News and Notes: 9/11/2007

Michigan quarterback Chad Henne will be out for Saturday's contest against Notre Dame on Saturday. The senior signal caller has a knee injury and sustained it in the 39-7 loss to Oregon last week. Filling in for Henne will be heralded freshman Ryan Mallett, who came into the Wolverines program with almost as much fan fair as Irish freshman signal caller Jimmy Clausen did at Notre Dame.

Mallett will be getting his first start three games into his freshman season. Clausen has already went through this last week at Penn State. The Notre Dame quarterback was 17-of-32 for 144 yards and an interception in a 31-10 loss at Penn State. Mallett will have the luxury of playing at home in Ann Arbor at the Big House. Much will be made during the week of the battle between the two highly recruited signal callers. But more likely than not, both will not be asked to win Saturday's contest by themselves.

"We won't be throwing it 50 times, if that's what you're saying," Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis said. "That's not what we're doing. This isn't going to be about Mallett and Jimmy. It's about two teams rich in tradition that are 0-2 right now trying to get to 1-2.

"I'm sure that's what they're talking about. And it's certainly what we're talking about. It's not about who can win the duel between freshmen quarterbacks."

***There's one player on the Michigan roster who has good feelings about his team's fortunes against Notre Dame. Senior running back Mike Hart, according to an Associated Press article, had this to say about Saturday's game between the Wolverines and Irish.

"I honestly think we're not going to lose," Hart said after Michigan‘s 39-7 loss to Oregon. "There's really no doubt in my mind. After you go 0-2, there is no where to go but up. Get beat again? It's not going to happen."

Hart, with a freshman quarterback making his first career start, should have a heavy presence on the offensive game plan. Any why not? The senior running back has been one of the few bright spots for Michigan. Hart, who is the nation's active leader in career rushing yards, has 315 yards in 2007 and three touchdowns and averages 6.6 yards per carry. Weis had no problem with what the senior captain said, although it'll end up on the Notre Dame bulletin board.

"I think Mike Hart is a fierce competitor, and I think he's trying to fire up his team," Weis said. "Will we bring it up to the team and say he guaranteed a win? Yeah, we'll say that, because anyone would. But in reality, I think that Mike Hart is trying to be a leader. I think that's what he's trying to do. So Mike Hart is doing what any leader for a team would be saying."

Would Weis ever want one of his players to guarantee a victory?

"I prefer not to ever hear that comment coming out of my team," Weis said.

***The two blowout defeats Notre Dame has achieved this year has some thinking that it'll hurt the Irish in recruiting. Notre Dame already has a above average class lined up for 2008, with 19 commits in the bank. Scout.com has the Irish currently listed as the top class in the nation with Signing Day less than five months away. The thinking is that if Notre Dame continues to lose and lose big, some of the committed recruits will jump ship. Last season, the Irish lost a few prospects on Signing Day. According to Weis, the committed players' reaction to the Georgia Tech and Penn State defeats hasn't been negative at all.

"I'm a very honest, straightforward person,‘ Weis said. "So I talk about the game, talk about what happened in the game. Depending on who they are, I talk about, ‘Hey, what are you doing Saturday after Friday night? Can you get your stuff on to go make the trip to Ann Arbor?'

"I mean, look at it from their standpoint. They're watching that game, too, and saying, ‘Hey, I can play.' So if there is a silver lining in the recruiting aspect and you're a young man who is already coming or thinking about coming and you just watched the game. All these guys want to go to a school where they think they have an opportunity to play. And I think that most of them, based on the evidence they have after the first two games, would like their prospects."

***Freshman running back Armando Allen was featured more in the offensive game against Penn State. Allen touched the ball seven out of the ten plays on the first drive, which ended with Nate Whitaker missing a 50-yard field goal. For the contest, the speedy Allen rushed the ball eight times for 11 yards and caught six passes for 36 yards.

"I know Mondo's a very good athlete," Weis said. "He's mature for a freshman. He's a very mature player. He'll always be a significant part of what we do."

***Penalties were a huge problem for Notre Dame on Saturday night in Happy Valley. The Irish committed 14 infractions for 97 yards. Whether it be Ambrose Wooden's interference call on 3rd-and-Goal that led to a touchdown or multiple false start penalties along the offensive line, Notre Dame was far from perfect. The Irish are 93rd nationally in fewest penalties per game.

"I think that will be a point of emphasis," Weis said. "It was with the team on Sunday. It was with the coaching staff today. And we're going to make it a major point of emphasis in everything that happens in practice this week. Because you can't have efficiency with that volume of penalties."

***Brad Nessler, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire will be in the booth for ABC calling Saturday's action in Ann Arbor. Bonnie Bernstein will handle the sideline reporting duties.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories