"When I found out that teams actually do that, I thought that was really, really something special," Weis said on Wednesday after practice about last year's gesture. "I really thought it was special. It's only right to do. There are some times to do the right things and this was one time to do the right thing. These players mean more than football players. These are going to be guys defending our country. It's a little different than going to work on Wall Street or going to the NFL. It's a different deal."
Weis and his team will get another chance to show that respect on Saturday when the Irish travel to Baltimore to face Navy. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:12 p.m. and CBS will have the national television coverage. No. 9 Notre Dame has one goal to achieve first: win and improve their record to 7-1 on the season. If the Irish can get into the top-eight of the BCS, they'll be guaranteed a spot in one of the big money bowls. Respect is there for every opponent Weis and Notre Dame face. One can tell that when it comes to Navy and the service academies, the level gets ratcheted up a few notches.
"Respect is the word that comes to mind when you see these guys, looking at the lifestyle they live and really at what they are doing now or what they are going to be doing a few years when they get out for the rest of their lives," quarterback Brady Quinn said. "You have to look at and tip your cap and give them their due respect because they are working extremely hard every day to defend this country and risk their lives; if not this year, then a couple of years down the road.
"There's never any trash talking because both teams have a mutual respect for one another and realize that at certain points in time, there are a lot of things that are bigger than just this game of football that we play."
As for the game, it'll be interesting to see how effective the Notre Dame ground attack will be. Last week, the Irish accumulated just 41 yards on 35 attempts in the victory over UCLA. On the season, Notre Dame is a lowly 99th in rushing offense. Weis has made it a point of emphasis in practice to get it back on track and expects positives results on Saturday.
"I think we were better yesterday and better today," Weis said about the rushing attack. "I think we'll be better tomorrow and we'll see how that plays out tomorrow. I've seen improvement from the game. It didn't take too much to be better from the game from what we just finished on."
The kickoff time is the earliest Notre Dame will have to tee up in 2006. Before this contest, 2:43 p.m. was the earliest time. It won't be much of a change for the team, who in essence will just turn their clocks back a few hours.
"We moved everything based off of a 2:43 kickoff," Weis said. "We moved everything up two hours. We take that time and move it accordingly. We'll get started way earlier. Pre-game will be way earlier. Everything will be significantly earlier with our game day operations."
This will be the second contest that Terrail Lambert will start over Ambrose Wooden at the cornerback position opposite Mike Richardson. Lambert first got playing time when Wooden went down with an injury in the Michigan contest and, despite the few touchdowns allowed to the Wolverines' Mario Manningham, has performed well and drawn praise from Weis on more than one occasion. Lambert also leads the team in interceptions with three. Wooden, who is returning to his hometown of Baltimore this weekend, has moved to the nickel position on passing downs, a formation the Notre Dame defense often employs.
"Ambrose knows he's right in the mix," Weis said. "It isn't like he's a second-teamer. He knows he's right in the mix. This isn't like a demotion. It's A and 1A. We can't have both of them out there at the same time, except for nickel. And when it's nickel, he's in there. He's not looking at it like it's a demotion."