Where is D. Thomas in all of this? I thought he was our Nickel?
this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
"We had our last two-a-day practice. I thought we ended that part of it, as far as the two practices a day, in pretty good shape. Did a lot this morning. Physical this morning, physical this afternoon. I like how the kids are coming out and how they're competing with each other. We have 11 days until we kick the ball off, so we have to make sure our timing, playing with speed, playing fast, playing physical like we want to -- we get all those things accomplished. I like the leadership and where we're at."
Do you wish the weather had been this warm earlier in camp?
"Yeah. It would have been nice if it had a little more heat, and I think we'll get some more this week, which will be good for us."
Have you made any personnel decisions yet? Center? SDE?
"Jack [Miller] and Graham [Glasgow], obviously. Chris [Bryant] didn't participate the other night, but he's back out there today. We played Graham at a lot of guard, so today we played them both in there at center a little bit more. I think we're getting closer."
What did you think of the scrimmage on Saturday?
"I thought it was really physical. I thought how they prepared -- we set up the day a lot like how the night game for Notre Dame will be as far as the two walkthroughs, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Just started our routine and really was pleased with how they approached the day, how they approached that night. Probably the most important thing was how they went out and competed."
What other position battles have you decided on already?
"I think we're close. I don't think it's the right time to say, 'This guy is the guy.' "
Is it fair to say Fitz Toussaint is gaining ground for the starting tailback spot?
"Yeah, that would be very true. In fact the other night, on Saturday, it was great to get him back up in the stadium and great to see him run and do some things that he did. Protection-wise, running the ball-wise, he really looks good."
Do you anticipate him starting?
"Yeah. If we're going to get technical about it, Fitz would be the starter."
Can you talk about the battle at center a little more? Why hasn't someone emerged yet?
"I think both of them have had consistently good days. At the same time, when Chris Bryant was out for a couple days, we moved Graham into the guard position to battle there a little bit with Ben [Braden]. And then at the same time, we give Taylor [Lewan] a little rest in there and put Ben out to left tackle. Taylor's played a multitude of snaps, so you want to give the young guys as much in pressure situations as you can. That's probably as much as [we can do without] saying, 'Here it is.' "
Did Shane Morris play in the scrimmage?
"He didn't. He hit his finger a little bit and we just thought it was best -- he could have, probably. He was throwing it before, but we just decided not to put him in there."
Were there any other injuries coming out of scrimmage?
"Well, Darboh got banged up a little bit. You always ask me that and I usually forget, to be honest with you. But Darboh got beat up a little bit. Don't know how he'll be. [Allen] Gant got a bruise. I'm trying to think. I know there's one more I'm forgetting, but we had about three guys get a little banged up."
With Shane not participating, does that settle things at all with the No. 2 QB spot?
"No, because he's participated in every other situational thing that we do."
MGoQuestion: From the highlight video that you released, we didn't get to see much of Jibreel Black. Did he participate in the scrimmage?
"Jibreel we held out. He got a little dinger there so we held him out."
MGoFollowup: Who's backing him up at the 3-tech position?
"Ryan Glasgow and Willie Henry."
You said Amara got banged up. Is he practicing this week?
"No. He's still banged up." =(
Do you anticipate him back by the first game?
"I think I said I don't know how long he'll be out." =(
Are there any scrimmages planned for this week?
"We'll do some things."
How has Michael Schofield done this fall?
"I think Mike's done a great job. Mike plays a lot of right tackle obviously, but flips over and plays left in certain situations, you know, to get him some looks from there. I thought in the bowl game when Taylor was out a couple of plays, I thought Mike went over there and did a great job. I think it just shows how important he is to his team."
What did Kyle Kalis do to lock down his position so quickly?
"If you would ask him, you'd probably think he would have liked to play a year ago. I think it's just his consistency from spring, what he's done physically with his body, because he's a guy who is really eating better and the body fat and all that -- he really has just been so consistent. He's a strong guy. When he gets on you, he's a pretty good road grader."
How has Fitz distinguished himself? What have you seen in practice?
"Sometimes it's a mind set that guys have. The challenge for him started after the Iowa game. It was 'I want to get back. I've got to get back. How am I going to get back?' I can tell you he was here every day, either through rehab, through whatever they needed to do. Down here, pushing himself from a standpoint of his conditioning and his mindset."
Is he that far ahead of the rest of the backs?
"Well I think Drake Johnson, Thomas [Rawls] had a good run the other night, Justice [Hayes] has had some good runs in there. But I think there's a clear separation that Fitz is the guy."
What about the freshmen?
"Deveon [Smith] and Derrick [Green] -- Derrick's had limited practice. A lot of those guys [have to] finish school. He hasn't had a lot of reps. He had a little bit of an ankle early. We just have to get him more reps."
Would Derrick benefit from taking a week or two off? Is that an option?
"I think our doctors and trainers all feel that he's not doing anything worsen to it."
We heard good things about Chris Wormley. Do you see him getting significant playing time?
"There's group of guys at our strong end, with [Keith] Heitzman, Chris, and [Matt] Godin. I think all three of those guys are guys who have had good fall camps. If we can get to the point where we want to with rotating guys in, which I think we're close to doing that, he'll have some real valuable snaps."
Tell us about Heitzman.
