Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Still Talkin' 'Bout Practice...

QB Derby - AND They're Off....
"I've seen several teams go on to win championships playing a quarterback that just manages the team. But when you're playing with a lot of inexperience (at a lot of positions) like we are this year, you can't just count on a guy to manage the team. Because then, the only games you're going to win are the ones you're supposed to win." -- Charlie Weis
Three days of practice are in the books for Notre Dame, and no, we're not any closer to finding out who the starting quarterback is going to be.

Still, as judged by the above quote, there's a very specific criteria Weis and his coaches will be using to determine who among Sharpley, Clausen, and Jones emerges as the winner - and there will also be great expectations. The starter won't simply be the guy Weis figures will screw up the least because he'll be asked to do the least; or, in other words, inexperience won't be an excuse come September 1st. Whoever lines up under center then is there because he's been judged to be the guy who can best trot the unit onto the field and run things as well as Brady Quinn did for the past two years.

Even more telling was Weis during Monday's season-opening press conference:
"I'm not looking for a jack of all trades, master of none," Weis said in a rare and passing moment of loosening up. "I'm actually looking for somebody who can do enough stuff where we can actually win."
For all the hype that surrounds Jimmy Clausen, there remains something very tantalizing about watching what Demetrius Jones could do with the Irish offense. Evan Sharpley as well. The nice thing is that all three of them have a very keen grasp on what's in front of them and the fact that nobody will be crying foul when it's all over.

Men on a Mission

Travis Thomas and Tom Zbikowski know you're out there, Mark May. And they really don't give a s%^t what you have to say.

That much was clear from Thomas (back at his true position of running back after a noteworthy but ultimately ambivalent year as a linebacker) and Zbikowski's Monday media chat, where the two captains stated in plain bold talk the only reason they returned for a fifth year: to win, and win now.

"[When I came to Notre Dame] there was no reason why I should have thought that we couldn't win a national championship," Thomas said. "That's the mentality I'm coming in with right now. With the tools we have, we can get everyone on the same page and we can still accomplish that goal, regardless of what everyone else thinks."

Zbikowski was even more to the point: "I didn't have the season that I wanted to have last year. Plus a lot of people, as usual, are saying that we are going to win one game out of our first eight. But that's old news and they've said that the past three years."

Personally, I wouldn't be shocked if Zibby's off-campus home had May-Day's face taped to a dart board (or, perhaps more appropriately, a punching bag). So if you're looking for a sense of purpose that can whip the young faces in the huddle to attention, Thomas and Zbikowski are your guys. It's already obvious within 3 days of camp that the other 10 guys on each side of the ball are looking to them to set the tone, and it's nice to see the tone is relatively simple: we're here to win. End of discussion. This is no rebuilding year, this is no mail-in prep the youngsters for 2008 run. Once again, the attitude of the Irish football starts at the top and filters its way down, and the Irish definitely have the right guys in place to install the 'win now' attitude this program has been fighting to regain for the better part of a decade.

Tomorrow: The Corwin Brown Experience

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