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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Friday Notebook

    Assistant Editor

    The walk-throughs and half-speed drills are finally over and Corwin Brown couldn’t be happier. For the first time since training camp began, the Irish practiced in pads Friday, finally giving the defensive coordinator and the rest of the staff a better gauge of what they have.

    “When you get in full pads, you can play football because you have no limitations,” Brown said. “You can fit on blocks, you can fit on tackles, your linebackers can be physical, D-linemen can be physical. You can play.”

    The pads will be on again Saturday morning when Charlie Weis holds a Fan Appreciation Day at the stadium. The entire two-and-a-half hour practice will be open to the media and the public and Weis said he will hold nothing back. In fact, the coach said early in camp he hoped to make some decisions about the quarterback race after this practice.

    On the defensive side of the ball, Brown said he spent this first week re-familiarizing his players with the new 3-4 scheme and the lessons learned in the spring. More installation and some roster decisions will begin next week.

    “Set a tone, get to where we were in the spring as fast as possible, and then move beyond it,” Brown said when asked how he approached Week 1. “That’s what our goal was and that’s where we are.”

    Fresh Starter(s)

    For linebacker Anthony Vernaglia and defensive lineman Dwight Stephenson Jr., this fall camp is a chance to not only finally find some playing time, but to also put the past behind and finally find some satisfaction.

    Neither veteran player has lived up to recruiting expectations, but a new system, a new coach and a new chance have brought new optimism. Both are listed at the top of the depth chart at their positions and both will be in the mix for starting duties and major minutes.

    “It’s a fresh start. I never had a start before so anything would be a fresh start for me,” Stephenson said. “The new defense is just what it is, it’s a new defense so it’s a fresh start, new coordinator, new position.”

    By his own admission, Vernaglia has played himself from a highly recruited high school player to the “pretty boy from California.” He was recruited by Brown out of high school when Brown was at Virginia and he has been singled out by the new defensive boss on a couple of occasions both in the spring and fall.

    “It’s a whole new scheme, a whole new defensive coordinator, a clean slate – you can learn stuff from the beginning with everybody so the learning curve is at zero for everyone,” Vernaglia said. “You get to pick up, make new impressions, you get to start fresh. I love it.

    “With the previous defense, once I had made an impression, it kind of stuck with me for the duration. Now, I can kind of shed that and be whoever I want to be to start this next year off.”

    Function Over Form

    With new defensive players learning new defensive positions, much has been made about certain “body types” that it takes to play positions such as middle linebacker, defensive end and especially nose tackle.

    And while a certain amount of bulk and muscle are obviously needed at various positions, Brown said he puts more stock in a player’s performance rather than in his physique.

    “When I look at players, I really don’t look at the mold, I just look at how they play. That’s really all that matters. Some people, they get caught in the measurables,” Brown said. “I’ve seen defensive backs that have been really fast but they can’t make plays on the ball. I’ve seen defensive linemen that are huge, but they don’t control their responsibility like you would like. I’ve also seen guys that are so disruptive and they are such a problem, that you can’t take them off the field, and you don’t want to.

    “We don’t look at positions and say ‘Okay, we want this body type, we want this mold.’ We look at guys and we say, ‘How many plays is he making, how often does it happen and is it consistent?’”

    Practice Observations (from John Haynsworth)

    Offense: Robert Hughes appears to be at his finest once the pads go on. He had his best day of practice today, and according to Jason Myers, he absolutely destroyed the gauntlet, earning the praise of running backs' coach and offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.

    Defense: Scott Smith worked out with the inside linebackers during today's practice. Judging by the responses from coaches Corwin Brown and Brian Polian, the linebacking corps as a whole performed well during drills. Only Steve Paskorz took some heat during the first 20 minutes when he loafed on a drill and Coach Polian demanded that he run it again and run it right.

    Despite an injury that is expected to keep him out for some time, Gary Gray looks good and caught the ball well during drills today. Harrison Smith dropped a ball during the opening part of drills and took some friendly grief from his teammates who teased him with the nickname "brick."


