Charlie Weis was the one that got the Fighting Irish fired up before and during the Michigan game, but that job will be left to someone else this week.
"Last week I was in charge of getting everyone ready to go emotionally," Weis said. "I let loose, let's just say that. Well, you can't stifle those emotions now, but my message won't carry as much importance or significance the second time around. So now you turn to the captains and the leaders to permeate that message through the team."
Weis met with the leaders of the team on Thursday to give them their latest assignment.
"They had from 2:15 when they walked out of there until 3:30 on Saturday to make sure everyone understood that the Michigan game is gone and we're going to play Michigan State," he said. "We're going on the road, going into a hostile environment and let's see what we can do."
There are some benefits to playing on the road, according to Weis.
"When you go on the road, we go to the hotel, we're at the hotel in a confined quarters and we don't have a lot of guests around," he said. "There's a camaraderie that comes goes with going on the road because now it's just you. When you go to the game we'll have the band there, we'll have some fans there, but the majority of the people will be rooting for Michigan State and it'll be a hostile environment.
"But I think that as you get people to envision the whole thing, probably one of the greatest feelings in sports, is if in fact you've won on the road, in the fourth quarter when everyone's starting to walk up the exits. There's no better feeling in sports as a football coach. And when all of a sudden all of your fans that were down there in the corner have found their way to behind your bench. You try to get them to think that way because when it actually comes to reality it's a pretty sweet moment."
Some guys perform better on the road because opposing fans pump them up.
"There's certain players that really like hostility. Certain players are used to getting yelled at all of the time, so for them that actually fires them up," Weis said. "It has a positive affect on a somebody like Jimmy (Clausen) because that fits his personality. There's other players that they'll have those big eyes, those big eyes and you try to knock that out of them in warm-ups by smashing them in the mouth a few times and this way by kickoff we should be set and ready to go."
The increase of emotion is something that Weis is learning this year, but he still feels that at times it can be overrated.
"Sometimes your place is to stay out of the way and sometimes your place is to light it up. I think I've done a better job of mixing those mentalities," he said. "I still think it only carries you so far, but that doesn't mean I don't use it."
Many fans pay attention to the players' improvement from week-to-week, but Weis noticed improvements from the coaches as well.
"The whole staff got better. I thought Michael (Haywood) was more comfortable, the communication was better. The communication on game day was better, the communication during the week was better," he said. "It's an evolving process, but I think the whole process continues getting better every week."
Now in his fourth season at Notre Dame, Weis continues to gain trust in his assistants.
"The first year is always different because you're coming in, you're scrambling and you're just trying to get everything in. Really it wasn't a time to go through a big exchange of ideas, you've got to get the offense in and let's go," he said. "But I think ever since then, I think there's been a process where I've gained more trust in them and listened more to them. Now they're using me more as a sounding board. I'm on the back end of things instead of the front of things in all of the situational football. Any ideas I have on the front end of a game plan I give it to them Monday morning by noon so they can implement it as they're going through the installation of their game plan."
This week the staff will be trying to contain running back Javon Ringer and one way to do that is not to let the Spartans have the ball.
"You can't let Ringer have long, sustained drives down the field and have the defense worn out and have a bunch of three-and-outs on offense," Weis said. "I think that would be bad medicine for our team and set you up for a long, hard day."
Ringer's running style can be deceptive because of his size.
"I think the one thing you can't get caught short because he's got very strong legs." Weis said. "He's a very powerful young man and I think that's one of the things that catches people by surprise with him."
Offensively, Notre Dame will have anywhere from 15 to 21 plays scripted to start the game. Weis talked about how long the staff will stay with the openers and what their purpose is.
"You'll stay on it unless it's not working. Sometimes I've written a script and I think it's great and nine plays in you've gone three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out. Well, guess what? It's not working," he said. "These are the plays you've practiced all week, first of all. Second of all, letting the players know, ‘Here's what we're going to do.' It gives them a chance to mentally prepare for what's going to be dialed up early in the game."
"He still looks iffy to me," Weis said. "He could play in the game but then are we going to set him back again and have this problem every week? So, that's the conversation that he and I will end up having because what we want him to do is be out there playing all of the time."
Despite a knee injury of his own, Weis will coach the team from the sidelines on Saturday.
"I'm going to be on the field on game day and when the game's over I'll be in a lot of pain," he said. "I'll get on the bus and we'll slap some ice on the knee and take some medicine and it'll be better. But that's where I'm going to be."