Nov. 3, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The question that is currently on Irish head coach Bob Davie’s mind is how well can he simulate the Tennessee environment.
How well can he create the hysteria of 102, 854 orange-clad Tennessee fans? Can he pump up the volume enough on the practice field to simulate the noise of Neyland Stadium?
“We have got all the crowd noise that we use which is a pain,” Davie said about the noise factor. “It is hard on the coaches, boy, that is a distraction. It is hard to communicate but that is how it is in the game. So we will do that all week. That is about as far as you can go with it.”
Currently, the series is even at two a piece. Tennessee comes to the game with a 20 home game winning streak. The team has not loss to an Independent team since 1990, when the top-ranked Irish defeated them, 34-29.
“It is obvious this would be a huge, huge win,” Davie said. “I think it would put you back in a national picture. I think would it give a lot of credibility obviously to what you are doing. It would give a lot of confidence to these players. There is no question about that that it would do that just like it would any team.
“There has been 20 teams in a row go down to Knoxville and try to do the same thing, a lot of good SEC teams, and it would have done the same thing for them as well. With anybody that can go into Knoxville in front of 107,000 people and beat them there it would do a lot. So obviously it would do a lot for us as well.”
Saturday’s night game will draw a huge national crowd, most likely more than the average home game telecast. The night game allows all football eyes to focus on the Irish and Vols.
Davie stated that his preparation for the night game would differ very little from a regular game.
“The little bit of difference in preparation would be we may walk through and do a little more on Friday than we normally would,” Davie said. “Then on Saturday you have got a long day, so we will use that opportunity Saturday around 12 o’clock to do some walk-throughs and get them out of the hotel and things.
“We are going to go by the stadium when we get into Knoxville just to let the players go by and they are going to turn the lights on for us. We are not going to dress. We are just going to walk in there and walk around.”
Getting accustomed to their surroundings is important in the Irish game plan. Notre Dame needs to establish a rhythm quickly against Tennessee. The Tennessee defensive unit has halted almost all of its opponents ground games. In fact, the Vols have not allowed a rushing touchdown yet this year. Tennessee is currently ranked as the eleventh best in the country.
“They have a distinct advantage in the current state of the situation,” Davie said about this weekend’s game. “They are a heck of a good football team, one that is coming off a National Championship.”