News and Notes

There's news on the Derrell Hand front. The junior nose tackle was suspended indefinitely from the Notre Dame football team after being arrested on August 2nd for solicitation of a prostitute. Hand entered into a pre-trial diversion program a few weeks back to take care of the legal issues. On Monday, the junior got word back from the University that he's been reinstated as a student.

As for the football, Hand has rejoined the team and will be at practice on Tuesday. The nose tackle should provide more depth along a questionable defensive line. Pat Kuntz is the starter at nose tackle and backed up by freshman Ian Williams. But Hand won't see the field on Saturday anytime soon. In his own move, Weis has said the junior is suspended for at least three games.

"It's not the school's (decision), it's football's," Weis said. "He was reinstated yesterday. He came out after signing compliance forms. He started almost like the training camp mentality because you can't just throw pads on him and put him out there. Like yesterday, he went out in shorts. Today he'll go out in shorts again. Then he'll go shoulder pads, shoulder pads, full pads. That's the protocol by the NCAA via compliance."

Hand, a 6-3, 287-pound native of Philadelphia, PA, has not played a down yet in his Notre Dame career.

***In the Notre Dame game notes released to the media on Tuesday, there's a depth chart listed on page 44. There's few surprises. Freshmen Armando Allen and Golden Tate will be the lead players for kickoff returns. Weis said Nate Whitaker and Brandon Walker would split the kicking duties, with Whitaker possibly handling PAT's and short kicks and Walker performing the kickoffs and longer distance field goals.

The surprise was at the left cornerback spot. Sophomore Darrin Walls was listed as the starter, beating out fifth-year senior Ambrose Wooden for the position. Walls, who as a slender freshman saw action in eight games, has put on weight in the off-season and looks noticeably bigger. Apparently, the Pittsburgh, PA native is playing at a high level on the field, well enough to earn a starting job over a fifth-year senior.

"It's not really Ambrose playing poorly, it's Darrin playing so well," Weis said, who has been surprised at just how physical Walls has been in training camp compared to his freshman season. "Sometimes there's a change in the depth chart because the guy who's there playing poorly, but that wasn't the case. It's just that Darrin has played so well.

"We thought that starting a game and having him on the bench is not the way we want to go. He's just been excellent the whole training camp."

Weis has said as many as six cornerbacks could see action in the Georgia Tech contest.

***Contrary to Internet rumors, Richard Jackson is not out for the season. It was speculated that the sophomore wide receiver was out for the season with a broken bone in his hand. Weis refuted this claim, saying Jackson has been practicing in full contact drills wearing a soft cast on his right hand and could play this weekend if needed.

"I heard he was gone for the year, but I'll be the last one to know if that were the case," Weis joked.

***At practice, the best sign for the Irish football team is the lack of players riding the exercise bikes. As in none. The injured players usually spend practice pedaling away at the bikes if they're unable to participate. Notre Dame has not been hit at all with the injury bug in training camp and go into the Georgia Tech contest fully healthy.

"Rubin (Mendoza)'s staff has done an excellent job," Weis said, referring to the Strength and Conditioning coach. "But the players have done an excellent job, too. The training staff has done an excellent job, too, to be in the position we're in right now. But, you know, how quickly those things can change. We're probably as healthy as we're going to be the entire year right now."

***The second biggest story on Saturday will be the look of the new defense under Corwin Brown. The defensive coordinator has implemented a 3-4 personnel defense and the players have seemed to respond to it quite well. The Georgia Tech contest will be the first indicator of what it'll look like on game day. Irish fans are praying they won't have to see any more long plays or defensive breakdowns occurring on the field.

"What I have liked is the effort and the communication," Weis said about the defense in training camp. "I think one of the things that Coach Brown has been trying to do from day one is to not reinvent the wheel when you put in the system and make sure that everyone played hard, ran to the football, knew what to do. I think that's what we've seen so far.

"Now we got to do it against somebody else rather than do it against ourselves. I think they're really excited to get an opportunity to go against somebody else and see the fruits of their labor come to fruition."

***Notre Dame is 8-0 all-time in season openers against the ACC.

***The Irish have the chance to be the first school in NCAA history to play three regular season road contests before crowds of 100,000 or above. Michigan, Penn State and UCLA all have the seating capacity to match this attendance figure.

***Four players on the Notre Dame roster are from Georgia. They are junior offensive tackle Paul Duncan, sophomore middle linebacker Toryan Smith, sophomore outside linebacker Morrice Richardson and sophomore punter Eric Maust. The Yellow Jackets don't have one player on their roster from the state of Indiana.

***Notre Dame's offensive line outweighs the Georgia Tech defensive line by an average of 301.8 pounds to 267.5 pounds for a difference of 34.3 pounds. The Irish's defensive line averages 284.3 pounds in comparison to the Yellow Jackets 294-pounds average along the offensive line for a difference of 9.7 pounds.

***Statisticians can throw out all the numbers possible to prove a point. Last year for Notre Dame, the difference between winning and losing sometimes came down to one number: turnovers. In the six games the Irish did not commit a turnover, Notre Dame was 6-0.

***In the Georgia Tech media notes, there's a list of the possible starters. Along with the players comes a short, one-sentence description. For example, for senior running back Tashard Choice, the sentence reads, "Somewhat under the radar despite leading the ACC in rushing." For senior middle linebacker Phillip Wheeler, it states, "All-American candidate has remarkable athletic ability."

There's a unique description for long snapper Bret White. The junior's sentence reads, "Proposed to girlfriend August 18th in front of many Tech fans."

***As for where the coaches will be on gameday, there's not a whole lot of changing. Brown will be on the sidelines, in contrast to Rick Minter, who was up in the booth last season. Wide receivers coach Rob Ianello will move from the booth to the sidelines, possibly to tutor his young group during contests. Quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus will be in the booth, just like former QB coach Peter Vaas was last year.


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