Beginning next Sunday night, after 13 camp days and 17 practices (and after the conclusion of freshman orientation weekend) the Irish will progress from "camp mode" to Nevada preparation.
"This week is the last week for that to really happen," began Weis after a question regarding depth chart movement.
"I don't want to pre-determine or judge until after we get through this Friday. This week the main message for this week is to just get better and to let the coaches settle into depth charts. And once we get through this Friday and they get a little time off and it's freshman orientation weekend the coaches will have time to make judgments as to who they think they can count on going into Nevada...
Though no major depth chart changes were discussed, the following separate comments were nonetheless food for thought:
Weis on the kicking competition and freshman Nicholas Tausch, who connected on each of his four field goal attempts in Saturday's open scrimmage:
"Nick gets the ball up in a hurry. He gets it up in a hurry on field goals (so) you're not going to have to worry about line drives with Nick because that's one thing he does he gets he ball up in a hurry. And the same thing is true on kick-offs; whether he gets the ball out to the goal line or not (remains to be seen) but I know one thing, the ball is going to have a lot of hang time, and on kick-off coverage, if you're not going to be kicking the ball through the end zone, the second thing you would want is the ball to be kicked high.
"You'll get that from him, that's how he kicked in high school and nothing's changed."
Weis continued to praise the freshman kicker. "Everyone's still in the mix here but he's put himself as a strong contender – there's a potential that that kid could end up doing both in the first game. He and Brandon (Walker) are battling it out as the field goal guy; and (Tausch) and (David) Ruffer along with (Ryan) Burkhart are battling it out to be the kick-off guy. He has a legitimate chance of doing both."
"One thing you like is to have another guy like Golden that can run real fast, and that's what Shaq (Evans) can do. And as a matter of fact Shaq is a much more polished receiver coming in the door than Golden was because Golden was a running back we converted to wide receiver.
"Having Floyd and Tate as your staples makes it a little easier to roll people through to make an evaluation about who else is in the mix especially with Duval (Kamara) down for a few weeks. It gives the coaching staff plenty of opportunity to take a peek at these other guys."
As well, Weis took his first look (August 17 AM practice) at backup LG Braxston Cave running with the first unit.
"We wanted to see what Braxston would look like…we rep'd him a bunch and rolled him in with the first guys to see what it would look like because when all of a sudden you're thrown in ones against ones (first unit offense vs. first unit defense) it's a little different than twos against twos. It'll be interesting to see – I haven't watched the tape yet – because this is the first time he's been in there with the ones. I want to see if his literal strength translates into football strength when we play."
With no official depth chart changes to report, I've decided to take my own first look at what Irish fans might see vs. Nevada on September 5 and at Michigan one week later (allowing for the requisite changes in game plan, injuries, etc).
Offensive Starters and Contributors: Weeks 1-2
Quarterback: Jimmy Clausen
- Starter – Armando Allen.
- Key backup (2nd highest number of snaps) – Jonas Gray: due to the one half suspension to HB Robert Hughes (Hughes cannot play in the first half of the Nevada game due to an ejection in the second half of last year's season-finale at USC), look for Gray to work as Armando Allen's backup for the majority of the contest vs. the Wolf Pack and for the sophomore to hold down or share that role for one more week in Ann Arbor.
- Others receiving snaps – Robert Hughes and a taste of action from scrimmage for freshman Theo Riddick in the first half vs. the Wolf Pack.
- Starter – James Aldridge
- Also receiving snaps – Steve Paskorz (short-yardage as a lead blocker in the I-formation).
- Starter – Kyle Rudolph
- Second TE (several packages and consistent contribution) – Mike Ragone.
- Third TE (jumbo/short-yardage packages) – Bobby Burger. Weis' third tight end, if capable, can see multiple snaps throughout the course of a contests, including goal line action.
- Left Tackle Starter – Paul Duncan. Backup (receiving approximately two series per game) – Matt Romine.
- Right Tackle Starter – Sam Young. Backup (one series per game) – Taylor Dever.
- Left Guard Starter – Chris Stewart. Backup (multiple series) – Braxston Cave, though not quite on a pure rotational basis.
- Right Guard Starter – Trevor Robinson. Backup (one-two series per game) – Andrew Nuss.
- Center: Eric Olsen. Backup (two series per game) – Dan Wenger.
- Starters: Golden Tate and Michael Floyd.
- Receiver that earns the third highest total of snaps through two games – Robby Parris. I'm not sure this will continue over the course of the season, but I believe Parris will be in this position through the Michigan game.
- Contributing rotation receivers – John Goodman, Shaquelle Evans, and Deion Walker. Duval Kamara in limited action at Michigan. Evans to receive "package-based" snaps rather than the standard rotation roles afforded to Parris, Goodman, and Walker.
To review, that's 10 "contributors" to the offensive line through the first two contests (a true two-deep depth chart) as well as three contributing tight ends; six contributing HB/FB; seven wide receivers and Clausen at quarterback for a total of 27 offensive players contributing to the effort vs. Nevada and Michigan.
IrishEyes' proposed two-game depth chart for the defensive starters and contributors will follow later this afternoon.