Weis Talks North Carolina

A comfortable 38-14 victory over Navy last weekend was the fifth straight for the Notre Dame football team. The 7-1 Irish are up to No. 9 in the BCS rankings and one spot away from an automatic appearance. It's been tough to gauge Notre Dame this season. But after the Midshipmen whipping, head coach Charlie Weis hopes that an identity is finally being built among the players.

"I'd say we have a chance to be on a rise on this subject," Weis said at his Tuesday press conference. "I'm cautiously optimistic that it's already happening. Like I said on Sunday, before you can make that statement valid, you have to make a level of consistency that to this point I've not been totally pleased with."

They'll get a shot to build off of the solid Navy win by hosting a team with all types of problems. North Carolina travels north to face the Irish this weekend. Kickoff at Notre Dame Stadium is at 2:43 p.m. and NBC will have the national television broadcast. It'll be a chance to once again show voters that the Irish deserve to rise in the rankings. It'll be tough to impress anyone because of how bad the 1-7 Tar Heels have been this season. Saturday's contest would be a perfect opportunity for Notre Dame to run the score up to secure the "style points" that everyone loves to talk about. But as Weis has said time and time again, embarrassing an opponent is not in his makeup.

"Would it help in the ratings?" Weis asked about a blowout win. "Probably. But that's so far from my mind to think like that. I'm just trying to do the best I can to get my team ready to beat North Carolina. That's what my job is. My job isn't to play a top-10 team or the scores of the game. It's to get them ready to go."

North Carolina has a whole truck load full of problems. The biggest: their head coach, John Bunting, was informed a few weeks back this his services in Chapel Hill will not be needed after this season concludes. Bunting's best year with the Tar Heels was his first, an 8-5 campaign in 2001 concluded with a Peach Bowl victory. Since then, it's been downhill, culminating in a dreadful 2006 season that has seen North Carolina's only win come against Furman, a non-Division 1A school. Last week was the first time Bunting and the Tar Heels took the field since the move was announced. Surprisingly, Wake Forest (7-1) avoided the North Carolina upset 24-17 with a last minute end zone interception.

"The only game of reference since the change took place was last week versus Wake Forest," Weis said. "They made this agreement for him to leave at the end of the year and then they go on to play Wake Forest. Wake Forest is 7-1 and they're very fortunate to have won the game last weekend. It would be one thing if the team threw in the towel after that happened because it would be a little more difficult to tell your guys they've cashed it in after watching the Wake Forest game. This team not only played hard but were doing everything they could do win the game for the head coach."

North Carolina comes to South Bend losers of five in a row, outscored in this time period 163-51. Five of the Tar Heels seven losses have been by 17 points or more. Will they be able to slow down Brady Quinn and the Irish offensive attack? According to the statistics, no. North Carolina is 93rd in total defense, 108th in scoring defense and 115th in rushing defense. With no bowl game to play for or even a shot at a .500 record, the Tar Heels can throw caution to the wind in their game approach.

"You tell them it's a very dangerous opponent because they have nothing to lose," Weis said about what he would tell his players. "What do they got to lose? Seriously, you got out there and it's 4th-and-10 on the 40-yard line and you want to go for it, you go for it. What's going to happen is that you let them go. That's already taken place. It's a very dangerous situation to be in our spot. The head coach just got let go, they played one of their best games of the year and easily could have won the game. Obviously, they played hard and they're trying to come up here and validate their season."

Tuesday's press conference was the first chance for Weis to respond to the CBS "60 Minutes" piece that aired on Sunday night. The television magazine portrayed Weis as an intense, fiery head coach mentored by two NFL legends and driven to succeed. The promos the network used showed Weis cursing multiple times during the Penn State contest earlier this season.

"With everything, there's good and bad," Weis said. "I'm far from perfect. I thought it was fairly realistic. Do I have some detriments and flaws? Certainly. But I think that it's tough to be in the coaching profession and be a loving husband and a molder of young men and at the same time your job is to build a team and win football games. There's a lot of conflicting things going on at the same time and it's how each person in that role establishes himself to get those things done.

"I can tell you this: some of the things that you may have heard on the football field are not tolerated in the Weis household by Maura Weis."

And what did Weis think about Quinn saying that sometimes his head coach, by his own characterization, could be a jerk.

"He's right," a smiling Weis said. "Now, you know what they say about payback. I think he's got the worse end of that deal."


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