News and Notes:10/13/2005

*The Notre Dame football team went through their last practice before Saturday's titanic showdown with the top-ranked USC Trojans. The Irish held the session at Notre Dame Stadium and head coach Charlie Weis was happy with the effort. He also called the players attitudes "perky."

The Trojans hold their walk-through at the stadium in the afternoon from 2:30 p.m.-3:15 p.m. As a courtesy gesture, Weis invited those able to come to greet the Trojans outside with a warm welcome.

*The man with the unenviable task of devising a plan to slow down USC is defensive coordinator Rick Minter. The Trojans are averaging 51 points per game, over 600 yards in total offense and have more NFL prospects than an some major conferences. No one is expecting Minter and the defense to completely shut down the USC but to prevent them from putting a 50 spot up on the scoreboard.

"It's a very good offense, make no mistake about it," Minter said. "It's a well-designed scheme. It takes advantage of well-recruited players who I think are coached very well. They got a lot of things going for them.

"It's a well-balanced a team with as many highlighted players. They talk about all the different records they are going to achieve with the yardage. They're in a tough-solid conference with quality competition. This is a good challenge and it'll be a good measuring stick to see where we are. They'll test us. It'll be a good game. This is why players and coaches come to Notre Dame for games like these."

"Their weakness probably comes from when they bench the starters the last two minutes of a game."

*This is the second home game for the Irish. The first go-around of the year didn't turn out as expected. A furious Notre Dame comeback was all for naught when Michigan State scored in overtime to win 44-38 to spoil Weis's home coaching debut.

Weis learned something from that game and the way he handled the week. He talked during the Spartan week about having to deal with the distractions that come with a home game. In hindsight, Weis admits that was a mistake and now the he and the team should embrace the hoopla surrounding Saturday's showdown.

"I spent too much time talking about the game being a distraction," Weis said about the Michigan State game week. "This time around, I'm smart enough to play into it and not trying to push it aside. That's the one thing I've learned from the home game. It's going to be this way. This buzz is going to be bigger than a lot of other games.

"Enjoy the moment. You don't get to live these moments very often. I've been fortunate. I've been able to have those rare opportunities where you get on the big stage for the big game and live it. That's one of the things I'm talking about to these guys."

*Ticket prices are getting more absurd by the minutes. A pair of tickets can run someone upwards of $1000. The market determines the price and fans of both teams want to see this rivalry game in person. Everywhere you go, though, people are asking for tickets.

The ticket craze has even affected Weis. He has family and friends coming to the game but doesn't expect to see them much because of his hectic weekend schedule balancing the game, interviews, meeting recruits, etc. It seems that anyone who has ever come into contact with Weis wants the head coach to score him or her a ticket.

"Ticket requests have gone through the roof," Weis said. "I get phone calls from people you wouldn't believe. They call up and say, "We can't get tickets from anyone; can we get them from you?" I probably had requests for 300 tickets this week. A lot of them are my long lost friends. Some of them cut right through it and don't pretend to be your friend. They just say, "Hey, can you help me out?"

*Notre Dame Stadium is adorned with pictures and banners commemorating the 75th anniversary of the venue. The stadium has received one more add-on with a tribute to the seven Heisman Trophy winners in Irish history.

At Gate B, 3x8 foot bronze replica Heisman Trophies have been put in place to honor these seven individuals. Also at Gate B are pictures of the winners, which were put up earlier this fall. This move is part of a multi-year plan to theme the five gates into Notre Dame Stadium. The four other gates will honor Notre Dame's national championships, All-Americans, national title coaches, and Irish players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Heisman theme was the first to be completed.

"Notre Dame Stadium is hallowed ground in the landscape of college football, and no other university has as many Heisman Trophy winners as Notre Dame," David Wilbourne said, who is principal of the Rockwell Group in charge of the design. "So our goal was to integrate the honoring of these seven outstanding individuals with the architecture of the Stadium itself."


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