The Irish defense once again opened practice on Tuesday working with the back seven in getting aligned properly. The defensive linemen were off working on individual technique, but the linebackers and defensive backs were lined up in their base defense.
Lining up with the first team were linebackers Derek Curry, Mike Goolsby and Brandon Hoyte. Lining up with the first team in the secondary were Dwight Ellick and Carlos Campbell at corner and Freddie Parish and Tom Zbikowski at safety.
Both Zbikowski and Parish were corrected a few times on alignment and moving to their responsibility as one would expect. Both did appear to get it down as time went on.
Each unit then broke off and went to work with their position coach. The defensive backs were doing different drills than they have in the past under Coach Walters. In the first drill they were lined up on a yard line and were jumping on either side of the line with both feet as quick as they could, working on their quickness and feet. They then turned sideways and shuffled each foot back and forth over the yard line to once again work on their quickness.
All the drills that we get to see the defensive backs work on seem to focus on quick feet, quick hips, turning, etc. They also spent a lot of time working on their back pedal and turning to either side.
The running backs worked on blocking and picking up a defender on the move to block him. The wide receivers spent a good deal of time working on using their hands to get off blocks.
The offensive line were working with individuals, one at a time, hitting the five-man sled and moving it. The quarterbacks and tight ends worked on throwing routes.
The Irish held another controlled scrimmage on Tuesday. Willingham said he saw some things he liked on Tuesday. "Our defensive did some nice things," said Willingham. "Our offense, at times, didn't do some nice things. When you work against yourself, the coach is never satisfied. That's because when your offense does something well, that usually means the defense didn't look as good and vice versa. Half of what you see will always be good and half of it will always need improvement."
Not to be forgotten is special teams. We asked Willingham if he were focusing more on special teams this spring. "Our special teams have to improve. I can't tell you we've put any more time in it than we did two years ago, or any more time than we did last year. We've always focused on it because we know it's important."
"Not yet" was Willingham's response when asked if it were becoming clear who might kick and punt for the Irish in 2004. "Hopefully we're putting them through tests every day to kind of evaluate that. Hopefully it will be a long-term process and not just in a week we know who should be doing those responsibilities."
Another area of concern has been the inexperienced secondary. We asked Willingham how they held up today against the Irish wide receivers. "They're doing some things well, and some things they're not doing so well. The young guys are doing some good things. They show flashes of brilliance, and then sometimes they look they haven't been on the football field before."
Willingham would not single any specific players out in the secondary as standing out. "I usually don't like to singling guys out, you guys know that. I just try to keep it as team as possible. To me, that is where you're success is. There's no guy that can do it by himself, not in football."
Willingham was also asked if Travis Thomas would be considered a homerun threat at halfback. "I'd probably say not. I don't think that's his style. But as soon as you say that, he'll prove me wrong."
One noticeable change was seeing Dwight Stephenson working with the defensive ends instead of the linebackers. Coach Simmons confirmed later that the coaches were going to give Stephenson a look at defensive end. Coach Simmons also confirmed that Joe Brockington has been slowed a bit by injuries.
Offensive guard Jamie Ryan appears to be moving fine and dressed so we assume he's practicing and participated.
Once again incoming freshman David Wolke was seen at practice spending a lot of time with offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Bill Diedrick.
Notre Dame Sports Information released the latest weights of members of the football team. A number of weights caught our eye.Victor Abiamiri 6-4, 265
Chase Anastasio 6-1, 202
Joe Brockington 6-1, 226
Pat Dillingham 6-2, 210
Ryan Harris 6-5, 285
Derek Landri 6-2, 281
Trevor Laws 6-0, 289
Brian Mattes 6-6, 286
Jamie Ryan 6-5, 307
Dan Stevenson 6-5, 293
John Sullivan 6-3, 288
Mitchell Thomas 6-3, 229
Travis Thomas 6-0, 208
Justin Tuck 6-5, 239
Ambrose Wooden 5-11, 188
Tom Zbikowski 5-11, 202
The Irish will have the day off on Wednesday before returning to the practice field on Thursday. Another scrimmage is scheduled for Thursday, but coaches and players will not be available to the media afterwards due to Easter break.