3:30 PM ET, October 15, 2005
Notre Dame Stadium, NOTRE DAME, IN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis knows how to get a quarterback ready for a big game.
The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator helped Tom Brady win three Super Bowls. Weis will do his best to prepare Brady Quinn for No. 9 Notre Dame's game against top-ranked Southern California on Saturday.
"I might not talk just about the game," Weis said. "I'll just make sure he's loose and focused and ready to go."
Weis wants Quinn to be mentally prepared for whatever happens -- whether the Trojans fall behind early, as they have in recent games, or if USC scores a couple of quick touchdowns, as it has against the Irish the past few years.
"I want him to kind of anticipate what I'm going to do depending on how things go," Weis said.
Quinn has already seen how Weis reacts in games. He saw him in a blowout victory over Purdue and how he responded when the Irish (4-1) fell behind by three touchdowns to Michigan State.
"I walked over to him calmly and said, `OK, it's you and me buddy. We can't make an error the rest of the game,"' Weis said. "You have to talk very matter-of-factly when you're talking in those situations. Because if you don't, if you panic, it's over. If he panics, it's over."
Since that discussion, Quinn has played the best football of his career in 2½ games. He has completed 69 of 99 passes, a 69.6 percent completion rate, and has thrown for 966 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception.
Quinn entered the season with 26 touchdown passes, 25 interceptions and completing 51 percent of his passes, averaging 184 yards a game passing. So far this year, Quinn has 13 TD passes, two interceptions and a 65.3 completion rate.
He also has tied a school record set by Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, passing for at least one touchdown for 10 straight games.
USC coach Pete Carroll sees a big improvement.
"He's just done beautiful things. As well as he's made the big throws, he's shown the quick game, the quick release, the ability to get the ball out versus pressure as well as work the ball down the field," he said.
Carroll believes Weis' system deserves much of the credit for Quinn's development.
"Charlie's factor and what he's been able to do is enormous," he said. "He is that offense. What they did at New England is what they're doing at Notre Dame, and you can see it clearly, and he's the one that brought it."
Weis deals with Quinn the same way he dealt with Brady.
"I just do what I do and know what I know," Weis said.
That includes giving Quinn the silent treatment one day earlier this week because he thought the QB might have been believing his press clippings.
"I wouldn't call it mind games," Weis said. "But I think you have to make sure they realize they can always play better."
Quinn said while Weis is a taskmaster at practice, he has a way of putting him at ease. He said his improvement this year is a combination of hard work and working with Weis. He's also learned from Weis to focus only on the present.
"It's allowed me to play games better and get more relaxed because you can't worry about what's in the past. You can't worry about past plays," he said. "All you can worry about is what's happening now."
Which is why he likes being at Notre Dame. He sees the attention Matt Leinart receives at USC and all the distractions it brings, like being asked this week about whether he is living with singer Nick Lachey.
"He's in Hollywood, that's where all the big entertainment is, so obviously that's going to be part of his college experience and everything he goes through," Quinn said. "Obviously being in South Bend, it's not a hot spot for celebrities, so a lot of the focus when it comes to me is more or less football."
Which is the way Weis and Quinn want it.
Top 25 Overview
Both offenses are among the top 10 nationally, but the big difference is USC is 38th in total defense while Notre Dame is 94th.
Scouts, Inc.: Matchups to watch
|Avg Points Allowed||21.2||25.7|
The Fan Pick
69.0% of College Pick'em players picked USC to win the game.