"The depth chart is not that deep," McCarthy answered when pressed about seeing action in the secondary. "It is definitely changing everything. I think me and Dave (Bruton) are doing what we can to get on the bus and get on the field. If that means helping the team out early, that's what it means. Basically, right now, I am doing whatever I can to get on that bus."
While fighting for the chance to "get on the bus," this group of 15 freshmen has been a close group because of a new NCAA rule that allows them to arrive on campus in mid-June months before fall camp starts. This allows them to be involved in the summer conditioning program, get acquainted with college life and learn the playbook. Weis appreciated the gesture by the governing body.
"The fact that the NCAA made that good decision to let the guys come in early helped build that bond that a lot of times doesn't happen because a lot of times you throw them to the wolves," Weis said. "They've been together since June 21st. We're counting on them."
The hardest part for freshmen might be the transition from high school football to college football. Some have had some good tutoring before stepping foot on campus. Wide receiver David Grimes, who hails from Detroit, Michigan, said he leaned on his coaches to give him the needed advice.
"I think I was well prepared coming out of high school because my coaches emphasized the same things here," Grimes said, whose team played for a state championship last year in high school. I was well prepared. It wasn't too big. We had several coaches who experienced college. They told me things to look forward to and what to expect. You have to use all your resources. You have to learn what you can. The older guys have been here to help. D.J. (Hord) and myself look up to them."
The other major part of the transition is the physical pounding the freshmen take. The hitting is ratcheted up a notch from what they are accustomed to seeing and feeling. A few things have surprised McCarthy during the Irish's fall camp.
"Camp was pretty grueling," McCarthy said. "One of the biggest things people don't notice is the time in film room. You are watching films all day. It's tough on you mentally and physically but it's been well to us. The playbook is a little thicker than I expected to be for defense. I thought you just go hit whoever has the ball."
Each freshman brings their own unique characteristics to a team. For this Irish team, Weis will use whoever puts them in the best position to win. Whether that be a fifth-year senior or a freshmen, the head coach will not play favorites but simply the best player.
For Grimes, it might be a little tougher. His position at wide receiver is one of the deepest on the team. This doesn't mean that he can't bring some intangibles to the veteran group.
"I think I bring toughness and quickness," Grimes said. "I think I already had that but that's something I bring to the team. Coaches say the best players are going to play. I am out here trying to work hard and get a spot whether it be on special teams or on offense playing wide receiver. I've been in the mix. I'm just working on helping the team and getting better as soon as possible. I'm just going with what the coaches want."
Most of these players will have four years under the guidance of Weis. This has to be an exciting opportunity seeing as how he knows the NFL inside and out and these players all dream of making it big on future Sundays. For McCarthy, what you see and hear about Weis is exactly what you get on the field.
"I expected what Coach Weis has given to us," McCarthy said. "What you get on TV and in the papers is what you get. He's pretty straightforward and he's like that with us. I'm just excited about the season and what he brings."