Weis spent most of his session with the media on Thursday discussing the freshman class. Aside from the obvious choices, it seems like there are plenty of candidates for some playing time in 2009. Here’s some notes on what Weis had to say.
- Manti Te’o got a lot of help from Scott Smith over the summer with the mental aspect of picking up the defense and the reads. Weis said that this has helped him show up to training camp in a position ready to compete for playing time. While Te’o has been limited, Weis said that he hasn’t been missing the practices and has not fallen behind mentally.
- Speaking of Te’o, Weis added later that he can bust his chops and he’ll take it in stride. Weis said he joked with Te’o at practice that it’s a good thing that Roby Toma should up because one of the Hawaii guys would be getting on the field.
- Weis said that he fully expects to see Te’o on the field in the opener and that he won’t be on the sideline very long.
- Tyler Eifert has had “a nice camp” according to Weis. He is making it tough for the coaches to not play him so far. Considering Notre Dame’s lack of depth at tight end after the defections of Will Yeatman and Joseph Fauria, this is very encouraging news.
- Weis said one or both of the freshman running backs – Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood – could see the field this season. Both have made it difficult on the coaching staff to make personnel decisions. Weis complimented Theo Riddick’s quickness and home run ability. He described Wood as more of an inside runner – this is a pretty big transition for Wood who was considered a smaller back coming out of high school.
- Both freshman backs are in the mix for kick return duties as well as punt return duties although Weis said that he will most likely start the season with a veteran as the punt returner.
- Weis talked a lot about using Shaquelle Evans in combinations with Golden Tate and Michael Floyd depending on how the wide receiver situation plays out. I still think that Evans ends up as the third wide receiver by seasons end at the latest.
- Tyler Stockton is developing nicely, but that playing him this season might be more of a luxury.
- Weis said he’s learned the difference between a 23 year old rookie in the NFL and a 18 year old freshman on the college level and has gotten better at dealing with them.
- Roby Toma has been one of the players that everyone in camp has noticed. Weis said that Toma has been one of the better blockers, he gets open, and runs very polished routes. He added that Toma won’t have to add weight to get on the field. Toma stood out at the open practice and appears to be opening some eyes.
- Weis said the punter too close to call right now. Ben Turk has the strongest leg on the team, but Maust obviously has the edge in experience. It sounds like Nick Tausch is in a similar situation as he battles Brandon Walker for the place kicking duties.
- Sunday and Monday will be big days for determining the depth chart for the early part of the season – especially where freshman are concerned. Weis said the staff will make personnel decisions on Sunday and Monday as the team progresses from training camp mode to Nevada preparation mode. They decide which freshmen will see playing time in the early part of the season and will reevaluate those freshman after the bye week.
- Zeke Motta will see time on all four return units and could see time on defense as the season progresses.
- Weis said the staff likes all three of the freshman offensive linemen – Alex Bullard, Chris Watt, and Zach Martin. He said that in some other years some or all of them might be forced into the two deep already. Like most of the freshmen Weis talked about today, he said that the staff would make some decisions here on Sunday.
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