Irish Begin Practice Using Split-Squad Format

Over 100 players - rookies and veterans - took the field Tuesday afternoon for the official start of fall practice. The Irish players were greeted with favorable temperatures for the first day of practice. The players will have four days of practice before two-a-days begin on Saturday, August 14.

As the Irish took the field on Tuesday, we saw a noticeable change, the Irish were only practicing with half the squad.

In attempt to give each player as many reps as possible, the Irish will be practicing in split-squads for the first few days.

"Number one, you have to see if you can evaluate the new legislation and find the best way to have a great practice," Willingham said of why they are splitting the squads for the first few days.

"If you are limited to three hours that normally fit into the window that we would have our normal practice in, but it doesn't give the football team all it needs in the number of repetitions that you like to give them. So by splitting the practice it gives every player the opportunity to be really in a position to be better prepared for our first ball game."

Willingham said we might see a number of different combinations of players and using this split-squad depending on what they want to accomplish during the day.

"It varies depending upon what we are working on, what we need," Willingham said of how the plan to divide the split-squads each day. "There will be groups and individuals that will go back and forth between the two splits, depending upon the day and what we are working on, and depending on how we want to rotate. The rules say we have to have five days of acclimation, then once we move into two-a-day period there is really no real reason to split the session, so at that time we will get back into our normal format. The rule is the same as last year; we are just trying to get smarter in the things that we do."

Continuing last year's script, the media is only permitted to view the first 20 minutes of practice. The practice began with position drills and Irish Eyes spent most of the time observing the running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks. At this time, all the backs look swift and agile, but the real test begins when the hitting starts.

The same can be said of the quarterbacks, as they threw well on long and short routes, and the receivers were sure-handed. When a receiver did miss a pass, he dropped down and did ten. Let's hope the good passes and receptions carry over into scrimmages and games.

Two players that did not participate in this phase of practice were Jamie Ryan and Anthony Vernaglia. Later in practice they were seen using the stationary bikes and stair-steppers.

Coach Willingham commented on today's practice by saying. "I was pleased, because I think what we sought to do was to get a lot of guys repetitions, and I think we did that today," Willingham said. "I think everyone walking off the field should be able to say they had a chance to become a better football player by actually practicing."

The Irish return to the practice field tomorrow at 2:15 and Irish Eyes will be there to get first-hand reports. Top Stories