News and Notes: 9/7/2006

*It wasn't a bad night for Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn against Georgia Tech's harassing defense. But it was a great one either. The stat line reads 23-of-38, 246 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. The senior did connect on 8-of-11 passes in the second half for 141 yards and earned the victory, the true determinant of how good a quarterback is.

Such is the life for a Heisman Trophy candidate and for a player coming off a 32-touchdown, 3,900-yard junior year. By some pre-season lists, Quinn was the player to beat for the award. Now, after one average performance, some have him falling. On, writer Gene Menez already has bounced Quinn from his list after Week 1 because his performance (based solely on this criteria) wasn't one of the ten best in the nation last weekend. While Quinn will readily admit that, he's looking for a big-time performance in the home opener.

"This past Saturday's game was this past Saturday's game," Quinn said. "We're trying to move past that. Obviously, we need to make some adjustments, which we've done.

"This is Notre Dame. We strive for perfection. Until we obtain that, I don't think anyone is going to be too satisfied. Stats are for guys who want to find some resolve in the issue. When we win, we want to go back, dissect our mistakes and get better from it and move on. That's where we are right now."

"He meets with the quarterbacks and Coach (Peter) Vass and then me personally," Weis said about Quinn after games. "He gets double-teamed. We've been able to go back and analyze last week and been able to dive into what we need to do to play better. He's had a very good couple of days and he's expecting to have a pretty good one on Saturday."

Home has been a good place for Quinn. In 2005, he tossed 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions in six home contests. Quinn faces a Penn State defense that returns just four starters from last year's stellar group. While the Nittany Lion linebacker group might be the best in the nation, only one starter returns from the defensive line and none from the secondary. Last week, they held Akron to 33 yards on the ground but surrendered 192 through the air.

"When you look at Penn State, the first thing you're going to see from them is their linebacker core," Quinn said. "I think they're talented across the board. They got a size, speed, they fill the run well and get out into the passing lanes. Their linebackers are what stands out immediately but I think their defensive line has some special guys up front who are extremely powerful. It allows the linebackers to make plays when they're not making them. You don't underestimate their defensive front because even though they don't blitz a lot like Georgia Tech, they can still get a lot of pressure with that front four.

"With their secondary, they're athletic. They're never going to get beat deep. By the way they play, they will make you work the ball down the field. You have to be patient. They're not going to allow a lot of big passes."

*One-for-one for defensive coordinator Rick Minter. Last weekend, he went up in the coaches box for the first time in 22 years of coaching. In 2005, Minter was down on the sidelines calling the plays. Now, he's nestled into a seat in the press box viewing the contest from upstairs. Defensive backs coach Bill Lewis moved down to the sidelines to help with the players coming off the field. The swtich worked for a week as the Irish defense held Georgia Tech to 259 yards of total offense and 10 points, including zero in the second half.

"It was hot as heck up there in the box," joked Minter. "It was good. It was different, different speed of the game. You find yourself watching from a strategic standpoint and once the drives close down, instead of being a spectator on the sideline, you watch the game like everyone else does on TV. The view was good. The communication was good. I thought Bill and Jappy (Oliver) did a nice job handling the squad on the sideline and interpreting what we wanted to get across at different times."

"All I do know is that by the time it got to be the second half, being on the headset, you can feel a comfort setting in," Weis said. "From my perspective, I could feel Rick anticipating things before they happened and a lot of times you can't get that feel as a defensive guy on the field as you can upstairs because you can see it happen.

"The other thing that happens when you're upstairs, which I've done before, you can lay everything out there and have all the information. You don't have to think a lot about what's coming next because you have everything laid out: tendencies, charts and everything in front. When you're on the sideline, you can't do that."

*Defensive captain Tom Zbikowski sported a mohwak in last week's game vs. the Yellow Jackets. At Wednesday's press conference, the senior safety was still sporting the unique hairdo.

"I had long hair my first year here," Zbikowski said. "I shaved it then. My dad did this to me when I was in the third grade. So I figured I'd have a little tradition of my own."

*An Irish fan pointed out this interesting stat to us: more freshmen saw action in the 14-10 win over Georgia Tech than sophomores. Ten players from the highly regarded freshmen class got playing time on Saturday night while just six sophomores participated at some point of the contest.

*This is the fifth straight time that both teams have been ranked in the top-25. Currently, Penn State is No. 19 in the Associated Press poll while the Irish sit at No. 4, down two spots from last week.

*Nittany Lion head coach Joe Paterno has played Notre Dame 13 times in his 40-plus years at Penn State. He holds a 8-5 advantage in the series.

*This is the first Big Ten school that Notre Dame will play this year. In total, the Irish are slated for four games against the conference. This is the first time Notre Dame has played four Big Ten teams in one season since 1994, when they went 3-1 vs. the league.

*As is the tradition with Irish home openers, all former players have been invited back to campus to form a ceremonial tunnel as the 2006 Notre Dame team runs out onto the field. Top Stories