News and Notes: 10/19/2005

*Head coach Charlie Weis announced after practice on Wednesday that both Rhema McKnight and Chris Frome are done for the year with knee injuries. McKnight will apply for a medical redshirt after playing in only six quarters of action in 2005 and Frome can apply for a fifth-year because he did not play as a freshman.

McKnight got hurt during the second quarter of the 17-10 win over Michigan when a Wolverine defender hit him and the wide receiver's leg stuck awkwardly in the ground. He and the team were planning on him being back for the USC game. McKnight started to run around two weeks ago but his knee did not respond positively to cuts in routes and other physical activities. He said it was knee that made the decision, not himself.

"At this point, we've all evaluated my knee and come to the decision that it's just not ready," McKnight said. "I just can't do things I usually do to be a football player. Doc and I, as well as Coach Weis, sat down and decided to sit out the rest of the season, take the redshirt and comeback next season.

"I don't think any player wants to sit out. At the end of the day, I think I'm going to be excited about the decision I've made. I get another year in the same system. This is an NFL-type of offense. You've seen the things we've done this year. I can't see it not being better next year. Obviously when I was playing, I think me and the receivers and Brady (Quinn) had that connection."

Frome was hurt during last weekend's 34-31 loss to USC. The defensive end got his knee scoped today but the medical team also had to perform some cutting which will prevent Frome from returning to the field this season. Ronald Talley and Justin Brown are the two candidates to replace from at his end position.

"We feel bad for Chris," Minter said. "We wish him well. We want him to make a full recovery. From this point on into our second season, we'll start with another defensive right end."

*The difference from one week to another can be drastic. Last week it was preparing for top-ranked USC. This week, it's focusing on the BYU Cougars. The atmosphere on campus is also different. This is because Notre Dame is on fall break for the week. The campus resembles an Olympic Village with the majority of the students back at home and the athletes getting ready for their respective games.

The week also means no time restrictions from the NCAA. Since there is no class this week, the Irish can spend as much time as they see fit in preparing for the Cougars. The students being gone tones down the environment and distractions that the players might see on a normal game week. The team can now devote their entire attention to BYU and not be bothered by classes or a busy campus.

"I think everyone was a little more energetic," running back Darius Walker said about Tuesday's practice. "Maybe we had a little more energy that usual because of not going to class or sitting through class and do a lot of studying and work. That made it a little better on us physically to go out there and practice."

"It's allowed everyone to clear their heads," wide receiver Jeff Samardzija said. "There's been so much up and down this past year. It's nice to take a step back and take a deep breath to start fresh. So much has happened with this program and with this team. It's a great way to approach this week and the way we have to look at it. This is the most important game."

Samardzija said with the extra free time, a lot of the players used it to catch up on their sleep. Weis let the team sleep in a little longer as well and lift weight a little later. This, added with more time spent in the film room preparing for the unique schemes BYU runs, is an added bonus of fall break.

"It is a little different," offensive lineman Bob Morton said. "It's nice that we don't have to get our lifting in early in the morning because we don't have classes. It's nice to be able to solely concentrate on football as well.

"One of the things about BYU's team is that most of the time you go into a week just dealing with what you want to do. When you deal with an exotic defense such as the 3-3-5, you have to understand what they are going to do as much as what you're going to do. It's a little different preparation than the past couple of weeks."

*Speaking of the 3-3-5 formation the Cougars run on defense, a lot of the post-practice talk on Tuesday centered on this topic. It's not a scheme that most teams employ on defense and it'll be the first time Notre Dame has seen it in 2005. Offensive line coach John Latina, who came to the Irish from Mississippi, is familiar with what the offense will see on Saturday.

"They stunt a lot," Latina said. "They bring a lot of linebackers. Our blocking schemes really don't change. When you set up a blocking scheme, you try to set it up rule wise where it fits all defenses. There's some minor things but for the most part it shouldn't be a problem."

"Personally, I faced it a lot down in the Southeastern Conference probably two games a year. It's something I've been around. Coach (Mike) Haywood has been around and seen it. It's just adapting this offense to it. We need a week's work on it to work out the kinks. Every week is the same week. You have to work out the kinks.

"We have different schemes for different weeks. You can't spend time on things that aren't specific to what you are doing. We got them on tape and we're looking at their tapes from this year. It's just a matter of putting our offense against that style of defense."

The blitzers from BYU will be coming from all different directions. This can mean a lot of pressure and behind the line of scrimmage tackles for the Cougars or big time plays from the Notre Dame offense. The offensive line will be challenged in picking up the crashing defenders. For the wide receivers, they also have a lot to deal with in terms of picking up the blitz and changing their routes.

"A lot of it has to do with the blitz," Samardzija said. "Obviously, they are a real aggressive defense. They can give you a lot of different looks. Especially the guys in the slot have a lot of different looks they should be looking for like bringing different blitzes or adjusting your routes. It's an issue with sight adjustments and which guys to block and are the toughest to block for in the running game. There's a lot more out there to be aware of." Top Stories