Strength and conditioning coach Ruben Mendoza refuses to wear anything but shorts no matter how cold it gets, but he must have complained about something to Charlie Weis on Thursday because Weis shouted to the team, "Ol' Ruben the Tough Guy underdressed today, boys. Ol' Ruben the Tough Guy."
Chris Stewart, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week, was out at practice on Thursday. Stewart was dressed in sweatpants and a sweatshirt and did some light footwork with a Notre Dame trainer. According to Weis' timetable, Stewart could be back for a potential bowl game.
Ron Powlus talked with Jimmy Clausen about reading defenses.
The position groups went through their typical individual drills, but I stayed with the running backs as Weis took the backs in the absence of Mike Haywood, who is in Houston for a funeral. It is not often that we get to see the head coach actually coach because for the first 20 minutes he is usually cruising around and popping in to say something here and there.
But on Thursday he was in charge of the backs and had them run through receiving drills with freshman quarterback Dayne Crist throwing flares to them. Crist, by the way has a very strong arm, but Weis had to tell him to keep the ball down a couple of times.
The players were talking this week about how the attention level rises with the head coach in charge and it is easy to see why. Weis demands that the drill moves quickly and correctly. His default tone seems to be positive and he explains exactly what he wants, but if he has to explain it again he can get sharp.
He yelled at James Aldridge one time because his swing pattern was not wide enough, saying, "Don't turn back and look for the ball." He made fullback Asaph Schwapp come back and take another rep right away after he dropped a pass. Schawpp did not catch the next one either, but Weis was quick to tell him that it was a poor throw.
Once the backs started to do the drill the way he wanted he was positive again, saying, "It's a miracle when you do it right. It's just a miracle."