News and Notes

*The analysis for the Notre Dame-Purdue game has to start and end with Brady Quinn. The junior quarterback was simply phenomenal, throwing for over 400 yards and three scores. It is the second time he has thrown for over 400 yards this year and the third time in his career. More importantly, the Irish won a game where Quinn threw for over 400 yards.

Everyone expected new head coach Charlie Weis to help in Quinn's development. But this much? Coming into the season, he was a 50% passer who had accuracy problems. This season, Quinn's been mostly right on in Weis's offensive system. He recognizes what the man in charge of leading the Irish back to prominence has done for his quarterback growth.

"The big thing is that he is a great teacher," Quinn said. "He has taught me a lot of things about how to be a quarterback and run an offense. A lot of the things he was successful in with the NFL has brought down here. It's been helpful."

"I really expected him to have a good game," Weis said. "He's a hard worker. Each week you have signs of evolving and getting better. I tell you what: if we don't drop a couple of balls, he has another 100 yards. He was pretty good."

It helps to have a few studs at the wide receiver position. Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall went over 100 yards versus Purdue. Samardzija increased his touchdown total to eight on the year, three shy of the Irish record held by Derrick Mayes. Stovall used his size and speed to his advantage on a lot of quick hitters and passes over the middle for eight grabs and 134 yards. Even Matt Shelton, who hasn't been a big factor in the offense after last year's breakout season, caught seven balls for 68 yards.

"He made a couple of big time plays," Weis said. "Maurice made a couple of big time plays, too. Matt Shelton kind of stepped up today, too. Samardzija has eight touchdowns so maybe I should throw to him more often.

"We had a lot of plays in there that were run/pass option. I thought we called 16 more runs they were actually ran in the game because they were run/pass option based off the pressure. Brady just picked them apart. That's what it came down to. The receivers played good. They made a lot of plays and yards after the catch."

*Raise your hand if you thought Notre Dame would be 4-1 at this point of the season. Probably not too many hands are raised because the Irish had four of their first five games on the road.

Weis and the players, though, are looking pretty good. They went into tough environments like Pittsburgh, Michigan, Washington and Purdue and did not incur one single loss. A lot of credit must be bestowed upon Weis, his staff and the players for handling the adversity of the tough early season schedule and in the process, adjusting to a new coach.

"We were just talking about that," Weis said. "It's definitely a unique program when you have a new coach coming in. You are more focused on the road than at home because you don't have any distractions. You don't have any family or friends looking for tickets. We've shown good resolve. We're 4-0 on the road and 0-1 at home."

"It's gratifying but that's what we expected to do," tight end Anthony Fasano said, who had two catches for 30 yards against Purdue. "It's gratifying but we're not content yet."

The only road game left is a Thanksgiving weekend trip out to Stanford. An undefeated road record, a thought few pondered before the season started, is well within reach.

*The talk has already begun. Everyone associated with Notre Dame knows who is up next on the schedule. It's the two-time defending champion, USC Trojans, who rallied on Saturday at Arizona State for a 38-28 victory. Some reporters at the post-game press conference were trying to get an early jump on what will be the most highly anticipated game at Notre Dame Stadium since maybe the Florida State game 12 years ago. Weis is just thinking about getting healthy and taking advantage of the off week.

"The good thing is that I've already laid out the plan to next Monday," Weis said. "They already know what's going on. I think the two things we have to get done this week is, we've had a lot of guys play a lot of snaps, we have to get those guys healthy. And we're on the cusp of a lot of guys playing a lot more. It gives them an opportunity to play. We have week to invest in research into USC.

"We're going to savor this one for 24 hours because we have a bye week next. The last time I checked it says bye week on the schedule."

Can the Irish offense keep up with the multi-faceted approach of the Trojans? The Notre Dame defense did allow 514 total yards to Purdue but granted most of those yards came in the second half when the game was already decided. Fasano believes the Irish has what it takes to knock off the champs.

"The evidence is already there that we're here and we can play with anyone," Fasano said. "We can play with anyone. USC is just our next game. They are the number one team. They have been forever. We're just going to go into the bye week, get healthy and then concentrate on them."


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