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Football Notebook: Zbikowski sits after Purdue ‘late hit’

Chris Khorey | Monday, October 9, 2006

Notre Dame strong safety and captain Tom Zbikowski did not play in Saturday’s 31-10 win over Stanford after suffering a shoulder injury returning a punt against Purdue Sept. 30.

Irish coach Charlie Weis said he complained to the Big Ten conference about the play, which he described as a “late hit.” He said Zbikowski was hit in the helmet on the play but he did not have a concussion.

“I just didn’t feel he had total strength back,” Weis said. “I think he could have played but I wanted to all I could to save him so he can be back after the two weeks off.”

Weis said Zbikowski, who was dressed for the game and walked out for the coin toss with fellow captains Brady Quinn and Travis Thomas, wanted to play.

“Zibby, I know, will he never tell me the truth when it comes to how he’s feeling,” Weis said.

Injury bug bites

Several other injured players did not see action Saturday. Weis said linebacker Travis Thomas, cornerback Ambrose Wooden and kickoff specialist Bobby Renkes could have played but were held out for precautionary reasons.

In addition, offensive tackle Paul Duncan did not dress for the game due to illness.

“All those guys were pretty close to being able to play, but I thought I’d bite my lip and see if I couldn’t buy some extra time, which fortunately worked out okay,” Weis said.

Even if he expected the game to be close, Weis said, he “still would have [erred] on the side of caution.”

Aldridge sees first playing time

Freshman tailback James Aldridge saw his first collegiate action Saturday, rushing for 25 yards on four carries.

Aldridge had been expected to contribute right away for the Irish, but missed the first five games of the year with a knee injury he sustained in spring practice.

“I thought it was a good idea to get him in there, get his feet wet, and let him get tackled by the bad guys for a change,” Weis said.

Aldridge had carries of -1, 5, 10 and 11 yards.

Fellow first-year running back Munir Prince also saw increased playing time, getting six carries for 21 yards including a career-long 11-yarder in the first half.

Nineteen freshmen saw the field for the Irish, including seven at once on Notre Dame’s last offensive possession.

End of half efficiency

Notre Dame used its no-huddle offense to score a touchdown with a 9-play, 62-yard drive on its last possession of the first half. It was the fifth time in six games that the Irish have scored on the last drive before halftime.

The only game Notre Dame in which hasn’t scored right before the half was Purdue Sept. 30.

Coin Toss

Stanford won the coin toss but deferred the option to the second half. Notre Dame elected to take the ball and now have received the opening kickoff in every game this year.