    “We try to get freshmen to be seen and not heard. We show them how we do things and then we just go from there. It’s tough to say what you’re going to do with a freshman, because they’ve only been here for a few days, so it’s really hard. They’re too busy learning how to carry the playbook, making sure they don’t leave it home, make sure they wake up, make sure they are doing all those little things. You got to crawl before you can walk.” – Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown on handling the newcomers
    8/10 Practice Info

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I'm looking forward to a future defense that can stop teams so we don't have to just outscore all our opponents.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Open Practice Observations, 8/11/07

    OK. Before you start reading, we are warning you -- this is long. So go, pick up a drink and then sit down. You'll be here for a bit. That said, we'd estimate between 1-2,000 fans showed up at Notre Dame Stadium this morning to watch the Irish practice.

    * Quarterback and running back groupings: Demetrius Jones and Travis Thomas (with John Sullivan as center); Evan Sharpley and James Aldridge; Jimmy Clausen and Armando Allen; Darrin Bragg and Robert Hughes; Justin Gillett and Junior Jabbie. During this particular drill, Jones was in the middle and making all of the calls.
    * Quarterback recruit Dayne Crist was in attendance. Crist is already bigger than any quarterback Notre Dame has on its roster.
    * As has been the case all week, Sharpley and Jones stretched together; as did Bragg and Clausen.
    * First-team offense: OL -- Sam Young, Dan Wenger, Sullivan, Mike Turkovich and Paul Duncan. WR: David Grimes and George West. TE: John Carlson. RB: Thomas. FB: Asaph Schwapp. QB: Jones for much of the day, although it was Clausen during 9-on-7 drills and Sharpley at other points.
    * On all of the team drills, Jones, Sharpley and Clausen each received six repetitions in that order.
    * Jones showed he could throw the ball -- but also be prone to a bad mistake. On one of his final throws during the run/play action segment, he outthrew everyone except for two defensive backs.
    * All three quarterbacks showed awareness of the pocket. Sharpley stepped up and threw a nice screen pass to Allen when pressured. Jones took off running and Clausen moved away and then threw the ball away.
    * During the 9-on-7 drill, Weis spent his time on the field working with Clausen, who was merely handing off. It is something that Weis said later he does because that is when he can coach one guy.
    * While the rest of the team was working on special teams, Jones took instruction from quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus while Clausen and Sharpley talked to Crist.
    * During the down-and-distance drill, Clausen was the only quarterback not to throw a deep pass -- including Bragg and Gillett. When asked about it afterwards, Weis said he didn't notice.
    * Both Sharpley and Clausen had the ball go backwards on them once when they went to throw.
    * Second-team offense: OL: Taylor Dever; Matt Carufel; Thomas Bemenderfer; Eric Olsen and Matt Romine. WR: D.J. Hord and Robby Parris. RB: Aldridge. FB: Luke Schmidt. TE: Konrad Reuland.
    * From what we noticed, Wenger was out there at first-team right guard much of the day.
    * Hord -- who we criticized in this space earlier this week for struggling to catch the ball -- had a good day shaking off defenders and catching almost everything in his vicinity. Charlie Weis said Hord has been catching the ball better toward the end of the week.
    * Parris beat Tom Zbikowski on a cut inside.
    * Grimes continues to be reliable catching the ball, grabbing one with cornerback Raeshon McNeil in his face. He also had the catch of the day, leaping over cornerback Ambrose Wooden to grab a ball on a fly route thrown by Jones.
    * Wide receiver Golden Tate -- who is very thin -- can also really jump. He also cut in front of McNeil for a reception during passing drills.
