Not so on Saturday. The Irish wore the green jerseys, instead of the normal home blue, en route to a 41-9 victory over Army. The occasion is usually reserved for much bigger contests than the Black Knights. But head coach Charlie Weis got some sound advice from his son that changed his thinking on the subject.
"He goes, ‘Well, Dad you tell me how special this senior class is,'" Weis said about his son, Charlie, Jr. "'It just doesn't seem right that they don't get an opportunity to be honored as seniors going out.' I thought for a 13 year old kid to make a statement like that, I thought it made a lot of sense.
Weis brought it to the captains of the team, Brady Quinn, Tommy Zbikowski and Travis Thomas. A unanimous vote among these three let it become a reality. Weis actually had one of his video guys set up a camera so he could view the reaction of the players. It certainly had the intended response.
"It was a nice surprise," cornerback Mike Richardson said. "It's good that Coach Weis did that. It gave us a little more energy, or at least it did for me. It was really a great thing. We were overjoyed to see those. No one was expecting them against Army. It usually is reserved for big games."
"It was a special occasion," defensive tackle Derek Landri said. "Coach Weis wanted to send us out right."
How often a sight will the green jerseys be in the future?
"That's a good question and I think that's too early for me to answer," Weis said. "We won, so we got that out of the way. So we can't say, if we're in the green, we're going to lose. So at least they got that stigma out of the way. We'll have to see how it goes."
*The offense did put up 41 points. But the defensive performance has to be commended. The Irish held Army to nine points in the contest and the lone Black Knight touchdown came on the last play of the game. Army mustered just 150 total yards and was 5-of-14 on third down conversions. Notre Dame forced two turnovers and sacked the Black Knight quarterbacks three times. The longest play from scrimmage for Army was 23-yard fake reverse run by Wesley McMahand.
"The coaching staff did a real good job of giving to us what they were going to run," Zbikowski said. "We did a good job scheme wise of what they were going to run and saw everything they were going to run. That was the first time they've used the fake reverse. They got us on that play but that was it."
"It's confidence that is well needed," safety Chinedum Ndukwe said. "It's like that every game but it's one or two big plays that we give up. When you don't find them, we have a pretty good defense. That's something we're going to have to take into next week and go from there."
"Not to take anything away from Brady, Jeff, Rhema or Darius, it was more a game for the defense," Landri said. "We played well this week, better than the week before. We're trying to build off of every week. Obviously, we play one of the best teams in the country next week. But it was a good defensive game and good to get it under our belt."
Landri was his usual disruptive self in the middle of the Irish defensive line. The senior registered seven tackles, including 4.5 for losses and two sacks. Landri once again made a contribution on special teams. He blocked a 39-yard field goal by Austin Miller in the third quarter. It's Landri's fourth blocked kick of the season.
"It's a good thing," Landri said about his special teams excellence. "Trevor (Laws) had a big blocked kick last week. It's one of those things where you still got a chance to keep the points off the board."
Another senior playing his last home game came up big on Saturday. Mike Richardson recorded two interceptions against Army. They are his first pickoffs of the season after nabbing three last season.
"It was really fortunate on my part," Richardson said. "I just wanted to go out and do good things. I haven't had any interceptions this year. It's just that it's in my last home senior game."
"That's Mike Rich," Ndukwe said. "He's always been our silent killer. He's one of the hardest hitters on our team, whether that's a defensive back, linebacker or lineman. He brings the wood all the time. You don't notice him a lot because he's always to the boundary. You might not notice him a lot but he's what makes us tick in the defensive backfield."
*Carl Gioia missed another PAT on Saturday, this one in the second quarter that kept the score at 13-3. For the year, Gioia has missed four extra points attempts. After three misses last week in the victory over Air Force, Weis opened the kicking competition up but the head coach said on Wednesday that Gioia easily beat out freshman Ryan Burkhart and Bobby Renkes. Also, George West fumbled a kickoff return that luckily was recovered by the Irish.
*According to the final statistics, here are the freshmen who saw action on Saturday: Darrin Walls, Raeshon McNeil, George West, Jashaad Gaines, Sergio Brown, James Aldridge, Ryan Burkhart, Morrice Richardson, Eric Olsen, Matt Carufel, Richard Jackson, Will Yeatman and John Ryan.