Irish Defenders Expect Battle on Saturday

The Irish defense will have yet another big challenge on Saturday with an improving Stanford team. Irish Eyes spoke with a number of Irish defenders after Wednesday's practice to get their thoughts on their upcoming game with the Cardinal.

Defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri says that a lot of Stanford's success so far this season has been because of the play of quarterback Trent Edwards.

"He's very athletic," Abiamiri said of Edwards. "He makes good decisions. He runs the ball really well. He's good on his feet. If nothing is happening in the air he can make it happen on his feet so we've got to stay disciplined and play our gaps and not allow him to break contain."

The play of Edwards has really boosted the productivity of the Cardinal offense and has the Cardinal playing at a very high level according to Abiamiri.

"They're a lot different team," Laws said. "They're more confident. They took USC down to the wire and they should've won that game. They won every other game other than that game. They're a lot better team than they were last year so we're definitely not taking them lightly."

Sophomore defensive lineman Trevor Laws has also been impressed with the Stanford offense.

"They look real good," Laws said. "Their quarterback is a real good player. They have a great passing attack, and they've got a pretty good running game when they want to. Coach is really stressing us to stop the run as usual. As long as we contain the quarterback we've got a chance I think."

"We've been focusing on getting our hands up in practice, trying to bat some of those balls down, also try to get in his face, getting him a little flustered," said Laws when asked how they'll try to stop Edwards. "If we can rattle him up a little bit, hopefully we can get that percentage down."

With the Irish already having two losses on the season, Laws was asked if this team had anything left to play for.

"Yeah definitely," he said. "We've got to win out, and we've got a great chance in doing something great in bowl season."

Sophomore strong safety Tom Zbikowski said the Irish have moved on from the Purdue loss

"Any game you play, you're going to learn from; and games that you lose, you're going to learn a lot from," Zbikowski said. "You lost, and it's tough, but you have to take positives from it. You know you can get it done, but it's over with. There's nothing you can do about it. This week is the only thing we need to focus on."

The talented Buffalo Grove, Ill. native said the Irish haven't lost their confidence heading into the Stanford game.

"After watching film, a couple plays here and there could go the other way; we'd probably win that game," he said. "We know we didn't play the way we should have, and I think we're going to show this week that we can play the way people have seen us play."

Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham said he's been pleased with the effort and the attitude so far this week.

"Our workouts have been very solid, very spirited, and I hope very focused," Willingham said after Wednesday's practice. " And that is the way I would want it to be after every ballgame. You want spirit; you want focus; and if you can get those things, you are moving forward in the right manner."

The Irish were just 2-of-4 in red zone opportunities last weekend. Willingham was asked how they could improve in the red zone.

"One, you always concentrate on not turning it over," said Willingham. "And that's one thing we can't do which really plagued us the last ballgame, even though it was only one opportunity. We continue to focus as coaches to make sure we put our guys in the best position possible and as a player you can try to execute once you are in that position."

The Irish have been without the service of some key players who have been injured. Willingham was asked about the health of his team at this point.

"At this time of the year, you always have someone who is banged up and somewhat limited. But hopefully we have more guys coming back than we are losing. Grant looks probable and Stovall looks probable."

The third-year Irish head coach says he knows that the Irish will face a talented and confident Stanford team on Saturday.

"I think they're poised to be a really outstanding team. If you look at what they've done, they took SC down to the wire. But to do that, you have to play good football, and they are playing good football.

"They have outstanding running backs and their quarterback is one of the most accurate guys I watched in high school. And he is living up to that now. I think they are completing about 61 percent and they are scoring a lot of points, and those are all very good things. And their defense is being relatively stingy." Top Stories