Coach Weis Press Conference Notes
The first thing that jumped off the page when reading Coach Weis' press conference was this tidbit:
All three of the [running backs] that are in contention all raised their bench press 100 pounds from last year to this year.
Weis called that a "significant upgrade in strength." I call it downright astounding. If their strength gains in other areas are similarly impressive, we should see more powerful running this year. The player this is most likely to help is Armando Allen, who often appeared to lack the necessary strength to fight through arm tackles last year, costing him the opportunity to break some big runs. He's also listed as the primary kick and punt returner, where speed is paramount, but being able to shrug off arm and shoestring tackles can make a huge difference.
Another note comes off of the offensive line. I commented in an earlier post that I saw Chris Stewart, and he looks like he is in amazing shape compared to last year. In the weigh-in, Stewart actually dropped below Sam Young in total weight, at only 329 pounds. All of the linemen are over 300 pounds, and the increases in size and strength should translate into overall improved play. Size and strength won't correct missed assignments, but it should reduce the number of times that players just get beaten by their opponents, and also should provide a fraction of a second more when they do get their hands on a blitzing opponent. And if you ask a QB, fractions of a second can mean the difference between a completion and a sack.
David Bruton is still in freakishly good shape, and is adding strength despite already being in peak physical shape.
There are no injuries to speak of going into camp, which is a huge difference from last year and even earlier this spring. Only a minor hamstring pull on Will Yeatman was reported as an injury. Undoubtedly, there will be injuries as training camp progresses (there almost always are, we lost Gary Gray last year in training camp), but the lack of injuries going in means that the attrition should be much lower. Also, it means that there aren't any players (like Clausen last year) whose progress may be hindered by an injury or limited practice time. Also (no surprise) there are no academic casualties. Only Darrin Walls' absence from the team is notable as losses go.
Pat Kuntz is listed as a defensive end, not a defensive tackle, on the depth chart. At first, I was surprised, considering the lack of depth inside. But then, I thought that Laws should have been kept inside last year, which shows how much I know. Kuntz is similar to Laws as far as playing style (except that Kuntz is rabid dog crazy). This leaves Ian Williams and Paddy Mullen inside, with freshman Brandon Newman pushing into the rotation as well. They set a 600 pound standard for DT's in the squat, and even the freshman hit that mark. Weis did mention that Kuntz has position flexibility, so we may see him move around on the D-line, depending on how other players develop.
Weis exuded confidence about the all-around depth on the team, with the lone exception of the defensive line, which bodes well for the end of the season. Many recent Notre Dame teams have sputtered down the stretch, which can be partly attributed to the lack of depth at key positions, especially along the offensive line.
Weis - Aug. 9 Presser
Weis' first media session gave us the opportunity to get Weis' impressions of the players now that he's seen them on the field during practice.
He likes the talent at the running back position across the board, which is a good sign. Despite the fact that he is in great shape, all signs point to Jonas Gray sitting out this season while the three headed monster battles it out through camp and into the season. There's no sense in burning eligibility when you have that much quality depth at the position.
He also pointed out Ethan Johnson, as a player that impressed in the first practice, although he said that there are several freshman that looked good. We'll have to wait until the freshman get some reps with the first teamers to know how good they really are.
Kyle Rudolph is still growing, and has put on 40 pounds since his recruitment, and has plenty of room to grow on his frame.
Kamara needs to drop weight, but has looked good in practice despite the extra weight. Weis also singled out Kamara and Grimes as players that have shown really good hands in practice.