Saturday was the first day of two-a-days for the Irish this year and Weis made the entire practice open to the media so the video footage from UND All Access was quite good for today. Weis’s entire meeting with the media was also made available as well. Here are a few observations and some quotes from Weis’s press conference. (Link)
Travis Thomas is Staying at LB
Thomas has shown enough at linebacker that he will be staying there.
“It’s still way too early to anoint anything etched in stone, but obviously we’re encouraged by Travis or else the answer to the question before would have been lets get him back to offense right now. If we thought a week in that this thing with Travis wasn’t working we’d pull the plug and move on.”
That being said, it looks like there is only one linebacker position up for grabs. If you remember Weis’s comments on Thomas from his first press conference, he said they weren’t moving Thomas over to be a backup, but rather to start. So unless anything changes, Thomas should join Crum as a starter leaving the SAM position open with Anthony Vernaglia and Mitchell Thomas competing.
One thing to keep in mind is that Crum could move to SAM position as Weis has said in the past Crum could play any of the linebacker positions. Should someone else emerge at middle linebacker, Crum could in theory move over. For now however, Crum remains in the middle with the WILL position being Thomas’s to lose.
Sam Young Running with First Team
Freshman tackle Sam Young has been running with the first team offense at left tackle in the absence of Ryan Harris. While Harris gets healthy, Young will practice with the first team. When Harris returns, Young will be right back in the competition for the starting right tackle spot.
“I think he’s on the first team. Well, I mean remember Ryan’s not here. You know, so when’s Ryan’s back, Ryan is the starter. But what that gives you is … two things it provides – a legitamet contender over at right tackle and a quality backup at left tackle.”
If you watch any of the videos from All Access, Young does not look like a freshman. If I had to guess right now I’d say Young will start at right tackle
“He doesn’t act like a freshman, and I think that is a critical factor. You know linemen, even on the next level, often take years to develop into front line players and its unusual when a guy comes in and you don’t notice them. The best thing you can say about an offensive linemen is you don’t notice them because it usually means they’re doing something good.”
Prince Settling in at #2 Back
Freshman Munir Prince continues to impress in camp and is settling into the backup role at tailback behind Darius Walker with James Aldridge out. Prince had a great run today were he turned the corner and turned on the jets. No other running back on the team possess the kind of home run ability that Prince brings to the table.
“I’m very encouraged behind Darius Walker, minus Travis. Remember now, James is waiting in the wings. It isn’t like James is on the shelf for the whole year either. He’s out for a little time yet and every day we’re out there going through our running drills, I’m glancing at the sidelines taking a peek at 34 too; but I like what 25 looks like. You know, he obviously has to learn some things how this game is played, but I like the way he looks.”
Speaking of things he has to learn, you will notice on the video Prince dropping a pass in 7 on 7 drills and getting instruction in yesterdays video about how he carries the ball. Still, with Prince getting as much attention as he is, its starting to become apparent that he really could be a special player.
Kicking Game May be a Concern
Ryan Burkhart didn’t kick today during the session of practice that the media saw and something tells me that may have been intentional. Weis acknowledged early on that he changed things around a bit since he didn’t want too video on the internet for opponents to find and it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t want people to have too much of an idea of Burkhart’s abilities.
Still Weis admitted the kicking in practice wasn’t good today.
“I thought it was a little shoddy. Actually, we’ve been kicking the ball very consistently the last couple days. Early in camp we weren’t exactly lighting it on fire either. But I thought today it was a little inconsistent.”
Toryan Smith Making a Mark on Special Teams
Smith made a good play on the kick return team today as well as in one of the individual linebacker drills. Smith is someone I thought could come in and immediately compete at middle linebacker and while there hasn’t been much on him competing at middle linebacker yet, its nice to see Smith making a mark on special teams already.
“The other day when we ran kickoff team, we liked the power and speed of Toryan Smith and we put him inside, and the first day he did it he didn’t understand the tempo that we do these things and he was about five yards behind everybody else. So today he was the guy I knew I was gonna ride to see if I couldn’t get him down there. You know, getting him down there is one thing, but then letting him finish the play like that. You know, it’s always exciting a freshman step up to that type of level.”
In true form, Weis made sure to throw something in to make sure Toryan’s head didn’t get too big with the praise Weis just threw out for him:
“Now he did it on one play, so let’s not put him in the Hall of Fame yet.”