Irish Prepare for Boilers

Asaph Schwapp has been slowed by a knee injury sustained three weeks ago in the Penn State game. It's forced the fullback to miss the loss to Michigan and the comeback victory over Michigan State. In those two contests, Notre Dame has run for a total of 51 yards.

Irish head coach Charlie Weis said yesterday that Schwapp being out meant a slight scale back in what the offense can run. In his place, Ashley McConnell has done an admirable job, even catching a touchdown pass in the Wolverine game. Today at practice, Schwapp jogged around and did not participate in some individual drills. Weis said after the session that he's marginal for Saturday's contest with Purdue.

"I'm still not fired up by what I see," Weis said on Thursday night. "I told him once again that I'm not putting him in there until he's better than Ashley and if not, Ashley plays. We'll see how it goes this weekend if he plays or not. We'll do the same thing next weekend. If it's not any better by that time, we'll see what direction we're going heading into the bye."

On another injury note, Weis said that cornerback Ambrose Wooden, who sat out last Saturday night, is far ahead of Schwapp in the recovery process and close to full speed. However, the Notre Dame head coach would rather put a full strength Darrin Walls in there than a less than 100 percent Wooden. It might be good thinking going against a Purdue offense that is fifth in the nation in scoring offense with 40 points per game and seventh in passing offense by totaling 297 yards through the air. The Boilermakers signal caller is Curtis Painter. The junior has started nine games in his career and is improving with every game.

"The quarterback keeps getting better," Weis said. "He played the last five games at the end of the year last season. He's starting to get into a groove. The tight end (Dustin Keller) has become a fairly big weapon for them. (Dorien) Bryant is still Bryant. They are pretty diversified in the fact that even though they're throwing for a lot more yards than they're running for, you can pick your poison. They have a couple of different ways to attack you.

"You are going to see them spread the ball right off the bat. What happens is when you have a veteran offensive line like they do, it gives you more confidence to do anything anywhere."

One the main goals for Weis this week has been to stress to his team the importance of playing the entire 60 minutes. It hurt them critically in the Michigan loss and they got some breaks late vs. the Spartans to overcome a big early deficit. In the first quarter, everyone knows the numbers, it's opponents 44, Notre Dame 10. Today, to emphasize the point, the Irish went with shoulder pads and shorts in order to be a little more physical, especially as they install their goal line packages.

"Practice usually gives you an idea but not the past few weeks," Weis said. "I've come out of there feeling pretty good the past couple of weeks. The only day I didn't like was the day before the Michigan game and maybe that was a little foreshadowing. Maybe I wasn't insightful enough. But keeping the shoulder pads on, even with the shorts on, it increases the tempo and gives you a good look. It helps with timing on offense and defense."

One area that Weis doesn't need help is offensive play calling. He's made it known on more than one occasion that he does not share schematic information with other college coaches and vice versa. Despite not picking the brains of their minds or letting others do the same to him, Weis said on Thursday that he does chat with them about other issues pertinent to an upcoming contest.

"I talk to (college) head coaches," Weis said. "I just don't talk to them about X's and O's. I talked to two head coaches at lunchtime. I talk to other guys but I don't talk to them about, ‘What are you doing against them.' I might say, ‘Tell me about their field. Is it slippery? What's the surface?' We went up the Michigan State and I talked to two Big Ten head coaches last week, not about Michigan State on offense and defense but about their field and how much noise there is and what their locker room is like because most of the time this is my trip there. Where's the 25-second clock, little things that may seem insignificant but are important." Top Stories