The Best from Weis and Brown

Here's the best from Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Corwin Brown this past week, plus a prediction:

CHARLIE WEIS

***On Georgia Tech's propensity to blitz on defense: "You get a team that blitzes up to 75% of the time statistically, it kind of disrupts your practice schedule because normally what you'll do in a practice is you'll separate a period just to blitz. Say you're working on blitz, but when a team's blitzing at that type of volume, you just have to integrate it within your whole practice, because if not, you'd be diagramming certain plays to beat the blitz and the rest of the plays wouldn't be. It's one of those game plans where you got to be ready for them to blitz or blitz zone on every single play."

***On junior nose tackle Derrell Hand's situation: "He's back in school; therefore he's back on the team, but he won't be playing for multiple weeks. As he and I discussed yesterday, you talk about an extended whether it's making up time for suspension, but he will miss at least the first three games."

***On fall practice being over: "They're sick of me, I can tell that. To be honest, I'm kind of sick of them, too. I think training camp is a long, arduous process. They're the only ones on campus that are happy that school starts because that's when training camp can officially end. I can have them endless hours until the day school starts.

"There's no one happier than the players when school actually starts. They can get away from me till 2:30 in the afternoon every day."

***On the kicking situation: "We've got it down to two. I can see both Brandon Walker and Nate Whitaker both playing a role on both kickoffs and field goals. I'm not saying that to be evasive, because right now, in certain situations, they're both the lead guy. They're the two guys. It was three, it's now two, and they're the two."

***On sophomore cornerback Darrin Walls being more physical in practice and overtaking fifth-year senior Ambrose Wooden on the depth chart: "Well, that's really where he stepped up, the fact he's become much more physical than we ever saw him play last year. And, to be honest with you, it kind of surprised me a bit to see him come back and play with such a physical nature at the line of scrimmage, which was one of the things that last year probably was, like a lot of freshmen DBs, where he'd be a little bit behind. But he's certainly not that way right now."

***On the lack of injuries in training camp: "Ruben (Mendoza) and his staff have done an excellent job. But the players have done an excellent job, too. The training staff has done an excellent job, too, to be in the position we're in right now.

"But you know how quickly those things can change. One of those few times where we're going into a game. We're probably as healthy as we're going to be the entire year right now."

***On taking the pressure off the new quarterback: "The most important thing, when you get into this situation right here, is you don't go into the game expecting the quarterback to have to do it by himself, okay? You have to share the wealth. You have to share the work. You have to share the blame. You have to share the credit. I think you have to make it a more collaborative effort so you don't hang the quarterback out to dry. I think that's very, very, very critical."

***On this season versus the first two years: "This is more exciting than the first two years for me. This is also more challenging. The first year you had a change in attitude. No longer are you changing the attitude of the team.

"Now what you're trying to do is get the players that you brought, a lot of players that you brought in here or were already in the program paying their dues, it's now their team. With that comes a challenge of coaching those guys, putting them in a position to win."

***On the players exceeding the low national expectations for Notre Dame this season: "Well, they better."

***On fifth-year senior John Sullivan coming back for a fifth-year: "It was important for us, for our team, and it probably was very, very good for him, as well. For our team, to have a guy, a fifth-year guy, who makes all the calls for the offense at the line of scrimmage, has taken all these young guys under his wing, these inexperienced guys under his wing, has been invaluable for us."

"Conversely, two years in a row, before this year, he had come off in the springtime -- one years comes off a knee, the other year he comes off a shoulder. He never had either a full season of either running or lifting until this year. So this is the best shape he's ever been in and the strongest he's ever been.

"For him personally, he's made himself more ready to play than he's actually been able to do for the last two years."

CORWIN BROWN

***On how tough a test Georgia Tech will be for the Notre Dame defense: "This is a tough game because they have so much talent. If you look at what they did at their last bowl game; they scored a ton of points. They were able to run the ball and they were able to throw the ball. They lose (Calvin) Johnson but they have guys there that are more than accomplished; really good players. They've got good fullbacks; good tailbacks. It's a tough test because of the talent they have, and they have really good coaches and I've respected that program for awhile now."

***On Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice: "Well, he does all of the things that good running backs do. He reads the hole well; he can break tackles; he can run away from guys. I think he has excellent vision and I think he can be physical when he needs to be. He reminds me of a lot of the guys I have played against and coached against the past few years. When you look at him, he can hit the homerun. He's a big-time tailback and he'll probably be in the running for the Heisman when it is all said and done. So it's just something that we have to gear up for and really be focused. We have to play together and we have to make sure we know where he is at all times."

***On Yellow Jackets quarterback Taylor Bennett: "We'll be playing a really good, good quarterback. He has not played a lot but when you look at him on tape, you wouldn't know that. He can throw all the balls and he reads extremely well. He gives his receivers an opportunity to catch the ball which a lot of quarterbacks don't do. You look at some of the so-called great quarterbacks in college and they don't give their receivers a chance. He gives their receivers a chance. He's a really, really good quarterback."

***On the move from position coach to defensive coordinator: "Now when something happens, it's your fault; not anybody else's fault. Like I said, you just have more responsibility. You have to be sure the team is prepared and do whatever it takes to get them prepared. You have to cross all the T's and, fortunately, I have been around some good guys that really helped me a lot."

PREDICTION

***All the focus is on who'll be the quarterback for Notre Dame against the blitzing Georgia Tech defense. What about Taylor Bennett, who‘ll will be making his first true road start, versus the new 3-4 Irish defense? The redshirt junior has started two games in his career. In 2005, Bennett started against a 5-6 Connecticut team. The Yellow Jackets signal caller has been getting praise for his Gator Bowl performance. Bennett was an impressive 19-for-29 for 326 yards and three touchdowns. However, West Virginia's pass defense was a lowly 109th in the nation last season.

Tashard Choice will get his yards. The Georgia Tech running back is one of the best in the nation. But I believe the key will be whether or not Bennett can make enough plays on the road in the season opener. I think the Irish defense, with a variety of blitzes, will do just enough to slow down the Yellow Jackets attack and, more importantly, cause a turnover or two to put themselves in good field position.

As for the Notre Dame offense, there should be a heavy emphasis on the ground attack. Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta likes to blitz. Weis said it's almost 75 percent of the time. But a deep, talented group at running back will take a ton of pressure off the new quarterback. If Jones is the signal caller, Irish fans could see the West Virginia zone read from the shotgun formation, which killed the Yellow Jackets in the Gator Bowl. In the passing game, short, quick passes will not allow the blitzing Georgia Tech defense time to get to the quarterback. I predict a close, physical contest, one where Notre Dame takes advantage of the home field and Bennett's first start on the road and wins 27-20.


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