    * Wide receiver Duval Kamara seemed to have a little trouble cutting on the turf. He slipped multiple times.
    * Tight end Will Yeatman ran with the first team occassionally. There were also some three tight end sets popping up.
    * Robert Hughes is a bunch to handle. He has good cutting ability and has size to run over people. At first glance, he looks a little bit like former Florida State running back Greg Jones. He also showed elusiveness and the ability to get to the corner. Between Allen and Hughes, Notre Dame has two really good looking backs for the future.
    * Tate showed some of his athletic ability off of a bad play. He fumbled a reverse and then picked it up and ran 20 yards back to the line of scrimmage.
    * Freshman defensive tackle Ian Williams is very compact and very, very large. He worked a bunch, not surprisingly, with the second team defense.
    * First-team defense: DB: Zbikowski, David Bruton, Terrail Lambert and Ambrose Wooden. LB: Anthony Vernaglia, Maurice Crum, Joe Brockington and John Ryan. DL: Justin Brown, Pat Kuntz and Trevor Laws.
    * Second-team defense: DB: Darrin Walls, Kyle McCarthy, McNeil and Sergio Brown. LB: Kerry Neal, Scott Smith, Toryan Smith and Kevin Washington. DL: Dwight Stephenson, Ian Williams and Paddy Mullen.
    * Leo Ferrine, Jashaad Gaines and Munir Prince were in the third team secondary. Morrice Richardson appeared to run most of practice with the third team linebackers.
    * After one play in run/play action drill, Corwin Brown made the entire defense run a lap around the field because there were only 10 men on the field for defense. Weis said after practice it was to make eliminating those types of mistakes a point of emphasis.
    * Linebacker Steve Quinn seemed to be in on a bunch of plays, including snuffing Allen at the line after anticipating the run play.
    * Freshmen linebackers Kerry Neal and Brian Smith both worked their way in with the first group. Neal is an impressive looking player who seems to have instincts getting to the ball.
    * Toryan Smith is pretty scary when you see him with pads on. He looks like a small defensive end -- certainly stout enough to play inside linebacker. One reporter compared him to an "SEC linebacker." Come to think of it, he does look like LSU's Ali Highsmith.
    * Kick return unit: Front row -- McCarthy; Quinn; Thomas/Richard Jackson (both were out there); Nick Possley and Sergio Brown. Second row: Reuland and Yeatman. Third row: Scott Smith and Schwapp. Kick returners: Allen and West.
    * Punt returners: Zbikowski, Grimes, Allen and West. While Notre Dame was working on punt returns, tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee kept Mike Ragone and Kamara behind the rush line, presumably to see what was going on.
    * Punt coverage gunners look to be Lambert and Bruton.
    * On punt returns, we saw Zbikowski out there as the returner; Wooden and Lambert as the outside blockers. Bruton; Brian Smith; Richardson; Quinn; McCarthy and Jabbie appeared to be on the line.
    * When Zbikowski returned a punt for a touchdown, he briefly taunted Tate, who was giving chase.
    * When Allen broke one -- and he really is fast -- linebackers coach Brian Polian pretended to give chase before stopping.
    * Kickoff unit: Munir Prince; McCarthy; Kallen Wade; Scott Smith; Richardson; Toryan Smith; Quinn; Jabbie; Sergio Brown and McNeil. Both Nate Whitaker and Brandon Walker took kickoffs.
    * Field goal kicking: Whitaker 3-5 (Made 25, 35 and 45. Missed 30 and 33); Ryan Burkhart: 0-4 (Missed 25, 30, 33, 35. Didn't attempt 45). Walker: 3-5 (Made 25, 30 and 33. Missed 35 and 45). Of all the things we saw today, this would be the most disconcerting to Notre Dame. Walker seemed the most comfortable from inside, but struggled once real distance was involved. Burkhart missed all four of his wide left.
    * Wooden seems slimmer than in previous years, especially in his calves.
    * A scout from the Miami Dolphins was in attendance.
    * After practice, all of the freshmen went to one sideline to sing Notre Dame's alma mater. After they sang once, the rest of the team joined.
    8/11 practice info

