Notre Dame assistant coaches Kent Baer and Greg Mattison on the sideline of a game during the 2002 season (File Photo)

Football Practice Report - Day 13

Aug. 22, 2004

The Notre Dame football team began a two-hour workout at Cartier Field at 5 p.m. on day 13 (Sunday, Aug. 22) of preseason camp. It was another beautiful and perfect day in Northern Indiana, with temperatures in the mid-70s and just a few clouds in the sky. One day of preseason camp remains for the Irish, a final two-a-day on Monday, Aug. 23. Classes begin at Notre Dame on Tuesday and the Irish will begin their tradition 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. practice time pattern. Sunday’s practice featured a large portion of 11-on-11 drills, mixing in situations and two minute scenarios. Both the Irish offense and defense provided their share of highlights in the workout, including some stellar catches by junior WR Maurice Stovall and a memorable leaping grab by TE John Carlson. The defense held its own, with the group performance marked by a big hit from senior LB Mike Goolsby and an interception by senior SS Lionel Bolen. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer stopped by the media room after practice on Sunday and touched on a number of topics, including the development of the back up linebackers, the status of the Notre Dame depth chart and physical play in the defensive backfield. On the development of the linebacker corps… Baer: “I like the four (back up) guys that can play. (Sophomore) Joe Brockington is coming along. He still has a lot to learn but will be a big part of our special teams. (Sophomore) Nick Borseti and (freshman) Maurice Crum are progressing well. (Sophomore) Mitchell Thomas is our back up `Sam’ and is a lot further along then he was before camp began. They are all making progress, but they are not where they need to be yet.” On the defense’s effectiveness vs. the Notre Dame offense in practice… Baer: “I wouldn’t say we have dominated. We have been put in a lot of different situations. I like our offense. They have given us more problems last spring and this fall than we have every faced. That is great for the team. I like how we are developing defensively. The thing I like is, I know when we play – we play hard. We fly around the football and the kids understand what we are doing. But, we still have 12 days until we play and we will need all 12.” On the status of the defensive depth chart and if any starting spots have been earned… Baer: “We have not sat down as a staff yet to figure out where everybody fits in. I don’t know what the timing will be. We are just trying to get the team to work and have everyone involved. I can honestly say (that no starting positions have been earned). We are still in camp and have not decided that. We are rotating guys in and out. If you watch an entire practice, you will see a group of guys with the first team one day and a totally different group the next. Camp ends tomorrow and we will start to game plan against BYU the next two days and then begin to figure where everyone fits in.” On how close the battle is at the safety positon… Baer: “It is real close. I don’t think there is any question that Quentin Burrell is a little ahead of everyone in terms of experience. Tommie (Zbikowski), Freddie (Parrish), (Chinedum) Ndukwe and Lionel Bolen – all those guys have created a lot of competition and I like that. The only thing it can do is make the team better. We will see how it all comes out here in the next week.” On the Irish secondary and the emphasis on physical play… Baer: “I am never pleased with how physical we are. It is an area we can improve on. I like Coach Wilks and how he has handled the defensive backs. They are all getting better.” On the progress of Justin Tuck’s recovery from knee surgery… Baer: “I think he is really starting to play like the old Justin. He is still not where he needs to be. Anytime you come off that kind of injury, there is a concern when you start banging around with linemen. These last few days I have seen flashes of the old Justin and he is on the right track. I am excited about him.”