Monday, August 07, 2006

Football Season is Almost Here

Notre Dame had their first practice today which means only one thing, the season opener is just a few weeks away! I can't wait. This is probably the most excited I've been about a Notre Dame season since Lou Holtz was roaming the sidelines. There's two big stories so far out of camp. The first being that back-up running back Travis Thomas will be seeing time at linebacker. According to Weis:
First thing we did, when you have a kid who it's his fourth year in the program and he's a great athlete and a backup, you look at your linebacker position and you see that you're not real happy with the speed that you have at the position. Well, then you have to figure out where the answers are. Now are the answers are the freshman coming in, Smith and Richardson, or do you have the answers currently here already on your team.

And coming from the Patriot mentality, you always try to build from within; that's what I did. I evaluated our team to try to feel who I had the best opportunity to go over there and not just to go over there but go over there and play. So I went back and researched. He went to high school in Pennsylvania, he was a great defensive player when he was in high school. I went, he was also one of our best tacklers on special teams. So we started talking then and started meeting with Rick then. It's been an ongoing process. It's not like we're going to go out there and wing it. He knows if I need him on the second play of the game to carry the ball, he'll be ready to go and do that, too.
I think this move says two things. One, our linebacker depth is god awful. I mean why else would you take a guy who's been playing running back for the past four years and convert him to linebacker. I mean I think there's no question that Thomas has the athletic ability and tackling ability to play linebacker, but I really wonder if he'll have the instincts to be an above average linebacker. Two, Weis must have an awful lot of confidence that one of the freshman, James Aldridge, Munir Prince or Luke Schmidt will be a sufficient back-up to Darius Walker. I would not be surprised if Prince is the one to emerge as that back-up. Weis is already raving about his speed and as long as he doesn't have Marcus Wilson disease and fall down when any defender breathes on him, he could be quite a force on 3rd down.

The other big story in camp is the return of Travis Leiko, who left the team last year to be with his ailing parents. Leiko has put on an additional 10-15 pounds since leaving the team and Weis is already raving about his play in camp. If Leiko can be a force on the defensive line, that could go a long way to suring up a suspect defense.

Only 25 more days to kick off.