Irish End Week of Practice

Lost in all the hoopla recently has been the fact that the Irish are still practicing for their bowl game. The Notre Dame players finished their finals on Friday and closed the week with their last practice of the season at Notre Dame. Interim head coach Kent Baer met with the media after Friday's practice to talk about the week of practice.

"The kids were anxious to get through practice," said Baer on Friday's practice. "We started early and ended early. They're anxious to get done and go home. I think they're looking forward to going down to Phoenix."

Baer's had the unique look at what it's like to be a head football coach as the interim coach who will be coaching the Irish in the last game of the season. The veteran defensive coordinator isn't so sure he likes the big chair.

"I understand now what coach did with his door closed," said Baer with a smile. "You don't get much time working on football. Just so many little details, especially when you do this traveling. Hasn't been a whole lot of fun to be honest with you. I'd rather work on football."

Baer has been consistent about one thing through bowl preparations. He's said he's seen a very focused team.

"Not really, you consider our senior leadership and you see that coming through," said Baer when asked if he's been surprised by his team's effort. "They've been so resilient, they really have. I'm not real surprised."

Without much to play for other than pride in this game, we asked Baer if he will be nervous this team might lose their focus before the game on Dec. 28.

"I'm not nervous. I think we'll go down and play as hard as we've ever played," he said. "Hopefully we'll play well."

Without Tyrone Willingham making all the game-day decisions, Baer was asked if any responsibilities will change amongst the coaching staff to make those decisions.

"It will be pretty similar to what we've been," said Baer. "I'll just have to make some other decisions when the offense has the football. They're more than capable of doing what they do. I just have to decide whether we punt or go for it. That'll be kind of fun--probably go for it all the time."

A number of Irish players have been sidelined the past two weeks with injuries. Baer says he feels the Irish will be healthy heading into the game on the 28th.

"I think we're fairly healthy," Baer said of the team. "I think guys will be healthy by the time we get down there. The only guy I have a question mark about is Jamie Ryan. I think Justin (Tuck) will be fine and Maurice Stovall will be fine."

New head coach Charlie Weis was back on campus on Friday and was said to meet with the previous coaching staff about possible opportunities on his staff.

"They had a meeting this morning," Baer confirmed. "I wasn't involved with it. I think there's some more meetings going on later today. I know he's talked to them."

"I visited with him one-on-one today," said Baer when asked if he talked with Weis on Friday. "We had a nice visit. He seemed like he's doing a good job and getting ready to go."

"No comment," was Baer's response when asked if he planned on staying.


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