News and Notes 9-15-2005

*Head coach Charlie Weis said after last weekend's upset victory over Michigan that he was concerned with the team getting too big of a head after a few early season road wins. Offensive line coach John Latina said Tuesday that the way to prevent this was to be more demanding on the players.

The success, though, can be contagious. Once the players get a taste of winning consistently, they want it more week in and week out. Junior safety Tom Zbikowski knows the job is to prepare for each game separately.

"The past couple of years, we've been up one week and then down one week," Zbikowski said. "We're just trying to be consistent and even keel every single week. We're trying to make each week it's own separate entity."

The team is looking to build off the big wins. The last few years, it seemed like for every big step Notre Dame made, it took two steps backward the following week. For Rick Minter, he is looking for his group to continue their solid play this Saturday versus the Spartans.

"The guys have adapted and bought into what we want them to do on defense," Minter said. "They've done it with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm and fortunately with a degree of success in the first few football games. Success breeds success and success comes from confidence and confidence comes from practicing well. It all builds on itself and gains momentum. You're only as good as your last time out and we haven't played a game yet this week. We'll be judged again come Saturday."

*The Irish will open up their 2005 home campaign this weekend against Michigan State. It will mark the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame Stadium's opening. But the Irish have not been protecting the home turf. Losses last season to Boston College, Pittsburgh and Purdue in South Bend gave few reasons for fans to be happy.

Weis wants to change that mentality. He doesn't believe in the Under Armor commercial hype ("We must protect this house" slogan) but said winning makes fans cheer louder and Notre Dame Stadium a tougher environment to play at.

"First of all, you have to win games to get your fans into the games," Weis said. "Your home fans want to cheer for you. They don't want to boo. They want to cheer for you but you have to give them a reason to cheer. A relationship has to be formed where the student body and everyone else at the game knows that you're going to be well-prepared and ready to go.

"But with that being said, you need to, as a team, develop a temperament that you're not going to lose while you're at home. I don't think that temperament exists at this point until we start playing some games. We play six at home. Hopefully when this is all said and done, that we establish a temperament that you're going to have to play awfully good to beat us at our place."

*Weis will be coaching his first game at Notre Dame Stadium and has history on his side. Irish coaches are 10-2-1 in their first home games. The only two coaches to lose their home openers are Lou Holtz in 1986 and Elmer Layden in 1934. Knute Rockne, the winningest coach in Notre Dame history, tied his first home game at Cartier Field 7-7 against Great Lakes.

*The only change in the captain spots for Notre Dame will be Zbikowski as the special teams captain. Weis has said that this spot could change from week to week and he has made it 3-for-3. Travis Thomas was the first week captain while Casey Cullen was the person for the Michigan game.

*This game has more importance than one might think. The winner gets to proudly display the Megaphone Trophy for an entire year. The trophy is awarded to the victor of the contest and it is sponsored by the Detroit alumni clubs of Michigan State and Notre Dame.

*The rivalry between the Spartans and the Irish is the fourth most frequent battle in Notre Dame history. They have met 68 times with the Irish holding a 43-24-1 advantage. Navy (78), Purdue (76) and USC (76) are the three other schools that have faced Notre Dame more. The last six games between the two have been decided by 10 points or less with the game-winning touchdown coming from at least 40 yards late in the 4th quarter five of those six times. The Irish are 2-4 in the six games. Top Stories