Best of Weis

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

***On playing for the seniors this weekend against Air Force in their last home game in Notre Dame Stadium: "I think that that's the very clear message for both the seniors and for the underclassmen. For the seniors, they've gone through a season -- it's been a tough season, only won one game, haven't won one at home, and I think that the fan support at home has been fabulous, considering how things have went, and I think it would be a very rewarding experience for them to win their last game ever at the stadium and be able to share that moment with the fans, especially the student body.

"As far as the underclassmen go, I think that they have to put any selfishness aside. You know, when you're talking about -- this isn't a game you worry about for those guys, worrying about next year. It's sending these guys out the right way."

***On Duke offensive coordinator Peter Vaas knowing Weis's offensive system since Vass was the quarterbacks coach in 2005-06: "It's a little pain in the butt, to tell you the truth, because he knows the system. 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.

***On why gunner Mike Anello wears No. 45: "Well, actually he originally went to 45. Although I call him Rudy, that's my nickname for him, it wasn't to wear Rudy's number. It was because he was wearing the same number -- 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 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. That's why if you remember going back to the USC game that's why Joe McKnight wore 4 and 40 because there was a DB on the team wearing No. 4, so they couldn't be on the field at the same time."

***On an early morning visit from one of his players on Monday: "It was probably one of the most enjoyable parts of my entire week, happened yesterday morning at 5:30. Yesterday morning at 5:30, I'm sitting in my office and I keep the door locked because I don't like just anyone walking in at 5:30, and my phone rings and one of the players on our team is outside. I said, ‘Oh, no, here we go again.' He wants to talk to me so he knocks on my door. I thought we had another person that was looking to pack his bags and go.

"And it was just the opposite. He said he hasn't slept all night. He's an under classman. He hadn't slept all night and he felt he needed to step up and take on more of a leadership role, and he was asking for some advice on how to do that. I mean, that's the type of guys you want on your team, guys that aren't sleeping because they're worrying about how they can -- he's a regular player, but how they can step up and take on more of a leadership role. I thought that was a good way to start the week."

***On fifth-year senior John Sullivan, who will not play on Senior Day this weekend because of an injury: :This would be a borderline play in the second week. It would be a borderline. You know, for him, one thing that you always get concerned with, and it's natural for anyone that's towards the end of their career in the last couple games, and you know that on the horizon is the NFL Draft and all those things, you're always concerned about something happening which would cost you a little time.

"He'll be healthy in a hurry. I think he's disappointed by not being able to play this week, but that doesn't mean he won't be out there helping coach the offensive linemen. That doesn't mean he won't make sure that Wenger is making all the right Mike calls. We'll give him a constructive role this week where he won't just feel like he's pushed off to the side. He'll almost be like an extra assistant coach out there, which that will help us, too, this week."

***On how close Notre Dame is to improving next season: "First of all, recruiting class, as much as we like the kids that we're dealing with, that's all on paper, as you know. You still have to get them in there. Those guys still have to go through growing pains just like the guys that are playing now go through them. But one good thing is in the springtime we're going to have a large volume of guys that are going to be playing next year here and as a unit, as a group and ready to go.

"I mean, you really think about it, there's not very many losses from either side of the ball, and it gives you an opportunity to get to work. These guys will be in the weight room, we'll give them a week off after the game to kind of emotionally and psychologically and physically catch up. I'll meet with them at the end of the next week after I come off the road recruiting, and the following Monday we'll be back on the eight hour program, the program where we start setting the tone for next year in the first week of December. The last couple years we've been in Bowl practices for that month. Now you start the strength and conditioning for -- you start that the first week of December and start trying to set the tone right then."

***On Weis' opinion on how officials should be assigned to games: "Well, I'm an idealist, so if it were up to me there would be one pool of officials and they'd be assigned to you and not affiliated with the conference. There would be one set of rules and everybody follows it. That's easy for me to say because I came from a league where there's only 32 teams, so you only needed, what, 34 sets of officials, have a couple on vacation, or not even 34. So now you're talking 16 with a couple extras, so a couple extra crews so everybody could take a little vacation and let's go.

"You're talking 120 Division I teams or somewhere in that neighborhood. Now you're talking about 60 crews. Now it's a little tougher. I'd always be in favor of officials being not affiliated with any conference and you take them from a region of the country and send them to a game and let's go. I don't know if that's realistic or not, but that's what I'd be in favor of."

***Prediction: Notre Dame 27 Duke 23. Two 1-9 teams will square off on Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium and by looking at the stats, they are mirror images of each other. Did Irish fans ever think their team's stats would be in line with Duke‘s? That's how bad of a season it's been for Notre Dame.

The Blue Devils, despite ranking 116th in total offense, will be able to move the football. The combination of quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and wide receiver Eron Riley should create scoring opportunities for Duke. The Blue Devils run game is almost non-existent so the key for Notre Dame is to get pressure on Lewis. The problem: the Irish are 109th in the country in sacks.

This game is on the Notre Dame offense. Freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen looked like a new man last week in the loss to Air Force, tossing three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Duke's defense is worse than the Falcons and only turnovers will keep Clausen from notching back-to-back solid starts. In a close game that comes down to the final minutes, the Irish show some pride on Senior Day and earn their first home victory of the year by making a late defensive stop.


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