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Football: Weis focused on limiting mistakes

Chris Khorey | Monday, October 8, 2007

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said his offensive game plan in Saturday’s 20-6 win over UCLA was predicated on avoiding negative plays and not giving up turnovers.

“Too many times this year, we came into a game saying, ‘Don’t turn the ball over,’ and then we turned the ball over,” he said.

To that end, Weis ran the ball using formations with multiple tight ends and bunched wide receivers, knowing full well the Bruins would stack the line of scrimmage.

“When you load up with multiple tight ends, you know they’re going to load up too,” Weis said. “We knew we were going to get a lot of one’s and two’s and not too many four-and five-yard plays. But we weren’t having negative plays.”

The Irish ran the ball 38 times for just 46 yards – but Weis said he wanted to be patient with the running game.

“The game plan was executed just the way we drew it up,” he said. “We were going to be conservative on offense.”

Sophomore running back James Aldridge was Notre Dame’s leading rusher, with 22 carries for 52 yards. The Irish did not have any turnovers Saturday.

Turnovers aplenty for Bruins

The Irish forced seven UCLA turnovers – four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Senior linebacker Maurice Crum forced four of the turnovers. He intercepted Bruins quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson twice, stripping the ball from running back Kahlil Bell, knocking the ball loose from Bethel-Thompson and picking it up for a 34-yard touchdown.

Freshman linebacker Kerry Neal recovered a fumble by Bruins quarterback Ben Olson in the first quarter on a play in which Olson sprained his knee. The recovery led to an Irish field goal.

Junior safety David Bruton and senior cornerback Terrail Lambert also had interceptions. Bruton’s pick led to Notre Dame’s first touchdown, a 1-yard plunge by freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

Under 50 percent

UCLA became the fifth team this season to complete less than half of its passes against Notre Dame. Olson was 4-for-10 before his injury, while Bethel-Thompson was 12-for-28. Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter is the only passer to complete over 50 percent of his passes against the Irish this season.

Under 100 yards

Notre Dame held the Bruins to 89 yards rushing on 37 carries, the lowest output by an Irish opponent this season. UCLA is also the first opponent to rush for under 100 yards against Notre Dame.

Neutralizing Tate

After catching three passes for over 100 yards last week against Purdue, Irish freshman wide receiver Golden Tate caught one pass for no gain.

Beating the Bruins

Notre Dame is now 4-0 all time against UCLA, with wins coming in 1963, 1964, 2006 and 2007. The first three games of the series were all played in South Bend.

Wins against the Bruins account for two of the three total wins that Notre Dame had in 1963 and so far in 2007. The Irish were 2-7 in 1963 and are 1-5 so far this season.

Back at the Rose Bowl

The game marked the first time Notre Dame had played at the Rose Bowl since it defeated Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl Game. The Irish are 2-0 all time at the Rose Bowl.

Fall of Troy

Across town at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, No. 2 USC lost to unranked Stanford 24-23. The announcement of the score brought on a thunderous, unified cheer from the crowd of more than 70,000 otherwise divided fans at the Rose Bowl. Weis said his son, Charlie Jr., told him what the cheer was for.

“I won’t say it hurt my feelings,” Weis said of the Trojans’ loss.