News and Notes 8-23-2005

*The Notre Dame football team held their first practice Tuesday afternoon at Cartier Field after breaking training camp yesterday evening. This was also the first day the players had classes on campus. The team practiced end of the game situations today and offensive coordinator Michael Haywood said the time spent on these aspects of the game will help throughout the season.

"They've developed an understanding of what we are trying to get done in that point in time," Haywood said. "There are various situations. There could be a two-minute situation or a jump ball situation. There could be a situation where we are trying to get the first down and put ourselves in field goal position. They guys are starting to understand what we are asking for in certain situation. They are extremely coachable young men who are extremely intelligent and learn on the run."

As for head coach Charlie Weis, he didn't know what to do with himself during the day before practice. Weis does not see the players until 2:30 p.m. each day and for a guy who gets into work everyday at 5 a.m., that's a lot of spare time for a coach accustomed to the NFL-work day all his career.

"I'm not use to having this much time," Weis said. "I mean for me, this is the most time I've had to plan in my coaching career. When you get in here early in the morning and you don't get them until 2:30 in the afternoon, this is like what can I do now? What is Saturday? I'm use to having to do everything at nighttime. I use to start (in the pros) really doing the planning stages at seven or eight at night after you finish the staff meeting. Now, I'm here from five in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon. For some people, they consider that a full day."

*The Guglielmino Athletics Complex has been getting rave reviews not only by the players and coaches but by anyone who steps into the impressive facility. It houses the football team and comes equipped with a 9,000-square foot locker room, a cozy auditorium, a 7,775-square foot football office suite, a fitness center, and many other amenities a recruit would enjoy. Freshman wide receiver David Grimes is in awe of his new football home.

"It's a big improvement from where I come from," Grimes said. "We didn't have the opportunity to have such luxurious buildings. It really helped me in deciding to come here. It's more than what I expected. It's amazing."

*The starting running back position is locked for now by Darius Walker. The sophomore gained 782 yards last season (4.2 average) and scored seven touchdowns in his freshman campaign. His break out game versus Michigan put him of the map with Irish fans. However, look for Weis to give the other backs an opportunity to get a few carries.

"I think you have to ready to use other backs," Weis said. "I'm pleased across the board with our backs. I don't think you can just count on different styles of running backs fitting into the same schemes. There is such a thing as change of pace and change of pace can go in one or two directions. Change of pace can go from a nifty running back to a bruising back or from a bruising back to a nifty back. It goes both ways."

Travis Thomas, who was named the special teams captain for the Pittsburgh game, Justin Hoskins, and Jeff Jenkins are in the competition for the other carries.

*Haywood threw high praise on Walker during his interview session when asked about how good the sophomore could be.

"I think Darius has the potential to be one of the finest backs throughout the country," the Irish offensive coordinator said.

This comes from a man who was the running backs coach last year at Texas with a player by the name of Cedric Benson. Benson won the 2004 Doak Walker Award in 2004 and scored 20 touchdowns last year. Haywood has also coached LaBrandon Toefield (tied an SEC record at LSU in 2001 with 19 touchdowns) of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Domanick Davis of the Houston Texas.

Speaking of Benson, Haywood said he has not talked with his star prodigy since he left Austin a week before camp began. Benson is currently embroiled in bitter contract negotiations with the Chicago Bears. Haywood said Benson and his agent, Eugene Parker, will do what's right for Cedric.

*The Irish have had a few players leave the team before their opener for various, unknown reasons. This allowed Weis to give three walk-ons scholarships instead of the one he was planning on. It also allowed the head coach to expand on his policy of releasing these departing players to other programs. Don't expect to see Chauncey Incarnato or Brandon Nicolas with a USC uniform on anytime soon.

"We'll let them out of their scholarship as long as it's not somebody we're not playing when they're in school," Weis said. "I think that's a very fair policy. If somebody wants to go play at the University of Texas, go play at the University of Texas. But if they were going to play at Michigan, I'm not going let them play at Michigan. If a kid has four years left, and we're playing somebody four years from now, they're not going there."


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