Less Than 48 Hours Away

At practice today, a variety of music was blared into the Loftus Center for the Notre Dame football team to enjoy. Head coach Charlie Weis, a New Jersey native, made sure to include some Bon Jovi hits in the mix along with other classics from the 1980's. Punter Geoff Price was even seen lip syncing the words.

The music blaring was all by design. The Irish are less than 48 hours away from kickoff down in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. Game time is at 8:12 p.m. Weis didn't do it just because he loves Bon Jovi. He did it prepare his team for the hustle and bustle that occurs on the field prior to kickoff.

"That was to provide a pre-game distraction," Weis said. "I also used the sound when the offense had the ball. What happens is that people don't notice because they're getting ready for the game is how much of a circus pre-game actually is. There are all sorts of things going on, even at our place. There's people getting passes and alums around. There's hundreds of people. A lot of times, if you're not focused, you get caught up in the atmosphere and all the things that are going on."

It's been awhile since Notre Dame last game. The players have had to go all off-season thinking about the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State. Their spirits may have been lifted by all the pre-season prognostications made favorably in their name. Notre Dame is No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 3 in the Coaches poll. They've gone over three weeks of hitting each other in fall camp. Come Saturday night at a quarter past eight, the Irish will get a chance to lay the wood to the opposition.

"They are definitely antsy," Weis said of his players. "That's one of the few advantageous things about playing exhibition games in the NFL. At least you got to hit someone other than themselves. I think they're at that point where they've been going at each other since the first week in August. The excitement is building and so is the unknown. There are a lot of things that factor in."

The team will fly down to Atlanta tomorrow afternoon. As usual for Weis, the schedule is precise down to the minute. Weis will not have his team go through a walk-through before the contest, calling it a "distraction." When they go out to USC at the end of the year, where they fly out late Thursday, a walk through is scheduled because of the extra day. But the players know what to expect for the weekend.

"We stay there until they finish classes and get on the bus," Weis said. "When we get there, we feed them. As soon as dinner is over, we have a chapel service and then it's bed check. In the morning, it's breakfast, position meetings and lunch I make optional because most of them just ate breakfast not too long ago. A little bit later on, you have the team meeting, a pre-game meal, mass and then we're on the bus. There's time in there but everything is pretty well laid out."

The travel squad got a name bigger. Weis said one player was added to the list since yesterday. He declined to comment on who. Offensive lineman Michael Turkovich, who is recovering from a head/neck injury but still practicing with the team, is "still iffy" about whether or not he'll travel to Atlanta. Tonight and tomorrow morning, Weis will follow his usual schedule and script the openers. Between 15 and 21 plays are on the call sheet but the Irish head coach said he must be flexible if the opposing defense is showing something unexpected.

Tomorrow, seven Notre Dame assistants will hit the road for recruiting. September 1st is also the first day that coaches can begin to call potential recruits once a week and the first day college football programs can send out paperwork to juniors in high school to offer them scholarships. Weis is scheduled to make a flurry of calls starting bright and early Friday morning.

"I'm dialed up to start cranking them out," Weis said. "My first one, because of the time zones, is 7:00 or 7:15. I'll be making them every 15 minutes tomorrow for quite some time. I have to make sure all my football stuff is done by then when I start making those phone calls. You can talk to some of these kids before hand as long as they call you. It's important with a junior to have more evidence, even than a senior, because if you're going on a junior, you go on it that they're going to say yes. If you make a mistake on a guy two years early, that's a major mistake.

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