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Irish win leaves fans optimistic

Joe Piarulli | Monday, September 5, 2005

They celebrated at 7:24, 7:57, 8:15, 8:22, 8:41 and 9:38 p.m.

At these times Saturday night, the entire Notre Dame student body was cheering, jumping, yelling, clapping and bursting with excitement. These were the moments of high fives and crowd dives, of game notes and sore throats, of chest bumps and arm pumps.

These were the markers of Notre Dame’s six touchdowns against Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, whether at Legends, on the quads or in the basement of a dorm, students and fans on campus were glued to television sets – and Irish eyes were smiling.

Freshman Alex Gonzalez, who went between his dorm and the North Quad to watch the game, was among the crowd of adrenaline-packed fans.

“That was Irish football at its best,” he said. “It was good payback from last year. [Tyler] Palko took a beating. It was awesome.”

“We never questioned the play calls,” said senior Vince Lyzinski, who made the trip to Pittsburgh to support the team. He said there were about as many Irish fans as Panthers fans at the game.

“I’d say it was 50-50,” he said.

Much of the Irish fan section was comprised of hundreds of members of the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Pittsburgh and current students who braved high gas prices and a six-hour drive to get to the game. Pumping up the crowd was the Band of the Fighting Irish, which chose the season opener as the first of its two away game trips.

Cindi Sulzbach, a freshman band member, said the student section was extremely supportive.

“Our offense was amazing … [All the Pittsburgh fans] left after halftime. There were all green shirts,” she said.

Like many at Notre Dame, Lyzinski and Sulzbach have high hopes for the team’s future. Both said Saturday night’s game just helped to affirm what they already felt.

“I’ve had them winning the national championship since day one,” Lyzinski said.

While thinking about a championship may be premature, it is already in the minds of the students, and the atmosphere on campus following the game shows students are as pumped as ever for the upcoming season.

“They say that after they re-gild the Dome we win a National Championship,” Sulzbach said.

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis also earned instant praise for his debut on the college field.

“Everybody likes the way Weis is running the offense,” sophomore Brandon Carroll said. “He was taking care of [the mistakes] on the sidelines. He’s strict.”

Junior Thomas Flowers also said he liked the way Weis handled the team in his first game and believes Weis will continue to lead Notre Dame to victory.

“The play calling was vastly improved … The game was a morale booster. There’s a lot more emotion on the sidelines,” Flowers said. “We can’t let up, especially against Michigan and USC. [Weis] won’t settle for the players doing anything less than the best. He runs a business.”