Sept. 3, 1999
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – With all of the commotion surrounding the upcoming kickoff between Notre Dame and Michigan, it might be hard for a coach to concentrate.
But Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie shows no sign of lack of concentration.
He remains focused and his squad has not swayed from the task at hand.
The key for his team is simplification.
?There are always a lot of different things swirling around,? Davie said. ?With our football team we really try to simplify things as much as we can.?
?All I am worried about is us making improvement over last weekend. That is an easy thing to say sometimes but not always an easy thing to do.?
He wants his squad to divert their attention from Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr?s suggestions that Davie and Co. disregarded a verbal agreement when they added another game to their schedule with the Eddie Robinson Classic, giving them a warmup game last Saturday vs. Kansas prior to the stiffer challenge that the Wolverines present.
Davie has boiled everything down to a few keys this week, one of which is the elimination of mistakes.
?That?s been the total focus of the team all week,? Davie said. ?We are just trying to improve our performance as a team. We realize that we are going to go up against some bigger, stronger and faster football players this week, in a pretty hostile environment, but we can only control the things which we can control.?
The Irish look to eliminate the turnovers and provide not only a threat on the ground but an aerial assault as well.
?We can?t turn the football over,? Davie said. ?If we turn the football over four times then we have no chance.?
The other concern for the Irish rests with the 100,000-plus Michigan fans who will pack Michigan Stadium. The Big House is notorious for its volume.
In order to prepare his squad, Davie pumped in crowd noise over Notre Dame Stadium?s sound system at practice.
Irish quarterback Jarious Jackson knows one of the keys to victory rests with taking the crowd out of the game.
?Isn?t hasn?t been easy but it hasn?t been hard,? Jackson replied about practicing with the noise. ?I have played in 13 or 14 games by now so I know how the crowd noise can get. The thing about it is that you have to try and put points on the board early, in order to keep the crowd out of it. If you do that then it will pretty much be an easy day for you.?
The Irish enter the game with two simple things in mind: eliminate mistakes and take the crowd out of the game.
Jackson and Co. show no outward signs of concern about Carr?s accusations. The team is simply focused on the task at hand, gaining Notre Dame?s first back-to-back wins over Michigan since the 1989-?90 seasons. The Irish are halfway there after last year?s 36-20 upset win over the then-defending national champs.
?The team mood is very upbeat,? Jackson said. ?Everyone is up-tempo. We are all excited to go to the Big House and we are going in there with purpose in mind.?