Weis Talks UCLA

The first BCS standings were released yesterday afternoon. The rankings, which combines the Coaches, Harris and various computer polls, had Notre Dame slotted at No. 8 with six games to go. Irish head coach Charlie Weis said on Monday that he was hoping to be a little higher.

"It's better to be four than it is to be five," Weis said. "It's better to be five than it is to be six. I said last week and I'm not giving you any revelation for us to get into this mix, we need some help. But that help could happen. I'm counting on it."

A venture into the top two may remain seem unrealistic. A more likely scenario is another trip to a BCS bowl game and for this to occur, Notre Dame must continue winning. They'll start the second half of their season on Saturday as they host UCLA. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:43 p.m. and NBC will have the national television coverage. A jump in the polls and the BCS rankings could happen if the Irish win and other teams ahead of them start to falter. Weis has made it clear he won't run up the score against weaker competition to make a statement to voters.

"I think the most important thing is as you're coming down the stretch, we have to play well," Weis said. "We have not played well that often. I think what we have to do is we have to play well because everyone's going to criticize the outcome of the game. Well, you can't criticize when a team plays well, regardless of what the final score was.

"If you win by seven and you played well, then you should be happy. If you win by 30 and you played well, then you should be happy. I think if you win by seven and you lucked out, that's a little different."

The bye week usually is a week where no news happens. This was not the case for Notre Dame as defensive end Ronald Talley left the team. The decision was a mutual one, according to a statement released by the team on Friday. Talley, who split time with Chris Frome at the right defensive end position this season, registered just 11 tackles in six games of action. After Frome, the backups will be junior Justin Brown and freshman John Ryan. Monday was the first time Weis could respond in person to the departure.

"We had talked, I'd say about three times during the year at different times," Weis said about Talley. "We had had some private conversations about his future. We had our last one on Thursday. We went over multiple options about where we were heading. He really felt that it would be in his best interest if he left the team at this time.

"After we talked for a while, I felt that his best interest and the team's best interest were one in the same. Therefore, we're leaving amicably with him going. He's not thrown off the team. He just doesn't want to be part of this team anymore."

The bye week allowed not only the players to rest their bodies but for the coaches to get some down time. Weis said him and his son, Charlie, Jr., watched college football games all day Saturday. The other assistant coaches, after spending Thursday and Friday on the recruiting trail, received Saturday and Sunday off. The players have been off since Saturday and will return on Tuesday for UCLA preparations. With this week being fall break at Notre Dame, there are no classes and no 20-hour work week time limits in effect.

"It will be more like a 9 to 5 day," Weis said. "We have to feed them because the dining halls are closed, too. They'll come in and have breakfast. Our morning schedule tomorrow, which will be different than the next day, but tomorrow's morning schedule will be either meeting on offense or defense while the other side lifts.

"There will be a couple of hours of meeting and an hour to run and lift. Then we feed them lunch. Then we come back in, we meet on special teams. We get ready, go out there and practice. After practice, we have time to come back in, take a shower and go watch the practice. After we watch the practice, then we go and feed them, and then they're done.

"That allows us, the next day when they come in, not to have that tape hanging over us to have to watch the next day. It's similar to an NFL schedule now because now there's no school."

The Bruins (4-2) will be coming to South Bend looking to get their season back on the winning track. Last weekend, UCLA went up north and lost at Oregon 30-20. It's tough for any team to win in Autzen Stadium, let alone a team without their starting quarterback. In a 27-7 victory over Arizona, the Bruins lost signal caller Ben Olsen to an injury. Insert Patrick Cowen, who went 16-of-31 for 112 yards with an interception in his first start in the difficult Oregon environment. Weis does not expect Olsen back this weekend.

"I think they got down big early," Weis said about UCLA last Saturday, who were down 20-3 after the first 15 minutes of play. "There was a big first quarter by Oregon's offense. I think they were fighting an uphill battle the rest of that game. You're playing on the road. You get down big early. That's usually tough sledding.

"Their quarterback, first game starting on the road. I'm not making excuses for him, but it is what it is. I think he'll be a lot calmer going into this one. I don't think it's going to scare him that he's going to Notre Dame."

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