Media Day Notebook

Charlie Weis was uncharacteristically brief in his opening remarks at yesterday’s media day press conference. Weis, who is normally quite informative and thorough in his remarks, kept his opening statement injury related and quickly opened the floor for questioning – a move which seemed to catch those in attendance by surprise.

Eric Olsen has started at guard for the last two seasons, but will start off 2009 as the starting center.
Eric Olsen has started at guard for the last two seasons, but will start off 2009 as the starting center.

Here’s a recap of the major points Weis made throughout the question and answer portion of the press conference.

  • Injury wise, the only player with any limitations at this point is Hafis Williams. The sophomore nose tackle will likely be cleared to play soon, but the medical staff is taking a conservative approach with him at this point. Other than Williams, all of the other 105 players participating in fall camp are full go with no limitations.
  • Eric Olsen has been moved to the first team center. Weis said that Olsen saw a lot of action at center last spring when incumbent starter Dan Wenger was banged up. The thought process was based on getting the five best offensive linemen on the field at the same time. Paul Duncan, Chris Stewart, Olsen, Trevor Robinson, and Sam Young make up the first string offensive line (from left to right).
  • Speaking of the depth chart, we have posted the full 2009 Depth Chart on the site.
  • Weis said that he has a lot of confidence that Dayne Crist could run the offense if called upon. Overall, Weis said that Notre Dame easily has the most depth and talent at quarterback since he has been at Notre Dame.
  • Weis conducted a research study of players from their freshman to senior years to see what strength development has taken place with Rueben Mendoza. In the three main lifts – clean, squat, and bench – the fourth and 5th year offensive line improved by about 50% on their numbers from when they got to Notre Dame. The strength and conditioning of the program was a hot topic on the blogs and forums this off-season and it seems as though Weis is very pleased with the results.
  • On the freshmen, Weis stated that the upperclassmen reported back to him that all of the freshmen have fit in well since arriving on campus.
  • Manti Te’o is more physically ready to play than Jimmy Clausen was three years ago. Te’o reported to Notre Dame at 245 pounds which already makes him one of the biggest linebackers on the team.
  • Notre Dame has the most depth at offensive line as they’ve had since Weis arrived at Notre Dame. Across the board, Notre Dame is three deep with scholarship offensive linemen.
  • Braxston Cave put up 520 lbs on the bench this off-season and has transformed his body this off-season according to Weis.
  • Captains will be selected around August 18-19. Weis said there are plenty of candidates right now for the captain positions, but conventional wisdom suggests that Brian Smith and Jimmy Clausen will end up as the captains.
  • Weis is confident enough in the defensive staff that he will once again be focusing primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Playing calling will be “given up no time soon”. Weis called plays from 2005-2007, before giving up those duties to Mike Haywood last season.
  • Weis would not talk about how he planned on fixing the running game, but said he would rather prove it on the field. This was a nice change after hearing last year that Notre Dame was going to “pound it” only to struggle running the football all season long.
  • On expectations, Weis would not divulge into his “lofty expectations” for the team but said that it was time back them up on the field.
  • Clausen needs to cut down on his touchdown to interception ratio this season and protect the football better. Weis is confident that Clausen will make big improvements in this area this season.
  • Weis talked about how Golden Tate and Michael Floyd each create separation in different ways. Tate can run by people while Floyd his larger frame to his advantage. When talking about the 3rd wide receiver position, the first two names Weis mentioned were Duval Kamara and Robby Parris.
  • Clausen flew out to California with Tate, Floyd, and Kyle Rudolph to practice routes for a week this summer for about 8 hours a day according to Weis.
  • Weis made multiple mentions about how every team’s goal is to be one of the teams in the mix for the BCS bowl games come January, but also stressed that expectations are worthless unless they are backed up on the field. In general, Weis’s attitude towards expectations were much closer to the way it was when he first got to Notre Dame.
  • On the recruiting front, Weis said recruiting was going well and that Notre Dame was in on a lot of top prospects who are in the wait and see approach. Weis is hoping that the wait and see approach goes strongly “Pro Notre Dame”.
  • Mike Ragone is ready to go physically, but Weis suggested that the biggest hurdle is still the mental aspect of trusting his knee again. Once he gets passed that, Weis said he will be a big contributor to the team. Weis is excited about the youth and athleticism along the defensive line, but at the same time said there might be some uncertainty there at the position. Kapron Lewis-Moore reported to Notre Dame at 220 lbs last year, but is up to 265 lbs heading into the fall. Ethan Johnson is up to 285 lbs. Ian Williams is down 15 lbs to 295 pounds and came close to cleaning 400 lbs this off-season in the weight room. Weis made mention that Ian Williams has never seen the kind of shape he is in right now.
  • Armando Allen is the clear cut #1 running back right now unlike years past when Weis leaned toward sharing the load. Allen has secured the #1 spot by being the most well round back on the team.

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One Comment

  1. It sounds like Charlie is taking Ty’s approach to team secrecy…

    Seriously though, I like that Weis is keeping relatively quiet. It’s time to prove it on the field. I’m really hoping to see big improvements from the line this year. A few years ago, they were calling this ND’s best line haul in 10 years. It’s time for these guys to step it up.

    I also like that we’re going with a dedicated starting running back… and I like that the start is the “clear cut” number one. I hope to see an effective ground game this year.

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