Weis "Content" With Team

Head coach Charlie Weis said last Saturday that he had turned up the heat inside the Loftus Center for the team once this fall camp to get a feel for what the conditions will be like in Atlanta on September 2nd for the opener vs. Georgia Tech. Today at practice, it was more of the same, with the heat way up for his players inside, even though it was a picture perfect day in South Bend.

"Today has been the best I've felt," Weis said about his team. "A lot of it had to do with the Yankees winning 2-1. That had a lot to do with my good mood. But we did a lot today and created a very humid environment. It was hot and sticky in there. We pumped in noise today when the offense had the ball so they could practice with communication. The only thing we haven't worked on is silent snap count. Depending on how loud it gets, if you're in the shotgun, you have to be ready to with the silent snap."

The Irish ended Phase Two of training camp today. It was the part of fall camp where the team worked on schemes or formations that they might see once or twice in an entire season. Now, starting tomorrow, Notre Dame begins their preparations for the Yellow Jackets. Weis said a good chunk of each practice from here until September 2nd will focus on the game plan.

"I'm content, never happy, but I'm content with where we are as we move into Georgia Tech time," Weis said. "Normally, you're in a one week ritual and now we're turning it into a slower, two week pace deal. What that allows you to do is next week when you get into the nuts and bolts of what Georgia Tech does, physically you can pull back on them so that they're fresher than they ever have been on that Saturday night."

Today, the freshmen class met the media for the first time. Sam Young, Munir Prince and Ryan Burkhart were just a few of the faces that the media gravitated towards. This is because that these three, in addition to a few others such as cornerbacks Darrin Walls and Raeshon McNeil and wide receiver George West, probably will see more than a little game action this season. A common phrase among all the freshmen: "We're just trying to make the bus to Georgia Tech." Weis has their media skills in mid-season form. But for these freshmen who might see the field, their position on the depth chart has not been finalized.

"That's a very good answer they gave then," Weis said. "You thought that was a good answer? But no, we'll announce depth charts here. But before we send a depth chart to Georgia Tech, I'll give them to you (the media) first because I don't think I should send them down before I give them to you. We're getting close to having them but let me get there first. I want to make sure people aren't getting anything that isn't earned. I don't want to hand someone a job and then have them relax because they're going."

Young is one of the only freshmen battling for a starting spot. He's in competition with fifth-year senior Brian Mattes at right tackle, who Weis said earlier in camp would get the first look because of seniority. Sophomore Paul Duncan is also in the race. But coaches and players have raved about Young's physical attributes. Weis envisions one player taking the vast majority of snaps in games.

"At the tackle positions, you never want to get into an even-steven rotation," Weis said. "I think you'll see multiple guys in the game. But there will be one guy starting and one guy backing them up. I know a lot of times people give out depth charts and it says so-and-so or so-and-so. I'll never do that with a first guy but I'll do that with a second guy. When I name a starter, they're going to be the starter."

One of the different things about this fall camp is that the players know Weis better. Last year, it was the first go-around for everyone involved. A few weeks before the season started, Weis and the staff didn't even know who the final starters would be for the Pittsburgh opener. But now, with everyone accustomed to each other's habits, there's a general understanding of what's expected. Weis has even changed his ways around a bit.

"One of the things I did this year that I wouldn't have done last year is on Saturday, I moved the practice to the morning and I ended giving them off Saturday night," Weis said. "I would never have done that last year. As head coach, you open yourself up to the societal problems that come with having a Saturday night off.

"But I really believe, with having gone to school here, there's a quality of life issue that you have to deal with. You have to let them be students, too. You have to let them get settled in like everyone else. My expectations, on the front end and the back end, was hard work. That's what I got and I was able to throw them a bone because I trusted that they understood if they messed it up, that was the last one they're ever going to get. So far, the reports have been clear."

One characteristic about Weis that hasn't changed is his aggressive nature. It's in both his play calling and his decisions to go for it on fourth down in certain attainable situations. The Notre Dame head coach might have learned one or two tactics from his mentors.

"I'm an aggressive person by nature as a coach," Weis said. "It's interesting because I read a stat the other day. Somebody e-mailed me that last year in the NFL, Bill Belichick went for it on 4th-and-1 the most of anyone in the NFL and Bill Parcells is third. Somebody said that with you're grooming, isn't it ironic that's the mentality there. Both of those guys are defensive guys but maybe I was brainwashed into that's how you're supposed to play the game."


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