Thursday, March 27, 2008

Year Four | by Pat

Plenty of fun stuff to wade through today. Most of the goodies can be found at, including the full transcript of Charlie's presser, the first Jack Nolan hosted practice recap of the season, and assistant coach and defensive player interviews.

Now then, on to a few noteworthy quotes from Charlie at the start of spring practice.

On the major objective for the spring: "Objectives going into the spring. The obvious objective that everyone could see is we need to improve fundamentally and technically across the board. There's one position that's exempt from that which is, you know, once again, not to be redundant but just stating the obvious. Other issues that are of equal importance to us. We felt the team didn't have much confidence as we went through last year for a number of reasons, but we're working on confidence is one of the goals of this spring, confidence/swagger."

On moving Sam Young back to right tackle: "The other thing with Sam, for over a year now we have dealt with a right wrist problem from his freshman year, and that's the main reason why we moved him last year from the right side to the left side it he couldn't block. He couldn't punch anyone with his right hand coming off the edge on the right side. So therefore, we had to move him over to the left side. Well, now, that wrist is recovered which will answer one of your questions, which is why you see Sam Young over right tackles because he's got his right wrist back and that's where we project him to be."

On Matt Romine pushing Paul Duncan at left tackle: "He'd better push him. Right now, Paul is definitely first. Matt, you know, Matt went back and forth and he was banged up some last year, missed a lot of time, missed a lot of time but his weight has gone from I didn't mention him, but his weight's gone from like 272 to 290.

So he's put himself you'll look at his upper body when you see Matt out there. But I'm counting on Matt Romine and I'm counting on Taylor Dever and I'm counting on Andrew (Nuss), those three freshmen from last year, I am counting on all three of those guys in this spring to not act like freshmen."

On physical practices: "We've always had physical practices. We just didn't spend as much time taking them to the ground, and I think we will have to spend more time taking them for the ground and that isn't just for the defense, it's for offense, too."

On off-season weight training: "A couple of people in the off season, it was very important that we got some weight gain and strength without succumbing to having additional body fat. For example, Jimmy (Clausen), last year, started off at 194 and he's walking in at 212 for the first day of training camp. That is obviously a significant gain. His body fat is status quo but has a lot more lean muscle. That's pretty much the same I'll give you Dan Wenger last year started at 282 and he's at 300 now. Sam Young started at 309, dropped to 287 by the end of the year and he's at 330 right now."

On having younger players as team leaders: "You know, we've done some analysis from the psychological standpoint on that very thing, and we're not going to be opposed to young guys being leaders, but they are going to have to win the players over. It isn't going to have to be winning us over."

On visiting Frank Beamer about special teams: "The first thing I want to find out is how do you block so many kicks, because they make game changing plays, I can't tell you how many even over the years, they make game changing plays to win football games. And they have been involved in a close football game over the years, almost always they end up winning because of a special teams play. So he must be a heck of a lot smarter than me, so I'm going to go tap into that brain of his and find out if I can get a couple answers."

On Toryan Smith and the open middle linebacker spot: "This is Toryan's time right now. Right now based on where we are in the off season, he's No. 1. He's had opportunities to get on the field before and we have not got a lot of production out of him, so this is his time. This is his time to step up. You know, if he's got some guys behind him that we're encouraged with and we've got reinforcements coming here in the summertime, so this is his time to make a name for himself."

On which positions concern him: "When you're talking about offense or defense, I think the two biggest areas as a group that you have to be concerned with are your offensive line and defensive secondary. I feel pretty good about our defensive secondary, and I think that probably one of the greatest areas, I wouldn't say concern, I would say more interest, is the progression that we are going to have to make on our offensive line. No one is satisfied with how we played last year at the offensive line position, but I'm going to be really interested to see how quickly we progress.

One of the big deals is not only do we have so many guys that seem to be very motivated to prove the naysayers wrong, but there's also a lot more competition than we have ever had there before. We have never been able to line up too deep and with guys that are actually contenders for the starters, and I think that that's any time you have competition at a position, okay, that bodes well, because usually the first guy plays a heck of a lot better when he realizes there's a second guy that's right there to take their spot."

On practice plans for the offensive line: "Well, we are going to spend, first of all, the offensive line, one of the areas that we've identified is we are going to spend a lot more time with them away from the group emphasizing fundamentals and techniques that we felt that needed one of the greatest areas of improvement, and you can't really improve unless you allocate the time. So that's one of the things we are going to do. But as far as working them as a group, the one biggest plus you have, you are say whatever you want but you lose one player in Sully and everyone else now is a year more experienced than where they are last year and more than any position on offense, the position where experience counts the most for quarterback."

A few quick notes and thoughts.

• For those who want the quickie summary of yesterday, here's the espn take on the first day of spring camp.

• The official "pre-spring" roster is up on now. There have been a few interesting position switches. As noted above, Sam Young is back to right tackle with Paul Duncan starting at left tackle. Another interesting switch is a defensive flip-flop with Kallen Wade moving to outside linebacker while John Ryan and Mo Richarson move to defensive end. Luke Schmidt will be working out with the tight ends this spring and may or may not stick there for the fall.

• If you can trust the roster weights, Clausen and the OL definitely did some bulking up this winter. The entire line, save Matt Romine, is over 300 pounds. On the other hand, the linebackers for the most part lost a little bit of weight, presumably at the behest of Coaches Brown and Tentua.

• There are a few bumps and bruises to cover. The only scholarship player to already be declared out for the spring is John Ryan. Right after the season he had surgery for a torn labrum (shoulder injury) and hernia. For those wondering why he wasn't all that effective last year, I'd say those two injuries played a part. Robby Parris is also coming off a hernia but is expected to participate. Turkovich is coming back from an appendecotm and Ian Williams is recovering from an ankle infection so both of them might miss a bit of time here and there.

• Charlie said that since Evan Sharpley, Golden Tate, and Eric Maust are currently contributing members of the baseball team, they will be missing a few football practices. Sharpley leads the team in home runs and was recently named Big East Player of the Week. Tate is second on the team in stolen bases and is a frequently used outfielder. Maust has had a run of strong innings off the mound and was named to the weekly Big East Honor roll.

• A familiar name is back on campus as Kinnon Tatum has been hired as an intern in the football office. Tatum was an inside linebacker under Holtz and Davie and returns to South Bend after spending a few years coaching high school football. You may remember Tatum from such films as "Goalline Stands and You: An Instructional Video"

• Charlie said he would name team captains by the end of the spring, but has already announced the Honorary Coaches for Blue-Gold game. You can read the full press release here, but the short version is that ND is going with a decade theme this year and will feature six former players from six different decades.
50's - Jim Morse
60's - Terry Hanratty
70's - Terry Eurick
80's - Allen Pinkett
90's - Bryant Young
00's - Ryan Grant
Not too shabby. It will be great to see Bryant Young back on the field after his recent retirement from his Hall of Fame worthy NFL career. According to Charlie, Justin Tuck was asked to come too, but had to decline as he's getting married.

• Coach Weis is heading overseas this spring to visit the troops in the Middle East. Charlie, along with Coach Richt form Georgia, Coach Shannon from Miami, Coach Siedlecki from Yale, and Coach Tuberville from Auburn will visit military bases overseas from May 22-26th. More information can be found on

• When asked where his focus will be this spring, Charlie said he will make sure to spend time with all different parts of the team and sitting in on a changing rotation of positional meetings. For those curious, on the first day of practice you can see him on the online practice videos right in front of the offensive line as they go through footwork drills.