Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring haze | by Pat

Spring practice is already one-third over and it's still pretty tough to peer through the fog of coach-speak and all-too-brief video clips to figure any answers to some of our big questions about the 2007 Irish. Still, news is trickling out, however slowly. Here's a quick rundown of what's going on.

Before we dive in, those of you who haven't been able to enjoy the practice and interview videos on All-Access can now check them all out here on a Mac friendly page. Enjoy.

Getting Defensive. The first major position switch of the spring saw rising sophomore running back Munir Prince switch a blue practice jersey for a white one and join the defensive as a newly-minted cornerback. The move wasn't a total surprise, but not many expected it to happen so soon. According to Charlie, it's not a pure depth chart move, but rather a switch to see if Prince fits in better at corner.

"We're going to give it a fair go, a legitimate look," Weis said. "This isn't just an emergency move where you are moving a guy over there just to get another guy over there"....“He asked me to consider it and I said consider it done. He asked me to consider it, and we made the move (Saturday) morning.”
Two things jump out to me with the early position swap. First, our cornerback depth chart is now actually deep. And fast. And talented. Then again, we are talking about the Notre Dame secondary so any positive news should probably still be tagged with a "I'll believe it when I see it" label. The good news about Prince is that he's not a stranger to cornerback; he was named 1st Team All-State as a junior at corner. The second thing that jumped out at me is that early enrollee Armando Allen must really be impressing the coaches if they felt comfortable moving Prince already. The BGS expectation meter on Allen has now just been turned to eleven.

Busted. Speaking of cornerbacks, just when ND added another talent in Prince, injury took one away. Early enrollee Gary Gray fractured his arm during drills and his spring ball is over.
"It's not displaced, not all the way through, but it's enough where you have to put it in a cast for a minimum four weeks," Weis said. "We talked about it last night. This isn't something you wait. You just put it in a cast. There is no pin, no operation, you just let the thing heal."
Bad news for sure for Gray, but the good news is that he'll be healthy in a few weeks and it shouldn't affect him for very long.

Leaders. The captains were announced for the 2007 season and 5th year seniors Travis Thomas and Tom Zbikowski are repeating as captains. Joining them are5th year John Carlson and rising senior Maurice Crum, Jr. Unlike last year where Travis was the lone captain of the special teams, Weis said that all four captains have a say on special teams this year.

This and that. A few other quick notes that I've noticed while checking through newspaper updates, video clips, and the like. According to James Aldridge, he wasn't allowed to lift weights with his lower body all last season by order of the coaching staff. That had to have affected him during the season. Maybe we'll see a more powerful Aldridge with a spring and summer of lifting under his belt........With people focusing on rising sophomores Eric Olsen and Matt Carufel, rising junior Michael Turkovich seems like he's not letting go of that starting left guard spot. It's still early, but he may just line up next to his classmate and likely starting left tackle Paul Duncan......The defensive players generally seem happy with the new defense. Not that I'd expect them to come out and say they hate it. We still have no idea who the starters are going to be though. True to their word, the coaching staff are trying out guys in different variations to try and find a solid starting eleven. (For a daily update on the starting lineups being used, check out Michael Rothstein's Irish Insights blog.)

Getting to know.... In addition to the excellent and comprehensive spring coverage on Irish Eyes, Irish Illustrated, and Blue & Gold, here's a quick collection of links to online newspaper articles about Coach Corwin Brown, offensive tackle Sam Young, tight ends Konrad Reuland and Will Yeatman, wide receiver David Grimes, offensive guard Eric Olsen, defensive tackle Chris Stewart, quarterback Demetrius Jones, and wide receiver D.J. Hord. Nothing too earth-shaking here, but a nice collection of stories on guys that figure to play a big role in how successful ND is next season.

Again, not too much in the way of big news as the various position battles are still underway and Weis certainly isn't tipping his hand about the QB battle. This Saturday the entire two-hour practice will be open to the media so there should be more interesting news following it, even if the practice is a special teams heavy practice like last year.