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Notes from Weis’s Presser: 8/11
    Author: Frankie V

    Weis was in a pretty good mood when he addressed the media Saturday after practice which should be seen as a pretty good sign for Notre Dame fans.

    * This kickers have taken terms in practice having the best day. “Nate was disappoint in his feidlgs because after the first kick he missed the next two and then drills one right now the middle. So he was disappointed there whereas on the kicksoffs, he kicked off the best today. Brandon, whose been kicking off the best, was the best kicking field goals today. Ryan was kind of behind both of those guys today.”
    * Speaking of the kickers, I left out of my last blog that Whitaker was 3 for 5 (missed 30 and 33 yarders) , Walker was 3 for 5 (missed 35 and 45 yarders) , and Burkhart was 0-4 (and did not get a final attempt). Looks like it could be another year of question marks at kicker for Notre Dame.
    * On the quarterbacks first week of practice – “We’ve had different quarterbacks doing different things on different days.” “They’ve been ok. They haven’t been great, they haven’t been terrible, they’ve been ok.”
    * “We have through Monday before we completed that initial process. We still have Saturday night installation, Sunday installation, and Monday morning installation. For that matter we also have installation on Monday afternoon. It’s going to have to be another three days before we’ve gotten enough in where now we can start tuning it up and deciding what we’re gonna try to run.”
    * On what he has learned about his team after a week of practice: “I think that we’ll be good enough to win, that’s what I’ve learned.”
    * Weis again made mention that he is very pleased with the wide receivers so far: “I’ve been saying all along, everyone’s saying this is a weakness. I really like the wide receiver position. I really like them.”
    * DJ Hord caught the ball very well on Saturday and Weis was asked if he has been doing that all week: “More towards the end of the week than the beginning of the week. We’ve put some pressure on guys like DJ, and Richard, and Barry and those guys who have been here because you have these two young guys that you haven’t even seen practice yet. So if you’re trying to get people reps and you want to see the two young guys, you say ‘Hey, we don’t have time to wait around here. Either you’re in the mix or the ship has sailed.’ ”
    * On some of the older guys at receiver feeling the pressure from the freshmen: “They’re feeling the pressure not just from the top down, but from the bottom up.”
    * On the quality of the running backs: “We’ve got a lot of running backs that can play.”
    * “There’s five halfbacks you can put on the field and you could win with any of the five of them. Now, obviously you can’t play all five running backs; but I think it’s a little too early to etch in stone that Travis is going to get every snap, or hey that Armando Allen is fast let’s give him every snap, or everywhere in between. That Robert Hughes is 237, let’s give him every snap. I haven’t even mentioned James and Junior. I’d say the running back position is the one position where right now im not worrying about too much.”
    * On whether or not freshman will be playing this year: “There will be freshman on the field in the first game and it won’t be in mop up time, that I can tell ya. And it won’t be one, it’ll be multiples.”
    * On why the defense ran a lap in the middle of the practice: “We had ten men on the field, I’d prefer we have eleven.”
    * Weis feels as though he has enough depth at the corner position to be able to match up against any personnel package that gets thrown at them: “The first year here I wouldn’t play more than two or three guys at corner. You’d go into games wanting to play nickel and dime and trying to get into packages where you’re trying to matchup and you really in good faith couldn’t do it because you felt like you were putting lesser players out there when you did it.”
    * When asked about who has stood out once the pads have come on there were only two names Charlie mentioned individually: “Toryan(Smith) and Joe (Brockington) at inside linebacker.”
    * Weis wants to create position flexibility at the inside linebacker position in case Maurice Crum were to get hurt. Weis prefers having a veteran guy running the show in terms of calling the defensive plays at the position so they want Smith and Brockington to learn both inside positions. My take here is that Smtih is going to start and Weis wants Brockington to be able to backup both Smith and Crum so that if Crum went down Smith wouldn’t have to worry about calling he defenses.
    * On what he knows about his team that he didn’t know before this week: “We’ve got a lot more players that can play. A lot more players that can play in a game.”
    * “Corwin and I are so much on the same page, as far as our upbringing that when we talk, it’s like we’ve been talking for two decades”
    * On the development of Kerry Neal and Brian Smith: “When we brought those guys in there and put them at the outside linebackers, we saw guys that were 240ish, strong as oxes, with a lot of athleticism. In this defense, one of the things you need are those guys that can stand up at the point when they are running right at you, rush the passer, and stll have the athletic ability to get into coverage. Both of those have the athleticism to do that.”
    * On the difference between Neal and Brian Smith: “Kerry was always with his hand on the ground and Brian was inside and outside as a linebacker when he was in high. Both of those guys are definitely on the depth chart.”
    * When asked about Jimmy Clausen’s ability to throw the ball deep, something he did not do in Saturday’s practice: “Can he throw the ball deep? I think we’ll have to wait until September 1 to find that out.” Clausen was the only quarterback to not throw the ball downfield Saturday.
    * Weis discussed how he and Ron Powlus have been coaching the quarterbacks mentioning that he takes whoever is running the offense at the time one on one while Powlus has the rest of the group.
    * On why he had the freshman singing the alma mater after practice: “It was one of those games where at the end of the game we were singing the alma mater and some of the guys were standing there either not singing or not paying attention. I just felt like that’s not what Notre Dame is about.”

