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Irish still feeling the hurt

Pat Leonard | Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Irish practiced Wednesday beginning to look at a Nov. 6 date with Tennessee (No. 11 BCS). But Kyle Budinscak spoke for the players who know, even as the focus shifts to another opponent, how much the loss to Boston College meant.

“I haven’t slept a whole lot,” Budinscak said. “I haven’t slept real well the last four or five days. I haven’t really not thought about the game for 10 consecutive minutes since it’s happened. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to put away. It’s awful.”

Fans showed distaste with the second half play, something Budinscak expects.

“Everybody reacts after a loss like this,” Budinscak said. “You’re not going to hear too many people having good things to say, and you can’t blame them. We’ve just got to keep our attitude right and make sure we get it done next week.”

But the complaints did not stop there.

One reporter Wednesday called what he sensed around the fan base “panic,” a feeling directed more at coaching and matters beyond what the players can do on the field.

“I smile because that panic has always been around the Notre Dame nation,” coach Tyrone Willingham said. “[But] this has a little deeper feel to it … The way it ended it was like two years in a row somebody just stabbed you in the heart.”

Budinscak named nose tackle Derek Landri and defensive end Justin Tuck as two players who played well the whole game Saturday. But Budinscak also said the second half let down was due to player failure, not coaching failure.

“A failure to execute was the problem in the second half,” he said. “There [weren’t] any adjustments that needed to be made, it was just failed execution.”

Boston College quarterback Paul Peterson credited coach Tom O’Brien with changing the game plan to let him roll out of the pocket, draw an extra defender and find open receivers.

Notre Dame fans wondered if any adjustment on the Irish defense occurred, another questioning of the leadership.

“I’ve seen it happen before,” Budinscak said. “The only way to respond to that is to not respond to it, is to go out there and keep playing hard. You’ve got to do everything you can to win football games. It’s unfortunate that it has to be the way it is. But it is the way it is. I understand the frustration some people may have with us not winning games, but as far as any talk like that, that’s not something I want to respond to.”

The team had a full scrimmage Wednesday. Going into the weekend, coaches will begin game planning for Tennessee, trying to finish the season with three straight wins.

“[Going] 3-0 from here on out is the only way we can go out of here with our heads high,” Budinscak said.

But Wednesday, players still felt the hurt.

“Coach says it all the time – we should be 7-1,” defensive lineman Greg Pauly said. “I don’t think we should have lost to BYU. I don’t think we should have lost last week … But we let it slip through our hands.”