Irish sound off

A handful of the Irish football players met with members of the media after their last full practice before the Insight Bowl on Tuesday evening. The players had nothing but good things to say about the Oregon State defense and offense as they expect a physical game from the men in black.

Notre Dame Wide Receiver Carlyle Holiday:

On Oregon State's secondary:
"They are very athletic and they shut people down one on one. It's going to be a challenge for us as receivers to get open and get separation. We realize going into the game that they have an athletic team and their defense is very athletic. We just have to try and win match-ups whenever we can."

On Oregon State's defense:
"We realize they have a lot of guys on defense that can make plays. It's going to be a challenge for our offensive line to step up and try to protect Brady (Quinn) for the whole game. We know what kind of team Oregon State has and the athletes they have up front."

On Oregon State's offense:
"They rarely run the ball and the problem is that a lot of people look at our secondary as the weak part of our defense. It will be a big challenge. We realize that as an offense we need to keep the ball on the field and keep the defense off the field."


Notre Dame Defensive Tackle Greg Pauly

On Oregon State's Athleticism:
"They have the athleticism to come out and play a really high scoring game."

On Oregon State's offense:
"They are definitely pass-oriented. They don't run the ball often and we are going into the game with that in mind. We'll try to get after them as much as we can."


Notre Dame Running Back Ryan Grant

On Oregon State's defense:
"They are fast and they play hard and they don't stay on blocks very long. That's something you don't like as an offensive player. They have pretty good safeties and I like how they cover. It's going to be a physical game for us and that's one of the things we take pride in. They run well, especially their middle backer. He's the core of their defense."


Notre Dame Linebacker Derek Curry

On Oregon State's strong finish to the season:
"I think they can get even hotter because they have won the last five of six games and lost to SC by eight which is a big accomplishment considering SC smashes pretty much everybody these days. We know with two weeks of preparation they can only get better. I think our secondary has got some more confidence back and our team has got some more confidence back so we're excited."


Notre Dame Linebacker Mike Goolsby

On the previous game against Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl:
"It's kind of one of those things that is burned into your memory and you never want to go back to that place. That's something you don't forget about."

On the challenges the Oregon State offense poses:
"We've definitely got a huge challenge in front of us and there's no way of getting around that. Big time players step up in big time games."

Health and roatations.
Place-kicker Alexis Serna has been battling a leg infection this week and has not been hitting the ball well in practice.  The infection may affect his performance on Tuesday.

Offensive guard Roy Schening has been battling the flu, but the sickness didn't keep him down from performing Santa Claus duties at the team's Christmas dinner.  He is expected to be healthy for the Tuesday's contest.

As you probably already know, Alvin Smith will start this Tuesday against the Irish with Curtis Coker and Naymon Frank in the roation.  On the offensive side of the ball George Gillett is expected to start and rotate time with Josh Hawkins.


Curfew set.
After several days with no curfew and two nights with a 12:00 stop time, the Oregon State football players will have an 11:00 curfew for the Sunday and Monday night.


The future.
Head coach Mike Riley met with the media followin the conclusion of practice on Sunday.  Several questions addressed next year's team as the school's leading passer, interceptor, and sack leader will be graduating.

The first order of business will be to find a replacement for Derek Anderson.  Redshirt freshman Ryan Gunderson, true freshman Brain Hildebrand, and transfer Matt Moore will all compete for the starting job.

"There's just a lot of questions, so we'll have to see," Riley said.  "Whether or not it's harder, a lot of that will depend on if we can run the ball better; then it won't be as hard for a new quarterback."

Most Beaver fans expect Florida transfer and offensive scout MVP Jimtavis Walker to start at tailback next season, but Riley says not so fast.

"I would say he'll be a tremendous competitor there," he said.  "I don't want to disrespect the opportunity for the other guys who have been working so hard. I tell you what, I still think Ryan Cole brings a lot to the table and I know Yvenson Bernard will step up that much more."


Team Awards.
Head coach Mike Riley handed out team awards during the team's Christmas dinner in Phoenix on Saturday.  Seniors Bill Swancutt and Derek Anderson were named co-Players of the Year.

Safety Mitch Meeuwsen was named the team's defensive MVP while Mike Hass grabbed the offensive MVP.

The coaches award was handed out to Aric Williams while Doug Nienhuis was selected as the offensive lineman of the year.  Linebacker Chaz Scott and punter Sam Paulescu were named special teams MVPs.

Cornerback Keenana Lewis and linebacker Eddie Stamm earned defensive scout MVP honors while running back Jimtavis Walker grabbed the offensive scout MVP.

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