We're in the home stretch as spring practice concludes with the Blue and Gold game this Saturday. Here are a few random bits of news and opinion that cover the past few days and weeks as we start to look forward to this weekend.
Men on the Move. A few players have been getting reps at different positions in the last few practices although none are exactly surprises. Harrison Smith has spent time working out with the linebackers lately as ND appears to be looking at him manning an outside linebacker role in passing situations. With David Bruton and Kyle McCarthy holding down the starting safety spots, Smith apparently has been impressive enough in practice that the coaches are trying to find ways to get him on the field. Last year when ND went to a nickel or dime package, often McCarthy would come in as the strong safety and Zibby would move down into the box. It sounds like they are looking to Smith to fill a similar role in '08. The best part about this is that the All-Smith linebacking corp is now becoming a realistic possibility. Just once during the season I hope to see Brian, Harrison, Toryan, and Scott line up in the front seven.
Meanwhile, the running back unit added a few new faces as Barry Gallup and Steve Paskorz have moved over from wide receiver and linebacker respectively. Both were primarily running backs in high school so the transition shouldn't be that tough. With Paskorz being slotted for fullback, I wonder if that makes Luke Schmidt's transition to tight end/H-back a more permanent one. Either way, it should provide more fullback depth, more competition for Schwapp, and more of a running threat out of the fullback position. For those who plan on keeping an eye on the newest backs during the Blue and Gold game, make note that Paskorz has switched from #50 to #30.
Speaking of the Blue and Gold game, Charlie announced that Golden Tate will in fact be with the football team the rest of spring practice while Evan Sharpley will miss the Blue and Gold game in order to play with the baseball team. Eric Maust will miss one more practice but will play in the Blue and Gold game.
Up in the Booth. Charlie mentioned another subtle change in the coaching setup Monday after practice. As part of his new offensive coordinator role, Coach Haywood will move up to the press box during the game. As Haywood begins to call plays for the first time in his career, I'm glad he'll be removed from the chaos of the sideline and Weis apparently agrees.
Realistically as an offensive coordinator, you can see the game so much better upstairs. I gave him the choice which place to go. As an offensive coordinator if you didn’t have checks and balances on the field to make sure he could get everything passed onto the offense, then he would stay down on the field. Just think about it, you could lay all your charts out; you have the down and distance tendencies; it isn’t just sitting there with a call sheet. You can see what they do in different areas. As the game goes on, you can be charting what they are doing and you can actually see it in front of you instead of having to memorize it and visualize it in your head. I would say that almost any other offensive coordinator that you would talk to, other than being able to be sighted on the side lines, would like to pull themselves away from that and actually be able to see the field.” I suspect this means that Coach Parmalee (and Charlie too I suppose) will take on more responsibility with the running backs during the game as Haywood won't be on the sidelines anymore to work with them. All in all this isn't big, or even surprising news, but I figured it was worth mentioning.
Up in the Booth II: The Return. For those who prefer a Hammond-less Notre Dame football experience, two familiar voices will be back in the fall as Allen Pinkett and Don Criqui will continue to provide radio play by play coverage for all ND games.
Pinkett’s representatives and a high-ranking representative of ISP spoke about one month ago and details have been ironed out since to. ISP was happy with the product but will still make some changes.ISP still hasn't announced all of the affiliates that will be carrying the games. Expect that to come out sometime in the summer.
“The format will change a bit from last year. ISP is looking to add an hour-long pre-game show and an hour-long post-game show,” Pinkett explained
Brooks Brother. Finally, we've been a bit late in mentioning that Reggie Brooks has officially joined the football office as the newly created Manager for Monogram/Football Alumni Relations.
Brooks will work directly with both Jim Fraleigh, executive director of the Notre Dame Monogram Club, as well as Irish head football coach Charlie Weis on numerous projects related to the club and former football players.Brooks has done a great job with the pre and post-game work on und.com and it's good to see him take on more roles with the football program. And now, according to Notre Dame blog guidelines, we are duty-bound to include a Reggie Brooks highlight video. Enjoy.