Countdown to Key Decisions

While Nebraska opens its season a 30-point favorite over TCU in the Pigskin Classic, Davie and his coaches will be poring over tape, getting ready for the first Irish scrimmage and preparing to make some key decisions.

Copyright by Global Electronic Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com

August 25, 2001

Davie Prepares for Scrimmage; Key Decisions

 By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

 NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE)—Bob Davie and his coaching staff are ready to move into Phase 2 of preseason practice in a year they hope they can break back into the nation's elite.

Nebraska kicks off the college football season Saturday in the Pigskin Classic against TCU, and you can be sure that Davie will be watching. The Irish are still two weeks away from opening the season against the Huskers in Lincoln, but there are still key decisions to be made.

 In an effort to get his team ready for the grind that is sure to be Lincoln, Davie will send his troops through their first scrimmage on Sunday. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and go for two hours to mimic—as best it can—the night game at Lincoln.

Don't be surprised if there are coaches in the press box for the scrimmage and noise piped in. Davie wants his boys to get used to game conditions.

The scrimmage should begin answering some key questions about this experienced team. Davie has to find a receivers rotation behind David Givens, Javin Hunter and Arnaz Battle. The rest of the receivers corps is inexperienced with Ronnie Rodamer, Lorenzo Crawford and Omar Jenkins. Hopefully, someone will step up.

 The scrimmage likely will help narrow a decision down to who the No. 2 quarterback will be behind Matt LoVecchio going into the Nebraska opener. Davie and offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers would like to be doling out the quarterback snaps more efficiently as the countdown gets under two weeks. That decision could come as early as Monday.

On Friday, it was Carlyle Holiday who was the second quarterback working with the No. 1 offensive line.

 The offensive line is shaking down. With a chronic knee problem to Sean Milligan, John Teasdale is stepping into the guard role, although he has played some backup center to Jeff Faine with J.W. Jordan moving to a backup guard spot.

 Sean Mahan has the other guard under control, and Jordan Black, Kurt Vollers and Brennan Curtin are set at guards.

 On defense, there are more questions. The defensive line might not be as settled as Irish fans wish it were. Some problems in handling the heat for Darrell Campbell might have set him back, and don't be surprised if Kyle Budinscak's name starts being thrown around as a player.

 There are still a trio of players trying to fill Anthony Denman's role at Will linebacker—Courtney Watson, Mike Goolsby and Patrick Ryan. And Davie is still looking at cornerbacks—for some bodies to step up among Clifford Jefferson, Jason Beckstrom and Vontez Duff to complement Shane Walton.

 The running back situation is solid so long as the three prime tailbacks are healthy. But given the recent leg injuries to Tony Fisher, Terrance Howard and Julius Jones, freshman Rashon Powers-Neal has been working out on offense, and likes it at running back.

. Powers-Neal, 6-2, 212, has been listed as a safety and an outside linebacker.

 On the latest injury report, Givens and Battle have pulled muscles—Davie says they're minor. Strong safety Ron Israel is still bothered by groin problems for which he has had surgery, and his action has been limited. Davie also said noseguard Andy Wisne has a rotator cuff injury which has limited him, but is not considered serious.

By the way, Nebraska was favored by 30.

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