Brees confident Boilermakers can handle Irish crowd and team

Wednesday, September 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Drew Brees and his Purdue teammates will try to win at Notre Dame _ something last done before they were born.

The Boilermakers, whose last victory in South Bend was Sept. 28, 1974, have lost 11 consecutive at Notre Dame. The last came in Brees' fourth collegiate start, a 31-30 loss in 1998.

Brees, now a senior, completed 24 of 36 passes in that game for 261 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was intercepted twice.

``I just kind of doubted myself a little bit,'' Brees said Tuesday as he reflected on that game. ``I've always been a confident person, but when you step up to a new level you have to realize that things aren't going to come as fast as they did in high school.''

The loss didn't go away quickly.

``It felt like it was about a year,'' Brees said of the time between the Notre Dame game and his next outing one week later against Minnesota. ``I just wanted the next game to come around, so I could go out and redeem myself and be able to put that Notre Dame game behind me. It's not totally forgotten. I still refer to it as a learning experience.''

No. 13 Purdue visits No. 21 Notre Dame on Saturday to play before a partisan crowd of more than 80,000.

``It's going to be loud. For some of these young guys it's going to be a situation they haven't been in before,'' Brees said. ``I'm sure they'll pick up on it quick. We do our little thing in practice where we have the speakers blaring on both sides of the field. The Purdue music department brings out speakers and puts them on both ends of the practice field and blares music and crowd noise to kind of simulate a game.

``I think that will help us go in there, as far as trying to communicate with hand signals up on the line. We'll be ready for the hostile environment.''

Brees is in position to finish his career with every Big Ten passing record. He's second in total offense with 9,283 yards, trailing former Iowa star Chuck Long's mark of 10,254. Brees is also third in passing yardage with 8,857 behind Long (10,461) and Purdue record-holder Mark Herrmann (9,946).

Asked if the numbers and records mean anything to him, Brees responded, ``Not at this point. We're 2-0 right now and we're playing well. As long as we're playing like this, I'm going to be happy.''

While a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl trip is a major objective, a victory Saturday could be pivotal to the season.

``This is one of the worst places to play as far as going in there and feeling the tradition, the crowd noise and everything,'' Brees said. ``This would be a great win for us.''

Brees is facing the Irish as a starter for the third time. He was 24-of-40 for 371 yards, one TD and one interception last year when the Boilermakers won 28-23 at West Lafayette.