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ND FOOTBALL: McKnight’s status is day-to-day

Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wide receiver Rhema McKnight, injured in Notre Dame’s 17-10 win over Michigan on Sept. 10, could play on Saturday against Washington, Irish coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday.

“He’s gone from not playing to day-to-day,” Weis said. “So he’s day-to-day.”

Fellow wide receiver Jeff Samardzija said that he can’t wait for his fellow receiver to get back on the field after missing Saturday’s game against Michigan State due to the knee injury.

“Anytime you’ve got a guy like Rhema on the team, you want him playing out on the field,” he said.

Airing it out

Irish quarterback Brady Quinn threw for 487 yards on Saturday against Michigan State on 33-for-60 passing. Quinn also threw for five touchdowns, a school record, three of which went to Samardzija. Weis said he doesn’t always want to throw 60 passes per game. But at the same time, he wants to do what is going to be the most successful in a given game.

“I think you’re always looking in the ideal world for a balance,” he said. “You’re looking for a balance. Now, I don’t know whether the balance is 50-50, 60-40. You usually don’t want to be too tainted. But I can tell you right now, if you’re winning a game running it on every play, there are less bad things that can happen when you’re running it than when you’re throwing it.”

Back to the fundamentals

Each week Weis says he wants the Irish to focus on going back to the fundamentals to improve from week to week. After Saturday’s loss, this week is no different.

“Any time you lose a game you have to identify what you feel are the things to get your mistakes corrected the fastest,” Weis said. “It almost always falls back to the same thing that if you’re fundamentally sound, you’re technically sound, you usually have a lot better chance for success. So, therefore, you have to put the time into that rather than just doing practice reps.”

Weis explained as an example that on offense, the Irish would be working on perfecting the three depths that a quarterback drops back, and timing that with a receiver’s route.

On defense, he used form tackling as an example of a fundamental that the team would focus on.

“When you’re tackling an elusive guy that’s very nifty, one thing you can’t do is just try to run right through the guy, because he’ll make you miss,” Weis said. “So you have to really work on how to settle your feet and keep your hips even, to keep your balance low so when he goes to make that little juke move to make you miss, it’s going to be a non-factor.”

Crum showing his talent

Maurice Crum, Jr. has recorded 17 tackles and forced a fumble in the first three games, also his first career games after redshirting as a freshman last year. Crum has filled the role of Apache linebacker nicely for Weis.

“He’s got good athletic ability,” Weis said. “It’s a good thing that he’s come along because that was one of the uncertainties we had coming into the season. With Corey [Mays] waiting in the wings at middle linebacker, Brandon [Hoyte] being a known quality already, the one thing we really didn’t know for sure was who was going to be that guy that you kind of put in space a lot. With his athletic ability, it’s kind of put us in a position where right now he’s no longer our biggest area of concern.”