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Weis concerned with team’s psyche

Matt Gamber | Monday, November 3, 2008

Irish coach Charlie Weis’ first comments during Saturday’s post-game press conference expressed his top concern following the gut-wrenching loss – and it had nothing to do with his team’s inability to score an overtime touchdown or the fact that Notre Dame squandered a 17-3 halftime lead.

“Right now you’re not worrying about closing out the game, you’re worrying about the psyche of the team,” Weis said. “I think the next 24-to-48 hours, you know, it’s a trying time when you come off a disheartening loss.”

So much so that Weis spoke with a visibly-upset Brandon Walker – Notre Dame’s sophomore kicker who made three overtime field goals before sending a fourth wide left – on the field before heading to the locker room to address the entire team.

“You know, with kickers now, when it comes to that situation, you end up missing a kick, everyone blames you,” Weis said. “I wanted to make sure before we got in that locker room he understood that not for one second I wanted him to hang his head. If he wasn’t making all those other kicks, the game would already be over.”

But Walker wasn’t the only one who took the loss hard.

“It’s a dagger in a way,” senior safety David Bruton said of a game he thought the Irish gave away.

“I wish I could have that one back,” sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen said of overthrowing freshman Michael Floyd on a would-be touchdown in the second overtime.

“We can taste it … we let it slip through the cracks and it hurts,” junior right tackle Sam Young said of a missed opportunity he compared to the Oct. 11 29-24 loss at North Carolina.

And Weis was still worried about his team Saturday night, “rolling around” in bed looking for the answer to one question.

“After you’ve already revisited every play in the game for a while, now you have to think, ‘Okay, what can I do to shock their system, not be in that rut of just doing the same thing you do every day…'” Weis said at his Sunday press conference. “We’re doing things different for the next couple days because I think that if I just let them go into their normal routine, I could set it up for them taking a little bit longer to get out of the tank.”

Weis said the Irish would run and lift at 6 a.m. today “to get things out of their system and get them moving forward.” The afternoon session will be more mental than physical, he said, and will focus on Boston College’s first and second down game plan.

That will allow for fewer meetings and more on-field practice time Tuesday before the Irish resume a typical schedule Wednesday, Weis said.

“What I’m really trying to do more than anything else is shock their system, you know, get them out of a rut,” he said. “I had to come up with a plan to make sure that it wasn’t just business as usual.”

But even with the wound of the loss still fresh, Bruton said he – and the rest of his teammates – were determined not to let heartbreakers like this one become “just business as usual.”

“We’ve got a group of guys where everyone’s in it, everyone cares,” Bruton said. “Looking at everyone’s faces, you can see the pain and the hurt, and that’s something that lets me know as a leader that guys are starting to get it.”