It was a great week to be an Irish football fan, as we finally got our first look at Brian Kelly’s football team. The early returns, as they always are, were promising.
Here are a few notes from the week of practice:
* It looks like one of the more interesting battles in the depth chart will be at center, where Braxston Cave looks to usurp Dan Wenger as the starting center. Most assumed Wenger would slide back into the spot after losing the job to Eric Olsen last year, who moved from guard to center in the offseason. Before that, Wenger had started all 13 games for the Irish at center in 2008.
When asked by the media about running with the first team during practice this week, Cave sounded confident.
“I can’t sit back and wait around any more,” Cave said after practice this week. “You only get four years of this. I sat back in the offseason and really thought about it and its my time to get out there and shine.”
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner talked about the ability of multiple players to cross-train at multiple positions, and while Cave and Wenger are both natural centers, expect one of them to log some playing time at guard opposite Chris Stewart, if Trevor Robinson gets kicked outside to tackle.
* It seems as if the Washington Redskins have zeroed in on Jimmy Clausen. Multiple reports over the last few days have hinted that Mike Shanahan is considering Clausen with the fourth pick in the draft, which would be a great spot for Clausen to go.
Jimmy will workout privately for the ‘Skins tomorrow, and they will also be in attendance at his Pro Day on April 9th. Earlier in the week, former Notre Dame assistant Vinny Cerrato, who just stepped down as the executive vice president of football operations for the Redskins spoke highly of Clausen when talking to the Washington Post‘s Jason Reid..
“As a junior, he received every vote of all the members of the team to be a captain. And everybody told me, he was a totally different kid from sophomore year to junior year. Really grew up, matured, became the leader of the team, took charge of everything... He’s a totally mature guy. I mean, you know what he is? He’s a gym rat. He’s a football junkie. He loves to talk about football. He loves to watch film. He’s very smart about football coverages, all those things. And you know what? He plays with a passion. That’s the thing.”
Cerrato tabbed ESPN’s Todd McShay as the source for any negative media buzz, but I’ve used my allotment of words about the draft “expert” for the week, so I’ll just leave it at that.
* I stumbled upon a few interesting write-ups about the inside linebacker positions this week. The guys over at One Foot Down did a little chalk talk breaking down the intricacies of the 3-4 inside backers. Here’s a sample:
The inside linebackers generally line up at about 5 yards deep so that they can fill gaps inside and out as quickly as possible depending on their read and the point of attack. You want the inside linebacker to be the point of the spear when attacking an offensive running play. His initial read is the offensive guard. His initial gap responsibility on a running play coming straight ahead is the B gap or guard/ tackle gap with the nose tackle responsible for the A gap.
Meanwhile, Lou Somogyi at BlueandGold.com made an interesting observation when writing about a variety of defensive players returning to their home positions, after listening to Bob Diaco talk about his prototype Mike and Will linebackers.
“It’s anywhere from six-foot to six-three or four, not much taller than that,” Diaco said. “You’d like them to be about 220 as a developmental player and up to maybe even 260-265 if they can be and still move.”
While the Irish look to find another inside backer to pair with Manti Te’o, Somogyi looked at the linebackers that Diaco played last season at Cincinnati.
The Irish certainly have better fitted options for the system than Diaco was afforded last year. While David Posluszny has been given the first shot to fill the Will role, Anthony McDonald has drawn the praise of Kelly as well.