Weis Expects Rallying Orange Team

Irish head coach Charlie Weis held his usual Sunday press conference earlier today to discuss the Navy game, and to take a peek forward at next week's opponent, Syracuse. With the news of the firing of Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson just hitting the airwaves, Weis said he expects a motivated Syracuse team next Saturday.

The Notre Dame football team got back on the winning track on Saturday with their 27-21 victory over Navy. The Irish rushed for a season-high 230 yards on the ground on Saturday, and Weis said he was pleased with how his offense rebounded after a sluggish start in the first half.

"I think the best thing that happened with this offense was at halftime, we had plenty of time to get in there and make some proper adjustments," Weis said. "We cut down the game plan to about eight plays in the second half, and that's all we ran. We ran them over and over and over and over. I think when you get that kind of production in the third quarter, going into the fourth quarter, that was a pretty good measuring stick."

More importantly, the Irish won the line of scrimmage on offense for the first time in a number of games. Weis said that was one of the main goals for the offense this past weekend.

"I think the thing we're trying to do is reestablish a tone on the line of scrimmage of physicality," said Weis. "I think that's where it starts. I think it doesn't make a difference to anything else on offense, then if you're not going to be physical on the line of scrimmage, then you're really not going to ever have a chance at being consistent. We weren't perfect in the game by any stretch of the imagination. When you're running the ball for five and a half yards per carry, and for over a couple hundred yards, the first three running backs really running hard, establishing the line of scrimmage, that's a good start."

The Irish will try to build on their physical play this coming weekend as the Irish play their final home game of the season against Syracuse. Head coach Greg Robinson was fired earlier on Sunday, and Weis says that may change how the Orange prepare to attack the Irish on both offense and defense Saturday.

"From my standpoint it lets the coaching staff coach with no concerns," he said. "You can coach loose. If you want to call five flea-flickers in the game, go ahead and call them. What are they going to say?

"What you don't know, you don't know what the affect is going to have on the team. The team could rally, or they could be dispirited. I think as a coach from the opponent you have to count on them rallying."

Weis admitted that the latest development at Syracuse is a concern of his in preparing for Syracuse this week.

"I think any time a coaching staff can coach without having to worry about any concerns or ramifications, I think it makes an opponent much more dangerous," he said.

Last week Weis took over play-calling duties in the absence of offensive coordinator Michael Haywood. The Irish responded with a pretty good offensive effort on Saturday. Weis was unsure at Sunday's press conference how the staff will handle the play calling this coming Saturday.

"We're in the same boat where I was last week. By Tuesday, the first thing I'll come in and tell you is exactly where we are," he said. "It's really been a scramble just to get to where we're at right now. We spend the morning on Navy, then the afternoon we'll start working on Syracuse. Then the little wrinkle how the news from there, how that could potentially tweak what they do offensively and defensively. You have to try to apply that too."

Floyd and Smith out for next two weeks

The Irish will be minus a few starters the next few weeks in freshmen wide receiver Michael Floyd and sophomore linebacker Brian Smith. Weis said both will miss the last two regular season games but should be back if the Irish extend their season with a bowl game.

"I think that they'll both miss the next two games," Weis said of Floyd and Smith. "I think they'll both be back practicing by the middle of December. They're both looking at a four week period. In both cases they were (knee) strains. It would really be unreasonable to see either one of them playing in the next couple of weeks."

The Irish might welcome previous starter Terrail Lambert back this week, however.

"It's more encouraging on Lambert," said Weis. "They just told me he's a 50/50 for this week, and a for sure for next week, which on Thursday it didn't sound as promising. On Thursday he came down off a jump ball in practice. He's off the crutches today. He's out of the brace. I'm stating questionable because that's what they gave me, 50/50."

However, the fine play of freshmen corner R.J. Blanton might make it harder for Lambert to regain his starting position.

"I'm on the R.J. Blanton bandwagon right now," Weis said when asked which player would start. "It isn't just because of how he stepped up, but here's a guy, a freshman, who's really not afraid of anyone. That's a really tough position to say that at. You go against so many good players out there, bigger players; faster players, he just goes up, lines up and plays. His cockiness turns into confidence. I really like the way he's playing."

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