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    Irish Say They've Proved They're For Real

    FIGHTING IRISH Julius Jones had a 100-yard kickoff return to ignite Notre Dame's second-half rally.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Julius Jones had a 100-yard kickoff return to ignite Notre Dame's second-half rally.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sept. 9, 2000

    By TOM COYNE
    Associated Press Writer

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame players sat in the locker room following their near-miss against top-ranked Nebraska and talked about a possible rematch.

    "That's one of our dreams. If we win the rest of our games we'll have the opportunity to come back and play a quality team like Nebraska," quarterback Arnaz Battle said minutes after the Irish's 27-24 overtime loss Saturday.

    The Irish have been making such bold statements since they opened training camp, but after their play against Nebraska it seemed a little more appropriate.

    Coach Bob Davie wasn't in the mood to talk about a moral victory, but did want to talk about how far No. 23 Notre Dame (1-1) has come since finishing last season with four straight losses.

    Davie said he talked with receivers coach Urban Meyer before the game about how far the Irish had come.

    "He said, 'Coach do you realize how much we've gone through to get this football team to where it is right now? To get it where we want it to be from an athletic standpoint and from a mental standpoint?' Not that I expect people to, but no one realizes how much went into all this," Davie said. "I feel good about this team."

    Davie, whose job security has been questioned, didn't want to talk about what the victory meant for him.

    "All that talk was created by people that are on the outside. So I'll let you guys figure all that out," Davie said. "I haven't put a whole lot of thought into that. I know it's a bottom-line situation, but we didn't win that football game today.

    "To have the opportunity to beat the No. 1 football team in the nation in your stadium, certainly it's disappointing to all of us not to come out with a win."

    Notre Dame players said they were encouraged.

    "We should be real proud of ourselves," tailback Tony Fisher said. "That was the No. 1 team. People were counting us out from the beginning, saying we wouldn't have a chance."

    Davie knows he will be questioned by some Irish fans for two calls he made. The first was for attempting a pass on fourth-and-1 from the Nebraska 30 midway through the fourth quarter.

    "We tried to get it all," Davie said. "I think it was a good decision at the time. Obviously, anytime something doesn't work you go back and second guess yourself. But we were in a position where we had them a little off balance and tried to go for it all."

    The other was to let the final 67 seconds of regulation to run off the clock with the fall on the Notre Dame 30, using two running plays and not using either of the final two timeouts.

    "I think without question it was the right decision to put that game into overtime. I would do the same thing 10 out of 10 times again," Davie said. "We get the football with a minute left in the game, two timeouts, we've got a quarterback that's completed three passes on the day and several other passes were batted. I wanted to get that game into overtime and give our team a chance to win."

     

     

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