News and Notes 8-24-2005

*The Notre Dame football team practiced Wednesday afternoon at Cartier Field in uppers only. The players were not wearing pads or pants but in shorts and shoulder pads. Head coach Charlie Weis wants his team to be fresh before their meeting with the Pittsburgh Panthers. He also does not want any excuses.

"This is part of a process when you get to this point, one of the things you've done is wore their legs out by beating them down," Weis said. "We've only really spent a lot of time on the mental and we spent a lot of time on the psychological. But we haven't spent a lot of time on the flip side of the physical. To beat them up in one thing but know let's get their legs rested.

"Now you know I'm not a big excuse guy. One thing I don't want to do is be in Pittsburgh next Saturday night and have people say our legs were tired. That's what we are trying to do in this next five-day period. The only day we are going to be in full pads is Friday night. When we start getting back at it on Monday, our legs our ready to go. I want to flying around out there at Heinz Field."

*Weis made it clear on Media Day a few weeks back that he would be calling the offensive plays. With the head coach bringing over his offense from the New England Patriots, this arrangement makes perfect sense.

"We'll see how that goes," Weis said about the play calling duties. "I'm not etched in stone about anything right now. Right now everyone is learning the offense. It's just whoever's offense it is the first year of the program. You can only be one offense."

Offensive coordinator Michael Haywood will not be left out in the dark. He will learn as much as possible from Weis about playing calling and personnel groupings by never leaving his side.

"Whenever we are in team situations, I'm with Coach Weis hip and hip," Haywood said. "I'm like a sponge. I absorb all the information which I can get. It's really important to understand the down and distance situations which we are going into. There are certain times in certain down and distances where we bring in certain personnel.

"There are three or four different things which we are going to do in that practice. It's a great opportunity to learn a different signal caller. It's outstanding as opposed to some of the signal callers I've worked with in the past."

*The opener between the Irish and Pitt will be scrutinized nationally not only because the Charlie Weis era is starting at Notre Dame. The Dave Wannstedt era is beginning with the Panthers. The defensive guru had marginal success as a head coach in two attempts at the NFL level. With the new faces on the Pitt sideline, Weis will have to prepare for a little of everything.

"Pittsburgh and the Dolphins," Weis said about what tape he is watching to prepare for September 3rd. "You have to be ready for both of them. So we watch Pittsburgh and the Dolphins. In practice, we incorporate Pittsburgh and the Dolphins. If you are not really know what tweak they are going to install, you have to be ready. On offense, you watch Ravens tape because Matt Cavanaugh is their offensive coordinator. Somewhere in between there, that's what they'll end up doing."

*A lot of the talk about Weis's new offense centers around the passing game and how he will utilize the veteran and physically gifted wide receiving group. Irish fans would like to see more creative ways other than a wheel play to move the chains.

However, don't go forgetting about the running game. Running back Darius Walker is looking to improve from his break out freshman season by carrying more of the load. He hopes the ball will be put in his hands as many times as possible.

"I sure hope there is a lot more balance," Walker said. "The offense is definitely more complex than I've ever seen. It is a very good balance. Coach Weis likes to mix it up and do different things. We all get a chance to play a role."

*Weis's new office at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex includes a patio with a grill. Late nights spent dissecting opposing teams might mean barbecuing more than once this season. Weis has used the grill, even surprising his coaching staff one time with some hot cooked food.

"I've grilled out there twice," Weis said. "The first day back, I had the whole staff out there. They got mad at me because I said I'm having a staff meeting and be there at noon. When they walk in at noon and there were burgers and dogs out on the grill, they didn't dislike me too much at the time." Top Stories