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Football: 43 and counting?

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Notre Dame has beaten Navy 43 straight times, but that’s not the streak that matters this weekend, Irish coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

“I think that when you’re 1-7, you’re trying to beat whoever you’re playing, and I think that the streak isn’t nearly as important as winning a game at home,” he said.

Notre Dame has lost its last four home games, with its last home win coming against Army, 41-9, in the final contest at Notre Dame Stadium last season.

“I think that’s the streak that they’re most concerned with, winning a game at home,” Weis said.

The coach said that the 4-4 Midshipmen, who lost to Delaware 59-52 last week, should not be seen as an easy win for the struggling Irish.

“I think that if you – anyone who takes Navy lightly, especially with the firepower they show on offense – could find themselves on the short end of the stick very easily,” Weis said.

Navy has run up big numbers on offense this year, especially on the ground, but it has struggled defensively, giving up more than 450 yards on offense and 38 points per game. But Weis said his team, which has managed just 10 points per game this year, will have to fix many of its own problems to have success.

“I think the most important thing [is] that we understand a lot of our problems are related to internal things, not external things, and I think that the first thing we have to deal with – it wouldn’t make a difference who the opponent was – is take care of our internal problems as far as growing and becoming a better team,” Weis said.

Hughes’ brother dies

Earl “Tony” Hughes, the brother of Irish freshman running back Robert Hughes, passed away suddenly Monday. Weis said Hughes is excused from practice this week and might not play Saturday.

“I told him come back whenever he’s ready to come back,” Weis said. “I mean, something like that, how can you give him a time frame? He might be back tomorrow, he might be back next week. I told him whenever – I just made sure we covered ourselves with academics and things like that. But when something, a tragedy like that happens, I think the most important thing is you have to worry about the kid, not worry about him as a football player.”

Recruits firmly committed

Weis said one of the reasons Notre Dame has been able to hold on to all of its committed recruits through a 1-7 start is that the coaching staff keeps the high school prospects informed of the day-to-day operations of the team.

“We’ve involved them more into our everyday – anyone who’s jumped on board and said, ‘yes,’ we involve them to everything that’s going on,” Weis said. “In other words, they’re not like outsiders. Once they say, ‘yes,’ and the commitment is a two-way deal, we treat them like they’re here, so they know everything that’s happening just the way everyone else does.”

Weis said the information from the coaching staff makes the recruits feel like they’re already part of the team – and helps them better understand the reasons for Notre Dame’s struggles.

“They obviously have to withstand the ribbing from the people in the towns they’re living in or the kids they’re going to school with,” Weis said. “But I think they view themselves as part of the future.”

Notre Dame currently has 21 committed recruits who constitute a class that is rated No. 1 in the nation by Scout.com.

Wide receiver shakeup

Sophomore Robby Parris and freshman Duval Kamara moved ahead of junior David Grimes and sophomore George West on the official depth chart this week. Parris and Kamara have been Notre Dame’s most productive wide receivers this season, catching 22 and 19 passes, respectively.

West has caught 15 passes this season, but has seen less balls thrown his way in recent weeks. Grimes has been hampered by a leg injury since the Purdue game.