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Practice Notes: 8/11
    Author: Frankie V

    Here’s some notes from today’s open practice based on all of the free videos from

    * Demetrius Jones has some good zip on his passes and fired one of those quick hitters to George West with some speed. Jones then missed West pretty badly on a fake end around.
    * Corwin Brown had the entire defense run a lap around the field after having 10 players on the field at one point.
    * Steve Quinn looked pretty good out there. He made one really nice tackle on Armando Allen when it looked like Allen was going to be able to turn the corner. He also nearly picked off Bragg and stood up James Aldridge at the line.
    * Robert Hughes is not just an inside runner – on one play he stiff armed Justin Brown and bounced outside for a really nice gain. Hughes followed his blocks very well and knew where he was going.
    * Armando Allen is going to be a factor early and often this year – he very could be the biggest playmaker on offense for the Irish this year. He had plenty of nice runs and looked very good in the open field on a screen play. I don’t think he’ll unseat Travis Thomas as the starter, but he is going to have plenty of big plays for Notre Dame this year.
    * Speaking of Thomas, he looked really good in the 9 on 7 drills which the offense really dominated. That is to be expected though as the defense was playing very basic packages.
    * David Bruton looked really good playing against the run.
    * Returning punts were Grimes, West, Zibby, and Allen. Zibby and Allen both busted one.
    * Grimes made a GREAT catch over Wooden on pass Jones put up in the air for him to catch.
    * Overall the running game seemed to be clicking really well which is good and bad news. Good that ND is running well, bad that the defense isn’t stopping them.
    * Sharpley appeared to be the most accurate among the quarterbacks.
    * Clausen had a ball slip out of his hand as he was throwing it and didn’t look like he had his full velocity out there.
    * Weis had all of the freshman sing the alma mater together after practice before being joined by the entire team to sing the Fight Song.
    * Morrice Richardson played pretty well against the run.
    * First team offensive line – Sam Young, Dan Wenger, Sully, Michael Turkovich, and Paul Duncan. Not surprised Wenger is running with the first team, but am a little surprised Turk was in there over Carufel who I think will wind up starting.
    * Taylor Dever doesn’t look like a freshman when he is standing around the other offensive linemen – he’s huge.
    * First team defense looked to be Just Brown, Trevor Laws, and Pat Kuntz up front; Mo Crum, Joe Brockington, Anythony Vernagliz, and John Ryan as the linebackers; and then Zibby, Bruton, Wooden, and Lamert in the secondary.
    * I’d be very surprised of Toryan Smith was not a starting linebacker this season.
    * John Ryan had a really nice pick on one of the drills at the beginning of practice.
    * I still stand by my prediction of Demetrius Jones starting against Tech. Weis has said all week that he won’t just start a QB that can manage a game, but wants someone who could take over a game and Jones fits the bill. Sharpley was the most accurate passer, but Jones just gives the offense another dimension.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Open Practice Offers Little Clues into QB Race
    Author: Frank Vitovitch

    ( – Saturday’s open practice left observers with more questions than answers regarding Notre Dame’s highly publicized quarterback race. Is Jimmy Clausen healthy? Can Demetrius Jones be consistent enough to lead the offense? Does Evan Sharpley have the field presence to be the starter come September 1? All of these questions remain unanswered a week into practice – all least in the eyes of the media.

    Charlie Weis does every for a reason so the chances of gaining any sort of insights into the quarterback competition were slim to begin with. In fact, its very likely that everything that was shown on Saturday was done purposefully to raise some doubt and leave Georgia Tech guessing.

    Jimmy Clausen was the only quarterback who didn’t attempt any downfield passes. Rather, the freshman phenom threw only short passes in Saturday’s dog and pony show while every other signal caller threw down field at least once.

    Is Clausen’s arm not 100% or does Weis simply want everyone to think it’s not 100%? When asked about why Clausen didn’t sling it downfield like his fellow qbs, Weis quipped, “Can he throw the ball deep? I think we’ll have to wait until September 1 to find that out.”

