First, the generalities:
- The tall, lanky, athlete-upon-first-sight is John Goodman. And before you automatically compare him to another lithe, athletic Northern Indiana high school star-turned Irish receiver, who also finished his high school career with a loss in the state semi-finals, you should know that Goodman's hometown of Fort Wayne is about 110 miles east of Jeff Samardzija and Valparaiso, IN.
- The tall, powerful, imposing figure is Braxston Cave, from nearby Mishawaka, IN. And before you compare him to fellow Penn high school alum-turned Irish star tackle, you should probably know that Mike Rosenthal already co-hosts his own radio show (in Austin, Texas) where he's paid to "talk about it"...the affable Cave and the rest of his Irish teammates have a bit of a season-long gag order in that respect.
And that's where any comparison between the two tandems ends, as Samardzija and Rosenthal rank as all-time program greats while the new guys have yet to see meaningful game action in an Irish uniform.
But with a greater understanding of the offense and their own skill sets, both sophomores are prepared (and anxious) to help the Irish in '09.
Wide Receiver John Goodman
Regarding his approach to summer workouts and the competition for one of the top four receiving spots (which naturally yields more snaps than No. 5, etc.):
"Last year the problem was I didn't know the offense at all. I didn't have it figured out whatsoever…and there was obviously a lot to figure out. So my objective for the whole year was to just to get that done. And I did, throughout the whole year; through camp, the season and spring ball.
"So I came into (this) summer and thought now that I know the offense pretty well I should definitely work on my route running – my (getting) off-the-line so I could just be a better receiver."
Goodman continued, explaining the three basic steps a receiver needs to master:
"In the huddle: knowing the formation, that's first. Then knowing what you do (his route assignment) on the play; and then you have to think about how you're going to do it to the cornerback – and that last step was the one I needed to work on the most – how to get off the line, all of that.
"It really worked out for me, I worked on quickness and those types of drills and thus far in camp it's worked out for me. So I hope to just keep getting better and get in that "four rotation" or a set amount of plays."
On his ability or preference to play in the slot or as an outside receiver:
"I haven't played yet so I honestly would be comfortable anywhere, whether it's just blocking or anything – no matter what I'm doing. I'm just getting acclimated to the Z (Michael Floyd is the starting "Z" receiver) – I know the F, I was practicing the F all summer (Goodman pointed out that the "F" is specific to three-receiver sets), but I'm obviously behind Floyd and (Robby) Parris for the Z in the two receiver sets. So it's just getting to know all that (being familiar).
"But as I said, I haven't played so I don't know what will be more comfortable, but I'd go anywhere they put me at this point."
Left Guard Braxston Cave
On his move to guard, and whether it was a situation he was prepared for entering college:
"I knew coming in I was going to have to be flexible, but to be totally honest with you, I really like the transition (from high school center to college guard), so it's really worked out for me."
On whether his biggest adjustment to the position was simply not being responsible for the line's pre-snap calls:
"That's the biggest change, not having to make as many calls and just being able to put my hand down and explode. I really like it.
"I feel like this off-season was huge for me. I feel like I've made strides from where I was last year."
Regarding the "520" number that Coach Weis announced at the team's season-opening press conference (Cave bench pressed 520 – assumed to the team's highest off-season number) and what his next lifting goal might be:
"(Laughing) – Well, "520" is pretty good, but I still have a few years to work on it. I guess I'll have to get to 700 now for squat."