Weis Notebook

The Blue-Gold game for the Notre Dame football team is set for April 21st. There are only four practices left for the Irish in spring ball before the contest. It shows how fast the month period and 15 sessions can fly by. After April 21st, besides a Charlie Weis press conference here or there, the football news won't pick up again until mid-August.

This weekend, Weis and the Notre Dame staff will host a Coaches Clinic. There are around 800 participants expected to attend. The Irish team will go through a heavy fundamentals and technique practice on Friday. On Saturday, the tone will be bumped up a bit. Notre Dame will have a scrimmage in the two-hour session, including a 20-minute period for special teams. Weis wants to give the visiting coaches their money's worth but he won't open the kitchen cupboard.

"The way we divide this up, we do it in such a way to get a lot of work done," Weis said about the Coaches Clinic. "But you know how I am about not giving away a lot of information. The flip side is that you're not going to give away your best stuff."

As for the team, their progress and learning has been coming along through spring ball. Weis and the staff have been mum on the position battles. With a new defensive coordinator in Corwin Brown, a new scheme to learn on that side of the ball and offensive personnel that screams to play smash mouth football, this spring has a way different feel than last year. Weis wants to find out what type of team he has going out of spring ball.

"I'd say that there will be a progression continuing into training camp," Weis said of the learning process. "It won't be like, ‘Hey, we got everything, what are we going to do?' What I think we're going to be able to do walking out of spring is lay the foundation for what our identity is going to be on offense and defense. That was the No. 1 goal walking out."

***The quarterback race was once again a big topic on Wednesday. Once again, Weis wasn't forthcoming on details about the competition. Evan Sharpley, Demetrius Jones, Zach Frazer and Jimmy Clausen all are getting equal chances to show Weis they have the goods to lead the Irish on the field. Two Saturdays from now, the Blue-Gold game will be the last shot for the quarterback quartet to give an impression. The performances in the highly attended contest will mean as much as the rest of spring ball.

"We have to evaluate that as one of the 15 practices," Weis said of the Blue-Gold game. "After we come back at the end of May after recruiting, we'll go ahead and evaluate it and make some decisions. With some practices to go, you can't have any pre-conceived notions of who it's going to be. I'm not rooting for anyone. I'm rooting for the guy who gives us the best chance to win it."

The equal reps and the schedule to give the four quarterbacks the same time with each group is purposely laid out not to give any of the signal callers a big head.

"The first thing you do as a head coach is that you don't create prima donnas," Weis said. "You set up an equal plan that's logistically laid out and you let everyone know the plan. This way, everyone is treated the same. It's very, very important to treat everyone the same because if you don't treat everyone the same, you'll lose the trust of your players. That's all that players can ask for that you treat them fairly."

Weis said earlier in spring ball that one of the most important characteristics for a quarterback in his mind was running the operation of the team, which sometimes is taken for granted. On Wednesday, Weis explained another critical tool for a signal caller and it deals with the mental aspect of the game. When the Notre Dame head coach is chewing out a player, he wants the player to quickly forget the verbal barrage and focus on the next play. For a quarterback, it's imperative that this lesson is learned because they have the ball in their hands every single play on offense.

"When a bad play happens, you have to let it go," Weis said. "Inexperienced players hold on to negative plays too long. There's a parlay effect and a downward spiral. What they'll learn is that when a mistake is made, I'll say something and move on. Unless you're the guy I'm talking to, it's gone, let's move on, there's no grudge. Let's move on to the next one. When they're around you, they think he's going to correct you and then move on. They move on and it makes it easier for them."

***George West was not at practice on Wednesday and a report stated the sophomore wide receiver injured his hand in an automobile accident. Weis said after practice on Wednesday that he didn't think West would miss the final week and a half of spring ball. It's a setback for the sophomore, who had been settling in as the No. 2 wide receiver behind David Grimes.

***According to Weis, the Blue-Gold game layout, from what players are on what teams to who is coaching on what side, will be finalized by Tuesday or Wednesday.

***The underperformance of last year's return game was a major factor in Weis's move to make all the coaches participate in special teams. In 2006, the kickoff unit averaged 21 yards per return with no touchdowns while the punt group averaged seven yards a return with one Tom Zbikowski touchdown. Weis feels special teams can do better and said there are many contenders in the mix for the jobs.

"I'm making the entire staff buy into the importance of field position and getting guys out there to help with that," Weis said. "A lot of times, that hidden yardage is a big factor in games, especially in close games."

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