Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Attritional Value | by Jay

O-lineman Chauncey Incarnato dropped out of the program yesterday. SBT has the story:

Incarnato counted himself out Tuesday after meeting with Weis before Monday's first fall practice and expressing some doubts about continuing with the program. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder from Dover, Ohio, joins defensive end Travis Leitko, defensive back Freddie Parish, offensive lineman John Kadous, wide receiver Chris Vaughn and defensive back Tregg Duerson in the six-pack of players to leave during Weis' first offseason. Only Leitko has any chance of returning in 2006.

"(Monday) before practice, he told me he didn't think he wanted to play football," Weis said of Incarnato. "I had a long talk with him, and I said, 'You went through the whole training camp, you went through the whole summer time, you passed a conditioning test, and before the first practice you don't want to play?'

"So he went to practice and I told him to reflect on it. 'Don't do anything premature.' So he talked to his folks, and (Tuesday) morning told us that his heart wasn't into it and he wasn't going to play."
That makes six players to leave during the short Weis era thus far. (Leitko still has an option to return, but he'll be off the team for this year). At first blush, that doesn't sound good. You never want to see people quitting. However...

1. Each case has been different. Only Chris Vaughn had been suspended, and there's nothing indicative of an indemic problem with the program. For each player, there seems to be a different, personal rationale for his departure.
"And the good thing is all the guys we're talking about who are gone, they're all going to end up in another college. It's not like these guys are quitting and not graduating from college. It's just that they won't end up graduating from here," said Weis.
2. Attrition is not only expected, but a somewhat good thing when there's a coaching change. Transfers can be a positive sign. You don't want malcontents on your team, guys who just aren't comfortable, or people who aren't buying in to the program anyway. We'll wish Chauncey well, and if he realized that maybe ND football wasn't for him, then that's a good thing -- for us, and for him.
"At the end of the week, there's going to be 20 guys who listen and swallow up everything we said," Weis said Tuesday evening after announcing sophomore offensive lineman Chauncey Incarnato had become the sixth player to be deleted from the Irish roster since the end of spring practice.

"And there's going to be 20 guys who don't want to listen to anything we say," Weis continued. "And in between there are going to be about 60 players out of the 100 (on your roster). And our whole deal is which way are those 60 going to go? ...

"Now's the time you want to find those things out. I don't want to find out in September when I'm putting them in a game, heaven forbid. This is the time of year you need to find out who you can count on."

(To put on my Junction Boys hat for a know, if no one quits, you might wonder if the bar is really being raised, and if sufficient demands are being made to revive a moribund program.)

3. Ultimately, the guys who are leaving are moot. As Charlie put it, "I'm worried about the guys we have here, not the guys who are gone." So, the issue now becomes who's going to fill their spots, where do we need to build depth, and how their leaving impacts the roster and recruiting going foward. To that end...

• Incarnto and Kadous leave a big hole on the OL depth chart that's not easily filled. Kadous had the size and skill to work his way to the second team. Incarnato was further down the chart, but he was still a big body at a thin position. We're going to need reliable backups here. Guys like Turkovich, Mattes, Raridon, and Duncan will fill in on the second team, but the third team is up for grabs. A couple of names that might have a chance to move up for this year are two OL walk-ons, David Fitzgerald and James Bent. For some more speculation on the OL situation, check out Todd Burlage's rundown on BGI.

• Parish and Duerson were second- or third-stringers, although Parish might have nailed down the 5th DB spot (nickel) at some point. He started the USC game, and probably would have seen the field quite a bit, although not as a starter. Duerson was a third-teamer.

• Vaughn was a valuable special teams player as a freshman as the gunner on punts and kickoffs. Had he been eligible, he would have seen a lot playing time this fall, and it's possible he would have been a starter in '06 with McKnight, Stovall and Shelton all graduating, and Samardzija the only returner. Hord, Grimes, Parris, and Gallup all just moved up a notch towards cracking the starting unit next year.

• We're going to miss Travis Leitko most of all. He was probably going to be a co-starter at defensive end with Frome, or at the very least the top DE backup, and would have seen a lot of playing time. In addition, he was one of our best special-teamers. Justin Brown and Ron Talley just got a big opportunity.