The Best From Weis

Here's the best this past week from Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis, plus a prediction for the Irish-Wolverines contest on Saturday.

***On opening up the offense for freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen: "Obviously, we've gone through two games without much production on offense. So you can't sit back. You can't just sit there and take baby steps. You have to make some significant strides to try to get some production on offense."

***On competition this week along the offensive line: "I spoke to a couple of the guys who were back ups last week and I said if they had done more in practice last week, they would have been in the game. And they were told the same thing going into this week.

"I think that you have to go by what you see in practice because you have to believe that the guys you're going to put in there are going to give you a better chance than the guys that are already in there and they have to give you some evidence. And I've always believed that by going by what I see in practice, and if it doesn't look any better in practice than the guys we've got, then I'm going with the guys we've got.

"And they've been given that opportunity again this week. They've been told that, "Hey, I'm not afraid to make a call, but you've got to give me a reason to do it." So until they do that, you don't change anything."

***On the mood of the team: "If they aren't mad and embarrassed, then they're not competitors. I would hope that that's how they were. I know I certainly am. I think any time you put as much time and effort, and you feel you're credible and things don't go too well, and you don't feel angry or embarrassed, then you're not very competitive. So I would hope that that's how they feel within the realm of the team."

***On the ceiling of this year's team: "I think that we've lost two games -- we play 12. We've lost two games and right now we're trying to win one. And not to be too general or too vague on that, but I think that that's going to be our goal until we get the first one under our belt. And hopefully it is this week against Michigan.

"But I think that you never, ever worry about 12 games from now. You worry about this one and this one only. So I'm only worrying about trying to beat Michigan, and I live my life under that creed. I don't worry about six weeks from now. I don't worry about eight weeks from now. I live my life week by week. I live my life day by day."

***On fixing the problems along the offensive line: "There are some questions that are easier to fix and some questions that are harder to fix. There are some things I don't understand either. But once again, it's not all just the offensive line. What you end up doing, by qualifying that too much there, is you put the onus all on them.

"Have they played great? No, they haven't played great. As a unit, they haven't played great. So what my job then to do is to keep on working to find a way to fix it. They have to be part of it given that accountability prospect that I talked about before, and I've got to be part of it, too."

***On what Weis says to recruits about the 0-2 start: "I'm a very honest, straightforward person. 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, 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."

***On Mike Hart's guarantee of a victory: "I think Mike Hart is a fierce competitor and I think he's trying to fire up his team. And I think you take it in its proper perspective.

"Will we bring it up to the team and say ‘Hey, 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. That's what he's trying to do. So Mike Hart is doing what any leader for a team would be saying.

"Now obviously, now, he's going to get the ball because they're going to give him an opportunity to help back that up. And it doesn't make any difference what he said or what we say. It's when they give him the ball, can we stop him? So that's what we're going to have to try to do."

***On the Clausen vs. Michigan freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett duel: "We won't be throwing it 50 times, if that's what you're saying. That's not what we're doing. But this isn't going to be about Mallett and Jimmy. I think that in both cases, 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."

***On reducing the number of penalties: "I think that will be a point of emphasis. 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."

***On how the team has responded to being 0-2: "What I sense is a greater sense of urgency. What I want to sense is a greater sense of urgency. And that's what I feel right now. If I had seen the former, not the latter, then I'd be a lot more concerned. I'm always concerned when you're 0-2 and you haven't done anything, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I'm seeing a greater sense of urgency and coinciding with the first question, even with guys that aren't starting; I'm seeing a greater sense of urgency."

***On what Weis expects from Saturday's contest between 0-2 teams: "I think there is too much pride on both teams to just throw in the towel, but the normal psyche of teams in this mode right now that are 0-2 is to be a bit fragile. That's the normal psyche so, obviously, the better start you get, the better things will go. I don't think anyone from either team is ready to cash in the season here. I think both teams want to go and right the ships. So I think you'll have a hard-fought game the whole game."

***On what Weis says to keep up the defensive spirits in light of the offensive struggles: "I say one in a positive vein and one in a negative vein. The positive vein is to tell them that the offense feels accountable for the lack of production, starting with the coaching staff and we are going to right that ship. That's the one that doesn't point any fingers or place any blame at them. Now, after I say that, I said but there is no rule that says you can't go three and out as well. And that's really the bottom line. We can sit there and talk about being worn out, but they could be out there for the same number of plays if they just get off the field on third down. So that's the con - the pro and the con - that would be the con."

***Prediction: Michigan 31 Notre Dame 17. A lot has been made of Hart's guarantee after the 39-7 loss to Oregon. But I believe it's just what the Wolverines needed. Hart is one of the captains on the Michigan team and one of its best players. If Adrian Arrington had said this, I don't think it would have carried much weight. But Hart is a leader on the Wolverines team and Michigan will give the senior running back every opportunity possible to back up his words, especially with Mallet starting his first career contest.

Hart will be the difference in the contest. The Irish are 100th against the run and have worn down late as the games have progressed. Can the offense put together enough first downs in a row to keep the Notre Dame defense fresh in the second half? The Wolverines defense has been almost as bad as the Irish offense but Appalachian State and Oregon hurt Michigan with the spread scheme and mobile, athletic quarterbacks. The Irish might be able to spread out the Wolverines but Clausen won't be mistaken anytime soon for the Ducks' Dennis Dixon. With Weis making more of the offense available to his freshman quarterback, there should be improvement in the production area and an actual touchdown to break the 10 straight quarters without breaching the goal line.

But it won't be enough. Hart, who has 313 rushing yards through two games and averages 6.6 yards per rush, should be able to have his way on the ground, relieving a lot of pressure off of Mallett's shoulders. Notre Dame surely will stack the box to prevent this from occurring and make the freshman signal caller beat them through the air. Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr called out wide receiver Mario Manningham this week for not playing up to his potential. Manningham has four touchdowns in two games against the Irish. Expect another one, possibly of the deep variety, and Hart to control the flow of the contest. Top Stories