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Back under the lights

Joe Hettler | Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Saturday can’t come soon enough for Notre Dame.After three weeks of fall camp, which started Aug. 10, the Irish began their first game week practice schedule of the season Monday with the opener against Brigham Young just five days away. The Irish did not practice Monday, which is usual during a game week. The team will practice today, Wednesday and Thursday before leaving Friday morning for Provo, Utah. Once out west, the Irish will have a walk-through Friday before Saturday night’s 8:15 EST kickoff on ESPN.After practicing and scrimmaging against each other, Notre Dame’s players are eager to face a real opponent.”The spring game was nice and all with the scrimmages and practices and whatnot but your working against the same team,” Irish quarterback Brady Quinn said. “So it’s going to be fun to get out there and play against another team and see how well you’ve improved since last season.”Notre Dame also opens on the road for the first time since a 2001 27-10 loss against Nebraska. The Irish did beat Maryland at the neutral site of Giants Stadium 22-0 in 2002.”People kind of look at away games as a big disadvantage, but [I think] it’s just more fun,” Quinn said. “I like having more pressure put on you [and] having more odds against you.”Quinn said his experience as a freshman – playing in road games against Michigan and Purdue – has prepared him for BYU’s environment.”It’s completely different playing an away game in college than it was high school,” Quinn said. “I know what to expect now. You get out there early, and [the fans] are heckling you a lot.”The Irish are 97-13-5 all-time in opening games and have won 15 of their last 17 first games. Notre Dame is also 28-6-2 in their 36 road opening contests. Besides being on the road, the Irish also must deal with a nationally-televised night game. The Irish are 3-1 under the lights during coach Tyrone Willingham’s first two years at Notre Dame.With so much time before kickoff, Quinn said it’s important to have a routine.”We make sure we’re not sleeping in too late so you’re not having a drowsy day,” the second-year quarterback said. “Make sure you’re getting up [and] moving around. Try to make it like any other day where you have to get up and maybe go to a practice later in the day. We just try to get up, get food in your system, get moving around and get ready for the game at night.”Linebacker Mike Goolsby said it’s critical for the Irish not to overlook BYU, with Michigan on the schedule for Sept. 11, and focus on playing well in the first game of the season.”I think one of the biggest things overall is that were taking everything one step at a time,” Goolsby said. “We [have to] get that first win under our belt then take it from there. The biggest message is not taking anything for granted and taking everything one step at a time. … [Then] you can gauge where you’re at.”