Tuesday, April 12, 2005

But what about the Swinging Gate? | by Jay

The image “http://www.etruth.com/media/NewsPhotos/26068_websm.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.At the Saturday practice, Charlie worked the special teams pretty hard. The Elkhart Truth has the dirt. (All my life, I've been searching for the Truth. Who knew it was in Elkhart?)

New Irish coach Charlie Weis, who told students during his first week on campus that the special teams on last year's squad "stunk," put the Notre Dame specialty players through a tough workout Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

The Irish spent the first half of the two-hour workout on special teams and, in Weis' estimation, achieved "about the limit that you could possibly get done."

With the players worn out from the special teams work, Weis and the coaching staff spent the rest of practice implementing the new offensive and defensive schemes in slowed-down teaching sessions. But Saturday's emphasis was clearly on special teams for the Irish, who ranked 25th nationally in net punting, 41st in punt returns and 87th in kickoff returns last season. And those periods of practice weren't run at half-speed.

"If you don't practice special teams full speed, you're not getting any good at them," Weis said afterward.

Good thing, too...Charlie was being nice in his assessment of our special teams play. The punt return squad checked in at 41st overall nationally, but that wasn't nearly the worst. Try and find Notre Dame on this ranking of Division 1 Kickoff Return averages. Keep scrolling. Further. Further. Okay, stop.

As a final twist of the knife...when was the last time ND returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown? A special JP2 Pope-ner in honor of our late Papa to the first respondant with the correct answer. No peeking.