News and Notes 9-14-2005

*The Notre Dame coaching staff has been talking up Michigan State signal caller Drew Stanton all week not only for his scrambling ability but his improved passing play. Stanton caused problems last year for the Irish in his relief appearance and the defensive minds of Notre Dame gush at his ability.

"He's a heck of an athlete," secondary coach Bill Lewis said. "Coming back into the college game, I'm not aware of what these guys have done. From what I saw of him from the five games we broke down of him, he's very athletic. And through two games, he's very productive. I don't care who they played. The guy has been on fire.

"He's been productive and as you mentioned, he's not strictly a pocket quarterback. They use a lot of misdirection; what we would call bootleg. If you let him get outside of containment, now that buys all kids of extra time for him and the receiver to work on. One of our keys will be to contain him and keep him in the pocket and make him throw from the pocket."

"Their offense is well-choreographed around his skills," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "He's a strong-arm guy. He's a good leader. He's got good mobility. He's a big, strong guy. He brings a lot to the table. Their offense, whereas they would like to run the ball, it does trigger it self around the triggerman. We're impressed with him. He's got a bright future. We'll have our work cut out for us on defense."

*Much has been made of the recent success the Spartans have had at Notre Dame Stadium. They have won the last four ball games over the Irish in South Bend and their 11 victories all-time at the stadium is the most by a Notre Dame opponent. Weis told his team right after their win last weekend at Michigan to start thinking about the Spartans. He also has used a video to get his point across visually.

"We watched a 15-minute tape that I had made from NBC broadcasts the last four times here," Weis said. "The week before, I had watched Michigan broadcasts. That was half bad followed by half good. This time it was all bad. It was four games worth of all bad. I didn't really have to say too much to them because after 15 minutes of watching that tape, the picture told it better than words. They got the picture loud and clear that there is a number of reasons why Michigan State has won the last four games here."

*Michigan State head coach John L. Smith is an accomplished coach and is trying to bring his winning ways to East Lansing. Smith is 15-12 in three years at MSU and 125-72 in 17 seasons as head coach. These 125 wins is 12th best among active NCAA Division One football coaches and the .635 winning percentage is 17th best. Maybe most importantly, in 12 of his 16 years as a head coach, his teams have made a trip to a bowl game. Weis said at his press conference on Tuesday that he has all the respect for Smith and his offensive coordinator, Dave Baldwin, who are averaging 592 yards and 45 points per game this season.

*Notre Dame better watch out. This week, the Irish jumped into the AP Poll's Top 10 on the basis of two road wins at Michigan and Pittsburgh. This fits right into the hands of the Spartans. Michigan State is 8-1 (.889) against teams ranked in the Top 10 since 1997 with the lone loss coming at the hands of Ohio State in Columbus two seasons ago. This stat can also work towards Notre Dame: of those eight wins, six have come in Spartan Stadium.

*Michigan State's defense has yet to be tested. After playing two warm-up games against Kent State and Hawaii, they will face a true test this weekend versus the Irish. One stat that does jump out is the 268 yards per game the Spartans are allowing through the air. This could be attributed to the fact that both games were blowouts and their opponents were playing catch-up by airing the ball out.

Michigan State averages 6-3, 296 lbs. on the defensive line and 6-1, 243 lbs. in the linebacker group. Offensive line coach John Latina has watched the Spartans on film and was complimentary of what he saw.

"It's a good defense," Latina said. "They have a lot of players they use interchangeably. They play a lot of guys. They have some 300 lb. guys at the defensive end position and defensive tackle position. It's been hard for teams to push them around. They got good linebackers and side linebackers. They're athletic and big strong guys."

*The four captains for the 2005 Michigan State team are senior center Chris Morris, junior defensive end Clifton Ryan, senior strong safety Eric Smith and junior quarterback Drew Stanton. Top Stories