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Football: Weis, Tiller, praise gridiron opponents

Ken Fowler | Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Both Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and Purdue coach Joe Tiller played up the strengths of the opposition in their weekly Tuesday press conferences.

Weis began his press conference by noting Purdue’s undefeated record and 28-9 record in the month of September under Tiller – now in his tenth season with the program.

“[Tiller has] been there for 10 years [and] brought them to eight Bowl games in nine years,” Weis said. “He brings stability to the program. … The guy’s a winner [and] that’s the way they play.”

Weis also spoke highly of Boilermakers running back Kory Sheets. On a team that has thrown for 297.5 yards per game, Sheets has gained 326 yards on 59 carries, good for 80.2 per game and 5.4 per rush. Sheets has also caught 11 passes for 85 yards.

But what worries Weis the most is his ten total touchdowns (eight rushing and two receiving).

“Well, if you’re going to try avoid them throwing for 300 yards … What are we going to do about all these wide receivers that are all over the place?” Weis asked rhetorically. “Now all of a sudden you have this guy tearing it up inside because they’re rushing for 160 a game.”

But Tiller was concerned about Notre Dame’s main touchdown producer. Tiller compared Irish quarterback Brady Quinn, who has thrown 11 touchdown passes in four games, to Drew Bledsoe.

“They both have tremendous confidence in their arm and arm strength,” Tiller said. “Both are extremely smart and very competitive … I think Brady, as a matter of fact, as far as muscle tone – well, it’s been a long time since I saw a quarterback with biceps like that. He’s just a very physical guy.”

As a whole, Tiller said shutting down the Irish would be a tough task because Notre Dame has a rare depth of talent and experience.

“This is most likely the most talented team we play this year,” he said. “They have something like 17 seniors starting and we don’t have 17 seniors on our team, so I don’t think we’ll play a more experienced team and I don’t think we’ll play a more talented team.”

Notes:

uIrish cornerback Terrail Lambert picked up two national defensive player-of-the-week honors Tuesday after his two interceptions and touchdown return against Michigan State.

The Football Writers Association of America named Lambert the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, and The Master Coaches Survey awarded Lambert with its “defensive game ball” for defensive player of the week.

uWeis said senior cornerback Ambrose Wooden and freshman cornerback Darrin Walls could see split time against Purdue.

Wooden sat out Saturday against Michigan State after suffering a head-on collision during the Michigan game a week before.

“I’m not looking to run Ambrose out,” Weis said. “At the same time, if Ambrose isn’t fully healthy … Darrin gives us the best chance of winning, [so] Darrin will play.

“I’m not worried about making any friends.”

uA reporter asked Weis if he will ever consider deferring the ball to the second half when Notre Dame wins the coin toss – provided the offense is struggling. Weis had a simple answer.

“No,” he said. “That will never change.”

uNotre Dame Associate Athletic Director John Heisler announced in an e-mail sent to the media Tuesday that Friday’s pep rally will be held in the Joyce Center.