The Irish are a third of the way into spring practice and head coach Charlie Weis has had a chance to take a good look at the talent on hand.
One area of major concern for most Irish fans is the defensive backfield. Weis was asked how he's approaching the spring for the young and inexperienced defensive backfield. >/P>
"The point of emphasis has been fundamentals and techniques," Weis said. "I think scheme is only part of football. By scheme you can protect certain players at certain positions. I think it still comes down to being able to play with fundamentals and techniques.
"We have a lot of guys that are relatively inexperienced, and I think the advantage they have with Bill Lewis, being helped by Brian Polian, with a guy with the experience that Bill Lewis has, it gives these young guys an opportunity to learn really how to play the game."
Another pressing concern is the battle for the No. 2 quarterback spot. Weis said he's seen some progress, but that battle will likely continue throughout the spring.
"I think they have a long way to go," said Weis of those battling for the No. 2 quarterback position. "I think there have been some optimistic signs.
"The problem I have is there is definitely a wide separation between the first guy and the guys battling for No. 2. I think the first thing I have to do is let them battle it out for No. 2 before I worry about closing the gap to No. 1."
Weis has been pleased so far with the play of starting quarterback Brady Quinn.
"Mentally, he's handling this very well at this point," Weis said of Quinn. "I wouldn't say I've been pleasantly surprised, but I've been pleased with how he's been handling the mental aspects of picking up the offense."
The first-year head coach is often asked about his offense and how he plans to construct his offense, but Weis said the plan is simple.
"After you deal wit the quarterback and the five linemen, so you know you have six on the field, then I try to figure out from the rest of the skill people who the best guys are in different packages and try and put them in that position," Weis said.
With the limited numbers at running back, senior running back Rashon Powers-Neal continues to play at both running back positions according to Weis, and likely will for the future.
"He's playing fullback and halfback. I think Rashon, over the week he's been doing it, has handled those two positions rather well and has given us a viable backup in those two positions," Weis said.
The Irish struggled at times on specials teams in 2004, and Weis says he hasn't been pleased with the kicking game so far in spring practice.
"This is a very windy area from the short time I've been here," he said. "There's been some pretty gusty wind. I think it's pretty challenging to kick this time of the year. Unless we're in doors, I can't get a great feel for where we are right now.
"I'd say right now we've been pretty inconsistent in a lot of aspects. I'd say the kicking game itself, we've been pretty inconsistent."
The defense overall is a concern for most Irish fans. We asked Weis how he feels the defense has been progressing in practice so far this spring.
"Today in practice, I felt the defense definitely had a better day than the offense," Weis said. "Just because you have experience back doesn't guarantee that you're going to have a good day every day.
"I think the defense, they really emphasized running to the football. I know they're learning, and trying to get them lined up in the right spots is always important, but I've been encouraged. I'll tell you what, if the offense played the defense today, it would've been a blowout. I think the defense would've definitely got the best of them."
Another possible position switch also appears in the works. Today fullback Nate Schiccatano was seen working with the linebackers.
"What we're doing with Schiccatano is giving him an opportunity to take a look at both linebacker and fullback," Weis said. "We're just taking a look at him there. I wouldn't call that move official.
"He's built like an inside linebacker," said Weis when asked what position Schiccatano was being tried at. "We just took a peek at him today. I think we'll take a peek at him for a couple of days and see what he looks like. We know that we can play him at fullback."
The Irish are back on the field on Wednesday and Irish Eyes will be there again bringing you the latest from the practice field.