Fever Pitch

Weis shares a few points of emphasis, both mental and physical, for Saturday's matchup with USC.

Charlie Weis met briefly with the media Thursday evening following Notre Dame's final practice preparations for the mighty Trojans.

If this Statement is Accurate, Clausen is a Baaaad Man…

After an off-season, fall camp, and five games following Weis' "show me" mantra, why is the Irish head coach now comfortable about his players speaking out and admitting they expect to beat the Trojans?

"I think the last month has given them the confidence," Weis observed. "It wasn't just the fact that ‘all of a sudden it's USC and now we think we can win.'

"While everyone (detractors) likes to look at the negative side and says ‘you're just eeking out games at the end,' the flip-side is that you're building some toughness and intestinal fortitude when you're playing in games like that. And they're at the point now where they don't go into a game believing they're not going to win.

"Once you get to that point you become dangerous."

Only One Statistic Actually Matters

In the 2005 battle between the teams, Weis' offense held a staggering 17-plus minute time of possession advantage over the No. 1 ranked Trojans. Is possessing the football; winning the time of possession battle a key point of emphasis again?

"Points," Weis stated. "Time of possession is a great stat…but it's all about points. Would we like to hold the ball? Absolutely, but the most important thing is that we need to score points."

The Irish head coach and play-caller then elaborated, explaining why a series of sustained drives might indeed be the key for either team.

"We do have to understand that one of the strengths of the opponent is their formidable offensive line and that running game," Weis explained. "And if you let them wear out your defense and pound away the whole time…you have to look at the whole component when you're looking at it like that (from a ball-control standpoint)."

While its easier typed than achieved, there's no way the Irish can pull off the upset if the defense allows the Trojans running game to continuously dictate the tempo of the contest.

Please Replace Your Own Divots

In 1993, No. 1 ranked Florida State complained about the unusually tall grass that welcomed them as they first emerged through the Stadium's north tunnel Friday afternoon.

In 2005, No. 1 USC found the playing surface a bit elevated as well.

And two weeks ago, the Stadium grass was beaten to a pulp by heavy rains and an overtime tussle with Washington. Is Weis concerned with his home playing surface after a few days of rain leading up to Saturday?

"It was wet. It was choppy. That's the Midwest in October," Weis explained of the torn-up grass on October 3rd. "It's been raining here for a few days, it's been cold. I'm not expecting to play on a golf course type of grass.

"I think the ground crew has done a great job with the field. The only time we've had something like that is the Washington game when it got wet and the grass got loose."

Because Nobody Wants to Watch the Kicker

My personal belief is that Saturday's contest will be determined by the team that performs better, offensively and defensively, in the red zone. Missed opportunities probably can't be overcome against the Trojans and if USC falters in the red zone, the Irish now have the horses offensively to take advantage.

"They're giving up less than 29 percent touchdowns in the red zone; I'm not positive on the number," Weis observed (it's 23%). "Especially coming off the last game where we were basically 2 for 6 (scoring touchdowns), I think we're going to have to be much more productive. "When we get an opportunity to score points we're going to have to score points." USC has allowed just three touchdowns this season (and opponents are 3-13 scoring touchdowns after penetrating the USC 20-yard line).

Hopefully They're Not Looking Ahead to BC

Chalk messages on the sidewalk. Signs on the doors promising to meet the players and they're fellow students on the field following the upset. The Notre Dame campus is abuzz over Saturday's matchup with the Men of Troy.

Has Weis, normally secluded in his game preparation, noticed the obvious difference?

"I haven't felt it like this, ever (personally) since I've been here," Weis admitted.

"Now I'm not around (campus) as much as the students or the players are. But every player; every person that works in the building…and it isn't just the University, it's the town. Everyone's really looking forward to this game.

"I just got done talking to the team and said ‘Fellas, Saturday night you're going to be the lead story in the country. Either way you're going to be the lead story, so which lead story do you want to be?"

The epic '05 clash supposedly launched a new era at Notre Dame. The aura of that new era lasted less than a calendar year (credit the hated Wolverines for exposing the Irish in mid-September '06) and not many around the nation have believed in Notre Dame football since.

This is the program's last chance, at least until a possible January upset, to make a cynical football fraternity take notice.

Win One for the…Who Haven't We Used Yet?

Saturday certainly seems like a fine moment for Weis to pull out his best motivational ploy. Then again, the 2009 season has probably put a dent in his material.

"We've been using a lot of stuff here over the last couple of weeks," Weis joke. "It'll be a lot in a short amount of time. It won't be a 10-minute oration. It'll be a lot of energy in a short amount of time."

I'd probably just show the players the first 40 seconds of this:


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