News and Notes 9-13-2005

*Head coach Charlie Weis said at his Tuesday press conference that senior wide receiver Rhema McKnight is "day-to-day" with a leg injury and, to the relief of Irish fans, not lost for the season. McKnight, who caught the a touchdown on Notre Dame's opening drive of last Saturday's contest, was injured late in the second quarter of the Michigan game after awkwardly twisting his knee after being hit by a Wolverine defender. He will not play this weekend against Michigan State.

"Rhema had a slight procedure done on his leg," Weis said. "Although he's day-to-day as we all know, he's going to miss this week's game. We'll revisit him again next week, but he's not lost for the season like all the rumors and everything. He had a procedure done that's going to keep him from playing this week. If you asked him how he was doing, he would say day-to-day anyway. I figured I'd get that out of the way for this week's game, that he will not be playing in this week's game. We hope to get him back as quickly as we can."

With McKnight out, it gives more opportunities to the other players at the position. Jeff Samardzija's role in the offense expects to increase. The 6'5" junior already leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. Matt Shelton, who had off-season knee surgery, should get more snaps while Chase Anastasio, David Grimes, and D.J. Hord are other possibilities.

*Michigan State's running back situation is up in the air because of the suspension of starter Jason Teague. Teague was suspended last week before the Spartans 42-14 win over Hawaii for undisclosed reasons. Head coach John L. Smith said at his press conference Monday that there is a chance that he could play this Saturday versus the Irish but also a chance that we won't play.

Either way, it does seem to be hurting Michigan State's ground attack. Although playing two lesser opponents, the Spartans have averaged 276 rushing yards per game. Jehhu Caulcrick has more running yards than Notre Dame's Darius Walker through two games and Weis knows Michigan State is tough to stop with or without Teague.

"The running back situation they have is almost by committee, but it doesn't make any difference who they put in there," Weis said. "I know Teague didn't play last week, but whether they played Caulcrick or (Javon) Ringer, Caulcrick rushed for 89 yards, Ringer rushed for another 80 yards. Didn't really seem to make a difference who they put in there with the system they have going.

"I don't think they were crying that Teague didn't play. I think you have to be ready for all three of them playing. It wasn't like who ever they put in there, they were going to get production out of. I think in the first two games, they've done a nice job running the ball. That's why they were averaging 276 yards a game rushing."

*On Saturday, collections will be taken for the Hurricane Katrina victims and relief efforts between the first and second quarters of the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game. The devastating hurricane has killed hundreds and displaced thousands from their homes in the Gulf Coast region. Rev. John Jenkins will lead a prayer and a moment of silence before the game for the sold-out crowd of over 80,000 at Notre Dame Stadium.

"My hope is that the collective generosity of 80,000 fans will raise as much as possible in support of relief for this disaster, the full magnitude of which is still being determined with each passing hour," Father Jenkins said.

*This year is the 75th anniversary of football at Notre Dame Stadium and fans will see a few decorative changes around the venue to mark the occasion. The Irish have a .757 winning percentage in 379 games played there.

Weis, an alum, remembers his favorite memory while a student at the university. In 1975, the Irish donned the green jerseys to beat the USC Trojans. Weis was confused at the pep rally when former ND basketball coach Digger Phelps hinted at the jersey change.

"I couldn't figure out Digger at the pep rally on Friday night telling everyone to call us the `Green Machine' when we wore blue and gold," Weis said. "I just didn't get it. I was a little slow on the pickup.

"I remember at the pep rally, going back to my dorm saying, "Digger doesn't know what's hell he's talking about." Of course, Digger had some inside scoop that I didn't have. Here one of my closest friends and suite mates was Terry Eurick. He didn't tell me either, and he knew, too, because he was of the captain of the offense. He figured I had too big a mouth and I would have told the whole campus.

"I remember watching the warm ups that day in regular jerseys, coming out in the green. Took a couple seconds for everyone to figure out what was going on, then just going out and swamping them that day. It was probably of all the games at this stadium I went to easily by far the most memorable one for me."

*NBC will get their first chance to televise Notre Dame football this season as the home opener kicks off Saturday afternoon. Executives at the network must be sporting huge smiles with the success the 2-0 Irish have had so far. Calling the game for NBC will be Tom Hammond with analysis from Pat Haden and sideline reporting by Lewis Johnson. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:40 South Bend time.

*For those Notre Dame fans still in the dark, these coaches roam the sidelines on game day: head coach Charlie Weis, offensive line coach John Latina, offensive coordinator Michael Haywood, defensive coordinator Rick Minter, tight ends/special teams assistant Bernie Parmalee, defensive line coach Jappy Oliver, and special teams coach Brian Polian. The rest of the staff conducts business from the press box: defensive backs coach Bill Lewis, wide receivers coach Rob Ianello, quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas, and graduate assistants Shane Waldron and Jeff Burrow.

*Notre Dame is the only team in the country with wins over two Top 25 teams at the time of the game. This is one of the many reasons the team has catapulted into the Top 10 in the AP Poll.


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