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Irish In Arizona - Day Two

Notre Dame continues its preparations for the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.


Dec. 28, 2005


The University of Notre Dame football team continued its preparations for the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Irish attended the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual breakfast at 7 a.m., then returned to the Scottsdale Plaza Resort for a series of team meetings before practice at 2:15 p.m.


The Irish have experienced two beautiful days of weather in Scottsdale. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's have provided the Irish with ideal practice conditions. Tuesday's workout was made up entirely of running and lifting weights to get the team back into work mode. For Wednesday's practice, the Irish were back in full pads and focused on refining their previous game preparation for January 2nd.


For the team's `off time', the Irish will enjoy a welcome dinner by the Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday evening. Tuesday evening the team attended the Insight Bowl to watch Arizona State and Rutgers battle into the fourth quarter, shortly after visiting with a group of youths from the local Boys and Girls Club of America. The team secured a spot in a restaurant down the right field line in Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark) and enjoyed a fine meal while watching the same bowl game in which the team participated last season.


The first of several press conferences were held Wednesday morning as well. Senior tight end Anthony Fasano, junior quarterback Brady Quinn, junior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija and sophomore running back Darius Walker, along with offensive coordinator Mike Haywood, attended the event to represent Notre Dame. Here are a few selected quotes from the Irish players and coach -


Junior WR Jeff Samardzija -


On his expectations of Notre Dame's performance in the Fiesta Bowl...


"We are going to come in and play how we are capable of playing. We are not going to settle for anything less than what we do out there every day. We go into every game thinking we can win it and trying to win it. If you take the mindset that you are not sure what is going to happen, bad things will happen. Every game we are coming in thinking we are going to win."


On whether his preparation against the Ohio State defense focuses on the OSU's linebacking corps...


"As a receiver you need to step back. Not to say I am not worried about the linebackers, but the secondary is where your mindset goes. The linebackers are making a lot of plays and you have to understand that. You have to look at it as a whole defense, with the secondary and they have a lot of great players. You can't just focus too much on a couple guys."


On whether Ohio State will be the toughest team Notre Dame will have faced this season...


"Looking at them on film, they have a physical team. I think that is what they base their defense on, being athletic and tough. They are tough around the ball. We have gone against a lot of tough defenses this year and this one will rank up there with all of them."


On the special significance of the Fiesta Bowl as the seniors last game for Notre Dame...


"I think it has a lot of resemblance to that last home game and actually the last three games - the last home game for the seniors, the last regular-season game for the seniors and now the last overall game for the seniors. The mentality to take into every game is that these guys out there, this is their last game and they don't know what the future holds for them. It is the same with yourself. You go out there and approach the game as if you are senior too, because when you are a senior, you expect that from your teammates."


Senior TE Anthony Fasano -


On what the Irish will need to do to be successful against Ohio State...


"What will hurt us is making our own mistakes. Once our game plan is in and set we can't be worried about what they are doing. We have to go out there and execute our game plan. The only thing that is going to hold us back is ourselves."


On his expectations of Notre Dame's performance in the Fiesta Bowl...


"Right now I am just concentrating on getting prepared and focused for the game. As long as we have one more point than them, I don't mind how the game goes."


On what makes the Irish offense so successful...


"We try to come into a game with something new each week. Of course we have our tendencies, but I think they are a lot less than some other teams."


On the effect of not playing a game since late November...


"The time off is kind of odd. It is good because we can get healthy, but at the same time you have to knock the rust off. We are playing two games in one month. It is good and bad you just have to use the time to your advantage."


Junior QB Brady Quinn -


On his contact with former Irish quarterback Joe Montana...


"When you see him playing on film and then see him in person it is great because he is such a cool guy. He is so laid back. Talking to him is just like talking to anyone else. It was a great experience."


On whether he was intimidated when calling Montana...


"Of course you do, this is Joe Montana, the greatest quarterback ever. Who am I to call Joe Montana? It was fun getting to talk to him and getting to know him and his family."


On whether the contact with Joe Montana continues and what Montana has taught him...


"The lessons never end with a guy like that. He has worlds of knowledge of how to play quarterback and what to do in every situation. One of the first things he said to me was to be patient and take what the defense gives you. In my freshman season that was probably the hardest thing for me to do. I needed to be patient in big games."


On the situation with his sister and OSU linebacker A.J. Hawk...


"I have been receiving a lot of flack for her dating (A.J. Hawk) from my own teammates and every one else. I got her a little jogging outfit in Ohio State colors (for Christmas). It was funny, but don't get me wrong, the (Christmas) tree was decorated in Notre Dame colors."


On what affect OSU injured linebacker Bobby Carpenter will have on his defense if he plays...


"It makes a difference. I think it affects the style of their defense. With a freshman behind him, I am not saying they don't want to put a freshman in, but they will want that experience on the field for a big game like this. Carpenter is a great player and he is someone that can have a big impact on the game. He has rush defense ability, blitzing ability and can drop back in coverage. There are a lot of things that he can do. It does matter a lot whether he plays or not."


Sophomore RB Darius Walker -


On whether he got away from football during the Christmas break...


"Yes, of course. That is something that Coach Weis told us as a team. `During the break, get away from football.' It was nice to go home and get a chance to see the family. I think I ate too much, but we'll see."


On Coach Weis' comments that he will keep the team on a strict timeline during Fiesta Bowl preparations...


"He goes a good job of that. We have curfew every night at 11 o'clock. From our stand point, we would think that we can go out as long as we like. We are in college and are grown men. But, I think for us to have that `clamp down,' it really helps us focus on what we are here to do. This is a business trip, not a vacation."


Offensive Coordinator Mike Haywood -


On why the team seems to out-play its opponents in the second quarter...


"Guys get a feel for the speed of the game. They get a feel for the technique. They get confidence. The make what we call `mid-steam adjustments' and they do a great job of blocking up front. The guys do a great job of protection, which Coach (John) Latina has drilled them on every week. The team does a great job of running the ball, but more importantly, the wide receivers and tight ends do a tremendous job of blocking down field and that enables us to break big runs."


On his impression of Brady Quinn's improvement...


"I think Coach Weis and Coach (Peter) Vaas have done a tremendous job with the psychological disposition of Brady and how he approaches each game. The knowledge that he has obtained over the last nine to 10 months has been tremendous. His execution and understanding fronts, along with the all the little things he does, being able to focus at key times, is outstanding."


On how he handles establishing a player's role on the team...


"Tell a man his role and the man accepts his role. Give a man a job and the man executes the job. Charlie (Weis) is the general of this organization. Orders come down and I deliver the orders. There is no discussion."

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Guest irishrick

that's right, coach charlie don't want yes men on his staff, he said the game plan was set at south bend, now their just putting a little polish on the plays, coach listens in the headset to his staff then he barks out the orders. .

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