Football: ND starts spring practice
Sam Werner | Monday, March 23, 2009
Just less than three months after their dominating 49-21 win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, the Irish were back on the field Friday for the opening of spring practice.
Starting with Friday’s session, Notre Dame will have the NCAA-regulated 15 practices, culminating with the Blue-Gold spring game on April 18. Before the team took the field, Irish coach Charlie Weis met with the media to go over the spring depth chart and his goals for the off-season practices.
Weis first went over the players who would be limited for spring practices. Notable inclusions were freshman right guard Trevor Robinson, freshman linebacker Darius Fleming, early-enrollee cornerback E. J. Banks, and sophomore receiver Golden Tate. Most of the players will be limited due to injury, but some – such as Tate, who also plays baseball – have other considerations.
Weis also discussed the new coaches hired for the upcoming season – offensive line coach Frank Verducci, running backs coach Tony Alford, and defensive line coach Randy Hart.
“One of our objectives in the spring time is to get that all worked out and meshed so as we go into training camp and into the season, everyone’s set and ready to go,” Weis said in a press conference.
Weis, though, was quick to note that he was still the man in charge.
“There’s one cook,” he said. “There are some helpers. There’s one cook. Let’s get that out of the way now.
One of the other goals for the spring, Weis said, was to improve an Irish rushing attack that averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last year.
“I’m a little frustrated in these first couple of days of spring because the way spring is laid out, you get 15 practices, one of them is the spring game, then you get three days you can’t wear pads,” Weis said. “So we’ve identified as one of the things we really want to, you know, work on right off the bat offensively is our running game. You get a little frustrated in these first two days because when you go with no pads on, to work on your running game, you know, that just doesn’t mesh too well.”
Weis said that he has talked with junior running back James Aldridge about the possibility of moving to fullback, where converted linebacker Steve Paskorz is currently the only scholarship player.
“We’ve talked to James about if getting toward closer to the end of his career here, and he was buried behind Armando (Allen) or if he got behind Robert (Hughes) and rather than sitting there in third, we talked about using him as a regular fullback,” Weis said.
Weis also addressed the defensive side of the ball, which will be switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 formation.
“Really, there is very much familiarity because our will linebacker is really translates into our weak side end, so there’s a lot of familiarity with some of these people,” he said. “You’ll see a couple of people at a couple of different positions.”
Currently, freshman Kapron Lewis-Moore, freshman Ethan Johnson, sophomore Ian Williams, and junior John Ryan are listed as starters on the defensive line, with early-enrollee Zeke Motta, sophomore Brian Smith, and sophomore Steve Filer at linebacker.
Much speculation has been made as to whether Weis would coach from the press box or from the field.
“My intent is to coach the game from the field,” he said. “That is my intent. Okay? As (Bill) Parcells said years ago, I reserve the right to change my mind, but that is my intent. I talked to peop
le at the collegiate level and pro level, from Andy Reid right on down. By a very, very large majority, almost everyone I talked to were overwhelming thinking I was thinking way outside the box.”
-Weis announced that Irish alumni Justin Tuck, Bertrand Berry, Jeff Faine, and Reggie Brooks would serve as honorary coaches for the Blue-Gold game.
-Notre Dame held its Pro Day on Mar. 19. Cornerback Terrail Lambert stole the show by posting 40-yard dash times of 4.37 and 4.36. “I was hoping to get a 4.2, but I kind of slipped at the start,” Lambert said. “But I’ll take a 4.3. It’s cool.”