    Clausen wasn’t the only quarterback who left people with questions though. Sophomore Demetrius Jones showed flashes of the athleticism that he is known for, but he also showed flashes of the inaccuracy that he is also dubiously known for.

    Jones, however, did show a great command of the offense and the field presence of a starting quarterback. Accuracy is something that can be worked on with addition reps, but having the confidence and command of the offense is something that is not so easily taught.

    The third horse in this race, Evan Sharpley, threw the ball with the best accuracy and velocity Saturday, but didn’t move the offense as well as Jones who despite his accuracy issues showed that ability better than either Clausen or Sharpley.

    All of these observations, however, are based on what Weis and the staff wanted people to see. It behooves Weis to continue to leave a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the quarterback situation for as long as he can so it’s very likely that Saturday’s practice was just another move in the chess game that is the pre-season in college football .

    While Saturday’s practice may have been planned out to show only what Weis wanted, that is not to say that it was a wasted practice or a waste of time. As Weis explained after the practice, “We’ve had different quarterbacks doing different things on different days.” Somehow I doubt that it was just a coincidence that Clausen was not tabbed to work on his downfield passing Saturday morning.

    So what have we learned after a week of practice? In the word of Weis, “They’ve been OK. They haven’t been great, they haven’t been terrible, they’ve been OK.” Again, it’s not surprising that Weis is being noncommittal in the media at this point.

    The coming week of practice should provide a few more clues as the Irish move from the installation phase of camp and into the game planning phase.

    “We still have Saturday night installation, Sunday installation, and Monday morning installation. For that matter we also have installation on Monday afternoon,” said Weis before adding, “ It’s going to have to be another three days before we’ve gotten enough in where now we can start tuning it up and deciding what we’re gonna try to run.”

    So for now it’s just a guessing game for those outside the coaching staff to discern what was actually learned from Saturday’s open practice. Is Jones in the lead right now? Is Clausen healthy?

    No one really knows. No one except Weis and his staff.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I read on that Dayne Crist was in South Bend this weekend. Or at least they think it was him. He was hanging out with Clausen on the sidelines and standing next to the huddles during the scrimmages.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Salem, Virginia
    You're doing a great job Yboord with ND

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    yea well i've got to get back to learning about ND. The Brady Quinn era is done so gotta learn more. Also I have to get past that they're gonna have a horrible season lol

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    August 13, 2007
    Monday Notebook

    Assistant Editor

    Charlie Weis decided after two-a-days Saturday that he would use Sunday to “throw a bone” to his players with a late wakeup call, but also use the goodwill as a chance to measure some mental progress.

    Weis let his players sleep in Sunday before they reported to duty. The gesture seemed benign enough, but Weis said there was more to it than just rewarding the team for a good start to camp. As Weis explained, sometimes a little slack can to lead to a little setback, not in this case.

    “We had probably the best practice we’ve had all year on Sunday,” Weis said. “Usually, that indicates that the team is starting to become more mature. They’re more serious about it, because the general tendency with these players when you take them out of their normal ritual or their daily grind, they are usually a little bit flat, so they passed my first test.”

    Weis said Week 1 was spent mainly on installation. This week will be a “tweak week,” with less installation and more fine-tuning. By this time next week, scout teams will be assembled and Georgia Tech preparations will be in full gear.

    For the coaching staff, Georgia Tech prep began months ago with scouting reports and film study. Weis said his staff also monitors Georgia Tech media reports carefully for injury news and any other helpful tidbits about rising and fading players.

    “Unless you want to be unethical and try to sneak somebody into a practice, which I have too many other things to worry about than that, you just have to go by what you’re hearing,” Weis said. “But more importantly, what you saw when they played last year.”

    One thing none of us will find out during preparations is who the starting quarterback will be for Notre Dame. Weis was adamant Monday about his desire to use mystery as a weapon.

    “I’m trying to win the opener, I’m trying to beat Georgia Tech and it’s the only game where I have this card to play and I’m going to hold it,” Weis said. “My answer won’t change, it will be a game-time decision.”

    Depth Charge

    If there has been one ongoing theme during camp so far, it has been the increased depth at many positions on the Irish roster. Weis said during his first couple of seasons that injuries to certain players on the team would have been devastating with no viable backups.

