Final Prep For Irish

Falcon Stadium should be rocking on Saturday when the Air Force Academy welcomes in No. 9 Notre Dame to Colorado Springs. The facility holds 46,692 at capacity and many of those in attendance will be hoping for an upset. One problem: under head coach Charlie Weis, the Irish are 7-0 away from Notre Dame Stadium. The "us against the world" mentality has been extremely beneficial.

"We've had some success winning on the road," Weis said on Thursday after practice when questioned about the tough environment at Air Force. "That's my answer to that. We've had some success on the road. I treat them all the same."

Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 4:00 EDT and CSTV will provide the television coverage. The Irish defense will get another crack at the option offense. Air Force runs it to perfection, totaling 266 yards on the ground per game. Wingback Chad Hall leads the Falcons in rushing with 74 yards per contest while quarterback Shaun Carney racks up another 64 rushing yards. This all is good for third in the nation. Notre Dame was successful in the second half against Navy. Can this carryover against a multi-faceted running attack? One issue to deal with in an option offense: misdirection and overplaying by the defense.

"You can also have the inside counter that they run where they fake to one guy and the other wing is coming," Weis said. "Actually, the play looks pretty nice. I was saying this morning in our staff meeting that I kind of like that play. If you were a running team that ran multiple deceptions looks, the play looks pretty sweet how they run it. The linebackers get flowing in one direction and they're coming back in another direction and you can get people displaced. That's part of the philosophy of their offense."

Another new feature: Air Force employs a tight end in some of their sets. This was a wrinkle that Navy did not use in their formations.

"It's just a whole other set they can run," Weis said. "Navy never uses a tight end. With them having a package with a tight end, it allows them to do the looks Navy was running plus twice as many more formations. It's just one of their personal groupings."

Saturday's contest is another chance for Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn to impress Heisman voters. After a disastrous performance in the loss to Michigan, the senior has rebounded with a fury. Quinn currently has not thrown an interception in 204 straight pass attempts. For the season, he has 25 touchdowns to just four interceptions. The likely front runner is quarterback Troy Smith, whose Ohio State team is 10-0 with two games remaining, including the biggie in a few weeks versus No. 2 Michigan. Three games remaining for Quinn and three performances are left to wow the voters and leap frog Smith for the first Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner since Tim Brown in 1987.

"His promotion is that when we come down the stretch here, those last couple weeks he'll be on TV and so will the other guys," Weis said. "That's what influences voters. We go out and play Air Force, come back and play Army, it's on NBC and then go out to USC on ABC. Then it's over with. He's no different than Troy or those other guys. These guys are going to go by what they see. At least he's got himself in the picture to be a strong contender. There's a lot of football to be played yet." Top Stories