News and Notes

*The battle to backup starting quarterback Brady Quinn has been a heated one this spring. David Wolke was number two on the depth chart last season but now he's got some competition. Sophomore Evan Sharpley has been given the chance to outshine Wolke and judging from the Blue-Gold game, he just might have.

Sharpley was 10-of-12 on Saturday for 112 yards and spread the ball around to five different receivers. He showed strength and mobility when he escaped two apparent sacks and turned them into big rushing plays for himself. More importantly, just look at the reps taken by each on the Gold team: Wolke took six snaps and attempted just two passes. Sharpley received 26 snaps. A fan can read between the lines. Head coach Charlie Weis said no determinations has been made but did give a honest critique of Sharpley's performance.

"I know that he had stats," Weis said. "But I also know that he fumbled the snap in the middle of a drive. No matter how many passes he completes, I think it's important to handle the snap. Completing 10-out-12 is a nice day. I think he handled himself well."

*Another battle was for the third wide receiver spot. All-American Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight are locked in at number one and two. McKnight was not a major factor in his first game back since last year's season-ending knee injury suffered at Michigan, catching two balls for 10 yards. Samardzija put up solid numbers, nabbing five balls for 93 yards and a touchdown.

As for number three? All signs in the spring and in the Blue-Gold game point to David Grimes. The sophomore from Detroit, MI hauled in five balls for 34 yards to lead the Gold receiving corps. In competition with him is Darrin Bragg (one catch for 40 yards on Saturday) and George West (no receptions). Grimes did drop a ball but that wasn't what Weis would be talking to him about.

"David has done a real nice job for us," Weis said. "He's got good quickness and good hands. The only play I was disappointed in him was not the drop but catching a ball on a cross route and he was running too short to begin with. So he catches the ball on a cross route and goes backward instead of forward. We'll have that conversation on Friday."

*Weis appears downright giddy when he talked this spring about his running back group. He had good reason to be. Starter Darius Walker was a dual threat Saturday, running for 78 yards and catching five balls for 42 yards. Travis Thomas earned Offensive MVP honors after rushing for 104 yards on eight carries. The senior's 83-yard touchdown scamper tied the game up at 7. Weis had some high words of praise for Thomas after the contest.

"That's just Travis Thomas," Weis said. "He's going to pound you and pound you in the mouth. He's very unique. There are very few offensive players that have defensive mentalities. He plays the game like a linebacker. He might not read the front the same as Darius but you better get of the way because he'll run you over. He's a nice change of pace back."

Because he is the back-up, Thomas knows to maximize the opportunities once he gets on the field.

"Every time I go out there, I try to perform to a higher level each time," Thomas said. "I try to make the best out of what they give me."

*If there was a special teams player of the day, it would have been a no-brainer: Geoff Price. Weis said last week that Price had been averaging 43 yards per punt during spring practices. On Saturday, fans got a chance to see what he was talking about. Price punted four times, twice booting long balls and twice pinning the opposing team inside the 10-yard line.

"It's good to see Price punt the ball well and have multiple 50-yard punts," Weis said. "That lifted my spirits."

It wasn't all pretty on special teams. Even though he booted a 19-yard game-winner with no time remaining, Carl Gioia did his best to hand the job to incoming freshman Ryan Burkhart. Gioia was wide left on attempts from 44 and 33 yards.

"Sign me up…it concerns me," Weis said about the field goal kicking situation. "Missing any field goal is concerning."

*The three early enrollees saw their first taste of the Notre Dame football experience as a player. Offensive lineman Chris Stewart and wide receiver George West both saw plenty of action. The other one, running back James Aldridge, did not play. He was slowed in spring with some injury concerns and his non-participation in the game was more than likely due to caution in order to have him ready 100 percent come fall time.

*What's next for the Notre Dame football program? The Irish just smashed a 25-year old attendance record for a Blue-Gold game. The top high school football prospect in the nation, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, committed over the weekend. Everywhere Notre Dame fans turn, there's a love fest with the head coach. And for good reason: he's willing to work the long hours and has a plan to maintain success. When asked after the game about what's next, Weis had a simple and short answer: recruiting.

"That's all I'm thinking about now," Weis said. "I thinking about that flight out and hitting the road. That's what I'm thinking about. The next thing I have to do is go out there and continue to upgrade the talent here at Notre Dame." Top Stories