Oct. 10, 2002
By Adam Porcelli
Notre Dame, Ind. – On Thursday afternoon, the eighth-ranked Notre Dame football team practiced for the last time before Saturday’s game versus Pittsburgh. The game will mark the 60th meeting between the two schools. The Irish lead the series with 41 wins and have also won nine of its last 10 meetings against the Panthers. Despite past success, head coach Tyrone Willingham does not think it will be easy to beat this week’s opponent.
“This is an excellent football team,” said Willingham.
“Their entire offense has played very well for them. Their quarterback has been good and they have not one, but three wide receivers that are performing well. Their defense also performs at a high level. In a way, it is like looking in a mirror and seeing our defense. This is going to be a great challenge this week. It will also be a challenge for Pittsburgh.”
Pittsburgh comes into its game against the Irish with a 5-1 record. The Panthers earned its fifth win last Saturday with a 48-24 victory at Syracuse. The victory was Pittsburgh’s first win in 20 years in the Carrier Dome. Willingham acknowledges the significance this win has to the Pittsburgh team.
“Any win that puts you in a positive state of mind is such a tremendous advantage to have going into your next game,” said Willingham.
“The reason is because you know you have accomplished something. Accomplishment is the name of the game. When a team can use something to build upon, it really bumps up overall player performance.”
After a hard week of practice, Willingham believes the Irish are ready for this week’s challenge. He noted that the team practiced at a consistently high level all week.
“We had very good practices,” said Willingham.
“Our young men have been consistent throughout the practice times. Once you reach a certain level of consistency, though, sometimes you don’t value that you are performing at such a high level. As a coach, you have to be careful not be too quick to jump when we’re not doing something quite right. The team has performed well and worked hard in practice all week.”
The Irish will play Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (EST) against Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by NBC.
— ND —