Friday, April 10, 2009

Devo Postscript | by Jay

Just a quick followup for Michael's post below, and specifically the importance of tight ends to the Weis offense. Eric Hansen in the SBT had a good piece today on the comeback of Mike Ragone.

Eventually the 6-foot-5, 251-pound New Jerseyite reveals the anterior cruciate ligament tear that wiped out his entire 2008 season and opened the gate for Kyle Rudolph to leapfrog him on the depth chart also caused him to wonder if football would go away for good this time.

And then the wall came down and the frustration spilled out.

"I cried," he said. "So many emotions went through my mind, so I cried. I never cry. It just really hurt. It hurt more than anything I've ever experienced. Football is everything to me."

His passion has halted a slide down the depth chart, with freshman All-American Rudolph the clear No. 1 option through 12 spring practices, another sophomore-to-be — Joseph Fauria — pushing hard for No. 2 and walk-on Bobby Burger making a splash.

"With Ragone, he's just rallied recently," ND head coach Charlie Weis said. "I think when he first came back, he was a little bit afraid — not afraid of playing football. But having one knee (injury) and then shortly after that having another (knee) injury, I think when you first put the (pads) on and you start hitting each other, he was a little bit anxious early on. But the last couple of days have probably been the best couple of practices he's had the entire camp."
One of the bases for Hansen's piece is the Weis presser of April 3rd, where Charlie talked a little bit about the return of his Jersey paisan. I went back to watch it, and one passage struck a note of synchronicity.
Q: The competition and numbers at tight end, how much does that help the offense overall?

Coach Weis: Sometimes, like last year, you get a little pidgeon-holed at the tight end position. So now you go from one that can play to three or four that can play. It gives you a lot more both formations and playcalling. Now, you're not just locked in to putting three or four wide receivers out there on every play. It opens up a whole personnel grouping and a number of things you can do [from it]. You were dealing with Rudy [Kyle Rudolph] being a freshman and Joseph [Fauria] not being ready to play yet -- as the year went on, Joseph was more ready to play -- but now with Michael [Ragone] back, and Joseph, and us not being afraid to play [Bobby Burger], it's really helped us.
So here's to the continued rejuvenation of Mike Ragone, and the further development of Rudolph, Fauria, and Burger. We're going to need them this year.