As I mentioned before, I can only guess what's going on this week inside the football office in the Joyce Center, but my intuition tells me three main issues are being addressed at this time—spring football, winter lifting, and recruiting.
With new strength coach Ruben Mendoza already in place, winter lifting is well under way. However, we've heard there have been significant changes in the lifting program this year for the football team including some Olympic lifts that were previously banned by the previous staff.
We're certain coach Weis is putting a priority on winter lifting right now as this is the first place he can place his stamp on the football team. From the little we've heard, Weis' and Mendoza's winter lifting program is quite a bit more demanding, both physically and mentally, than the previous regime. This has to get Irish fans excited as winter lifting sets the tone for the season.
The next part of the equation is spring football. What Irish fans need to realize is that Weis hasn't gone through spring football in quite some time. He'll likely rely heavily on the advice of quarterback coach David Cutcliffe and defensive coordinator Rick Minter on how to tackle spring football since both have had recent head coaching experience at the college level.
Weis is accustomed to almost unlimited practice time and film time with his players. In college, he'll have to learn to budget his limited time with the players so he can get the most bang for his buck.
I'm going to assume the staff will be in meetings the entire week and next preparing for spring football and recruiting.
I'll assume Weis will have a checklist of things he wants to accomplish this spring for the spring practice sessions. Proper technique and teachings, and installing the basic offense and defense are probably the two most important things on his checklist. Finding playmakers to build an offense and defense around will also be a top priority.
The first order of business will be the base offense and the base defense. Weis has mentioned numerous times that he builds an offense around the talent on hand. We assume Minter would do the same on defense. However, each side of the ball must start with a base and I'm going to assume that is what is being built right now.
Once you have a base, then you can build the offense and defense. This is where the evaluation comes in. Weis and his staff have likely already viewed quite a bit of film on the current talent on hand, however, we expect plenty more viewing to happen this week.
Based on their evaluations, Weis and his staff will likely put in various basic plays and defenses to focus on during spring football—the meat and potatoes of an offense or defense--the wrinkles will come later.
Probably the most important thing we think this staff will focus on is instilling a toughness and attitude to this football team. Weis and his staff will likely will this unit into the "nasty" players they desire. I think that nastiness will be the true focus of spring football.
As for recruiting, the Irish are likely just getting started. Names, transcripts and film have likely already been gathered, but unlike staffs that have been together for awhile, this Irish staff is likely behind the competition.
A staff that has been together has likely already spent considerable hours on evaluating junior talent in last few months of recruiting last season. Weis' staff was just trying to get to know the seniors in January and didn't have time to focus on the juniors. They'll need to get caught up in a hurry.
We assume plenty of junior film will also be viewed this week and a recruiting board to be drafted with the top targets being identified.
We've heard recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello has already put his stamp on the recruiting effort, and he has made some considerable changes in how things will be run. We've heard Ianello is very organized and that can only mean good things for the future.
Recruiting territories will also be assigned this week, and then the Irish will hit the ground running with recruiting. With junior day just around the corner, the Irish staff will have to get familiar with everyone attending, starting sending out camp invitations, and they'll have to start developing relationships with all their top targets.
We expect to see a big push by the Irish staff in regards to recruiting in the next few weeks. They'll need to if they plan to make up some ground on some other top programs.
As you can see, the new Irish staff will likely be logging some office time in the next few weeks. With little time to prepare and organize for spring football and recruiting, they'll have to work overtime to get caught up. Weis has shown he has no problem spending the extra time, and that should pay dividends in the future for Irish football.