Best From Weis

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

***On Notre Dame's offense keeping Purdue's offense on the sidelines: "I think it's significant. I think that you're right on cue. I think you have an offense that's averaging over 500 yards. And if you say they're one-dimensional, because they're spread out so much, if you said all they did was throw it all the time, then you could try to just stop the pass. But they're averaging over 200 yards a game rushing as well. So I think that you have to try your best to try to keep their offense off the field."

***On what Weis is seeing on the defensive side of the football: "I think what's happening is we're intertwining more and more people into the mix. A bunch of guys are getting better because they're playing more. And I think with the exception of a couple of guys, like Trevor (Laws) and Mo (Maurice Crum) and Joe (Brockington) and a couple of those guys on the secondary, I think some of these guys are getting better just by pure reps out there playing.

"And it's one thing to just practice it, but I think another thing is actually playing in the games. And I think we definitely see upside by the fact that more and more people are getting more and more game experience."

***On Purdue's offensive philosophy: "I think they're a passing team first. I think they'll run it to make to keep you honest. That's why they get some of these gash runs they get. Teams have to try to respect all those different receivers we were talking about. When you have to try to cover all those different receivers, all of a sudden you hand it off and you break through their first line of defense and everybody is playing pass coverage, that guy is running for a while."

***On playing in space against the Boilermakers offense: "I think playing in space is a different challenge than when we really have gone against in the first four games, because this is a team that that's their mode of operation. So now what you do is, like I said, we've given up a few play action passes but for the most part the passing game as far as to move the ball has not been the critical factor that's beating us so far. It's been the run game.

"So now the challenge becomes kind of flipped. It becomes more unique where now you have to stop the passing game as well as the run game rather than just try to stop the run game and leave yourself vulnerable to play action pass."

***On John Carlson: "He knows the year's not over. He's probably as unselfish ... you talk about Mo Crum, this is like the exact same thing on the offensive side of the ball for John Carlson. All he wants to do is to do anything he can to give us the best chance of winning. He knows the season's got a lot of legs left in it yet. And there are still a lot of opportunities out there. Right now, all we're trying to do is try to put ourselves in the best position to win this week. I think that he's such a high character guy, I think that's one thing that probably never will enter his mind."

***On where stopping the big plays is on Weis' weekly top-ten list: "That's one. We talk about the top 10, although that's not first, you know that's one of the 10 -- we call them explosives. I think that explosives are one of the things that are a major concern going into this game ... explosive plays by their offense. And not that we don't always emphasize it, but it's reached top 10 category for this week."

***On the difference between Purdue's Curtis Painter this year and last year: "The difference is the experience, which he now has, which he really wasn't that experienced at the time we played him last year. Now with that experience that he has, any time you look at a guy who's got a 16-to-1 touchdown/interception ratio, that's a scary thought when you think about it. That's as good as it gets. 16 to-nothing is the only thing better. 16 to-1 means the guy's doing things right."

***On recruits wanting to come in and play right away: "I think it's pretty evident to them. I mean, when they sit there and watch and they see you starting off the year the way we're starting, they're looking at the team and they're saying, ‘Okay, there's opportunities for me.‘ And I'm never going to be disrespectful to our own kids, the kids that are on the team.

"They watch the games just the way you do or the way I do. And they make their own evaluations of how they see where they fit. And they're pretty objective when it comes to a lot of times when they're looking at schools, whether it's somebody who has already committed to us or somebody's considering us. A lot of times, every one of these guys wants an opportunity where they can see themselves playing relatively early."

***On a top priority in shutting down Purdue' offense: "I think one of the things you'd better do is keep everything in front of you. When you have dynamic players on the inside positions - meaning the slot, tight end, and back - before you even get to the quarterback, if you let them get anything cheap - like bubble screens that a lot of people use, especially with (Dorien) Bryant - something that is a short potential gainer can turn into a long gainer. So you have to make sure that they nickel and dime it and you don't give them chunks."

***On freshmen Kerry Neal and Brian Smith: When you have some guys who have a fast twitch, which both of those guys do, they both have that first step or two where they can get off the line of scrimmage. When you first get involved in running a defense and you're young, usually you're thinking about what to do, and anytime you're thinking of what to do, you usually don't play at a very fast pace. I think now that they have been more integrated into playing, it looks to me like their tempo has increased. And I think that would be directly correlated to them not having to think as much about what they are doing."

***On the running back rotation: "Obviously, like in the last couple of years, Darius (Walker) was in there all the time, carrying the ball all the time. And he was the guy and everyone else was the backups and that's the way it was. The way this has evolved this year, and you don't know how this is going to go, these guys have all settled into roles and that's just been evolving over the last few weeks. When everyone knows the role and accepts the role and is involved in the game plan, no one is stagnant knowing they are just going to be sitting on the sidelines the whole game."

***On senior defensive end Justin Brown's status for this weekend: "I don't know if he is iffy or whether it's closer to game day for me to see that. He doesn't look full speed but he looks a heck of a lot better than he did anytime last week. I think there are a number of guys, even some of these younger guys, that could see, depending upon Justin's health, could see a lot more playing time in the game."

***On sophomore offensive lineman Dan Wenger's status: "Optimistically, it maybe looks like UCLA. He's not going to be a go this week. He's out there running around now. I'm saying optimistically but that may or may not be the case. That's what he's shooting for right now."

***On the team's confidence level: "I think that they believe they can win the game. I don't know if anyone else believes that, but I think the players believe they can win the game. If the players don't believe they can win the game, you have no chance. Players will always say, ‘Yeah, yeah, we're going to win,' but I truly believe that the players believe they can win the game."

***Prediction: Purdue 45 Notre Dame 20. The Irish's offense showed progress last week, although it wasn't a giant step. James Aldridge ran for over 100 yards but still Notre Dame had only one good drive on the afternoon. The return to the running game, coupled with more play action passes, should increase that improvement this weekend against the Boilermakers. Purdue has been vulnerable on the ground , ranking 61st in the nation. The Irish will set a season-high in points on Saturday and will try to keep the Boilermakers off the field with long, sustained drives.

But it won't be enough. Although Purdue has played four straight cupcakes to get to 4-0, their offense is clicking on all cylinders. Curtis Painter's 16 touchdowns to one interception is a telling sign of his improvement from 2006 to now. Dorien Bryant provides the big-play ability at wide receiver and on special teams. Tight end Dustin Keller and running back Kory Sheets are just two more of the weapons Painter has at his disposal.

Purdue head coach Joe Tiller is 0-2 since Weis took over in South Bend, losing both games by double digits. I don't see that mark going to 0-3. I do see the Boilermakers scoring early and often and Notre Dame's offense failing to keep up.


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