Weis Wants "Back Bounce"

Head coach Charlie Weis knew the vultures would be out this week after the loss to Michigan. When he entered the press conference on Sunday, he joked that the media was a firing squad. Such is the life when you're the head coach of Notre Dame and a rival takes it to you at your home stadium.

Weis isn't the only one who hears the negatives. Unfortunately, his son, Charlie, Jr., has to deal with them at school as well. The son had just one run-in with a detractor this week.

"Anyone who is a dad knows what those things are like," Weis said on Wednesday night. "It's one thing for you to live it because it's your job. It's another thing when they have to re-live it as a kid. He got through it relatively unscathed."

Maybe next Monday, Weis and his son can shut the naysayers up for the time being. The Irish travel this weekend to East Lansing to take on 3-0 Michigan State. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:13 p.m. and ABC will have the game on television.

It's a big week for Weis. Never in his 15 game Notre Dame head coaching career had his team looked so sloppy and thoroughly dominated by an opponent. The Mark Mays of the college football world were grinning from ear to ear after the defeat. Now, Weis has the ability to show not only his resiliency but the resiliency of his team on Saturday night against a Spartan squad that beat Notre Dame last year in South Bend.

"I think a bounce back is critical," Weis said. "I'm never going to be one to say, ‘It's okay if we lose this one and win the next one.' I'm the wrong person to be thinking like that. A bounce back would be good for everybody, especially with how the last one went. A bounce back would be uplifting, especially to yours truly."

Also for the first time, people are questioning the offense mostly and not the defense. That would have been a bold prediction before the season to make for this occurrence to happen. While the defense was far from picture perfect vs. Michigan, the offense's inconsistencies have not been expected. Nine returning starters on that side of the ball, after averaging 36 points per game in 2005, should have made this a lethal combination. But they've struggled in two of three games and have yet to find their groove.

"We're coming off a bad game," Weis said. "I'm not big into stats. I'm big into production. We're coming off a bad game. I've said it to all you: turnovers is the biggest margin that you can talk about. Through the first two games, we hadn't turned it over. Last week, we turned it over five times. If we turn it over five times this week, we'll lose."

One of those players looking for a bounce back is quarterback Brady Quinn. His lackluster performance vs. the Wolverines was not what Irish fans have been accustomed to since Weis arrived on campus. Quinn is the unquestioned leader of this team and it's biggest star. That's why Weis made it a point to talk one-on-one with him immediately after the Michigan contest.

"Normally, I don't spend a lot of time with the players after the game," Weis said. "I let them be with the players or go with the families. But I had Charlie go get Brady after I was done with the media just to let him know everyone looks at you, just like everyone looks at me. Every player is going to look at him to see how he handles this. They're going to follow the lead. If the leader is walking around in the tank or ranting and raving or with his head down in the doldrums, everyone sees that. When that happens, whether it's the head coach or the quarterback, things could fall apart quickly."

Today, the team practiced third downs and went over first and second down review. This has been a particular pet peeve of Weis. Last Saturday, they went 2-for-14 on third down conversions. Weis attributed this to long third down distances because of the lack of production on first and second down. Yesterday, the Irish head coach went easy on his bunch to work their way into the right frame of mind. It wasn't the same Weis on Wednesday.

"Today, I got off of even-keel," Weis said. "You have to set a tempo for the week first. You have to get them back on the field. Yesterday, the most important thing was getting them back on the field because anytime you have a loss like that, the best thing for them is when you go out there and practice again. After I got past that, you can go out and put more pressure on them. If you start squeezing the first day out, they already feel bad enough. We got the tempo going yesterday. Today, I got on them a little more for a purpose. Not just for execution but for purpose."

Weis announced some good and bad news at the press conference. First, the good: senior cornerback Ambrose Wooden, who was shaken up in the Michigan game, was back at practice this afternoon and the Notre Dame head coach was "pleasantly surprised" by how good he looked. The bad: fullback Asaph Schwapp has yet to return to 100 percent since locking up his knee in the victory over Penn State.

"I'd say marginal," Weis said of Schwapp. "The swelling has gone way down. I don't see him running well enough. They say he's day-to-day. If I said it, you'd think I was lying. He doesn't look good enough yet."


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