"Keith doesn't do anything flashy. He just gets his job done. He's just truly one of those lunch pail guys who goes to work every day. Doesn't say much. Doesn't talk much. Just goes out and plays. He's a guy who's been in the program two years. There's a maturity level there. Had some limited snaps a year ago, but I think he's growing. His attitude has always been good, but I think the older you get, you get a little more mature."
Who would your third offensive tackle be right now?
"Third offensive tackle would either be Magnuson or Braden."
How has Raymon Taylor looked?
"I think both of those two are doing a really good job. Blake [Countess] at corner and in nickel, because we're playing him a little bit at both because he's good on a slot [receiver]. I think Ray has been very consistent. He's shown great leadership. He's physical. I think they both have done a good job."
MGoQuestion: What does Jarrod Wilson have to do to solidify his spot at safety?
"He's got to have production."
MGoFollowup: Have you been worried about his lack of production?
"No, we just think that we have good competition and there's guys having some production. He's got to have more."
Were you impressed with the speed of the defense?
"Yeah I don't know if our speed is all -- I don't know how good our speed is, to be honest with you. I think there was a concerted effort by 11 winged helmets to get to the football."
Is it fair to say you have your starting lineup on both sides of the ball penciled in and you're just not telling us?
"I take offense to that. You would be the first I would tell. Uh, I would say no."
How many spots are still in question?
"Probably four or five."
Are you feeling better about your team speed?
"I don't know if I feel better. I like how they went about their business on Saturday, you know? It's just not what they did up there. It's how they prepared to go up there, because when you go up to that stadium, that's a game day experience."
What led to the decision to take your team bowling yesterday instead of practicing?
"Well, number one you see what non-athletes [Ed: ?] we have. No, they've been working hard. It's 17 days of practices -- or 18 -- of getting after it. Get their minds to have some fun ... it just seemed like a good idea."
Would you say Braden's moved to tackle or is he still at guard?
MGoQuestion: Is Brennen Beyer still limited at all?
"No. He's been back."
MGoFollowup: Is there separation between him and Cam Gordon at this point?
"Well, I think Cam is a guy who would be the No. 1 guy, but Brennen is a very good football player and he's got experience."
MGoFollowup: What about the competition at middle linebacker between Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan?
"Desmond's always been the guy who's kind of been the starter, and he's had a good fall camp."
Still shooting for October for Jake Ryan?
"Yeah. I haven't tweaked it yet, but yeah, we'll see. Hope so."
Where is D. Thomas in all of this? I thought he was our Nickel?
Ugh. You mean Dymonte Thomas.
And for those of you worried about this, don't be. Hoke is notoriously secretive at his pressers, and I wouldn't interpret anything he said as being negative for Dymonte.
It's fall camp. You're going to experiment with guys in different spots, just to see what those looks might give you. If Countess is starting at nickel, that means Hollowell, Taylor, and maybe Avery are probably very capable outside CBs.
Relax. Breathe. Repeat.
This is why access can be bad, you guys are freaking out about people changing spots over with a week and a half before the first game. Hoke said he wanted to get positions finalized around Thursday this week. They are just now putting people in the positions they will play for this season, change was expected. Changes at this point are what's best and required to be competitive. Yes, maybe some guys aren't as far along as others, that happens, but questioning a bunch of young players, freshmen and sophomores, freaking out about these things is outrageous.
If come this time next week you hear rumors of people still being shuffled around, alright, you can start worrying a bit. Right now, it's shrug your shoulders, say "alrighty then," and move on. Panic is not the right reaction to any of this news, even the Darboh injury.
Seriously, folks. It seems that 90% of the board takes every bit of news as terrible. "Clark working at 3-tech - Jibreel must suck." "Hollowell 5th DB in, Thomas must suck." "Courtney Avery starting at FS (but still maybe not) - Wilson must suck." "Pipkins not mentioned despite there not being any talk about NTs at all - he must now suck and is a bust."
I know we don't have to look at everything through maize-colored glasses, but not everything new is bad news.
doubt when it comes to PT. We can't assess who is doing what each day against whom and Hoke, for various reasons, doesn't want to reveal any trade details or secrets. Understandable. Freshmen who start right away do so either out of necessity or flat-out ability to understand their position and be where they need to be when
In the secondary, I want the five best cover guys. Size isn't really an issue until it is, and you only really notice it when some team has receivers like ND has had in recent years at both wideout and tightend and they are throwing back shoulder jump balls downfield or the endzone. The Irish don't have the equivalent talent they had when Michigan actually beat them in RichRod's second year, and Michigan had a secondary of Donovan Warren, Cissoko, Woolfolk, Stevie Brown and that freshman walk-on safety, what's his name, oh yeah, No. 32, that slow white kid from Toledo.
You play when you make plays in practice and in games. End of story. I trust the staff knows who is getting the job done and will bring it on game day. And the point is, there will be lots of rotation and opportunity for kids to make a splash. Thomas will play likely be a contributor.
I'm done discussing meltdown-type substances.
I don't really believe much of what's said in these pressers. I also don't think anything really matters lineup-wise or package-wise until like a week from today.
Keep moving along people. In a week and a half, it will all be settled. Until the coaching staff starts to experiment in a blow out win vs CMU. Then you all may panick all over again.