News and Notes

*The first practice of the Charlie Weis era brought with it some things the coach liked and some things he didn't like. It's safe to assume this won't be the last time this happens. The players practiced on the west side of the campus, adjacent to O'Neil Family Hall and the Hammes Bookstore, where the team will be for the first two weeks. The team practiced in shorts and no pads. He credited the job of players staying in shape and making the first day physical.

"I was very happy with our condition and how physical the practice was," Weis said. "I thought the players did a good job taking care of themselves. It's tough to do sometimes. People are flying around and you don't want to pull off. You want to make sure you take care of your teammates."

With the good comes the bad.

"I was a little disappointed with the mental carry over from spring ball to today, which is a natural deal for the first day," the head coach said. "When you don't have them during the summertime, during conditions the coaches can be there. But as far as X's and O's, we don't have the opportunity to do that."

*The first week of practice is governed strictly by the NCAA regulations. For the first five days, teams are limited to three hours of on-field practice. The Irish had a half hour conditioning session in the morning and a two and a half hour practice in the afternoon.

Also, the first two days, the team has to be in shorts only. The next two days, shoulder pads can be worn. On Friday, the Irish are allowed to go in full gear with Saturday being the first of the two-a-days. Meetings and other team functions consume most of the rest of the day, especially in their two weeks before school starts for the players.

*Weis has been adamant in all his proclamations to raise the bar at Notre Dame. The expectation level must be high. For that to occur, Weis said at Media Day that he is not usually the nicest guy at practice to his players.

"And I let the players know in no uncertain terms, don't expect me to be in my best disposition for quite some time because I think we have a lot of ground to catch up," he said. "And I told them, you can worry about me being nicer a lot later from now because I'm not in a happy mood."

After practice, he elaborated more on this no-nonsense philosophy.

"I think to raise expectations, you have to have zero tolerance for mistakes, which is unrealistic," Weis said. "Therefore, if you are on them for every mistake, which is what you want to do, that puts you in that type of overtone. If you don't demand that of the players, they are not going to demand that of themselves."

*Weis's words at Media Day about the importance of special teams followed onto the field. Time was spent working on the aspects of the punting game, from who will be the gunners to return men.

"While we were working on punting, me and Michael Haywood spent a lot of time with the returners who will remain nameless," Weis said. "We had a lot of guys out there (in spring practice) trying to be punt returners. Now we are trying to zero in on the guys that we can see actually doing it…zeroing in on guys who can catch the ball and make something happen with it once they have it."

Last year's starting punt return man, Carlyle Holiday, graduated. Holiday was more of a possession returner than a game breaker. He averaged 10.8 YPR but failed to return a punt for a touchdown. It seems that Weis is looking for an explosive, game-changing return man.

*Even after the first day, it is apparent that this coaching staff has great respect for one another's talents. Weis said after practice that as of now, he trusts defensive coordinator Rick Minter with the defense. Also, the there are some familiar relationships with the coaches. Minter and defensive line coach Oliver Jappy worked at South Carolina last year under Lou Holtz. Defensive backs coach Bill Lewis and tight ends/assistant special teams coach Bernie Parmalee came from the Miami Dolphins. Weis thinks the tie-ins are crucial.

"Prior relationships are critical in developing chemistry," Weis said. "I think when you have relationships when people can mesh together, it makes it a little easier."

*The beginning of practice was met with rain and thunder. A few lightning bolts could be seen in the distance. This is not the start Weis envisioned.

"I was out there saying, ‘Don't tell me the first practice of my college coaching career, I'm going to have to go can the first half hour in practice,'" Weis said. "I was just hoping that we get through that because I would have gone inside for safety. Heaven forbid, the last thing you want to be doing the first day out there is say, "Let's go in fellas and drink some Gatorade underneath the tent.' It's not what I was looking for." Top Stories