Walt Harris is wrapping up his first year as head coach of Stanford and is no stranger to Notre Dame. He was the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh for eight seasons, and during that tenure, he defeated the Irish twice, in 1999 and last season as his team rallied for the winning field goal with just over a minute remaining. Harris and the Cardinal are not strangers to Coach Weis either. In fact their coaching experiences and responsibilities are similar in some respects.
"Coach Harris, he's an area native out there; he's been coaching for over 30 years, NFL and college, and obviously the last eight seasons at Pitt and with six bowl games," Coach Weis said. "He calls the plays. He's been good at doing it for a long time. This is a little bit of an unusual team because at most positions there are multiple players that you have to get ready for."
Harris has a good reputation for developing quarterbacks and also for play-calling in his long career, and it doesn't appear he is going to split these duties anytime soon. Coach Weis is also recognized for his play-calling ability, and he isn't planning on turning this responsibility over to anyone in the near future. M.O<
"Different people look at it different ways. I've talked to a number of people about this question. Some people just don't feel comfortable giving that up. I don't know the answer at this time. It's a bit premature for me," said Weis.
"If it got to the point where I felt, let's say Michael [Haywood] for example because he's the offensive coordinator, if it got to the point where Michael and I were on such the same page that I didn't need to do it, and I could just manage the team, I would do it, but we're a long way from that point right now," he added.
Coach Mike Haywood is an experienced coach and came on board knowing that he would be operating in a different role with Coach Weis running the show and there is not a timetable set for him to take over. He has no problem with this arrangement. M.O<
"It's left up to Charlie. He does such a tremendous job understanding the feel of the game and understanding the opponent which we are playing and anticipating what is going to be next. This is a great opportunity to work for him," said Haywood. "I'm comfortable with whatever he likes me to do. I tell guys all the time, I'm a soldier in this man's army and my job is to follow and that is what I do."
Sophomore running back Darius Walker has run for over 100 yards six times this season and is 80 yards shy of gaining 1000 yards. This week he will be facing an opponent that is giving up an average of 148 yards per game. With the final regular season game just around the corner and a bowl game on the horizon, Walker is not concerned about his stats. He and his teammates are only focusing on the game against Stanford.
"As coach Weis told us today, we want to play our best game of the year now. This is the time to play best, as it is the last game. We have had a few bumps in the road already and we don't need anymore," the personable running back said. "So we want to have our most complete game of the entire season offensively and defensively and also on special teams.
"This week is a little easier to focus than others because school lets out for Thanksgiving and we really don't have anything else going on besides this game. We don't have the classes and things and stuff to worry about that we usually do, so in a way it helps us to focus on the task at hand and beating Stanford."
Receiver Jeff Samardzija is also having an outstanding season and should go over the 1000-yard mark with his first reception against Stanford. He has been named one of three finalists for the prestigious Biletnikoff Award which goes to the outstanding wide receiver in the country. All the attention surrounding Samardzija doesn't faze him any more than an opposing defensive back.
When first told about his nomination for the Biletnikoff Award, Samardzija said, "I was surprised as I don't really keep up with too much with what everyone else is dong around the country and stuff. I just know what is kind of going on here and with the team and I know the year Mo [Stovall] is having and this and that. So it was pretty shocking, and at first, I just sort of shrugged it off and told the guy to go home. Actually it was my brother that told me so I kind of told him to go home and watch TV. Then I talked to (Weis) about it and everything, and he told me what it was about. He sat me down and kind of explained it from ground zero and go from there."