The line might do Brady Quinn some good. The senior signal caller did not have a good afternoon last Saturday, completing just 50 percent of his passes while turning the ball over four times. His three interceptions were almost half of the 2005 total of seven. It's a new week and a chance to forget for a bit about the lasting images of the Michigan contest.
"Obviously I've been around football a while," Quinn said on Wednesday afternoon. "You realize things. Anything is possible, anything can happen. That right now is behind us. We're moving forward, moving on. It's just like win or loss, you got to move on, you got to handle things the same, move forward."
Quinn said the blame for the defeat did not fall on one particular group.
"We're all a team," Quinn said. "It does not matter what one individual does in a game. It all comes down to when we win or lose. When we win as, it's a team win. If we lose, it's a team loss. Really, you can't sit there and point out individuals for certain things here or there. There are so many different things that can happen during a point in time in the game where it could change the rest of the fate of the rest of the game. It's hard to really sit there and say you can point at one thing or another. Really it's all about the team."
Coming into the season, the Heisman Trophy was an attainable award for the Notre Dame quarterback. After last Saturday, it'll take nine highly productive games and some average performances from other contenders to be back in the discussion group. The stats were bad enough. The loss was almost the nail in the coffin and another defeat will squash the Heisman talk in South Bend. For now, Quinn has a chance to rebound on Saturday night against Michigan State, where 79 percent of the country will get a shot to see how he and Notre Dame deals with the stinging Michigan defeat.
"We obviously have a lot of work to do," Quinn said. "We're only halfway through the week. We can't focus a whole lot on all the problems that they (Michigan State) bring to the table right now. We know they bring a lot of different looks, lots of different variations on blitzes and coverages. We have to prepare."
*The numbers are clear: Notre Dame has not lost a true road game in Weis's career. Last season, the Irish were 5-0 away from home (Fiesta Bowl was a neutral site contest) and 4-2 at home. This year, an opening win at Georgia Tech followed a home victory over Penn State and then last weekend's Michigan defeat. Weis constantly refers to the "us versus the world" mentality the team takes with it on the road. To this point, it's worked to perfect success.
"When the team comes off a loss like that and is a little bit fragile, the fact that they have the confidence of going on the road and playing helps you out some as a coach," Weis said. "Because now you don't have to appeal to – hey, we can do it, we can do it. You can appeal to - you've done it and this isn't something new for you. We've gone to a lot of places the last two years and you've been successful. So it helps with the coaching aspect of working with the psyche of the team."
"When we go on the road, it's a lot different," defensive lineman Trevor Laws said. "You run out of the tunnel and everyone is booing you and cheering against you. You have to feed off of that. It pumps you up to know that everyone is against you and that you are by yourself out there. We've had some success on the road."
*For the Notre Dame defense to be successful, they have to account for No. 5, quarterback Drew Stanton, whereabouts. It's a good thing he'll have the ball in his hands every snap. If it isn't the 225 yards per game through the air, it's the 64 yards per game on the ground Stanton racks up. Think Reggie Ball but with a better completion percentage: Stanton is hitting on 68 percent of his passes this season.
Granted, the Spartans have played Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Pittsburgh in rolling to a 3-0 record. Need any reminders: just look at the tape of Stanton's performance from last season in South Bend and one will come away impressed by the tools of the Michigan State quarterback.
"Definitely going to be one of the best we go against this year," senior safety Tom Zbikowski said. "Any time you have that dual threat, that's why they're so successful on third down. You have that run or throw option that he has and a lot of weapons around him. It's going to be a challenge for us."
With people around the nation questioning just how good the Irish are, Zbikowski said this is when the team rises to the occasion.
"I think that's when Notre Dame has been at their best," Zbikowski said. "It's when people are going to hostile environments, people are starting to doubt you is when we're going to come out and show our best game."
*The scout team quarterback for the week is Demetrius Jones, whose main job is to resemble Stanton during this practice week. The freshman quarterback earned the honors for his dual threat ability of running and passing the ball. Weis said on Tuesday that he hoped Jones wasn't the scout team player of the week because that would mean trouble for his defense on Saturday night.
"He looked pretty good yesterday; not perfect," Weis said. "He didn't get the game ball yet but he's giving it a good look, I can tell you that. I told Demetrius in our team meeting on Tuesday, probably one of the most important people on our team this week was going to be him because he is the one who is going to emulate Stanton and the better look he can give us like Stanton, the better we can figure out what real problems we will have against a formidable offense. This is a heck of a quarterback we're going against here."