    This year, he expects the terrific depth-chart competitions to continue through camp and those position battles to spill over to the field on Saturdays.

    “This year, there’s a lot of those second guys that are going to play a significant role in the game where in the past that wasn’t the case here,” Weis said. “I can see us playing six corners in the first game. Two will start, but I can see six getting into the game. That’s a lot of depth and it’s a nice situation to be in.”

    Weis said the depth is also starting to show up along the offensive line, a much needed numbers and quality boost for a unit handicapped in recent years by poor recruiting results and defections.

    “For the first time, we’ve been able to line up a whole second line, and change for that matter,” Weis said. “We’ll call two and then we’ll call two plus, because there are some guys that aren’t even running with the second line that we think are good enough to play in the game.”

    More Competition Matters

    The race for receiving depth and minutes continues to be one of the best battles on the field. In the open practice Saturday, David Grimes and George West continued to be the top two receivers, and Robby Parris was No. 3. But guys such as D.J. Hord, Richard Jackson and freshmen Duval Kamara and Golden Tate continue to push the guys ahead of them.

    “They’re all feeling the heat,” Weis said. “There’s people breathing down their neck. There’s a lot of heat out there in this competition. It’s like coming down to the finish line at the track, there’s a whole bunch of closers right here, trying to get to the end.”

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Will anyone else be a little disappointed if Sharpley ends up getting the opening game start? Not that I don't think he probably gives us the best chance to win against GT since he actually has some game experience. I just think with Weis keeping this a secret until gameday I'm sort of expecting to see Jones or Clausen out there.

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    August 14, 2007
    Practice Observations, 8/14/07

    Despite it being the nicest day yet in South Bend, Notre Dame headed inside to the Loftus Center for preseason practice. We're told it was due to soggy field conditions thanks to rain passing through the area earlier.

    * Three scouts were in attendance -- from the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions.
    * Not surprisingly, Brian Polian took time out during stretching to chat with the Colts' scout. Brian's dad is Colts' general manager Bill Polian.
    * Wide receivers coach Rob Ianello was talking to the quarterbacks about hard work and dedication.
    * Coming out of the post-stretch huddle, Demetrius Jones led the pack and yelled in excitement -- part of a day where the players seemed more ready than usual.
    * During a drop-back drill, Charlie Weis stopped the quarterbacks to instruct them on what looked like how to hold the ball coming back into their stance. Jones asked multiple questions -- we couldn't hear what -- of the head coach.
    * Center John Sullivan appears to be in good condition and more agile in years past getting through the bag drills.
    * Wide receiver David Grimes -- who made an impressive catch Saturday -- looks the healthiest he has been since he's been at Notre Dame. He also appears to be much bigger in both the legs and upper body than last season, which is important since he'll be the Irish's No. 1 receiver.
    * Throwing passes to the receivers today was Tim McDonnell while receivers coach Rob Ianello stood off to the side and watched. McDonnell was a college receiver at Holy Cross. McDonnell also throws the football rather well.
    * D.J. Hord continued grabbing everything in sight, including a nice catch made when McDonnell purposely overthrew him. Ianello joked McDonnell was trying to challenge him, but the junior reached his long arms out and made the catch in stride. He really seems to be making a case to be on the field.
    * Athletic director Kevin White showed up at the end of the media portion of practice.
    * Also in attendance were Michael and Karen Richardville, the parents of walk-on wide receiver and Fort Wayne native Jake Richardville. They said Jake, a senior, is scheduled to take his MCAT (medical school entrance exam tests) in less than two weeks.

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Practice Observations, 8/15/07

    Hot and muggy out -- yet Notre Dame practiced outside on Cartier Field. The morning practice had less people around, though.

