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ND FOOTBALL: One more Saturday night

Mike Gilloon | Thursday, September 22, 2005

By the time Notre Dame hosts USC on Oct. 15, the Irish will have played five games – four coming on the road. Though this year’s unorthodox schedule could be a problem, Irish coach Charlie Weis believes its developed into a positive for his team.

“Hey, I want to play every game at home now don’t get me wrong,” Weis said Wednesday at his press conference. “[But] I think at this point we’re starting to get used to playing on the road.”

The Irish will leave Thursday evening and arrive in Seattle late Thursday night for Saturday afternoon’s game with Washington.

“Although we’re getting out there late, I’ll let [the players] sleep in some,” Weis said. “That allows us some meeting time and we’ll go over to the stadium so they can get acclimated there. We’ll go out and do a pre-game warm up just to break a sweat.

“I think getting out there and getting the long flight out of your system is actually a good thing.”

Weis did not blame last week’s loss on home-game traditions such as the pep rally, the Friday luncheon or the throng of fans on campus.

However, he does believe it might be more peaceful on the road, when fewer distractions are present and more time is available for players to focus on the game.

“This team has shown a very strong bond on the road,” Weis said.

This bond might be due to the extra time spent together on long bus rides or rooming together in hotels.

But Irish strong safety Tom Zbikowski attributes the team being 2-0 on the road this season to something else.

“We take pride in beating [opposing teams] there and silencing the crowd,” Zbikowski said.

Weis is pleased with the ability for players to gel and concentrate on the game while on road, especially compared to his days as an assistant in the NFL.

“As soon as you get to the hotel, there’s limos waiting for [the NFL players] to take them out for dinner or to go hit the golf course,” Weis said. “Our guys get there, we go to the hotel, we go to meetings, we go to dinner. Really there’s a lot less distractions in college because everyone’s focused on just getting ready to play the game. It’s really a nice thing.”