With the Irish now a third of the way through spring practice, head coach Charlie Weis met with the media after Wednesday's practice and spoke about some of his initial impressions early in spring practice. Weis mentioned many times that we already know about the players that are already stars for the Irish, so he spoke about some of the other players that have made a positive impression so far.
"There's a number of guys that we're starting to learn about," said Weis after Wednesday's practice. "Everyone knows about Brady Quinn, and everyone knows about Darius Walker--everyone knows about the five linemen that are coming back.
"The people that are just playing right along with those guys are really the first level guys that I'm concerned with.
"For example, we've talked about Rashon Powers-Neal and how he's looked. I'm not giving him a ringing endorsement, but he obviously is starting to create a little niche for himself."There's a nice little competition going on with (John) Carlson and (Marcus) Freeman and they're trying to create a little niche for themselves. Jeff Samardzija is doing a nice job out there—trying to convince me that putting three wide receivers on the field while Matt's (Shelton) out is a good idea.
"You go over on defense and everyone knows that Victor (Abiamiri) is probably the most senior member of the defensive line. Everyone knows that (Derek) Landri is not out there so who's going to be in there? Is it going to be (Brian) Beidatsch? Is it going to be (Trevor) Laws? What's happening with (Chris) Frome? What's happening with (Travis) Leitko? I can continue on with (Brandon) Nicolas and go right on down. These are all the guys that are starting to show up and you're learning more and more about."
"Everyone knows about Brandon Hoyte and the experience of (Corey) Mays, but they don't know about the (Maurice) Crum's and the (Abdel) Banda's and the (Joe) Brockington's and obviously Nedu (Chinedum Ndukwe).
"One of the areas of the team that was going to be under the most scrutiny was going to be the secondary because of how it went last year. I think that group of players is probably working as hard to get better quicker than any position on the team.
"I could talk about the obvious guys like (Tom) Zbikowski and (Mike) Richardson, who are the two guys that have played before, but it's the (Terrail) Lambert's and the (Leo) Ferrine's and the (Freddie) Parish's and the (Tregg) Duerson's and the (Junior) Jabbie's—it's those guys and how they thrust themselves in the mix."
Weis talks often about the term "nasty" and made a point to say that it was a positive term after Wednesday's practice. But he also says he wants his team to adopt his personality and play like he wants on the field--and that is nasty.
We asked Weis if he thought it was important to change the attitude of the team this spring.
"I think it's really important for the attitude of the head coach to permeate through the team" Weis said. "I think that each head coach has their own personality and the way they like to do business. I my case, I've kind of taken what I've learned under the two Bill's (Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick), and I've kind of tried to copycat the things that I think would've worked the best."
Has the team started to adopted Weis' personality?
"Like today. Today was definitely a step in the right direction on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game," Weis said when asked the question.
In the time allotted for media to witness, the Irish lined up in an 11-on-11 drill. The first-team defense consisted of Chris Frome, Trevor Laws, Brandon Nicolas and Victor Abiamiri along the defensive line. Corey Mays, Joe Brockington and Chinedum Ndukwe lined up at linebacker (Brandon Hoyte was not present), and Tom Zbikowski, Junior Jabbie, Leo Ferrine and Mike Richardson lined up in the secondary.
One offense the starters were Ryan Harris, Dan Santucci, Bob Morton, Dan Stevenson and Mark Levoir along the offensive line. Brady Quinn, Rashon Powers-Neal and Darius Walker were starters in the backfield, and Anthony Fasano, Rhema McKnight and Maurice Stovall as the receivers. When the Irish went to a two-tight end set, John Carlson was added to the mix.
We asked Weis why the Irish went to an 11-on-11 drill so early in practice as this usually isn't the case.
"We had 11-on-11 early today because I wasn't very happy about yesterday," Weis said.
Also a hot topic on Wednesday was the participation of Notre Dame football players in the annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament. Weis said his coaching staff would meet on that issue tomorrow to discuss what his policy will be on his players' participation in the annual event.
"That's on our docket for our staff meeting tomorrow morning," Weis said "We're going to discuss the topic of bookstore basketball tomorrow morning. I'll let the players know before I let you know. We haven't even addressed it yet."