In The News

Sure, Notre Dame has its loyal fan base, but even some of them have taken the highway to negative town. There isn't a sports channel or sports website Irish players and coaches can't watch or read, without seeing something degrading the program and it's 0-3 start.

But it's not all bad. Students, and some of the Irish faithful have been there to pick up the players as they try and get it going this Saturday against Michigan State. For sophomore left tackle Sam Young, it happens to be the lunch lady.

"There is one lady that always give me lunch, and she is always like c'mon Sam go get em," Young said with a laugh. "It's little stuff. They keep egging us on and keep pushing us forward."

As the Irish try to push forward this week, returning to training camp mode and going back to basics in trying to fix the myriad of problems, they can't help but hear the harsh words being said or written about their team.

"We have access to the internet," senior linebacker Anthony Vernaglia said. "We have TVs. We can hear and see and take in all the fun stuff you guys say about us."

Notre Dame and its three lopsided losses have been referenced everywhere. The latest, a 38-0 loss to a previously winless Michigan team was the tipping point. With the way the team has been playing, and with the Spartans coming to town with a five-game winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium, Irish players don't need any extra incentive. But with one ESPN writer referring to the team as the program formally known as Notre Dame, they are certainly getting it.

"I think we use the motivation from usually ESPN," nose tackle Pat Kuntz said. "They try to get after us a lot lately. We're just trying to focus on ourselves for the most part. We realize we have to get better and what we've been doing hasn't been working."

"We just feel like as a team, we just have to progress," receiver George West said. "We're looking at all the media, and yeah we might see it, but we can't let that bother us. It's about getting better. If we stay down in the dumps and listen to what everybody's saying, then we'll continue to be the way that we are. We feel like we have to get better every week."

One place the players haven't really been feeling the heat is from their fellow students. Though they're asking for answers like everybody else.

"I just try my best to stay away from it," sophomore running back James Aldridge said. "I talk to a lot of people on campus and football doesn't have to be the only thing you talk about. I'm a person outside of football. Is it something I do, yeah I play football and I dedicate a lot of time to it, but it doesn't have to be something I talk about all the time. But if they bring it up, I'll give them an honest answer."

The honest answer is that the Irish rank at the bottom or near the bottom in nearly every offensive category nationally. On top of that, they rank 111th in the country against the run. With every Saturday comes the opportunity to improve upon that, and change the negative press into a better read.

Michigan State is the next chance.

"We're not doing so well this season," Young said. "As far as fans, I hope that they come out this Saturday and support us. I'll just use Michigan as an example. Michigan was in the same situation as we were. Had a game at home. The fans came out and supported them, It snowballed and it turned into a positive for them. I'm really looking forward to hoping to see our fans out there really supporting us this weekend."

Wherever Young's lunch lady is on Saturday, that's what she'll be doing.


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