Two of Notre Dame's legendary football coaches are back in town this weekend as the Irish prepare to take on longtime rival Michigan State.
Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz, the only living coaches to win a national championship at Notre Dame, are both excited about this year's Irish team. The icons do admit that the Irish may have gotten off to a slower start than originally predicted though.
"Everybody expected that they would be better defensively," said Parseghian when first asked about the 2013 team. "In other words, they've given up more points than we expected."
However, Holtz doesn't seem too worried about the Irish defense or the close score of last Saturday's game at Purdue.
"I'm not at all concerned about the defense," said Holtz. "I'm not concerned about Purdue. We beat Purdue 11 years in a row but I want to tell you, every time we went to West Lafayette we struggled for our lives just like Notre Dame did last week. So that's no big deal."
Still, Holtz emphasized the need for a good performance by the Irish defense on Saturday against Michigan State's low-scoring offense. "If they run up and down the field on our defense then we need to get out the chalkboard. But I don't think that will happen."
As always, it isn't just the defense that needs to perform on Saturday. Holtz praised the Irish offense, especially sophomore wide receiver DaVaris Daniels. "Daniels is a real threat," Holtz said. "Every year Notre Dame has a great receiver. Daniels might be as good as any of them."
Parseghian agreed with Holtz that the Irish offense has looked confident in the first few games, saying "Tommy Rees is performing well at the quarterback spot and they're running the ball well."
Overall, both coaches are optimistic about the remainder of the season. "Notre Dame may not lose the rest of the year," said Holtz. "We may end up in the championship game because there's nobody that Notre Dame's not capable of beating."
Parseghian, more hesitant to make any BCS predictions, emphasized the importance of the next few games for the Irish. "They've got the talent," he said. "They've got people there that can develop into a good team. In other words, hold on for the next three or four games. Let's see if they develop."