'A Loss is a Loss'

Jimmy Clausen and David Grimes met with the media on Wednesday to talk about last week's game against San Diego State and the upcoming matchup with Michigan. Both Clausen and Grimes said that the score of last year's game with the Wolverines did not matter. The only thing that matters, they said, is that the Irish lost.

For Jimmy Clausen and David Grimes, it doesn't matter that they got beat 38-0 at Michigan last year, all that matters is that they got beat.

"I think the 38-0 is irrelevant," Grimes said. "A loss is a loss."

"Every loss is an embarrassing loss to us. We just don't like losing," Clausen said. "When you have that attitude, that mentality, whether it's a one-point loss or a 50-point loss, it's going to be embarrassing for you."

Clausen was sacked seven times last year in Ann Arbor in just his second career start.

"I don't remember how many times I was knocked down. I just know I was knocked down a few times," he said. "You just got to get back up, keep fighting, try to come out with a victory in the end."

Both Clausen and Grimes understand the importance of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry and have followed it since they were youngsters.

"It means a lot," said Grimes, who grew up in Detroit. "Especially me coming from Michigan, I watched the game all the time, Michigan versus Notre Dame. Both schools have the storied tradition. It's big-time college football.

"I was a big-time Charles Woodson fan. So, you know, I used to love Michigan coming up. Now it's the other end of the spectrum."

The Wolverines never recruited Grimes, but he says that he has no chip on his shoulder.

"I'm happy where I am right now," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better opportunity or a better place like Notre Dame."

For Clausen, who grew up in California, his eyes were usually trained to check out the Notre Dame-Southern Cal matchup, but he still paid attention to the Irish's feud with the Wolverines.

"Growing up I always watched SC-Notre Dame. I knew Notre Dame-Michigan was a big rivalry. Like David said, I liked watching Charles Woodson as well, all the guys that Michigan had, all the guys Notre Dame had," he said. "This is a big game on Saturday. It goes back a long ways. There's a lot of tradition between these two teams. I just feel blessed to be a part of this tradition."

While the Michigan offense is still in the early stages of installing the spread attack, the Wolverines defense is just as fierce as ever.

"They're a pretty physical defense. They returned a lot of -- well, a few starters, some players that have some experience," Grimes said. "Just watching them, you see they get after it. They have some size up front, some speed in the secondary. They're real good."

"They return a lot of guys. Their whole front four is back. Their two corners are back. One or two of their safeties are back. They're an experienced defense," said Clausen. "They're going to get after you each and every play. We've just got to prepare for what they're going to do. They show a lot of looks. It's going to be tough for us. They're a real good team, real good defense. We just got to prepare for them."

The Notre Dame offense did not get off to the fast start that Charlie Weis preached about during the preseason, but the Irish are hoping that two fourth-quarter touchdowns and pulling out the victory will carry over into week two.

"I think the sky's the limit for this team. But I think we showed what our team is truly made of in the fourth quarter. We stepped up big time. We moved the ball down the field," Grimes said. "We had the opportunity to make some plays early in the game, and we didn't. I guess we were just knocking the rust off. But I think our true team showed up in the fourth quarter."

Clausen could offer no reason for why the offense started so slow.

"During practice last week, we were practicing real, real good. Good tempo. Really didn't work out in the first three quarters. But it sure showed up in the fourth quarter when it was crunch time," he said. "We had to get the ball down the field to score, to win the game, and that's what we did."

Clausen was asked about why a lot of his throws against San Diego State last weekend went to the outside instead of over the middle.

"Last week, they play a lot of post-safety. When teams play post-safety, the corners are pressed outside. You pretty much have to throw the ball outside the hashes because there's a safety in the middle of the field between the hashes," he said. "You can't really throw the ball right at the safety because he's either going to intercept it or kill the receiver who is running down the middle of the field. They presented a single safety. We had to throw the ball other places."

Grimes is 1-2 against the Wolverines and Saturday will be his last shot to even the series for his career.

"I would love to go out on top my last year against Michigan, have those bragging rights. So, you know, the team's going to get ready this week and we're going to try to make it happen," he said. "This game has its legacy. I'm just happy to be a part of it."

While understanding the importance of the rivalry, Clausen said that the reason Saturday's game is so important is because it is the next one.

"I wouldn't say (winning) a rivalry game. I'd just say another game," he said. "Right now we're on a three-game winning streak. We're just trying to make it four. We're just trying to get that next win, just keep moving forward."

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