Weis Statement?

SOUTH BEND – Charlie Weis chooses not to acknowledge negative comments made about his football program when asked publicly, but instead, use those outside sources as bulletin board material for his players. Obviously that's nothing new as head coaches across America do it all the time.

But how do those comments affect Weis, who could easily be stereotyped as a no-nonsense don't-talk-trash-to-me-type who will remember what was said when the time is right. A Jersey-minded guy who will lay down the law when disrespected.

Well maybe it's just a coincidence, or maybe the time was right for Weis to respond on Saturday, in No. 4 Notre Dame's 41-17 dismantling of No. 19 Penn State.

Weis said all the right things following the game, but only he and the people close to him know if the comments were totally genuine.

"It's always great to go against a coach like coach (Joe) Paterno, but I didn't play coach Paterno, we played Penn State," Weis explained. "That's who we played. I was happy we beat Penn State. We didn't play coach Paterno, I didn't play he didn't play. The only ones playing are those players out there. We were happy to beat a team as good as Penn State, the way we did today."

Even though Weis respects Paterno and Penn State, you wonder how ingrained in his memory comments about how the Irish failed to beat anybody last season worth a darn. They appeared to be right at the top of his mind, when Weis called for a fake punt (which Paterno said was a great play call) up 27-3 with a little over six minutes to go in the third period.

Weis even suggested that was the only risky play call he made all game. Was that play call a statement? Was this a statement game?

"That's a call we weren't even going to make if they left the defense out on the field," Weis said. Travis Thomas ran for 43 yards on the play, setting up his own one-yard scoring run a few plays later. "I made the call that if they put their defense out on the field, we're punting it and if they put the punt-return team on the field, we're going to do it. They put their punt team on the field.

Makes sense.

"I'm not a guy that sits there and makes statements," Weis continued. I'm a guy who wants to make his team better and try to win each time we go out there. That's all we try to do."

The Irish offense played better than it did in a 14-10 season opening victory at Georgia Tech. Weis certainly heard how his offense was shutdown the last two games dating back to the Fiesta Bowl, and a guy considered one of the best offensive minds around could not be blamed if he took it to heart.

There is no doubt he took it to his team in practice.

The offense cut down on the nine penalties it had against the Yellow Jackets, only committing three. The unit found a continuous rhythm and finished drives (although two early possessions were killed by penalties) by exploiting every weakness in the Penn State defense.

The starters stayed into the game midway through the fourth quarter, and with one defensive touchdown included, built a commanding 41-3 lead.

"As you know I'm never one to try to score 100," Weis said. "That's not my deal anyway. My deal is to win the football game and win it the right way."

Sounds genuine enough, but just in case, Lloyd Carr or whoever might just want to keep their mouth shut.

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