April 4, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
Optimism set the tone for Bob Davie’s opening press conference.
“With the continuity in the coaching staff, with the returning players we have and the experience we have, I think there’s good reason for us to be optimistic,” Davie said. “When you have the staff in place, when you have continuity, it’s nice that every moment of your time has been spent on looking at your football team, finding specific ways to improve, rather than trying to get everybody on the same page and implementing new schemes.”
Davie and his team long for a chance to play another game and erase the memories of the last loss of the season to Stanford. The team lost to the Cardinal back in late November, 37-40 and finished with a record of 5-7.
“Obviously, when you finish your season the way we finished, it really seems like a long time, because the great thing about sports is you always get a chance to go play again,” Davie said. “But when you lose late in the season, as we did, it’s an awfully long time until you have that chance to play again.”
Notre Dame returns 13 starters. The offense boasts seven returning starters in the likes of Jim Jones and Mike Gandy at guard. Jordan Black and John Teasdale return at the tackle positions. Jabari Holloway once again will fill the tight end position. Tony Fisher returns at tailback and Joey Getherall returns at flanker.
“The great thing about the returning players is that there is competition at just about every position on our team, particularly at tailback where we have three players that I think all have a chance to be a starter,” Davie said.
The tailback position could be one of the most contested positions for the Irish. While starter Tony Fisher is returning so are the like of Terrance Howard as well as freshman standout Julius Jones.
The defensive starters returning are Anthony Weaver at tackle and Grant Irons at end. Inside linebacker Anthony Denman and outside linebacker Rocky Boiman both will be back. Cornerback Clifford Jefferson also is returning.
Punter Joey Hildbold also is returning for the Irish.
Spring football practice kicked off on Saturday with a light workout to get everyone reacquainted. Today marks the first practice where the Irish will have full contact.
The kicking game already has suffered a severe blow. Nick Setta will sit out practice for a while with a sprained ankle. Davie decided to not play this past fall, Setta in order to give him another year of eligibility. Competing this spring at the placekicker position is David Miller and senior Matt McNew.
The spring practices culminate in the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage on April 29th.
Davie’s optimism is held somewhat in check by the fact that all programs are on even ground.
“I think we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Davie said. “Of course, I realize at this time of year, all over the country, everyone is optimistic. Every team in NCAA football is 0-0 right now and that’s the great thing about the spring, everybody has a fresh start. There are a lot of positions open. And everyone is optimistic.”
Many wonder how optimistic Davie and his crew can be with the opening opponent scheduled to be Texas A&M.