"The first week has been a good week," Willingham said. "We got a lot of work done. When we started the week, one of the main focuses for the whole team was to get everyone a lot of repetitions. I think we achieved that, so from that standpoint we made progress.
"What coaches always strive for, and probably never get to until they actually get to a game, and get the productivity in a game, is execution. As you know from listening to me before, we struggle because as coaches, if one side does well, the other side doesn't do well because you are working against yourself. That makes our practices very competitive, but also allows for a lot of disappointment on my part; a lot of good times, but a lot of disappointments."
Also on the official schedule given to the media is a practice that is schedule for Notre Dame Stadium on Friday, August 27th. Willingham didn't actually confirm that at this point.
"Maybe a practice in the stadium, possibly," said Willingham when asked about the scheduled practice. "There are unlimited options there that will only be reviewed on that Friday."
With the injury to starting running back Ryan Grant, a number of running backs will be in the spotlight. One such back is freshman Darius Walker. Willingham said he's been pleased with Walker's performance thus far.
"I've been very pleased with Darius," Willingham said of Walker. "Not that he is any different from our other freshmen, as he is also learning, therefore, there are certain days he understands well and there are certain days he doesn't understand well. But when you look at the basic skills of being a good runner, he seems to indicate that he has a vision which is always a key asset if you want to be a very good runner."
The Irish coaches will have to start naming starters in the secondary very soon as they prepare for their first game against BYU on September 4th. Willingham said the position is starting to sort itself out.
"You are always getting to that point," Willingham said when asked when he'd have to name some starters in the secondary. "You like to be there from day one, but I have always said, it's about the players identifying to you that we are at that point.
"When this guy separates himself from that guy, that's how it starts. Some came into camp that way. Some positions came in were pretty secure, but still need to grow and improve; and other positions are still locked up in a pretty good battle."
Speaking of Ryan Grant, Willingham said his absence shouldn't be extended and extended one.
"Oh, he's fine. He didn't practice today - he'll be day-to-day," Willingham said of Grant's status.
Also sitting out most of spring has been free safety Quentin Burrell. Burrell did see his first real action of the season today according to Willingham.
"Yes, he practiced today and I though he did well," Willingham said of Burrell. "He got some live work. Got in there and got a chance to mix it up a little bit - it was pleasing to see that."
We noticed running back Ryan Grant walking gingerly out on the practice field. We have not been able to confirm any injury at this point, but it appears to be his leg and more specifically his hamstring.
Also limping early in practice was freshman tailback Justin Hoskins. Hoskins also appeared to have a leg injury.