Monday, August 13, 2007

Charlie Weis & Machiavelli

You wonder if Coach Weis has been reading "The Prince" in his spare time. The classic arguer of 'the ends justify the means' position also had this little nugget of wisdom concealed in those pages:
No plan is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
With that in mind, Weis today made the thoroughly predictable announcement that no, he will not be revealing who's who under center before the Georgia Tech game. The media can stop asking (yeah, like that's gonna happen), but this was a safe and understandable move by Weis in order to hold onto little things like strategic advantage and play down the circus that will surely surround whoever becomes "The Next Brady Quinn".

Quick Takes

Saturday's "open practice" revealed one thing for sure - the class of 2011 needs to learn how to carry a tune. Weis wrapped the session inside Notre Dame Stadium with a serenade of the 19 frosh to the several thousand fans who'd gathered to watch, and many winced in agony as they tried to force themselves into listening.

Weis on Quarterbacks...
"I think we'll be good enough to win -- that's what I've learned. That's the biggest question mark the guy who's directly responsible for the position has to worry about. What I've learned is we'll be good enough to compete to win."
A week of practice has gone by, the "installation period" for the offense has come and gone, and Weis knows this - any one of the three could handle be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. The big riddle: which one gives the 2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish the best chance to win? Obviously Weis is encouraged by the fact that all three of them are still in the race - it's enjoyable as a coach, to say nothing of the fans, when the Irish reach a point where the marquee position inside the program isn't awarded to the guy who achieves the distinction of simply being the last clown standing.

Weis on Running Backs...
"You can win with any five of them."
Deja vu all over again at this position. Last August, a rather innocuous comment by Weis on freshman Munir Prince had visions of another Reggie Bush dancing in the heads of Irish fans. Probably because Weis put Prince's speed on the same pedestal as the reigning Hesiman winner. Munir saw limited action throughout the year, never truly getting a chance to display his hyped-up burst and then switched over to cornerback in the '07 Spring Practices. But here we are, another fall camp and another first-year running back being anointed as 'The Chosen One', in this case Florida standout Armando Allen. Message boards were abuzz Saturday night after seeing him pull some nice jukes and cuts during Saturday's 11-on-11 drills, and others were just as high on classmate Robert Hughes, who comes in as another James Aldridge bruiser-type of back. Despite the urge to exercise caution after last season's 0-to-60 expectations on Prince, Weis never immediately counted Munir among the group of backs who would be able to help the Irish win in the very near future. Yet that group now stands five-deep: Senior Travis Thomas, converted senior Junior Jabbie, Aldridge, Allen, & Hughes.

Weis on overall team depth...
"We got a lot more players that can a game. You ask me how well, I don't that yet. But I do know I'm not going to blink an eye about taking someone out and putting someone else in, because there was a time here when that wasn't the case...the guy had to stay in because there was no one else to go. I feel a lot more confident now that there are a lot more players we can put on the field."
A less-than-subtle slap at the depth chart left behind by Tyrone Willingham that the Notre Dame diehards simply ate up. And why wouldn't they? If you don't know by now that Charlie Weis is a man with absolute commitment to the truth, welcome back from your five-year mission into sub-Saharan Africa.

Weis on why Jimmy Clausen and his fully healthy throwing elbow didn't attempt a pass over 15 yards...
"We've had different quarterbacks doing different things on different days."
Information about Jimmy Clausen has the same effect on the Notre Dame corps of beat reporters that crack cocaine has on an addict. They know it's misleading, abusive, self-destructive, and yet they just...can' themselves. Weis cooly slid off suggestions that anything seen in Saturday's public workout was a tip of the hand, merely pointing out the obvious that on any given day (just like in any given game), whoever is chosen as QB-1 will be asked to do a wide variety of different things. So why not have all three of them practice the same way? It was a novel concept that seemed lost on some in the Irish press corps, most of whom worked in some sort of personal tea-leaf reading on what Clausen's short-game workout really meant when they filed stories for the next day. A similar attempt to cook up theories based on Weis' one-day jaunt to West Virginia this spring (gee, which Notre Dame QB most resembles WVU's Pat White?) was tut-tutted at today's press meeting.
Weis on the very unsettled Irish kicking situation...
"We're not far as making a decision on who the guy is, but it was good that the fans and the media were there for these guys today, because it isn't the same as when you're in practice. When you're in practice sometimes you can nail 8 in a row, because there's not really the same pressure as when eyes are on you...I wanted everyone tired, and I wanted them to feel a little bit of pressure."
Irish kickers respond to the pressure: Soph. Ryan Burkhart: 0-4 on FG attempts; Soph. Nate Whitaker and Freshman Brandon Walker: 3-for-5 each. None of them stood out on the new kickoff unit either (kicks now go from the 30 instead of the 35, and none of the three reached the endzone). But at least Geoff Price looked like his reliable self. Still, 6-for-14 and not a touchback among the three vying for the PK role. Color us all concerned.

And to close on an extra high note (no pun intended)...

Weis on the the freshman (singing talents aside):
"There will be freshmen on the field in the first game, and it won't be in mop-up time, and it won't be just one."

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