As for Sullivan and Price, it's up in the air. Sullivan was injured in the loss to Air Force and Weis put his status as doubtful for this weekend. Price pulled a quad the Thursday before the Falcons game and sophomore Eric Maust has assumed the punting duties. Maust has averaged 42.7 yards per punt this season while Price's average is at 41.9. Back to Sullivan, the fifth-year senior had started 31 straight games before sitting out versus Duke. Sophomore Dan Wenger started in the fifth-year senior's place.
"I think it's more up to whether or not he can go or not," Weis said of Sullivan, who is going to run around at practice on Tuesday to test out the injury. "If he can go, I would like to get him in. If he can't go, he can't go."
***Another player banged up is James Aldridge. The sophomore running back did play in the victory over Duke but was taken out in the second quarter after suffering an ankle injury. In Aldridge's place, freshman Robert Hughes got the bulk of the carries and made the most of it. Hughes ran for 110 yards and a touchdown while classmate Armando Allen added 42 yards on nine carries.
Weis said Aldridge is "not exactly at full speed" and the sophomore will be evaluated throughout the week of practice. Aldridge, who is the team's leading rusher with 463 yards, and Hughes, who is third with 158 yards, are both similar types of running backs, emphasizing power with a little speed added in. Allen is more the burner. With Hughes emergence last weekend, Aldridge might push himself faster to get back from the injury.
"I think because of Robert, James might get healthy quicker," Weis sad. "You know how that goes. I think we'll have to see. Fortunately we have some options at that position. I think when you don't have options, that's when you have more of a problem. We know Armando will always be involved in the mix. Robert stepped up nicely when James went back. We're not looking to write James off. I know when the big boy gets it rolling, I think that gets people healthier quicker."
***Trevor Laws is having one of the best single seasons ever for a defensive lineman. The fifth-year senior leads the team with 105 tackles and is eight away from breaking the school record for a year by a front four lineman. Laws also has seven tackles for loss, three sacks, five pass break-ups, six quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.
Weis recounted a discussion he and Laws had last December. Laws had a choice between entering the NFL Draft and coming back for a fifth-year. The Notre Dame head coach was upfront with Laws, telling the defensive standout he would be the third Irish lineman taken in the draft behind Derek Landri and Victor Abiamiri. Laws eventually decided to come back for a fifth-year and the rest is history. Weis thinks the defensive end should be considered for All-American honors at the end of the season.
"Let's just go by the numbers," Weis said. "I mean, I don't see all these guys, what everyone does. When I do, it's just for a couple minutes of a game on Saturday night before I go to sleep. But if you just go by the numbers, the guy's getting nine, 10 tackles a game as an interior defensive lineman. That's phenomenal. Isn't like we're playing against crummy teams. Isn't like he's going against bad guys, and he's had numbers every week. Doesn't make any difference who we go against, he's had numbers every single week. It's tough not to at least have that argument."
***Notre Dame fans will have to get used to a new man on the Michigan sidelines next season. Head coach Lloyd Carr resigned on Monday after 13 seasons in the position with the Wolverines. In those 13 years, Carr won a share of the national championship in 1997, five Big Ten titles and 121 total games. Weis shared his admiration for the Michigan head coach on Tuesday.
"I tried calling him today," Weis said. "He was getting on a plane to go somewhere. I gave him a call today, left him my double secret probation telephone number. I really like Coach Carr. Before you even talk about him as a coach, as a matter of fact, I actually went up there and spoke at their coaches clinic when I was with New England. I like him. I like a lot of guys on the staff. I have a great admiration for him both as a football coach and a person. He's one of the good guys."
***Weis on the new grass being installed at Notre Dame Stadium: "If I had my druthers, we would put field turf in. This is Notre Dame, that's not happening. We had this dialed up to rip up the field, put in new, right after the season was over, just like we have this whole thing getting ready to go right after spring ball, we're going to be doing our whole practice fields over here, putting two turf fields down and a grass field. This is part of the major project that Notre Dame has undertaken to upgrade their facilities across the board. I think it will make our game field significantly better for next year."