Oct. 8, 2002
By Peter J. Stuhldreher
There is no time to rest and enjoy the achievement of the first 5-0 start since 1993 for the Notre Dame football team. Tuesday saw the Irish return to Cartier Field to prepare for Saturday’s game against a dangerous Pittsburgh team. The Panthers enter with a 5-1 record and an offense full of weapons. Notre Dame will counter with the eighth-ranked defense in the nation: one that can both stop opposing offenses and score points of its own.
Senior defensive tackle Darrell Campbell talked after practice Tuesday about the mentality of the Irish defensive line.
“We don’t want to let anybody run on us,” said Campbell.
“If they run on us, they don’t have respect for us. Then, once we establish that, nobody throws on us because we have to get good pressure on the quarterback.”
Pittsburgh poses perhaps the greatest threat thus far to the Irish defense and to the Irish winning streak. They bring a solid run game and a talented arsenal of receivers for quarterback Rod Rutherford.
“Coach (Greg) Mattison relayed to us that this will be the best team we have faced this year,” said Campbell.
“It’s going to go back to smashmouth football and that’s what we like around here, that’s what we predicate our defense on.”
Campbell later talked about a quote that he received in an e-mail which said: “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.” He is not ready to say that the Irish are a dominating defensive unit and certainly not ready to say that they are satisfied with their play. He does, however, admit that they know their importance to the Notre Dame football team and they are ready to take on any challenge from any team.
“Defenses should pride themselves in going out there knowing there is going to be a formidable opponent in front of us,” said Campbell.
“If it was easy, everyone would do it, but we don’t want it easy. We want it hard. We like it like that.”
With the defense geared up and ready to play this weekend against the Panthers, the question this week remains who will be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame?
Head coach Tyrone Willingham said that Carlyle Holiday’s status remains day-to-day. He is not ready to announce a starter, although he said that Holiday has made some progress and undertaken more activity this week. There is no timetable for when a decision will be reached and it could be, for the second week in a row, a game-time decision.
Quarterback Pat Dillingham, after his first career start against Stanford, will have to be ready to start again this week if needed.
“Hopefully Carlyle will be ready to go,” said Dillingham.
“If he is not, I definitely will be ready. My confidence has really grown and I will be ready to play.”