Willingham Pleased With Final Scrimmage

<P>The Irish had their final scrimmage on Thursday and it appears the defense had a very good day. Coach Tyrone Willingham seemed pleased after the scrimmage and one can tell that he can't wait to kick off the 2003 season. </P>

The Irish football team has been off limits the last two days to the media. The Notre Dame football team spent the last two days preparing for their first game against Washington State on September 6th.

The first day was set up to experience a game like atmosphere in Notre Dame stadium. The second day featured a scrimmage inside Notre Dame stadium.

Tyrone Willingham appeared to be in good spirits after the scrimmage. "I think it turned out well," said Willingham of the scrimmage. "It was a series of days that we were working with. Yesterday to do a great deal for the coaches and also the mentality for our football team and today to add a little more physical presence to it so I think it went well."

The Irish haven't had as many two-a-day practices as last year due to the new NCAA guidelines passed regarding practices. Willingham says he isn't concerned about the amount of hitting his team has done. "I think we're missing a few days based on last year's schedule but that's it."

The Irish coaching staff has been very quiet about key starting positions and competition at these positions. Willingham says he's happy to keep that quiet until game day. "As you know, I'm very comfortable announcing most of our starters right up on game day as long as our starters are comfortable being starters on game day. As long as we can get the right people in the right spots before we start the game, I'm pretty comfortable."

The defense appeared to have a very good day. Justin Tuck told Irish Eyes that the offense only managed a field goal although the first string offense didn't see a lot of time. Irish Eyes asked Willingham if he was concerned about his offense at this point. "Not yet, I think you really find out where you are come game day. That's where we'll really see what we've got going. I think the progress we've been making so far has been good."

2002 starter Mike Goolsby remains out and Willingham says a decision on Goolsby probably won't be made for some time. "That will be a long time coming. Mike right now is still in rehab and we'll just see day-to-day, week-to-week, if necessary month-to-month how he progresses and what's the best thing for Mike and the best thing for the team."

The Irish kick off the season against Washington State on September 6th. Washington State plays a game against Idaho this Saturday and Willingham believes that's an advantage for Washington State. "I believe that most coaches would say that the most progress a team makes often during the course of a season is between game one and game two. They will have an opportunity to do that. In this particular game there's no film exchange because we don't have a game to trade with them."


Irish Eyes did a little investigating after practice and gathered some information. It appears that the first string offense didn't get a lot of reps in the scrimmage. Justin Tuck, Cedric Hilliard and Darrell Campbell sat out of the scrimmage but we feel it was more of a precautionary move than something to be concerned about.

It's our feeling that Thursdays scrimmage was set up to decide the depth chart. The first string offense and defense appear to be set and probably why they didn't see a lot of time in the scrimmage. We don't feel a final decision has been made on the starting center position at this point. We feel Zach Giles would be considered 1A and Morton 1B and both should see a lot of playing time.

We also confirmed that Quentin Burrell appears to be the starting free safety at the moment and that Glenn Earl has moved to strong safety. Senior Jason Beckstrom appears to be the starting corner but is being challenged by junior Dwight Ellick. Beckstrom has been battling a leg injury most of fall camp. Preston Jackson should be the nickel back and Garron Bible should be the dime at this point.

The Irish return to the practice field at 4 PM today and Irish Eyes will be at the practice and interviewing players and coaches afterwards.

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