Where is Abiamiri?

The Irish football team was back at practice on Wednesday and the big news of the day was the absence of projected starting defensive end Victor Abiamiri. Rumors swirled earlier in the day that Abiamiri had broken his leg, and the Randallstown, Md. native was not present during the first 20 minutes of practice that the media is allowed to view. Head coach Charlie Weis addressed the Abiamiri situation as well as many other questions after Wednesday's practice.

"He got kicked in the shin yesterday, and we're holding him out for the rest of the spring," said head coach Charlie Weis when asked about Abiamiri's status. "He'll be ready to go when we come back in summer school. For awhile there we thought it was something that could've been really serious, but fortunately that wasn't the case."

Weis was asked if Abiamiri had indeed broken his leg, which was the rumor swirling around early Wednesday.

"At first we thought there was a bone displaced and cracked, but fortunately that wasn't the case," Weis said.

The loss of Abiamiri is a setback for the defensive line already missing probable starter Derek Landri. Weis said the competition at defensive line has been good throughout spring practice, however.

"I can tell you the group has been very competitive, to the point that (defensive coordinator) Rick (Minter) and (Defensive line coach) Jappy (Oliver) are starting to see some inherent depth being built," Weis said when asked about the defensive line, and defensive tackle specifically. "Obviously there's only a few guys that have had legitimate experience playing so you're start to learn more and more are coming into play. I think it's been a very competitive position, and they've given us some problems on the offensive side of the ball."

Weis was also asked about his young linebackers. Probable starters Brandon Hoyte and Corey Mays do have starting experience, but after those two, the Irish are very thin on experience.

We have a lot of inexperienced, athletic linebackers," Weis admitted. "We have a number of them. Because we don't go four deep, because you're only two or three deep in the spring time before the freshmen come in, they're all getting plenty of opportunities to get adjusted to the scheme.

"One thing they do do is they run real well. When you have young, athletic guys, you have a tendency to be able to swarm to the ball and get them sold on playing team defense."

"He is still working over there with them," said Weis when asked about junior Nate Schiccatano's status after being switched to linebacker.

With 10 of 15 practices completed, we asked the first-year head coach if some of the young defensive backs were starting to separate themselves from the pack of hopeful starters.

"I think there's still a number of contenders," Weis said. "Some of them have done a lot better in drills then others, but drills are only part of it. It's how are you going to play in a game. It's easy when you're just going one-on-one, and if you get beat you get beat. It's another thing if you're involved in coverage and you get beat, and it's going to be a touchdown and you could lose the game.

"I think I'll be interested to see here the next two Saturdays, I'll be interested to see how they're doing when they're competitively challenged both by multiple schemes, and more importantly, when they're actually going and if you make a mistake, it can cost you."

Weis also said he believes the competition for starting spots on the defensive side of the ball will certainly help his young players pick up the scheme quickly.

"I think competition is a very, very good and healthy thing," Weis said. "I think competition is one thing that forces guys not to get lazy or into a comfort zone. I think that happens a lot of times. There are very few guys that self-initiative is enough to get it done. When they feel pushed, I think that's a good thing."

The first-year coach told the media earlier that this week that they would get into "exotics" with blitz packages and schemes. We asked Weis how his team has held up against the complexities of the game.

"Today was a different day because today was the first day we really went into the red zone," Weis said. "We were in the red zone for 24 snaps as (a) team. We also went on the goal-line. In fact, at the end of practice today I was going to go full speed goal-line, but I backed off that. I'm going to have to come back and get that on Saturday.

"Once we got through the first two weeks of foundational plays, I think we're starting to get a little bit closer to understanding how to put things together. We're a long way away mind you, but I think we're a little bit closer.

"My goal was by the end of spring ball, was to kind of have everything on tape. This way you can sit down with the players and say ‘here's this, here's this, here's this…here's the things we've got to get better at."

The Irish will be back on the practice field on Friday and Saturday, but the media will not have access to the team either day because of the coaching clinic scheduled over the weekend. Irish Eyes will be back at it again next Tuesday when the Irish resume their spring practices.

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