"I'm absolutely sure who the starting quarterback is," Weis said on Thursday.
Only the Notre Dame head coach isn't telling anyone. Weis's reasoned rationale: there's only one game where the Irish have the advantage in not naming the starting quarterback. This would be the first contest of the season against the Yellow Jackets. As the silent treatment continues, it keeps the Georgia Tech defense, who returns eight starters, to prepare for three quarterbacks with three different styles.
But on Thursday, when pushed for more clarity as to who'll the starter will be, Weis might have finally reached his limit on questions about the starting quarterback.
"Why are we harping on the same thing?" Weis asked. "I'm not being disrespectful to you guys. I've already told you the policy. Let it go. Do you think I'm so fickle that I won't know who the quarterback will be? I never want to be disrespectful to you guys or lie to you. But I've already told you why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm not trying to be adversarial."
Weis said that within the past week or two, he's made the decision as to who'll be the starter for the Georgia Tech contest. But the Notre Dame head coach is not informing that player, the team or the media about his intentions in order to keep the Yellow Jackets guessing. Weis said all three quarterbacks have been taking reps with the first-team offense, although he didn't state what the percentage of those snaps were in relation to the three quarterbacks.
The Irish head coach hasn't told the player in mind because he doesn't want to put that person in an uncomfortable position of lying to the media when asked questions on the subject.
"This is not some gimmick I'm trying to do," Weis said. "I've tried to be as fair and honest on this issue as possible. When we go out for kickoff, there will be a starting quarterback. I think they have a pretty good understanding what their roles are. All three of those guys, may God strike me dead, are repping with the first-team offense."
Asked if the team knew from practice who the starting quarterback would be, Weis quipped, "If they haven't figured it out by now, they aren't very smart."
***The past few days, the Notre Dame team has practiced in shoulder pads and shorts. The Irish conclude training camp this weekend as next week begins game week for Georgia Tech. The Irish have been preparing for the Yellow Jackets since this past Monday. While the team will go in full pads on Sunday and Monday, Weis wants to get his team as fresh as possible for next Saturday's opener.
"Now I'm in the mode of getting their legs back," Weis said, who thinks there‘s no excuse for the players not to have their legs back by Saturday. "It would be a big mistake by the head coach if you didn't utilize one of the rare opportunities that you have two weeks to get ready for a team. It would be a big mistake if you didn't try to get their legs back. Until about two days ago, it was full pads, full pads and full pads."
***Tomorrow is Freshmen Media Day for the Notre Dame team. This will be the first and only time the press get to interview the rookies. While everyone will wait to hear what quarterback Jimmy Clausen has to say, the answers out of this session the past two years have been consistent. Almost all of the freshmen talk about "working hard and trying to get on the bus." While this year's first contest is at home, expect more of the same on Friday.
"In the past, they've gone to the captains and leadership committee and it almost always comes back to ‘getting on the bus' phrase," Weis said of the first-year players. "That was really my message to the freshmen the first year. Now, because they already know your M.O., you don't even have to send the message anymore because they go to the guys and ask, ‘What should I say?' ‘I'm trying to get on the bus.' The odds of them saying that are probably pretty good."
Weis has been unafraid to use freshmen in his first two seasons. More often than not, the first-year players saw limited action, with the exception being right tackle Sam Young, who started all 13 games last season as a freshman. This year, there should be more in the mix. Armando Allen and Robert Hughes at running back, Duval Kamara at wide receiver and Ian Williams at nose tackle are just a few examples of players who can contribute right off the bat.
"I've been very, very happy with the additions in our freshmen group," Weis said. "I'm very glad they're here and very glad they're close to appearing ready to play at an early stage. As I told you on one of the first days, there's going some of them out there and they are going to be out there for Georgia Tech. It won't be three or four games in."
***At practice on Thursday, Weis announced four walk-on players would receive scholarships for the 2007 season while a fifth-year senior would be elevated to a main leadership role. Center John Sullivan was informed by Weis, in front of the whole team, of his ascension to captain. Sullivan joins Travis Thomas, John Carlson, Maurice Crum and Tommy Zbikowski as the five captains for the year. All of them are fifth-year seniors with the exception of Crum, who is a fourth-year senior.
One walk-on was no surprise. Snapper J.J. Jansen was given a scholarship for the second straight season. Jansen was joined by junior center Thomas Bemenderfer, senior cornerback William David Williams and senior cornerback Wade Iams, who earned a 4.0 GPA for the 2006-07 academic year. Williams wasn't far behind with a 3.893.
***Weis on freshman nose tackle Ian Williams: "He's got the perfect nose tackle body. He's 6-2, 6-3, 300-pounds. That's what you look for in a 34 defense at the nose. Body wise, he's got a better body to play the position than Pat (Kuntz) does. But Pat has played so stout in there that no one is challenging to remove him. They're trying to take some reps off of him so we can try not to get worn out as we've done sometimes in the past. We're trying to get some guys to rotate in there so we're not playing in the fourth quarter with guys that are sucking wind."