Aug. 10, 2004
The 2004 Notre Dame Football Team officially kicked off its preseason preparation on Tuesday, Aug. 10, with the first full team practice since the spring workouts ended with the Blue and Gold Game on April 24. The Irish are back on the west side of campus again for two weeks of eating, sleeping and thinking football. Stationed just outside of O’Neill Hall and adjacent to the Notre Dame Bookstore, the team began split squad practices at 2:15 p.m. The Irish coaching staff has switched to a split squad format over the first week of workouts. Head coach Tyrone Willingham explained the move to media members after practice. “You have to evaluate the NCAA regulations and find the best way to have a great practice,” Willingham said. “You are limited (by the NCAA) to three hours, which normally fits in our usual practice time, but doesn’t give the football team what it needs in terms of repetitions. By splitting practice, it gives us a better opportunity to have every player really be in a better position to be prepared for our first ballgame.” The first group of players were on the practice field from 2:15 to approximately 4:15 p.m. – then moved over to the weight tents to work out with the Irish strength and conditioning coaches. The second group of players joined the entire team at 3:45 p.m., then finished off practice by leaving the field at 5:45 p.m. NCAA regulations mandate five days of `acclimation’ for football workouts, which means the team cannot switch to a two-a-day format for at least those five days. When the Irish begin their first two-a-day on Saturday, Aug. 14, the split squad format will end. Senior defensive back Dwight Ellick believes that the new format paid dividends for the Irish in the first workout on Tuesday. “We got a lot of things done,” Ellick said. “We still have to work some things out but overall it was a good practice. “(The split practice) helps. You have a lot of people who need those reps because they haven’t had a lot of playing time. That helps everyone get better, as opposed to having everyone together – you would have a lot of people standing around.” Coach Willingham echoed Ellick’s statement after the workout. “I was pleased,” Willingham said. “What we sought to do was get a lot of guys repetitions and we did that today. Everyone on the team should feel that they had an opportunity to become a better player by actually practicing. There are some guys on this squad, if you go by a two-deep rotation, that do no get many reps. That makes it difficult to get better.” Practice continues on Wednesday, Aug. 11, with another workout beginning at 2:15 p.m.