    * Most of Notre Dame's first-team players were not at practice. No clues on the quarterbacks, though, as all five were in attendance.
    * Both right guard candidates -- Dan Wenger and Matt Carufel -- were at practice.
    * Linebacker Scott Smith was out there. We did not see John Ryan or Anthony Vernaglia. Same goes for Joe Brockington, Maurice Crum and Toryan Smith.
    * Darrin Walls Sr. was in attendance.
    * When the coaches broke huddle from stretching, receivers coach Rob Ianello yelled at tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee "So you're a pro athlete" when Parmalee dashed in front of all the other coaches. Ianello rode him pretty good about it.
    * Second team defense (at least from what was out there): DBs: Darrin Walls, Sergio Brown, Kyle McCarthy, Raeshon McNeil. LB: Scott Smith, Morrice Richardson, Steve Quinn and Kerry Neal. DL: Kallen Wade, Paddy Mullen and Ian Williams.
    * Third team DBs: Leo Ferrine, Jashaad Gaines, Harrison Smith and Munir Prince.
    * Travis Thomas and Asaph Schwapp were missing from the running backs. David Grimes and George West from the receivers.
    * Offensive line coach John Latina complimented Chris Stewart on his ability to get off the blocks. Stewart is improving as camp has progressed.
    * Line of the day, courtesy of Mike Haywood to freshman Robert Hughes: "Bring that front knee. You won't get hit in the jewels." We'll say that Haywood is by far the most entertaining of the coaches during practice.
    8/15 practice highlights

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Ballston Spa
    Notre Dame secondary matures into solid unit
    By Michael Rothstein
    The Journal Gazette

    SOUTH BEND – Ambrose Wooden looks around these days and can’t help but feel like the old man.

    Notre Dame’s fifth-year senior cornerback has even started waxing nostalgic about watching the young guys he is competing with improve.

    “It’s great because you see them learning and growing, guys like Darrin Walls and Raeshon (McNeil) and all these young guys grow up in front of your face,” Wooden said. “It’s amazing.”

    Same could be said for Notre Dame’s secondary, especially at cornerback.

    Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has said the secondary – especially cornerback – has gone from one of the thinnest to deepest on his team over the past two years and it’s because the guys he recruited are all older and ready to play.

    Wooden, though, is one of the guys Notre Dame will look to at the start of this season. He tops the depth chart along with senior Terrail Lambert, the player who replaced Wooden opposite Mike Richardson last year.

    But Weis has more options this year than in the past. He can turn to the sophomores – Walls, McNeil and Munir Prince – or senior Leo Ferrine.

    The competition for starting and playing time in nickel or dime situations is so strong that defensive backs coach Bill Lewis said no determinations have been made on who will play where, not even committing to whether Wooden and Lambert are the starters despite what the depth chart says.

    “We’re a long way from deciding who is first, second and third,” Lewis said. “We have a lot of work to do before we do that.”

    With the competition could come pressure on the supposed starters, but so far they aren’t looking at it like that.

    They feel the competition is better and will likely lead to fresher bodies all around this fall even if no one actually wants to leave the game.

    “In the heat of battle of course you aren’t going to want to look at it like that, but it is nice to have that luxury,” Lambert said.

    It is a benefit Weis hasn’t had in his first two seasons.

    He hasn’t been able to pull someone if they’ve had a bad day, and it had disastrous results (think Michigan’s Mario Manningham, Purdue’s Selwyn Lymon, North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks, USC’s Dwayne Jarrett and LSU’s Early Doucet last year) and a defense that gave away big plays like Halloween candy.

    Lewis said the secondary has cut down on giving up big plays in practice situations.

    “The entire secondary has responded to what we’ve asked of them and that is what we have to improve on, our performance the past two years,” Lewis said. “They’ve approached it with an outstanding attitude.”

    With new offensive starters, it’ll be difficult to match the offensive productivity the past two seasons when Notre Dame could out-score many teams.

    This year, the defense – especially the secondary and cornerbacks – will need to be tighter if Notre Dame is going to be successful.

    And it could end up meaning a shorter string for mistakes before a player is pulled this season, although Lewis said he isn’t sure how many guys the coaching staff will feel comfortable with.

    “If you have someone that you don’t hesitate to put out there if someone makes a mistake, then you go do it,” Lewis said. “That’s what we’re going to find out between now and when we turn our attention to a depth chart and start to see who it is we feel we can trust to put on the field in a game situation.”

    It is at that time that Notre Dame’s young cornerback crew will have officially grown up.
    Good Story on the Secondary. Hopefully they can actually perform though....

  15. #45
    Join Date
    May 2007
    nice job yboord
    Welcome home, Jim.

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