News and Notes 8-9-05

*Chauncey Incarnato has decided to leave the Notre Dame football program as of this morning. The sophomore offensive tackle (6'5", 275) from Dover, Ohio did not play as a freshman. According to head coach Charlie Weis, he lost the passion to play.

"Yesterday before practice, he told me he didn't want to play football," Weis said. "I had a long talk with him. I said, "You went through the whole training camp. You went through the whole summertime. You passed the conditioning test and before the first practice you don't want to play?" He went to practice, I told him to reflect on it. Don't do anything prematurely. He talked to his folks, had a long conversation, and told us this morning that his heart was not into it."

Weis says this is part of the natural process of changing coaches. He says some guys are more relaxed with other football environments. But Weis has no problem with the timing.

"To be honest with you, now is the time you want to find those things out," Weis said. "You don't want to find that out in September in a game. Heaven forbid, this is the time of the year you find out who you can count on."

*There has been a concern about the depth of the defensive line. With the news yesterday that Travis Leitko would not be with the team this season, it caused even more consternation among Irish fans. Not too worry, says Weis.

"I'm not worried bout anyone being gone," Weis said. "I'm worried about the guys that are here, not the guys that are gone. I think I've learned in my coaching career to build inherent depth.

"It all depends on your own flexibility with your guys…who can play inside, who can play outside, who can play right, who can play left. But we're building some inherent depth. I don't see anyone's absence being a major issue."

Weis knows that some players will eat up every word he utters. He also knows there will be that group that shuts him out. It's those in between that are so important.

"Really, when you go into a game, if you give yourself half a hundred, if you give yourself 50 guys that buy into your program and they do things the right way, you got a legitimate chance," Weis said. "You're worrying about depth. We got a hundred guys out there. It's not like we have 40 guys. We have 100. That's a lot of football players out there."

*Weis was a lot more pleased with today's practice over yesterday's. He said on Monday that the team did not carry over the mental part of the game from spring practice. On Tuesday, he saw some improvement in that area.

"I was really encouraged today over yesterday," Weis said. "Everything is being picked up. Today we were a lot more mentally sharp than yesterday even though we were more physically tired. We were more mentally sharp. The head coach did a better job. I think the assistant coaches were on them hard today. Not that they weren't on them yesterday but they were hard on them today. We were all making a consciousness effort to pick it up from yesterday mentally. I think the players, knowing that we need to move in the right direction, that's what we need to do."

*Brandon Harris, a senior cornerback (6'0") from New Orleans, has impressed the coaching staff with his speed. Weis even mentioned his name as a possible returner on special teams.

"He's in the mix as a returner," Weis said. "I think we're starting to find that we have a few guys out there than can run. And he's one of them."

*The media is only allowed into practice for the first 20 minutes of each session. Most of the time the team is in stretching drills and position groupings for their drills. Some quick observations: Strength and conditioning coach Ruben Mendoza leads the team in stretching drills. Mendoza is intense but many players said his off-season drills paid off. Weis said the entire offensive line passed their conditioning drill, "which is a modern miracle in its own right…Freshman D.J. Hord looked smooth running wide receiver drills and did not drop a ball while the media was in attendance. Hord was one of the big catches for Notre Dame in last year's recruiting class…Weis lit into the running backs for failing to finish a drill and run through a cone, comparing their effort to a five-yard gain when it could be 20. Look for no more mistakes in this area for the foreseeable future.

*A stat to end the day: The 28 head football coaches in Irish history have combined to amass a 168-60-12 (.700) record in their first year as coach. Top Stories