The Irish freshmen were not able to attend practice due to orientation and will not practice all weekend. Willingham believes this is important for all freshmen. "The freshmen were in orientation and that is a good thing because the foundation of this program is not just have a great football players but also great students and great people," said Willingham.
The Irish have been missing some big beef inside along the defense line. Both Darrell Campbell and Cedric Hilliard have been sidelined the last couple of day. Hilliard has what appears to be an ankle sprain. Campbell was back participating in the later practice. "Darrell and Cedric are nursing injuries. What we're trying to do is be very smart with those two. I think we have to because even with the change of the two-a-day format, it's still stressful on the body. We're just trying to be smart with those two guys as well as all our team because we have quite a few guys that are nursing some nicks and bruises."
Willingham admits in the case of Hilliard and Campbell—two players who have played a lot and will be counted on this year—he might be a little more cautious bringing both back. "In sense you've got to say yes to that and in a sense you want to say no," said Willingham when asked if he is being more cautious with both. "If they don't practice that has a tremendous effect on the entire team. They're not there and their leadership is not there even though they are experienced and they add so much to what you are trying to do but at the same time you don't have that continuity and cohesiveness of working together as a unit. You've got to kind of balance those."
Julius Jones has been at camp for a while and has been competing with Ryan Grant for the starting position. Willingham has always said that he lets the players decide who will play. Willingham was asked how he planned to use both Grant and Jones. "We try to let them tell us what to do. Not so much us coming with a set plan. We've always said that if we have a clear starter, we'll name a clear starter. If both guys are relatively equal, we'll try to give them both time and try to figure out what their strengths are."
Willingham says the running back position is becoming clearer but he wouldn't comment on which player is pushing for the starting role. "They're giving us some indication, yes," said Willingham when asked if the two have started to tell him what to do. Irish Eyes then suggested that Willingham likely wouldn't comment on the outcome. "Right, at a later date," said Willingham.
One noticeable no-show at practice was the absence of quarterback Chris Olsen. Olsen has been in a heated battle with freshman quarterback Brady Quinn. Olsen did not attend either practice on Saturday. "Right now Chris is going through a personal situation. I believe at a later date there will be some answers to what that situation was and exactly what's going on."
The Irish do not practice today and will be back on the practice field on Monday.
Ronnie Rodamer continues to be sidelined with a concussion. Not details were given on when he might return. Mike Goolsby continues to work out with the team but has not participated in any contact drills. Irish Eyes feels he won't be playing in 2003.
Gary Godsey is also back working with the team but is not participating in contact drills. Godsey appears to be moving fine but has a brace on his injured knee.