News and Notes: 10/6/2005

*Apparently the bye week has achieved its purposes for Notre Dame. At his Mondy press conference, head coach Charlie Weis wanted to get his team healthy, give the back-ups some extra repetitions at practice and send the majority of his coaching staff off around the country to lure recruits to South Bend. Three goals set, thee goals achieved.

"This week has been good for the exact things I talked about," Weis said. "I feel good that's what happening. "A couple of guys who haven't been playing…it looks like there is a good chance they'll be playing. They've had some extra time. Our health has got significantly better. Some of the guys that have been playing hurt, we've been able to pull off of them and get them better.

Those guys that have been hurt and missing action include wide receiver Rhema McKnight and offensive lineman Bob Morton. McKnight has been out since halftime of the Michigan game and Morton missed last week's contest against Purdue. It's still up in the air as to whether these two will play but it doesn't bear repeating: it's good to go into the USC game with as many healthy players as possible. Despite the exceptional play of the wide receivers, McKnight is one more target for quarterback Brady Quinn. Weis hinted after the Purdue game that Morton maybe could have gone last Saturday. His appearance in the Trojan game would help boost the job of protecting Quinn and opening up lanes for the running backs.

Weis did say that defensive tackle Dwight Stephenson, Jr. was hurt in the Purdue game and could be out for a period of time. Stephenson, Jr. is listed on the depth chart as the backup right defensive tackle behind Derek Landri and has not recorded any tackles or sacks on the year.

How much does this hurt? It thins a defensive line by one that does not have alot of quality depth. The sophomore has not seen a lot of action in games this season and Notre Dame has been lucky for the most part to avoid the injury bug. Brian Beidatsch and freshman Pat Kuntz are the other backups at the inside tackle positions. Stephenson, Jr. is part of the back-ups who have seen extensive action during practice in the bye week.

"In addition, we've got a lot of practice reps with our second and third stringers," Weis said. "Physically, that's helped us with who we can count on and who we'd be reluctant to play. It's also given us as a caching staff to zero in on two things in particular. One is getting ready for our next opponent and two is winding down recruiting. We've spent a lot of time on those two facets this week. Everything will come to a head next weekend."

*If you had a bye week and had a Saturday off as head coach of the Notre Dame football team, what would you do? Good odds would point towards finding a television to watch the USC battle the Arizona Wildcats. For a man as prepared as Weis is, this is exactly what part of his Saturday will consist of.

"Saturday, at 2:30, I'll be sitting on my couch watching Fox Sports Net national coverage of the USC-Arizona game on Direct TV channel 620 or 636-638," Weis said as he held up a piece of paper with that information typed on it.

He was expecting the question and, in usual Weis form, had the answer right on spot. Weis also said he would watch the game broadcast of USC-Arizona State because there are certain tidbits an opposing coach can obtain by listening to the announcers. Head coaches usually do interviews with these announcers and may divulge a detail or two that can be helpful in preparation.

Weis the family man will be doing other things over the weekend as well.

"First of all, I'll give Charlie a hair cut in the morning and then I'm going to video tape Maura riding her horse. Then I'll be home watching that game on TV. I'll be in early on Sunday to game plan USC."

*The pep rally for the Notre Dame-USC game has been moved outside to the football stadium on Friday night. This is because of the high number of fans who were turned away from the Michigan State pep rally and the even higher interest in the showdown with the Trojans. Notre Dame Stadium has the ability to hold 80,000 fans but don't expect that many to come. Weis said the move, because of the two factors, made the move a no-brainer.

"At the Michigan State pep rally, about five or six thousand got turned away form the pep rally," Weis said. "If that many people got turned away from that game, I can try to be oblivious to the magnitude of this game, if fans want to go to the pep rally, they should have a venue to go to the pep rally. In anticipation of so many more people being ansy before this game, by going outside weather permitting, we give more people an opportunity to be a part of that experience. We thought it be the best experience for fans."

If the weather turns bad, a distinct possibility in South Bend, then it will be moved indoors, most likely back to the Joyce Center. The gates will open up at 5:00 p.m. and fans should enter through Gates C or D. Students should use Gate E. This is the fourth time the pep rally has been moved outdoors. The rededication game with Georgia Tech and the Nebraska contest drew over 30,000 people.

For the record, Weis will not MC this pep rally. He noted Thursday that he is 0-1 as the MC for these events as he performed the duties for the Michigan State game.

*Note to the players' parents: do not test Charlie Weis. The head coach was asked a question about whether or not he gets calls from parents and to what extent the conversation goes into. From what has been seen on the sideline when Weis chews out a referee, it's probably a safe bet to stay away from the matter of playing time.

"I don't mind when parents call me up to talk about a health issue or a school issue," Weis said. "I'm on the same page with them. I want them to be healthy and I want them to do well in school. Just don't call me up and ask me why is my kid on the second team. It's because he deserves to be second team. That's why he's on second team. I get very testy when that happens."

Weis said there is a difference between the pros and college with regards to this aspect of coaching. In college, it's usually the parents doing the calling and asking questions. In the NFL, it's the players' wives and agents ringing up Weis and asking him why isn't their guy getting off the bench.


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