The first order of business this week for Willingham was likely fixing the problems he's had with special teams. The Irish have allowed a number of big plays in special teams and we asked Willingham if we'd see some new faces on special teams this week.
"You're always trying to find the right people to plug in to see if you can get a remedy to your problem," Willingham said. "We'll look at it, we'll see, and we'll see what comes out of it."
The Irish will have to try to bounce back from their disappointing loss to Purdue last week. The third-year Irish coach was asked if he felt this Irish team would be able to respond better to the loss than the team we saw in 2003.
"I would say definitely more so," said Willingham. "The leadership is a little bit stronger that we had last year. You had more guys that were feeling their way last year. I think we're more resilient from that standpoint."
Stanford, on the other hand, will be coming in on a high. The confident Cardinal team will likely have revenge on their minds after suffering a 50-point loss at the hands of the Irish last season in Stanford Stadium. Willingham says he can't worry about the revenge factor in coaching his team this week.
"What we have to be focused on, are ourselves," he said. "There's nothing we can control about your opponent. This game means a great deal to us. And if it doesn't, we've missed the boat."
"I feel pretty good about it. I would say he's probable," said Willingham when asked Grant's status. "Maurice, I'd say probable."
Willingham was asked if his team was ready for this very big game for the Irish.
"I hope so," Willingham said. "I hope we've had a good week of practice, and that we're mentally and emotionally in all the right places to play a great football game. I think Stanford is playing very well. Everything they've done indicates that they're playing good football, and we've got to be prepared to play another good football team coming in to our stadium."
Willingham is correct in this game should mean a great deal to his team. How they play in this game will be critical to the rest of their season. We expect a battle on Saturday and a close a game.