News and Notes 9/28/2005

*The Notre Dame football team will be heading south to West Lafayette to face the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday night. It will be the second night game for the Irish this year. The season opener at Pittsburgh seemed to pose no problems for Notre Dame as they crushed the Panthers 42-21. But don't think head coach Charlie Weis enjoys the night contests.

"I hate night games," Weis said. "I absolutely hate them. They can play at nine in the morning as far as I'm concerned. You think about it: everyone's schedule is off. You're sitting around the hotel all day long. You wake up in the morning and you want to play. Every week it's a different time. Last week it was 12:37 Pacific time. Now it's 6:47 EST or Central Daylight. Every week is a different time. Your body clocks get used to a regimen or a routine. There is nothing worse than playing a night game for your body clock."

There are certain advantages to playing at night. The crowd is usually more pumped up and this weekend's game is on ESPN with a national audience watching at home. However, this is nothing new for the Irish.

"Now the emotions and everything that goes with the game…that is kind of exciting," Weis said. "But were on national TV every week anyways. It's not like ‘Wow we're on national TV this week.' It's just another game on national TV. There's nothing special in it for me."

*One player the Irish will have to account for is Purdue's Mr. All-Everything, Dorian Bryant. The sophomore wide receiver has 18 catches for 247 yards but also returns kickoffs. At his Tuesday press conference, Weis pointed out the speedster as one to keep an eye on.

"The guy that you have to be concerned with, probably as much as the quarterback, is Bryant," Weis said. "He obviously can do it all. He's their No. 1 receiver. He's a kick returner. He's been a punt returner in the past and even though they have not been used there, they have not been ready for him to be a punt returner. They motion him in the backfield, put him in at running back and he can fly. He's obviously a guy you spend a lot of time with."

Bryant has even experimented playing defense. If a team has a special player, the coach tries to get him on the field as much as possible and it appears that's what Purdue head coach Joe Tiller is doing. Bryant likes the chance to make more plays on the field.

"I'd much rather play on the offense because I like the ball in my hands, but defense is fun," Bryant said. "It's another opportunity to get on the field. I never want to be on the sidelines because I feel that if I'm on the field, I can be out there to make something happen. If I can be on the field for offense and defense, it gives me more of a chance. The coaches had talked to me about it during recruiting, but once I came here we didn't talk about it anymore. Then just this year, they sprung it on me and I was up for the challenge."

*Weis said before the Michigan State game, he showed the team tapes of the last four times the Spartans came into Notre Dame Stadium, which were all Irish losses. He could do the same this week after Purdue came into South Bend last year and whipped Notre Dame 41-16. Offensive tackles Ryan Harris said Weis and the coaching staff fire up the team in many ways.

"The coaches try to motivate us in many different ways," Harris said. "Lately, he (Weis) has been focusing on us being the best team we can be and individually contributing to make the team better. That's been the main focus ever since he has been here."

*Special teams have been an emphasis under Weis. The same could be said for Purdue. In 2004, the Boilermakers blocked eight kicks (four field goals, three punts, and one PAT). This tied a record Purdue had under Joe Tiller. In 1998, they also had eight blocked kicks. This year, the Boilers have one.

*The captains for the Purdue team are tight end Charles Davis, center Matt Turner, defensive tackle Brandon Villarreal and running back Jerod Void. All of these players are fifth-year seniors.

*Almost everyone is familiar with the statistic that Tiller has been to eight straight bowl games while coaching down in West Lafayette. The trips included a 2001 Rose Bowl appearance where the Boilermakers lost to the Washington Huskies.

The stat is even more impressive when compared to other schools around the country. There are only eight teams in the nation who have been to a bowl game in the last eight years. These schools include Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Purdue. The Seminoles currently hold the longest bowl game appearance streak with an amazing 23 in a row.

*The winner of this game receives the Shillelagh Trophy. The tradition began in 1957 by the late Joe McLaughlin, who was a merchant seaman and a Notre Dame fan. McLaughlin brought the club with him from Ireland.

A miniature gold football signifies a victory by each side. For Notre Dame, an "ND" is etched into the footballs for each win. The Irish footballs have the advantage with 30 such ones adorning the shillelagh.


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