Weis worried about Notre Dame's mental state

November, 1, 2008
11/01/08
10:25
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
 
 AP Photo/Michael Conroy
 Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is worried that his team will have a difficult time bouncing back from a disheartening loss to Pittsburgh.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Charlie Weis is worried about the psyche of his team.

After Pittsburgh overcame a 17-3 halftime deficit to beat the Irish 36-33 in four overtimes, Weis said he's wondering how his team will bounce back.

"I think the next 24 to 48 hours, you know, it's a trying time when you come off a disheartening loss," Weis said. "You got to bounce right back. Get treatment tomorrow, and Monday morning come in and watch the tape, move on to Boston College. I think more than closing the game, I'm just worried about getting their psyche right for this week."

Weis' concern is understandable. This is the second game Notre Dame has lost late after giving up a double-digit lead. The Irish led North Carolina 17-6 before the Tar Heels marched back to win 29-24 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Tar Heels outscored Notre Dame 20-7 in the second half. On Saturday, Pittsburgh outscored the Irish 21-7 in the second half before hitting four consecutive field goals in overtime.

Weis made similar comments after the Irish loss to North Carolina, but his team had a bye the following week. He even said in his press conference after the game that he was happy his team didn't have to play the following week because he thought it might be too difficult a loss to overcome in such a short amount of time.

Now, the Irish have to prepare to play a 5-3 Boston College team on the road. Notre Dame is 1-2 on the road this season.

This also was a chance for the Irish to show that their record is not a product of their schedule. Coming into Saturday, the Irish had not beaten a team with a winning record -- Stanford beat Washington State on Saturday to push the Cardinal to 5-4 -- and this was a winnable game at home, a place they hadn't lost this season.

"[This was] a huge one," free safety David Bruton said. "Winning against an opponent with a winning record, at home, national stage, we let that one slip. That was just a big game we let slip."

The loss called into question why the Irish haven't been able to close out games this season. Coming into this game, Notre Dame was outscoring its opponents 104-64 in the first half, but just 82-67 in the second half.

Irish receiver Golden Tate said the team started to get comfortable after Notre Dame went up by two touchdowns on Pitt at halftime.

"I think we were a little too comfortable and we didn't come out hungry," said Tate, who had six catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. "I know I came out in the second half and made a few mistakes that I shouldn't have made. It's a learning experience because we're not to that point where we can get up a couple scores and chill. We've got to fight, fight to the end."

Nearly every question after the game involved the mental stability of this team. And while no one expected the Irish to go undefeated, there seems to be a fear that losses, especially dramatic ones, might provoke thoughts of last year's slide and cause the team to regress.

Seniors such as Bruton and Maurice Crum Jr. said they don't see that happening. They've watched this team change and mature over the past year and both players said it's better equipped to rebound from this loss and get ready for next week's game now than it was a year ago.

"I think the guys hurt, but just knowing the guys and seeing the guys around, I think we'll bounce back and be OK," Crum Jr. said. "The leadership of the team won't allow the team to be in the tank."

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