News and Notes 8-18-2005

*The Notre Dame football team went through their third two-a-day session of fall camp today with a morning practice followed by an evening practice. The morning practice was an "opportunity practice" for the non-front line guys to make an impression on the coaches and get some additional reps. The point was made loud and clear at the start of practice when the team huddled and broke with the chant "opportunity."

The front line guys did not practice in the morning. However, this does not mean they didn't put some work in. Strength and conditioning coach Ruben Mendoza took these players with him and what was done is not clear. What was clear is that Mendoza's workout was no walk in the park.

"It definitely was not what we thought it was going to be," fifth-year senior offensive lineman Dan Stevenson said. "It was a tough workout. He definitely worked us. It was not a day off."

At the evening practice, the players were all together as a whole. The squad has only two more two-a-day sessions left: one on Saturday and one on Monday. Classes begin for the players on August 23rd.

*Head coach Charlie Weis had said that it is two completely different concepts getting your starting quarterback ready for a game and then preparing the backup for their role. Weis also has said that you can't run the same set of plays with one quarterback as you do with another quarterback. Peter Vaas, the quarterbacks coach for the Irish, brought up the perfect example after today's evening practice.

"Tony Rice and Rick Mirer were kind of a bud of one another," Vaas said. "I wasn't here with Tony but I certainly saw a lot of tape on him. They ran the same offense. But yet the emphasis on what Tony Rice did was a lot different than what the emphasis with Rick Mirer did because of the strength and abilities of each one of those players. The same thing is going to hold true with whomever it is that's around when Brady Quinn is no longer with us."

*Yesterday's practice was the team's first session dedicated to game planning for the Pittsburgh opener on September 3rd. Although this is the first practice time allotted, it is a safe assumption the coaching staff has been examining whatever game film they can get their hands on to better prepare their team. Weis already has an idea of what to see from the Pittsburgh defense.

"Who is running the defense there?" Weis asked. ‘The defensive coordinator (from last year) is still there and Dave (Wannstedt) is there. You have to be ready for what both of them do. You can't just hedge your bets and say Dave is just going to put in his defense. I've studied that defense before and there's a lot of wrinkles. It's a blitz-a-thon. We had a period today where it was blitz after blitz after blitz. That's one of the things we have to be prepared for."

As for the Pittsburgh offense, Tyler Palko and company ran a wide-open offense with more emphasis on the pass in 2004. Irish fans saw that first hand when Palko blazed the secondary last year for five touchdown passes. Matt Cavanaugh is running this year's offense for the Panthers but the Irish will be ready for whatever comes their way.

"Offensively, Matt Cavanaugh is coming now," Weis said. "Matt has been in the West Coast offense but he's also been in that two tight end offense they've been running in Baltimore. So which one is it going to be? When you haven't played a game, especially your opener, you have to be ready for everything."

*There has been a lot of speculation on who the backup quarterback will be. With Brady Quinn clearly established as the starter, the question this fall camp has been who is number two? Sophomore David Wolke might have a leg up on freshman Evan Sharpley, senior Marty Mooney, and Dan Gorski. Vaas said the players will decide the battle for the backup spot on the field.

"I don't think coaches make that decision to be perfectly honest with you," Vass said. "I think the players will make the decision as they go through. One of the things you look for in any player is not necessarily a guy who is going to be great but a guy who is going to eliminate the bad play and be consistent on a consistent basis.

"The process is moving along. Like anything in life, it probably doesn't go as fast as you would want it to go. But at the same point in time, there is progress being made. When do you want the decision made? As soon as the players step forward and make that decision."


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