Before we dive headfirst into the new season, an assortment of news odds and ends.
• With all the new names and faces playing this year, BGS reader Mike whipped up a handy one-page cheatsheet. The two-deep is listed, as are the personnel groupings we highlighted a few weeks ago. Print it off and have it ready to go when the game starts. You can then impress your buddies with saying like "Interesting...they've just brought in Will Yeatman and are setting up in Two Tites. I suspect that means run" while stroking your imaginary beard between your thumb and forefinger. (In order to print it out, click on the File button under "ND Cheat Sheet", select Export and .pdf. They print that .pdf and you're all set) The full roster can still be found at und.com.
• Kudos to Pete and Fitzwater for nailing Charlie's approach to the starting QB derby.
Was it your plan to keep the pressure off the guy who is going to be the starting quarterback by not announcing it sooner?• We haven't talked all that much about new Yellow Jacket QB Taylor Bennett. And one of the more common questions asked is "if he's supposed to be so good, how come he could never beat out Reggie Ball?". Well, here's the answer, straight from Bennett.
“That might be the best question I’ve been asked this whole time, Tom. It might be the best question I’ve been asked because it was by far the number one reason that you do this. Why would you want to take somebody after you’ve had a guy like Brady Quinn, who has been starting here for four years, why would you want to anoint someone a few weeks ago and have them living under the microscope of being the Notre Dame quarterback before they ever even played a down. So when everyone sits there and says Weis is an idiot …ta dah ta dah ta dah... in the meantime, it’s not on them and it’s allowed them to be a lot looser in their preparation which to me was very, very important.”
"What they don't understand was there was a reason I was sitting - I didn't know anything," Bennett said. "I only started one year in high school. When I got here, I couldn't tell you the difference between a Cover-2 defense and a cover-3 or 4. As much as I wanted to play, I know I wasn't ready to play mentally or physically."So there you go. No conspiracy theories, just a guy who needed some time to acclimate to college football. Hopefully, for ND's sake, he's not fully comfortable yet.
And the maturity process took years, not months. Gailey declared the quarterback job open prior to 2005 spring practice. Ball had regressed in 2004 after a promising freshman season, and Gailey expected Bennett, having spent a year in the system, to challenge for the job.
Bennett didn't. Ball kept the job and improved throughout his junior season.
Bennett finally made strides in 2006 spring practice. Tailback Tashard Choice said Bennett and Ball were "about even" coming out of the workouts.
But by then Ball had three years experience, and with a talented group returning, including Johnson, last fall was the wrong time to experiment at quarterback.
"I guess with Reggie being there for so long and being the starter for so long, Taylor really had to look so much better than Reggie to take the job," Choice said. "So they went with Reggie, and that was OK because we all believed in Reggie."
• Make sure to check out und.com and nbc.com before the game. Und.com will have the stadium cam up and running at 11:00AM or thereabouts for those who want to watch ND warm-up and see the stadium fill up, not to mention their pre-game show. NBC is back with their pre-game show at 3:00pm, streaming live from the NBCSports webpage. If you can't wait that long, they have the entire 1997 game against Georgia Tech streaming up on the web.
• Ben Ford has an excellent triplet of blog posts on his ETruth blog, covering the best quotes of fall camp. He has them broken down into Offense, Defense, and Coach Weis. My favorite though is one that's not on the list. It comes from burgeoning quote machine Toryan Smith in his recent interview with und.com's Jack Nolan.
Nolan: "How ready are you to hit somebody in a different uniform?"
Smith: "Oh, I can't wait, because that'll be the first time I get to take somebody ... really hit somebody to the ground. You know, we kinda take care of our own teammates, but I really get to unleash my thunder on somebody."
Nolan: "And you love that thunder, don't you?"
Smith (smiling): "I love it."