Weis Ready For Panthers

Charlie Weis met with the media on Thursday evening, his final meeting with the press before the Pitt game. Weis said that he was eager to see how is team responds after a convincing win to open the second half of the season.

Charlie Weis says that his team is dealing with three separate issues as it heads into Saturday's game against Pittsburgh.

"We wanted to start off the second half with a win on the road. So, we got that out of the way, we got the win on the road played fairly well," he said. "Now we're coming home, we're 4-0 at home, they're 3-0 on the road, so that's another issue you're dealing with, something's got to give there.

"But just as importantly, unlike the first half where we were just starting to take some baby steps, now the team is starting to have some confidence. If you have some confidence, you're coming to play at home, you're coming in there a little different than you were earlier in the year."

Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt contradicted himself in his weekly press conference, saying that he expected the Irish to throw it 60 times before saying that they would be balanced. Weis said that he has had game plans with the idea of throwing it that many times, but not this week.

"Yes. I don't intend to throw it 60 times, but he also said that last week (we were) balanced and ran it 50 times for 250, so he said that one too," Weis said, fully aware of Wannstedt's statements.

The Irish are starting show evidence that they do have the ability to be balanced in offense by going in and out of different modes. Weis said that he didn't envision having that ability because he was unsure of how the young offense would grasp it.

"I didn't know the mental capabilities of some of the younger guys. I couldn't have projected Golden to come along the way he has. I couldn't have projected Michael Floyd, not having him here," he said. "Throw Kyle Rudolph as another first-time-around guy. You couldn't really project that they'd be able to handle the inner-workings of going in and out of those personnel groups and formations. That was something that was a pleasant surprise. When you get that, along with your quarterback being able to handle a lot more, it's given us a lot more diversity and flexibility in the offense."

Being able to line up in multiple formations and personnel groupings gives opponents that much more to worry about.

"To be one second you're in 21 people pounding it away and the next second you're in 01 people, which is a tight end and four wide receivers without there even being a back on the field," he said. "They're two of the extremes, going from one to the other, even though you have packages and you think that they'll work, being able to go from one to the other, that's definitely an unknown."

Freshman running back Jonas Gray played the role of Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy in practice this week and earned Scout Team Player of the Week honors.

"Jonas had a very good week," he said. "He was the best player on the offensive scout team."

Gray's role on the scout team does not mean that he will not get any carries on Saturday.

"That's why we cut practice shorter (on Thursday) because we always spend the last 15 minutes making sure that all of those guys that could possibly play in the game that have been running on show team get to run our plays against their defenses so that they'd be ready when they go into the game," Weis said.

Pitt does not figure to announce whether starting quarterback Bill Stull will play or if it will be backup Pat Bostick until game time. Weis said that it doesn't matter.

"It won't effect the defensive game plan," he said. "If they put Bostick in there they'll do the same thing that they do with (Stull). The only thing they might do is they might run it a little bit more."

Weis was asked about how his background as a professional coach still helps him today.

"I think the development of the quarterback and the passing game is a critical factor to the ultimate success of your team," he said. "I've been brought up under some pretty good people that have a good foundation of how to do that and usually when that happens the chance for you being successful usually goes up rather quickly."

Weis also pointed out that attracting professional free agents is not totally different from recruiting high school players to college.

"It's really not atypical to what you're doing in recruiting," he said. "When a kid comes in, he's got plenty of options. When a kid comes here, we're not the only option, but you're trying to show him why Notre Dame would be the best fit."

The head coach confirmed that senior receiver David Grimes, who sat out against Washington with a back injury, will play against the Panthers.

"As a matter of fact he wants to come to see me to play more," Weis said. "But, yeah he'll play."

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