The Best From Weis

Here's the best from Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis this week, plus a prediction.

***On how the physical practices (through Tuesday) were going: "I wouldn't call it a surprise, but the thing I've been pleased about the most was Sunday, not today. Not that today was a bad practice because today wasn't a bad practice. On Sunday, you really didn't know how they would respond having just played a game and lost by a lopsided score. And now instead of run and lift and tape-watching sessions for four hours, them being out there going full pads, take them to the ground for the second day in a row, I was encouraged by how Sunday went and Tuesday has been more of the same.

I've been encouraged by how the tempo goes, not the flipside to that, but when you're taking them to the ground, you have no way to hide. If you are a running back, you are going to go to the ground; if you are a receiver, you are going to go to the ground; if you are a tackler, you have to take them to the ground. There's no whistle that is going to blow the play dead in a hurry. So it forces you to finish plays. If nothing else, I think this week is about finishing plays. I think that's one area where we probably haven't done the best job on both sides of the ball is finishing, is finishing plays."

***On trying to learn about this team: "I think you have to start force-feeding who they are. In other words, instead of trying to feel them out and try to say what you can do, you have to say, we're going to do this; this is one thing we have to do. We are going to do it and do it and do it and do it until we get it right. If you go to that other extreme where you are trying to learn what they can do, and before you know it you have a 38-0 loss. So I think you have to establish a core. I've been coaching long enough to be able to identify what the problems are. The greater challenge is making sure that you fix them. And that's what we are trying to go about this week. We're trying to go about fixing what the problems are."

***On will there be radical changes to the depth chart: "No I don't think there will be major changes. What I didn't want to do is come in here after that game and start firing people from their positions and making massive changes because then what you are doing is making sacrificial lambs and saying you are the problem. When you lose 38-0, there are plenty of problems out there. Obviously, I'm part of the problem too, but I don't play. I think the important thing is, as far as the roster goes, I think more guys are playing themselves into contention or out of contention in the last couple practices."

***On Demetrius Jones: "I talked to him about 9:00 (Monday) night and it was a cordial conversation. I wouldn't say we aired it out, but we just cleared up what was going on and he said he has moved on. I wished him well and that's about it."

***On the confidence of this Notre Dame team: "How do I think their confidence is; not very high. How do you think it is (laughing)? Right now, it's one of those things where we have to make some good things happen. Too many times when you get into a situation like this, you are hoping good things happen. When you hope for something good to happen, you might be waiting a long time. Saturday we have to make some good things happen."

***On how freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen is handling the week: "This has been a good week for Jimmy because I have cut all the fluff out. I've gone from all of this and that and this and that to this. And it's easiest for a quarterback when we're doing it that way because they don't have as much thinking to do. The picture is very clear when they are doing it this way. You don't have a lot of fire power this way, but there aren't very many mental mistakes and it makes it a lot easier for the quarterback to go out there and play."

***On scoring early on Saturday vs. Michigan State: "I think it's going to help a lot of people. It doesn't just help the offense's confidence. It helps the defense because I think what happens sometimes, the defense starts pressing. In other words, the defense tries to make plays that maybe they're not capable of making because the offense isn't producing. I think there definitely is a chemistry that happens there, and I think if you can go ahead and get on the scoreboard a couple of times early in the game, I think part of it from the offense might be relief. But for the defense, it might say, okay, we can just play football and not try to do more than just doing our job."

***On the problems stopping the run: "It's been a combination of things, and it has been different things in different games. In one game, it's bounce-out runs. The next game was inside runs with missed tackles. In the last game, it was schemed runs. So there are different areas of concerns in different games on different runs. All three of those come down to when we talk about those core elements and things you need to do. It's controlling the line of scrimmage."

***On going back to training camp vs. preparing for Michigan State: "There is a tradeoff. Trust me; I weighed exactly what you are talking about. I weighed the pros and cons. It isn't like the coaching staff isn't on track with the installation like we normally do; it just hasn't been presented to them on the same time frame or time scale. It will be given to them later. But I had to weigh the pros and cons and, trust me, it was a tough decision when you say, ‘When will we give this stuff to them?' Until you change the attitude of how you're going to play, really, that second part I felt was less significant. You have to change the attitude of how you play first."

***On next week's practice tempo: "That's something we're definitely going to have to consider because even if we win the game, you can't just say, ‘Okay, well, everything is all better now.' That doesn't mean like all your problems go away just because you win one game. It means that you have a better frame of mind and you're more receptive to constructive criticism than when you lose the game. You only can get beaten down so many times as a player."

***On Michigan State being 14-point favorites on the road: "It says that they're 3-0 and we're 0-3. That's what it says. It is what it is. It's a very practical thing. From where the teams are, based off the evidence you have right now, that's how you'd see it. As I say all along, the only way you can do anything about it is by changing it out on the field."

***On the Notre Dame offensive line, who is tops in the country in sacks allowed, versus Michigan State's defensive line, who leads the nation in sacks: "I would come after us, too. It's going to be dangerous till you start stopping them. I mean, the coaches aren't dumb now. They've sat there and watched the tape. They see what works. They're going to do it till you stop it. That's just the way it is. And it's going to be that way every week until you've shown you can handle it."

***Prediction: Michigan State 20 Notre Dame 13. The only move Weis had was back to training camp after last weekend's blowout defeat to Michigan. This team needs to get more physical on both lines of scrimmage. Apparently, that was achieved this week in practice. Can it carry over to the game? Michigan State loves beating Notre Dame and the Spartans play this contest like they have a chip on their shoulders. Now that oddball John L. Smith is no longer patrolling the sidelines, head coach Mark Dantonio provides some stability to the program.

I expect the Irish to be physical. I expect Notre Dame to play hard. Heck, I even expect the Irish to score an offensive touchdown. But the combination of power with Jehuu Caulcrick and shiftiness with Javon Ringer should give Notre Dame fits on the defensive side of the football. As for offensively, the Spartans defensive line is tied for first in sacks while the Irish are last in sacks allowed. Do the math. I would be disappointed if some progress was not made this weekend for Notre Dame. But I can't see the Irish rebounding from the Wolverines loss and quickly turning it around to beat the Spartans. Top Stories