Weis Eyes Next Step

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis wants to turn the page from last weekend's win over Duke and focus squarely on Stanford. The Irish beat the Blue Devils 28-7 on Senior Day and Weis pounded into his players the message to win for this group. Now, the Notre Dame head coach wants to create the forward momentum for the program heading into the off-season.

"Last week was all about the seniors," Weis said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "This week is about trying to take another step in the right direction. The focus has changed from where we were. When you're in the middle of the season, you're in the middle of the season. But now, you're wrapping up your season and you want to move the program forward. We'll try to give our kids and coaches the opportunity to do that.

Notre Dame will travel out west to take on Stanford. Kickoff on Saturday afternoon is at 3:30 PM and ESPN2 will have the national television broadcast. The Cardinal (3-7) haven't had more success than the Irish this season, although they have a signature win that's so far alluded Weis. Stanford won a come-from-behind 24-23 contest at USC, who at the time was the top-ranked team in the nation. The Cardinal scored the last 10 points of the game, including a touchdown on 4th-and-Goal with under a minute to go, to give first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh a monumental upset victory.

The Irish will have to wait at least another year to earn a win of that magnitude. Notre Dame lost to the Trojans 38-0 this season at home. It was just one loss of the nine the Irish have totaled this year, which set a new school record. Notre Dame has set a lot of bad records in 2007. But with Weis preaching about taking another step and building momentum for the off-season, a victory over Stanford actually would be a first for an Irish team in 16 seasons.

"We haven't won the last two games of the season since 1992," Weis said. "That's the last time Notre Dame won the last two games of the season. That's a step I want to obtain."

A win on Saturday would give the Irish back-to-back wins in an otherwise season-to-forget. The Irish roster is filled with youth and inexperience. Twenty-seven different Notre Dame players have notched their first career starts this year. This includes seven freshman. Six freshmen started last week in the win over Duke and obtaining another win before the season ends would give this talented group more confidence heading into spring ball.

This week is a little bit different than other game weeks. Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, which shuffles around the schedule a bit. All Notre Dame players will be made available on Tuesday only, with the all the captains conducting their press conferences on Wednesday. Weis will address the media just once this week on Tuesday. Despite the holiday situated a few days before the game on Saturday, the message and goal will remain the same.

"The week is different this week," Weis said. "You're practicing Thursday morning so you can have Thursday afternoon off. Then you eat and fly out there and get there. Your meetings, which normally start at 9 o'clock, start at 6 o'clock, which is Pacific time. There's a lot of little distractions that you don't focus on.

"But the message with the team is taking another step and moving forward. I'm not worried about Stanford and what their message is. They still got Cal next week. It's not their last game of the season. They're coming off a bye and they're well rested. They're well coached and they'll be ready for us."

Weis enjoys the holiday and appreciates the true meaning of the day.

"Thanksgiving week is always a special week," Weis said. "It's one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the food. It's about what it stands for in America. It's a time when these guys are together. It's a real family-oriented team. They'll feel that way when they're having dinner together on campus here. Friday, we'll make the trip and Saturday we'll play the game and see if we can take that next step and move in that direction."


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