Best of Weis 11/23

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

***On what Weis expects to see from Stanford's defense on Saturday: Blitzing, blitzing, blitzing and blitzing some more. It's a blitzathon. I mean, it's the first thing -- I'll tell you right now, if you're waiting to see whether they're blitzing or not, they are. They're coming. So you better be ready to block them."

***On Jim Harbaugh: I know he was a fine player at Michigan. I know he was a nice, solid pro for a long time. Obviously as a head coach, whether it was at San Diego or now at Stanford, he's always been known as being a tough guy with a very good understanding of the passing game. That usually bodes well for being a success, especially in the environment he's in where they like to throw the ball."

***On seeing the confidence in Stanford after beating USC: "I tell you what, you could see it that day, that's for sure. Wherever we were, I was watching a little of that game. I forget where we were. We were on the road somewhere. UCLA. That was on right before us. I didn't see any of the game, until after I watched it on tape.

"They hung in there, hung in there, hung in there. Next thing you know, it's a six-point game. Next thing you know, they're throwing a fade ball in the red zone. Just what we were talking about before. Get down there, they throw a fade ball in the red zone on fourth down, touchdown, they win.

"You could see this is a team that hangs in there, same thing with Arizona. They win 21-20. Hang around there, hang around there, hang around there, win the game."

***On fifth-year center John Sullivan playing this weekend, who Weis said was doubtful: "I think it's more up to whether or not he can go or not. If he can go, I would like to get him in. If he can't go, he can't go."

***On whether or not sophomore running back James Aldridge, who tweaked an ankle against Duke, will play vs. Stanford: "I think because of Robert, James might get healthy quicker (laughter). 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."

***On Thanksgiving and the team being together for the holiday: I think Thanksgiving week is always a special week regardless of who you're playing and where. It's one of my favorite holidays, not because of the food, but because of what it stands for in America. I think it's a time when these guys being together, we're a family-oriented team. I think they'll feel that way Thursday when they're having dinner together over here on campus, Friday when we're making that trip, Saturday, realizing this is the last game, let's see if we can't take another step and move it in the right direction."

***On Trevor Laws' possibly garnering All-American honors: "Let's just go by the numbers. 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."

***On Lloyd Carr, who resigned on Monday as head coach of Michigan: "I tried calling him today. 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."

***On the effect quarterback Jimmy Clausen's progression has on the offense improving as a whole: "You think about how inconsistent the offense has been for a good portion of the year, okay? Any time you have a quarterback in there that the team believes can make plays, it makes the whole team more excited, not just the offensive players, 'cause now the defensive players don't feel they have to get a shutout to win a game. Now they don't try doing things outside what they're supposed to do because they get more confidence the quarterback's going to be able to make some plays. I think that's heading in the right direction."

***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."

***Prediction: Notre Dame 24 Stanford 21. My motto this season for the Irish is that if opponents have productive offensive attacks, Notre Dame will lose. In the Cardinal's past four games, they haven't scored more than 21 points while ranking 106th in total offense. Injuries have plagued Stanford. But if the Cardinal could pull off the upset, first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh will have the chance to beat USC, Notre Dame and California all in the same season.

I don't see it happening. Why? Because quarterback Jimmy Clausen has been showing a lot of progress since reclaiming the starting duties and the Cardinal are 107th nationally in pass defense. The freshman signal caller has thrown six touchdowns to zero interceptions in the last two contests. Plus, when was the last time Clausen lost in the state of California? The freshman is a sure bet in the Golden State. All joking aside, it'll be a tough battle between two teams with bad records but two teams who haven't thrown in the towel. Clausen should be the difference, along with freshman power back Robert Hughes, who never seems to go down on first contact and always fights for the extra yards.

Defensively, Stanford is 117th in sacks allowed while the Irish are 109th in sacks. Something has to give and that might be Kerry Neal and Brian Smith off the edges. Notre Dame takes that next step by winning in Palo Alto and finishes off the miserable 2007 season with back-to-back victories. Now, on to National Signing Day and wrapping up the country's top overall class.


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