News and Notes: 11/14/2007

This Saturday's contest between Notre Dame and Duke will be the return of Peter Vaas to South Bend. Vaas was not retained by Irish head coach Charlie Weis after last season, opening the door for Ron Powlus to assume the quarterbacks coach position. Vaas decided to be the offensive coordinator/quarterback coach with the Blue Devils under head coach Ted Roof.

Vaas was brought in by Weis as the quarterbacks coach back in 2005 after David Cutcliffe had to resign because of health problems. In the two years with the Irish, Vaas tutored Brady Quinn, who set numerous passing records and captured the Maxwell Trophy and Johnny Unitas Award in 2006.

As the offensive coordinator at Duke, Vaas has had problems getting the Blue Devils to be productive. Duke is 71st in passing offense but just as bad as the Notre Dame attack in other areas. The Blue Devils are 108th in scoring offense, 116th in scoring offense and 119th in rushing offense. Vaas' biggest strength on Saturday possibly will be the information he has on the Irish personnel and coaching staff tendencies, especially on offense.

"It's a little pain in the butt, to tell you the truth, because he knows the system," Weis said of Vaas on Tuesday. "He knows the system very well, is a smart coach and an experienced coach and knows the system.

"The one thing that you do have going for you is he also knows on a weekly basis what we did last week in all likelihood isn't what you do next week. So if you're one of those teams that just settles into something all the time, it would be a little bit more damaging. But it is a problem.

"It would be especially a problem if you were doing a lot of signaling of things because then every time you signaled something, it's almost like in baseball when somebody goes to another team you have to go through a whole other set of things. You really would have to create a whole other set of circumstances. The only signaling we really do offensively is signaling numbers. So unless you have the number sheet and know what we're doing, that would be the only way that it could really hurt you."

***Notre Dame fans have been accustomed to David Bruton making plays as the punt team's gunner. The junior safety is always around the ball on this special teams unit and has made play after play. Another player making an impact is Mike Anello. The junior from Orland Park, IL has recorded three tackles as the gunner opposite Bruton in six games of action.

"Although I call him Rudy, that's my nickname for him, it wasn't to wear Rudy's number," Weis said of Anello. "It was because at the time he was wearing the same number as another player who he could have been on the field at the same time with in a special teams situation. So we had to move one of them to a number before the Michigan game. I forgot whose number it was, I forget what number he was in. I don't know if he was wearing 43 and it was Eric (Maust) and then Eric was punting. I forget what number it was. But you can't have two guys with the same number on the field at the same time."

***Duke's head coach, Ted Roof, does not have any coaching experience at Notre Dame. But he would have had George O'Leary not resigned. Roof was set to join the Irish coaching staff back in 2001 until O'Leary resigned five days after being announced as the head coach because of inaccuracies on his resume.

***Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis has thrown a touchdown in 12 straight games. The sophomore signal caller already has tossed 30 scores, ranking fifth on Duke's all-time list. Lewis is fourth in the ACC in passing yards and third in touchdown passes.

***The Blue Devils are dead last in rushing offense, one spot below Notre Dame. Duke averages just 52 yards per game on the ground. In fact, Duke hasn't rushed for over 100 yards this year and a Blue Devils player hasn't even broken the 80-yard barrier this season. Re'quan Boyette has the individual game high of 77 rushing yards in the loss to Wake Forest.

***Duke's Eron Riley is third in the NCAA in yards per catch, averaging 21.5 yards a reception. Riley has five catches over 50 yards this year and 13 of 20 yards or more. On the season, the junior wide receiver has caught 35 balls for 751 yards and nine touchdowns.

***Weis on what spring practices will be like next March: "I think the practices will be physical and I think that the head coach will be vocal."


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