Stanford game this week.

Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn had and excellent game last Saturday finishing 26-of-46 for 432 yards and a touchdown. The Dublin, Ohio native says he felt pretty good last Saturday throwing the football.

"I think so," Quinn said when asked if last Saturday was the most comfortable he's felt directing the Irish offense. "The numbers are pretty good. I felt extremely comfortable out there seeing things and picking up different reads."

Quinn said the Irish just didn't make the plays that they needed to win on Saturday, but also gave some credit to the Purdue defense.

"When you look at their defense, they're extremely fast to the ball," the sophomore said of the Boilermaker defense. "Up front they're doing a good job of closing off some lanes, not giving us much open space to run the ball.

"When you look at the film, I think there are opportunities there for us to make plays, especially in the red zone. We really didn't come out and execute the way we were."

Quinn was asked why the Irish amassed so much yardage but came away with so little in points.

"I guess it's not capitalizing when we had the opportunity," he said. "We made a couple of mistakes, had some things not go our way, with the fumble on the goal line. Just really not getting things done when we're in the red zone."

Senior linebacker Derek Curry was seen limping after the Purdue game.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Curry said when asked about his health. "A little ankle sprain, nothing major."

"Oh yeah," was his response when asked if he'd play on Saturday against Stanford.

The Sealy, Texas native said the Irish are looking at the Stanford game as an opportunity to get back on track.

"We're definitely opportunistic," said Curry when asked about his team's mindset heading into Saturday. "The good thing about football is you live to fight another day. We're just going to go out there this week and hopefully put together another good game."

Curry said he feels confident the Irish can fix the problems they had against Purdue before the game on Saturday.

"Everything we did wrong is correctable," Curry said. "It's not a matter of talent, it's not a matter potential; it's just a matter of getting the job done and executing the game plan properly. That is the one thing that hurt us last week. We didn't execute well enough."

The Irish defeated Stanford 57-7 last season and Curry was asked what that defeat meant in this game on Saturday.

"It has nothing to do with us," Curry said. "Teams change by the year, by the week, throughout the season. It doesn't really affect anything we're going to do this week. We've just got to go out and play another game against the people they have this year."

Similar to the progress of the Irish offense, Curry said the Stanford offense has really improved since the Irish last saw them in 2003.

"A really explosive offense," was how Curry described Stanford on film. "Their quarterback is starting to get poised and really showing what he can do. Their running the ball well, and they have the ability to throw the ball deep."

Special teams has to be a concern this week after allow a few touchdown in kickoff coverage the last few weeks. Curry said the Irish need to fix those problems quickly, and he'd be glad to help.

"Special teams is just as important as offense or defense, Curry said of the woes on special teams. "When the special teams isn't playing up to par, you have to make some changes to get some stuff done because that's an integral part of the game.

"I'm up for playing any special teams, personally. I know that a lot of the guys are. It's ultimately the coach's final decision to say who's going to be out there playing so it's not my decision to make that call. If given the opportunity, I'd go out there in a minute."

Senior offensive lineman Dan Stevenson said the Irish offensive line did not play well against Purdue.

"It obviously, as a unit, not the offensive line's best performance," Stevenson said. "They got a lot of pressure on Brady early, and kind of consistently throughout the game. The run game wasn't clicking on all cylinders as it's been in the past.

"It wasn't, I don't want to say it was a step back, I just think it was everyone kind of taking their turn on a certain play of messing up. One play it would be me, the next play, maybe LeVoir, the next play it could be a tight end, somebody on every play."

The Irish really struggled running the football last week gaining just 75 yards on the ground. Stevenson said he expects the Irish to focus on the ground game a lot this week.

"Our approach has always been that we want to run the ball," he said. "We want to be good at it. That's probably one of the biggest things we'll focus on. Obviously that's the coaches decision, but I would imagine that we'd definitely try to go out there and establish our running game and get that going."

The Irish have been without the services of senior running back Ryan Grant. The hard-nosed senior has been missed according to Stevenson.

"You've got to miss Ryan a tremendous amount, and not just his play on the field, but also due to his leadership," Stevenson said of Grant. "Ryan's been here for four years, he's a hard worker. He definitely brings and extra element to the game, physically and emotionally."

Stevenson also said the 57-7 victory over Stanford last season means little in the game this year.

"You really can't let it have any effect on how we approach Stanford this year," he said. "They've been very successful so far. They beat BYU; they beat Washington last week just as well as we did. They played a tough game against USC and almost maybe should've had that game. Last year we were 5-7, and this we consider ourselves a totally different and better team."

Senior defensive end Justin Tuck had a lot of compliments on Monday for the improvement the Stanford offense has made since last year.

"They're a totally different team," Tuck said of the Cardinal. "Coach Teevans has them playing great. They're more physical off the line, a running back that's running hard, a quarterback that's playing real confident, and they have excellent athletes at wide receiver so it's going to be a great challenge for us."

Tuck says he's been real impressed with Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards.

"He's real confident right now," Tuck said of the Stanford sophomore. "You can just tell he's a scrambler when he has to be, but also if you give him time in the pocket, he's going to find receivers. Right now I think one of his favorite receivers is his tight end. I've been watching him on film and he looks like one of the best tight ends in the country right now."

Tuck said the Purdue loss was hard for everyone and he plans to make sure the Irish have the right focus heading into the game against Stanford this weekend.

"Anytime you lose a game of that magnitude, especially at our house, the leadership has to step up," Tuck said. "I'm probably going to call a meeting with our seniors, and we're going to sit down and talk about how we need to focus. We've got to put that behind us."

Senior defensive end Kyle Budinscak said he was impressed with how Purdue played on Saturday, but the Irish should not use their play as an excuse for losing the game.

"I give Kyle Orton and their receivers a bunch of credit," Budinscak said. They're a tremendous group of players, but if you go around with the attitude that every game you lose, especially when you lose by 25 points, you attributing that to the talent of the other team, you're not going to get very far."

The New Jersey native says he's also been very impressed with Stanford on film.

"Look how they played USC," Budinscak said of the Cardinal. "That alone tells you what type of team they have.

"I've had a chance to watch them on film and they're a great football team. I had a chance to watch the USC tape and it certainly wasn't a game where it seemed like they were lucky to be in it. It seemed like they were competing pretty well."

"They're at a whole different level of confidence. They're making plays. The quarterback is getting the ball to a lot of receivers. They're not afraid to run the ball right at you. It seems like they're just a confident team."

The Cardinal will bring a pretty good team to Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford is averaging 404 yards per game and almost 34 points per game on offense. They're averaging 137 yards on the ground and 266 yards through the air per game.

Defensively, they've held their opponents to just 14 points per game. They are allowing just 85 yards per game on the ground, and have allowed five touchdowns running all year. They also allow 235 yards passing, and only have allowed the opposition two touchdowns through the air all season.

The Irish will have to try to bounce back in what appears to be an improving Stanford team. Top Stories