On Wednesday, the Notre Dame football team went outside to experience the bitter weather. Head coach Charlie Weis said this week his team has practiced during rain and high wind but not with the cold. He got his wish not only with the temperatures dipping into the low 30's but also the goal of an efficient practice.
"It was a little cold but it was good because it was such a drastic drop from what we've had," Weis said. "I was pleased. I was a little chilly but I was pleased. I was pleasantly surprised by the execution. The weather got their attention more than I've got their attention. They were spunky at the beginning of practice. It turned into a pretty good practice."
Football is a macho sport and usually when it gets cold, some players like to do away with the long sleeves and other protective measures to keep them warm. The offensive linemen in particular are a group that frequents the bare arm look.
"They don't have to but I think the bigger guys, usually their bodies keep them warmer," Weis said. "They kind of like it when it gets colder. I don't know about that much of a drop. I'm not so much concerned with the temperature but just the drastic drop from the 60's to the 20's. That's significant. I worry more about their health than anything else and not getting sick like everyone else does."
Irish safety Tom Zbikowski jokingly called out some of his teammates for their attire during yesterday's practice.
"A few of them had long sleeves on today," Zbikowski said. "I don't want to mention any names. I only saw two or three linemen that were bare-armed. Actually, I don't think too many were bare-armed besides Landri, me, three offensive linemen and Stovall. If that's what they want to do, that's their own thing."
Notre Dame practiced inside the Loftus Center today. Weis, who is not expecting any rain or snow based on recent forecasts, said his team would have gone outdoors on Thursday if there was a better chance of precipitation.
*The Syracuse offense has been brutal this season. That might be putting it lightly. The rankings tell the story. The Orange are 102nd in the nation in rushing, 106th in passing offense, 114th in total offense and 113th in scoring offense. Offensive coordinator Brian Pariani, who came to Syracuse from the NFL when head coach Greg Robinson took over before the season, has been unable to get his system producing points or yards.
The problems at quarterback could be the first place to be pointing the finger. Junior Perry Patterson and sophomore Joe Fields have both seen the field this season. Both were abysmal in last week's 27-0 at home to South Florida. Patterson was 5-of-16 for 47 yards and an interception and Fields completed only three passes for 18 yards. Field is the more mobile of the two and is listed on the depth chart ahead of Patterson. Irish defensive coordinator Rick Minter is not taking anything for granted.
"You got the young athletic guy (Fields) vs. the veteran (Patterson)," Minter said. "The difference this time is that the offense is new to all of them. They're all working hard to master the X's and O's of it. Each week, they are a play or two from turning the outcome of the game around. We don't approach this game any different than game one or game five or last week. Last week was a different style but we approached it the same way with preparation and enthusiasm.
"It's a well structured offense. It's an offense patterned after the Broncos. It's got the typical runs and the run-options. It's got all the ingredients and it's a nice playbook. So, I'm sure in due time it's something to will evolve and be what they want it to be. They've been misconnecting here and there. All and all, we got our hands full with this group with the speed at quarterback and that brings an X factor to the grind for them."
*This game upcoming will be the last for the senior class. It could also be the last for a few Notre Dame players who might test the NFL waters and declare for the draft. The two likely candidates are quarterback Brady Quinn and tight end Anthony Fasano. Quinn appears almost a sure bet to be back for his senior year and said as much after the BYU game. Fasano has had a breakout junior season, catching 40 passes for 538 yards and two touchdowns. Weis has had discussions about this topic with the entire team.
"Actually, I've talked to each one individually during the bye," Weis said. "I don't talk about next year until during the season. During the bye week, I talk to every kid that's in that situation. I'm going to address it again after the Stanford game towards the end of the week before the banquet only this time with their parents. I want to be available to help. That would be the appropriate time to address those things."