Best from Weis

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

***On taking the wristbands off the quarterbacks last week before the Purdue contest: "I put pressure on them for me to take it to them and them to have to go over there, and now they didn't have a security blanket, where they read No. 3, and they just read it; so they're not calling the play, they're just reading off the play. So I don't think that makes you go through mental concentration when you're actually, ‘Okay, you got the play, now I'm giving it to you, now I'm thinking about what's going to happen on the play.‘ Whereas, you read it off, and sometimes they would go to the line of scrimmage, and they would still be looking at it again to see, Okay, what's the play again?'"

***On Trevor Laws: "He's having just a banner year. I had more scouts last year not notice him, and almost everyone that comes in says, ‘He's playing very well.‘ That's one of the reasons why Trevor came back was to make sure he did it -- was part of an upgrade in his stock. That was one of the reasons why he came back, and I think he's certainly doing that by his performance on the field."

***On junior wide receiver David Grimes' ankle injury: "He was in much better condition than we were anticipating. He probably won't go (on Tuesday), I would say -- I can give you my day to day answer, but I would say he's probably 50/50 for the game. So if I went to my background -- I would call him questionable, not doubtful, but not probable, either. I would say he's questionable."

***On improving on special teams: "I think we can do a much better job in the return units. You always can do that. For example, on kickoff return last week, although our field position was good, especially on the sky kicks that I thought we converted very well, I thought Robert (Hughes) and Junior (Jabbie) did a nice job on the pooch kicks over to our left. The ones I was more disappointed in were the deep ones, because it seemed like the separation between the wedge and the returners was too much, and when the ball was kicked deep, we were starting on the -- on the 25 versus when the ball was pooched, we were starting around the 40. Every 10 yards it's not a first down the offense has to get. I think in the return units, if you do a better job of holding up your guys, the field position is going to be better.

"As far as last week, I thought Eric (Maust) did a nice job on punting. There were no returns in the game, so there was nothing I could say critically about that. On kickoff, we were trying to pooch it or squib it, to not let No. 9 (Purdue's Dorien Bryant) get that play. We were willing to give up field position to not have a game changing play. It's worth that because we didn't kick the ball deep."

***On freshman wide receiver Golden Tate: "I used Golden Tate this morning as an example to the entire team as what you can do by running full speed on the show team. We had this conversation on Sunday with the team. Sometimes when people are running the ‘look squad' to simulate the opponent's offense or defense, they look at that like it's a penalty. Other guys use it as a way to get themselves down the other end of the field, and that's what he's done. He's just gone down -- for the last two or three weeks he's easily been the best player on the field going against our defense. And when you watch the tape, and you see him make these plays, then you want to get him on the field on offense."

***On Evan Sharpley handling the backup quarterback duties: "Evan is probably one of the most prepared people on the team, so he knows whether or not he starts or not that he's going to be ready as if he is starting. Right now I can't tell you for sure exactly how this is going to go down. I don't know what Jimmy's health is for sure, I don't know how it's going to happen in a game, but I do know that Evan will be ready to play when his number is called."

***On the running game woes against Purdue: "There were things across the board. I would like to blame it on one position, but it seemed as we looked at it and analyzed, especially the first half, because after the first half we were sprinkling in runs just to keep them honest, as we were trying to play catch up, but we didn't block well, and I don't think we ran real well. And we didn't -- we had the ball out of our hands on one of those runs as well. Fortunately we didn't lose it. I think we have a plan to try to address that starting (Tuesday). I think we're going to see if we can't fix some of those problems."

***On the offensive line's progress this season: "We started off really slow in the year and now in the last couple weeks we've seen evidence -- unfortunately in different games, okay, we've seen evidence that you can get the run game going, and we've seen evidence that they can protect. That's basically in the last two games we've seen -- the problem is they have not been in the same game. Against Michigan State you would have to say there was evidence that we can run the football. This (past) week you would have to say there is evidence that we can pick up the blitz and throw the ball, and now we have to tie those things together."

***On how Clausen looked through Wednesday's practice: "I was really surprised yesterday that he moved almost completely normal. But he definitely looked normal today."

***On right guard Dan Wenger regaining his starting job after the sophomore comes back from an ankle injury: "I think I would have to see how it is going. I don't automatically just put somebody in there, especially in the offensive line. When you're coming off a little bit of an ankle in the offensive line, if you're not full go, you can get yourself into some bad situations in a hurry. He's getting pretty close."

***On Tuesday's practice: "The hardest we've ever hit in practice since I've been here was yesterday for the longest we have gone. I'd say physically, it was easily the best practice since I've been here, as far as physical play goes. It was take them to the ground for two-thirds of the practice. Now, I don't know if me telling them what my plan was prior to practice was part of that positive residual effect, but I told them we are going to go full pads and we are going to hit like crazy for two-thirds of the practice and tomorrow I'm going to have the shoulder pads on and go out with shorts and knee braces to taper it down and we're going to taper it down more physically tomorrow. I'm really concerned with how we start the game. I'm trying to find another method to start the game better."

***On UCLA: "They are 4-1 and having a good year. They lost one game to Utah and that was sort of a gadget game when they got caught by surprise. I don't think we're going to catch them by surprise. We're going to have to play well to win. I think we are going to play well."

***Prediction: UCLA 34 Notre Dame 20. The Irish showed a lot of fight in the second half of the 33-19 defeat at Purdue. The most amazing part was Notre Dame scoring three touchdowns in the final 30 minutes of play. Defensively, the Irish held the Boilermakers to 109 yards of total offense in the second half. Can Notre Dame carryover this late momentum to Pasadena this weekend?

UCLA was stunned last season in South Bend. The Bruins had the upset in their sights, only to watch Brady Quinn engineer a last-second scoring drive to pull out the victory for the Irish. Bruins head coach Karl Dorrell said his team, who returned 20 of 22 starters this year, still have that contest fresh in their minds. Earlier this season, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio stated his team has exercised the demons from the 2006 collapse against Notre Dame by beating the Irish 31-14. UCLA will want the same type of revenge.

Emotion aside, the Bruins should win this game. UCLA's best asset is their run defense, ranking 16th nationally. The Bruins biggest liability is their pass defense, ranking 100th in the country. If the run game stalls, can Jimmy Clausen and/or Evan Sharpley exploit UCLA's weakness through the air? If Notre Dame does this and keeps defensive end Bruce Davis and the Bruins pass rush from racking up sack after sack, the Irish can pull the upset and win their first contest of the season.

I don't see it happening enough to keep up with the Bruins offense. Notre Dame has been gashed on the ground to the tune of 210 yards per game. Until this stops, the Irish won't stop the opposition from putting up 30-plus points, which is a few too many for the Notre Dame offense to keep up with.


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