News and Notes: 9/12/2006

*A big game on Saturday can translate into more media attention the following week. That was the case on Tuesday night for one Notre Dame player. Tight end John Carlson had a few more microphones and tape recorders around him than usual after his six catch, 98-yard performance in the Penn State win.

It was a career day for Carlson, who in his Irish career had 13 grabs for 87 yards and a touchdown before the Nittany Lion contest. Head coach Charlie Weis said on Saturday that with two top-line wide receivers in Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, if coverage rolls their way, the easiest players to throw to are the tight end and running back. Carlson was the big beneficiary of this scheme last weekend as he heads towards a career year.

"It's another game, just like it was from week one to week two," Carlson said. "I'm trying to make some improvements. It's the same thing right now. I'm getting a little better and trying to improve on blocking.

"It's nice to contribute to the offense. That can happen in a lot of different ways for a tight end. It usually happens with blocking. This weekend, I caught a few balls."

"I knew it from day one," tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee said about Carlson's talent. "I see him everyday in practice. You guys don't get to see it. I knew he was capable of doing the things he did. I told him to be ready for the opportunities to present themselves in the game and it happened.

"He's a great leader. He leads by example. He works hard. That's all you can ask from him. Everyday he comes to work.

"He's talented. It's seldom that you get a 6'6" guy who can run like that. He can stretch the field, has good hands and can hold the point of attack. He's doing a good job."

*The game on Saturday will feature two quality backs. Michigan comes with Mike Hart, who ran for over 1,400 yards in his freshman year before injuries set him back last season. Notre Dame's Darius Walker rushed for just under 1,200 yards in 2005 and is a key weapon in the Irish offense. This season, Hart has outgained Walker 262-155 but Walker has 73 more receiving yards. Both had nice words for each.

"There's so much going on nowadays that you don't get a chance to do that a whole lot or as much as I would like to," Walker said about watching other running backs on TV. "There are a lot of great backs out there. Of course, Adrian Peterson is in there and Kenny Irons and those types of guys. Mike Hart is another good one as well. Going against him, I get a chance to see him. He's a great back and putting up big numbers this year."

"He is a good back," Hart said. "I like his style. He can catch and he can run. He blocks well and gets the extra yards. He is a great back. My freshman year he came in and no one knew his name. He ran for 100 yards against a great Michigan defense. That is when he came on the scene. Last year he had a great game against us too. We have got to be prepared for him. He is a great back and shows up for big games. He is a tough guy to stop, but the defense is looking forward to it."

*Here are some injury updates heading into the Michigan game: fullback Asaph Schwapp locked his knee up in Saturday's win over Penn State. The sophomore is the lead blocker for Walker and the Notre Dame run game. Weis said on Tuesday that Notre Dame fans will see Schwapp in the Michigan game.

"Asaph will be able to play," Weis said. "But I'm going to use him on a limited basis. I'm going to hold him today because there are certain things he's more involved in. I can hold a day. I held him in the scripts today. I held him for a day to have an extra day to get the soreness out."

As for David Grimes, Weis said he's a "full go" for the Wolverine contest. The sophomore wide receiver played sparingly in the victory over Penn State because of some unknown injury. Defensive back Leo Ferrine, after sustaining an injury in fall camp, is close to working himself back into the secondary mix. Defensive tackle Derrell Hand continues his trek back to the playing field. The sophomore injured his foot during fall camp, which required a small procedure. But Hand has his foot boot off and was in uniform last Saturday.

"Last week in practice, I was pleasantly surprised," Weis said of Hand. "He showed up multiple times."

*There are a bevy of quality college football games on Saturday where top-25 teams meet. In addition to Notre Dame-Michigan, No. 6 LSU is at No. 3 Auburn, No. 19 Nebraska is at No. 4 USC, No. 7 Florida is at No. 13 Tennessee, No. 17 Miami, FL is at No. 12 Louisville, No. 15 Oklahoma is at No. 18 Oregon and No. 24 Texas Tech travels to No. 20 TCU. But in true Weis fashion, the head coach wouldn't even comment on any of the other heavyweight contests.

"To be honest, no one on this football team will be thinking about anything else but beating Michigan," Weis said. "They don't have time to worry about the other games. We have our hands full just worrying about us and Michigan. Those other game, I could care less."

*Last year after Notre Dame's 17-10 win over Michigan, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had to settle up on a bet. Brady, a Wolverine alum, had a bet with Weis on the outcome of the game. The three-time Super Bowl champion lost, and in return, had to wear an Irish hat after a mid-week practice. This season, there will be no wager between mentor and pupil.

"We e-mail on a regular basis," Weis said. "Last year, people got mad because he had to wear a Notre Dame hat. I won't call him this year and get myself in trouble. I'll just e-mail. I think he's worried more about the Jets than Notre Dame and Michigan playing."

*A lot of people bash Lloyd Carr and rightfully so. The Michigan head coach has lost seven of eight home openers. The Wolverines underachieved last year by going 7-5. But Carr does have a national title and some impressive statistics to put on his resume. Against Associated Press top-10 opponents, he's compiled a 15-6 mark and a 7-2 record against the top-five. Carr is also 5-2 on the road against top-10 teams and holds a 33-8 record against non-conference opponents. That's good for 80.5 percent.

"Obviously Lloyd has been there for 26 years, the last 12 as a head coach, over .750, I think it's .754 winning percentage, which I believe is ranked fifth over current active Division I coaches," Weis said. "And they've gone to 11 straight Bowl appearances."

*Saturday's game is on September 16th. It's the same day, 17 years ago, that Notre Dame's Raghib "Rocket" Ismail returned two kickoffs for touchdown en route to a 24-19 victory over No. 2 Michigan in Ann Arbor at the Big House. To this day, no other player in NCAA history has taken two kickoff returns for scores in the same game. Top Stories