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Charlie ready for the Fiesta

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Weis hopes Super Bowl experience helps prepare for Fiesta Bowl


Associated Press

Sat, Dec 24, 2005



SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It`s been a while since Charlie Weis has been to a college bowl game. He has extensive experience at the Super Bowl, though.


The first-year Fighting Irish coach, who coached in the Super Bowl three of the past four years, believes what he`s learned helping the New England Patriots get ready will help Notre Dame prepare to face fourth-ranked Ohio State (9-2) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.


The most important lesson, he believes, is that the fifth-ranked Irish (9-2) pace themselves because after the players arrive in Arizona by Tuesday, they will be there for a week before the game, which "feels like an eternity."


"Players are used to practicing three days, doing a little walkthrough, and playing a game. Now they`re going to be there for seven days. So I think it`s important not to burn them out," he said. "You can burn them out mentally way quicker than you can burn them out physically."


Just like the Patriots did in getting ready for its Super Bowl appearances, the Irish put the game plan in this week.


"Now we`ll tweak a whole bunch of things," he said. "Things we liked, things we didn`t like. We might add a few plays or eliminate a few plays. But the nuts and bolts of the game plan are already in."


Weis, who was an assistant coach at South Carolina when the Gamecocks went to two bowl games in 1987-88, said he thinks there are too many distractions game week to be putting in the game plan.


Weis hopes to keep the Irish from getting burned out by mixing just enough fun with hard work. For the second straight year the Irish are going to the Insight Bowl, this year as spectators. Weis also plans on bringing the team to see "King Kong" and to make some vans available early in the week so players can do things in groups if they choose.


"It`s important to have their minds fresh," he said. "We`ve always gone into games having their minds fresh as well as their bodies fresh. I think those things go together."


That is why his message to players after practice Friday, as they prepared to head home, was to forget about football for a few days.


"I said football this weekend doesn`t count. Throw it out. It`s not important," he said. "I`d rather they spend time with their family and friends, whether it`s go to church or regardless of what they end up doing. This is a time when Notre Dame football can wait until Monday or Tuesday."


Weis, who in past years has been busy getting ready for NFL games at Christmas, is looking forward to having a little extra time with his family.


"I`ve never had a Christmas where you can just focus on your family," he said.


That was his message to his players about family after practice on Friday.


"I told them to make sure they spend some time to let those people know how important they are, especially over the holidays," he said. "I think it`s always important to let people know what they mean to you."


That fact hit home even more following the news that the son of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy was found dead Thursday. Weis said he went home Thursday night and talked to his 12-year-old son, Charlie Jr., about it.


"I had a long conversation with Charlie about how a parent`s worst nightmare is having to hear news like that about one of their kids," he said. "It`s their worst nightmare. I was explaining to him what that meant and what that meant to me. I know Tony has four other kids he has to worry about. I can tell you right now, our hearts and prayers are with him."













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