April 10, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With spring practice underway, the Irish already have taken on a different look from last fall. Irish head coach Bob Davie and his staff have a lot of work cut out for them. The team wants nothing more than to bounce back from last year’s 5-7 season. Below is a breakdown of the spring season’s offensive lineup and how Davie is looking to change things.
QUARTERBACK – Perhaps this position is where Bob Davie’s greatest challenge lives. With the loss of record setter Jarious Jackson, the Irish are left with a major vacancy. Arnaz Battle will take the majority of the snaps for the spring practices. The spring practices will allow Battle the chance to perfect his throwing skills. Many witnessed Battle’s capability to run with the ball but have yet to see the consistency needed to throw it. Gary Godsey also may get a couple of snaps this spring before he is moved to tight end. Once fall rolls around, many believe that Battle’s starting position may be up for grabs. Four talented freshmen will roll into camp come this fall and many believe the likes of Carlyle Holiday, Jared Clark, Matt LoVecchio and Abram Elam may give him a run for his money.
CENTER – When the season wrapped up, many felt that John Merandi appeared to be a lock for a fifth-year of eligibility. Merandi is gone and now it appears that Jeff Faine will get the nod as the starter. That is all that is clear for the center positions.
TAILBACK – This position is perhaps the most highly contested. Davie still maintains that the starting position for this spot is wide-open. Last year, no single player held the starting position. Julius Jones proves to be the favorite for the starting slot. Jones’ explosive speed gives him an upper hand in the situation. Tony Fisher’s slashing style bids well for him. If Fisher does not get the starting the slot at tailback, Davie may have him split time at fullback. People should not rule out Terrance Howard. The tailback pondered transferring after the completion of the season but Davie lured him back. Watch for all three to split the snaps. Howard also wants to prove his hamstring injury from this fall is healed up. One thing Davie wants to make sure of is that the running game is strong, especially with the inexperience in the passing attack.
RECEIVERS – Many believed that graduation could deplete the receiving corps for the Irish, this is not the case. Notre Dame loses the likes of Raki Nelson and Bobby Brown, two of the top three receivers for the Irish last season, but still retains the services of Joey Getherall, David Givens and Javin Hunter. Getherall finished second for the team with 35 receptions for 436 yards, finishing behind Brown.
FULLBACKS – With no stellar performers at this spot, the coaching staff maintains this spot is open. Fisher may just see an increased amount of time at the spot. Tom Lopienski never showed a lot of dominance at the fullback position last fall. He had 25 carries for 78 yards. Mike McNair is another option for the position. McNair is coming off an injury, which did not allow him to play last year.
TIGHT ENDS – Jabari Holloway and Dan O’Leary will most likely split time at that position. Holloway garnered 1999 preseason All-American honors but only had 12 catches in the 1999 season. O’Leary did not fair much better with just 13 catches.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE – Davie spent a majority of last season worrying about this position with a large number of injuries. Jordan Black, John Teasdale and Kurt Vollers have seniority. Vollers returns with significant experience from the 1999 season. Watch for Brennan Curtin and Neal Ambron could challenge for this slot. Neither Curtin nor Ambron saw action in their freshman campaign.
OFFENSIVE GUARD – The guard position is dominated by fifth-years Jim Jones and Mike Gandy. Hot on their heals will be Sean Milligan as well as Ryan Scarola and Rob Mowl. Ryan Gillis and Sean Mahan are also listed at the guard position. Both Gillis and Mahan will see some reps at center due to the depth at the guard position.