News and Notes: 10/23/2007

A 38-0 shutout loss to rival USC last Saturday afternoon left many Notre Dame fans with an unhappy demeanor. It took around 24 hours to get these same people smiling with some great news from the recruiting trail. After his visit this weekend to South Bend, wide receiver Michael Floyd from St. Paul, MN gave an verbal commitment to head coach Charlie Weis and the Irish football program.

It's commitment No. 20 for Notre Dame. Currently, has the recruiting class No. 1 in the nation with a little more than three months away from National Signing Day. The only concern is keeping the committed players and not having them sway on their decision, as did a few Irish recruits last year.

The 1-7 start is apparently not having any real effect on the recruiting front, based on Floyd jumping on board. From the conversations Weis has had with the current commits, the group is 20 strong about coming to South Bend and helping turn Notre Dame into a powerhouse once again.

"We talk to all our guys on a regular basis," Weis said on Monday. "Hey, look, they go to the high schools and they get abused just like we all do. And everyone says, ‘You're going there?' That's the way people are. They're cynical by nature.

"I can't tell you how many of these young men have said, ‘Don't worry about me, Coach, I'm all in.‘ That is a repeated comment. Hey, do I feel bad for them? Sure. But I feel worse for the guys I've got here right now. They're watching it from afar. I feel worse for the guys that are here right now. Especially the guys that are going out the door.

"But I think almost to a man, these guys are saying, ‘Don't worry about me, coach. I'm all Notre Dame. Go worry about the next guy, don't worry about me.'"

More than likely, this will be the third straight top-10 class for Weis. If that wasn't great news to Irish fans, the numbers game is about to start evening out.

"You're getting close to the stage in recruiting where now your classes are going to go from 25-ish to 15-ish," Weis said. "There's going to be a totally different transformation.

"Because now it's going to be a one-for-one tradeoff. You're losing offensive linemen, you go get an offensive line. It's not going to be we can bring in offensive linemen, five defensive linemen. It's going to be we're losing three, can you get three.

"So the whole game is going to change, and you're going to feel good about the guys you have already. So now you're going to have to be a little more selective about the guys you're going after. Because you're not going to have nearly as many openings to fill those spots."

***In addition to recruiting and the new group of players who'll be stepping onto to campus next summer, there's intrigue into who'll back be back for a fifth-year among the current group of seniors. Some of these players include linebackers Maurice Crum and Anthony Vernaglia, defensive end Justin Brown, cornerback Terrail Lambert and running back Junior Jabbie. Weis had conversations with the group over the weekend but only said the talks went "very well." The Irish head coach doesn't know what'll happen and actually would like the media to ask them this very question.

"I think you have to ask him, because the way it works at Notre Dame is I don't talk about it," Weis said. "I'm overstepping my bounds, because what they have to do is here they technically have to apply for a fifth-year. Which almost all of them get, but there is a process. And I think they would get mad at me if I sit there and gave you the answer to that. I would like you to ask him that question though."

***Evan Sharpley, who started for freshman Jimmy Clausen against the Trojans, finished the contest 17-of-33 for 117 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The junior was under pressure all afternoon long in the face of a stiff Trojans pass rush and sacked five times. Weis had indicated earlier in the week that Clausen was a bit banged up from taking hit after hit. With two weeks before the Navy game on November 3rd, it doesn't appear that Weis will be flip-flopping back to the freshman.

"I anticipate Evan being the guy again for this game and being the starter for this game," Weis said. "I anticipate that. I just don't think that it would be fair to do it the other way. Just say, ‘Okay, he's got his one shot.'

"Jimmy's been starting for a while. And, we can talk about being banged up, talk about all the other things. But the bottom line is Evan's only had one opportunity. So I think that's a little premature to sit there and say, ‘Well, we didn't beat USC, so we're going to yank Evan.' A lot of people don't beat USC."

***A concern coming into the year was the lack of depth and size along the defensive line. One player has given it his all to prove this wrong. Nose tackle Pat Kuntz has held up pretty well in the middle of the line in the 3-4 personnel scheme. On the year, the junior is sixth on team in tackles with 38. Kuntz also has an uncanny ability to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage, totaling nine on the year, which is tops on the Irish defense.

"Pat Kuntz is probably one of my favorite guys," Weis said. "Now, he's not perfect all the time, but he shows up every day. He whines and complains all practice long. It gives me somebody to complain back to at practice. But one thing you do know, he's going to show up every day and practice, and he's going to show up every day on game day. And he always makes some plays. There isn't one game you go out there that the kid doesn't make some plays. He always makes some plays."

***Weis on changing part of his coaching philosophy because of the difficulties of the 1-7 start: "I think there's things that I never thought that I would do that I probably will do. It's funny because (a reporter) had asked a question one day when we started hitting in practice after Michigan. I've never been a part of a program that hit full speed during the season. Never. And to be honest with you, I think it made us better.

"So I think it's something that is starting at training camp this year, and starting in spring ball this year then going to training camp, I think we might have to do it more. And the other thing, with the number of pressure sacks that we've given up this year, you might have to make the quarterbacks live even. And that's almost like a cardinal sin.

"You don't make the quarterbacks live because you have so few of them, that if you end up losing one, you have that catch-22. But that is an example of something that I think I never thought that I would entertain, but I think it's made us better. So it is something I definitely would entertain." Top Stories