Of all the losses that the Notre Dame football team suffered in 2007, probably none was more painful than the defeat to Navy. The Midshipmen's 46-44 triple-overtime win over the Irish was the first for Navy in 43 straight games with Notre Dame.
While the Irish have the ultimate respect for the Naval Academy, to the point that they watched Navy sing its alma mater after the game, a couple of them described the loss – accurately - as embarrassing.
"Last year obviously, it was embarrassing for us to lose. You never want to lose a game, especially in overtime like that," left tackle Mike Turkovich said. "We were upset about that and we're using that this year as motivation."
Right guard Eric Olsen had similar feelings.
"Navy had a solid team last year, obviously I can't take anything away from them and they have a very solid team this year," he said. "But to break the streak of 43 years or whatever it was, for us to be that team, that's just embarrassing. That's a terrible feeling for us."
Safety Kyle McCarthy said that the team has not discussed the game much since last year, but knows that no one has forgotten.
"Not a whole lot, we haven't (talked about it). But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, I know for a fact that it's in the back of our minds," he said. "We're all well aware of it and we know about it, but it's a little bit of a sore subject. We're all aware of it and excited to get back out there on Saturday."
McCarthy also finds a balance between having respect for Navy and pride for his own program.
"Pretty low point in my career as a player," McCarthy said. "But then again, you have to respect them and the performance they put on that game and the type of characters that they have on their team. Just a great group of guys and you have to respect them for it, but then again that one really hurt."
"Obviously, you're going to look at last year," said running back James Aldridge. "You try not to dwell on it, but yeah we remember what it felt like last year when we lost."
Cornerback Terrail Lambert engaged in hyperbole when discussing last year's game, but his feelings are the same.
"It's definitely motivation," he said. "It was a dark moment for the program. We snapped a 100 and something-game winning streak. Unfortunately we were the team that it happened to. At the same time, it's a positive that we don't have that pressure."
Linebacker Kerry Neal remembers the end of the game and will use it this year.
"They celebrated on our field pretty hard. Guys were going crazy, just look at our faces after the game, every guy was hurt," he said. "Just use it as motivation, a chip on our shoulder coming into this week."
Turkovich knows that a win over the Midshipmen this year will not come easy and that they will never give up.
"They're tough kids. Naval Academy is a tough school. Those kids are high character, they play hard and they have some kids that can make plays," he said. "They're not taught to quit or give up. They'll give it to you the whole game."
IRISH OFFENSE AT ATTENTION: With head coach Charlie Weis now running the offensive meetings, the players know that they cannot get caught not paying attention.
"It makes guys sit up a little straighter and take more notes. It's human nature to become a little more relaxed when you're in the meetings with the same coaches," he said. "But with Coach Weis in here, he notices everything so you're sitting up straight in your seat, taking notes on everything, really paying attention."
Wide receiver David Grimes said that there is a higher level of attention with the head coach in the room, but that he does not see much difference between Weis and Mike Haywood calling plays.
"Guys are more attentive, it's still the same playbook, it's still the same plays," he said. "I think they have different teaching methods, I think the message at the end of the day is still the same and the plays are still the same."
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen says that during the game there is no time to worry about who the play is coming from.
"To be honest, when you're in the game, you're not really thinking, ‘He's calling plays or he's calling plays,'" he said. "You're just getting a play from the sidelines and going out and executing it."
Aldridge felt the same way.
"It's the same plays really, it's just a different person calling them. All of the plays come out of the same playbook," he said. "I'm more in a zone, you really don't think about who is calling the plays when you're playing."
CLAUSEN DOES NOT MAKE EXCUSES: Clausen was suffering from flu-like symptoms in the game against Boston College, but said that it had little to do with his performance.
"(It affected me) a little, but I'm not going to use it as an excuse for how I performed on Saturday," he said. "I just had a bad day and I wasn't feeling good on top of that. It's not an excuse, I just had a bad day."
The quarterback, who said that he is feeling much better this week, also said that there was no time when he thought about not playing.
"There was never a point in the game where I wanted to take myself out because of how I was feeling," he said. "I'm a competitor just like every other guy on the team, you want to be out there trying to make plays to help your team get a victory."
QUICK HITS: Don't look for any division between the offense and the defense because of performance. Olsen made it clear that he thanks the defense every time it gets a three-and-out and none of the defenders are blaming the offense.
"There's going to be games where we need our offense to score a bunch of points to win and there's going to be games where our offense needs us to hold them down," McCarthy said. "We're a team. We win as a team, we lose as a team and we're just trying to get better everyday."
Lambert backed up that team mentality.
"Bottom line is we've got to be better," he said. "At the end of the day, all that matters is how has more points at the end of regulation and that wasn't the case."
Also, with the Navy triple-option, expect McCarthy and safety David Bruton to pad their tackle totals this weekend. McCarthy is currently 21st in the nation with 9.33 tackles per game with Bruton tied for 53rd with 8.44 per contest.
"David Bruton and myself have been eyeing this one down," McCarthy said. "We know that the coaches and the rest of the team are expecting a big game from the both of us and we're ready and excited for it."
And, the Navy offense could add a wrinkle with sophomore quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who showed the ability to throw the ball in the win over Temple.
"It definitely makes it more difficult when the quarterback has that ability because you can't really zero in on the run and stack the box up," McCarthy said.
"They can run you, run you and run you and then they throw that pass," Neal said. "As soon as you fall asleep they throw that pass, so you've got to be aware."