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Tech's Tenuta ready to match wits again with Weis

By Adam Van Brimmer

Morris News Service

ATLANTA - Quarterback Brady Quinn? Gone.

Tailback Darius Walker? Gone.

Wide receivers Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight? Gone too.

Three veteran offensive linemen? You guessed it, gone as well.

So how do all those changes affect Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta's scheming for Saturday's game against Notre Dame?

"It doesn't," Tenuta said. "Why? Charlie Weis."

Weis is Notre Dame's head coach. He's also one of football's brightest offensive minds. So even as Weis replaces the left side of his offensive line and skill players who accounted for all but 300 yards of the Irish offense a year ago, Tenuta refuses to underestimate Notre Dame's offensive capabilities.

"Obviously there's a lot of (uncertainty) about the quarterbacks and so on and so forth, but it's still Notre Dame," Tenuta said. "He'll have a wrinkle here or there for us, but you have to prepare for Notre Dame."

Tenuta is even willing to play Weis' mind games. Notre Dame's coach settled on a starting quarterback last week but is keeping his identity a secret.

Add to that leaks about the Irish designing different schemes around their quarterbacks - Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen are passers who fit Weis' trademark offense while Demetrius Jones would run the ball option-style - and it's clear Weis is trying to take advantage of the unknown.

Tenuta just smiles cryptically when asked what he expects.

"I know more than they want me to know," he said, "so I can't tell you nothing."

Potential inside information aside, Tenuta has the advantage of an experienced unit. The Yellow Jacket defense is essentially the same group that held Notre Dame's star-laden offense to 14 points a year ago, matching the Irish's low of the season. Georgia Tech returns eight defensive starters, and the three newcomers - linebacker Shane Bowen, defensive tackle Vance Walker and cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels - all played extensively in 2006. Word-Daniels started five games last season, in fact.

"It's going to be a chess match out there," Yellow Jacket safety Jamal Lewis said. "We'll just try to checkmate them."

In-game adjustments could help decide the game, particularly as it relates to how Notre Dame picks up Georgia Tech's blitzes. With three new starters up front, a backfield with limited experience and a rookie quarterback, Weis can expect Tenuta to send his safeties and linebackers after the passer most snaps.

Two years ago, when Georgia Tech opened against an Auburn offense in a similar situation to Notre Dame's, the Yellow Jackets forced Tiger quarterback Brandon Cox into five turnovers. Later that season, they sacked Miami's first-year quarterback, Kyle Wright, seven times. That's a Tenuta-coached defense for you, said Weis, who called Tenuta "one of the best defensive coordinators in the game."

"It's one of those game plans where you got to be ready for them to blitz or blitz zone on every single play," Notre Dame's coach said.

SideBar: TECH AT NOTRE DAME

' When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

' Where: North Bend, Ind.

' TV/Radio: NBC/790-AM