News and Notes: 11/1/2005

*At his Tuesday press conference, Notre Dame football head coach Charlie Weis made it clear that despite a 3-4 record, the Irish's next opponent, the Tennessee Volunteers, are a dangerous bunch. The stat that raised some eyebrows was a 75-5 record Tennessee has accumulated the past 20 seasons in the month of November. It surely caught Weis's attention.

"You're talking about a team that's got a .938 winning percentage in the month of November because they usually close out the season very strong," Weis said. "Everyone wants to talk about their 3-4 record. I'd like to talk a little bit about it myself before I get going into particulars, especially about their four losses.

"In their four losses, their defense has given up a total of five touchdowns, 86 yards rushing in a game and a little over 200 yards passing per game. I think I had it down to 294 total yards a game they're giving up on defense."

Speaking of that Volunteer defense, Weis said this unit might be the best defense his Notre Dame offense will face all year. The numbers do back it up. Tennessee has only given up three passing touchdowns on the season and are ranked 12th nationally in total defense. The Vols' front seven has already registered 19 sacks and 30 quarterback hurries and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 2005. The explosive Irish offense will be tested on Saturday.

"They are physical up front, both as pass rushers and in the run game," Weis said. "They move around a lot. They have an experienced group of linebackers behind them that are there to make plays on top of it before you even get to the speed in the secondary. You got speed in the secondary. You got experienced, athletic linebackers and a front four that's pretty dominant. I think that's a very good combination.

"I'd say this is as good a defense if not the best defense we've played this year. I have no problem saying that. This is as good a defense as we've ever as I've ever seen since I've been here."

*The Tennessee defense is not the reason the team has stumbled to a 3-4 record. It's the Volunteer offense. For a myriad of reasons, Tennessee is only averaging 16 points per game and rank 99th in total offense. This week, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders took the fall, resigning from the position but staying on the staff as quarterbacks coach. Head coach Phil Fulmer will assume the play-calling duties this weekend against the Irish.

"There will be no difference, only who's calling the plays," Weis said. "It's just like if I turn the play calling over to somebody else. It would be the same list of plays. It's just the order in which you call them. It's not going to change.

"Game planning is game planning. It's just how you call the plays on game day, that's all. We won't know that till after we have played a game."

*The Charlie Weis effect has already had a profound impact upon the pep rallies the night before Irish home football games. Thousands of fans were turned away from the Joyce Center before the Michigan State contest that was Weis's first home game as head coach. In response to this overflow, the USC game pep rally was moved outside to Notre Dame Stadium because of an expected huge turnout. The guess was right as somewhere in the range of 40,000-45,000 people filled the venue to give the team a big boost heading into their game with the Trojans.

This outpouring of fan interest has sparked another change for the final three home games. The pep rallies will now require a ticket for those people who wish to take in a part of the Notre Dame football experience. Before this change, it was first come, first serve at the Joyce Center. A limited number of tickets will be made available to the general public each week because of the high demand from Notre Dame students and University needs. The available tickets, which are still free and limited to two per person, can be picked up on the day of the rally starting at 3:00 p.m. at Gate 10 of the Joyce Center. Lines for these tickets will not be allowed before 2:00 p.m.

Students do not require tickets for the pep rallies. They can enter the Joyce Center starting at 5:15 p.m. at Gate 11. The fans that get the general public tickets can enter the arena at 5:45 p.m. The pep rallies begin at 6:00 p.m. and a half hour later the Irish football team enters onto the court.

*The Notre Dame-Stanford home game is now set to kickoff at 8:00 p.m. EST (South Bend time). The contest is at Palo Alto, California and ABC Sports will carry the game live. If the Irish win their next three contests, this battle could be built as the $13 million game because of the BCS implications at stake for Notre Dame. Any of the four games the Irish play from here on out could also be considered with the same consequences.

*Weis's press conferences usually have that one signature moment of comedy. Tuesday's was no different. The head coach was asked a question about the SAT score he obtained before entering college. The myth is that Weis received a 1600 on the test, a perfect score. He would neither confirm nor deny the rumor.

"That's a misnomer," Weis said. "Let's look at it this way. If I said yes, I'm either smart or a liar, okay? If I said no, what do I gain from saying that? Let's leave it ambiguous."

Weis was then asked if he had been accepted into Harvard. He would only admit to graduating from Notre Dame and getting his master's degree from South Carolina. Weis did not want to elaborate any farther about his academic achievements because of an incident Notre Dame had to deal with a few years back in regards to George O'Leary.

"There have been some people who have been questioned in the past," Weis said as reporters laughed. "I'm not going to be one of them."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories