August 21, 2006

The double-edged sword

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You're looking at a playbook that looks like it's been written in Greek. While you're trying to get things straight in your mind, another man-who could be as much as four years your elder-physically manhandles you while you're thinking about what to do next.

This is no business for the weak of heart, mind and body

"Once I became familiar with everything, things started coming a little bit easier," said running back James Aldridge, one of three freshmen who enrolled during the spring semester.

"Once I started to grasp that, I could start looking at the playbook and actually understanding the material. Now I get the concept of things."

For fullback/halfback Luke Schmidt, the physical part has been a bit easier to manage because he began camp weighing in excess of 250 pounds. And yet, this isn't Jasper, Ind., anymore either.

"Obviously, college athletes are bigger and faster," Schmidt said. "It's such a change from high school. Jasper wasn't a huge town, and I was one of the biggest people on the team. Coming here is a reality check.

"But I would have to say that the mental part has been the most difficult. A lot is thrown at you real quick."

"It's more mental," said defensive tackle Paddy Mullen. "I came from a high school that had a complex offense and defense, but nothing like this."

Wide receiver Robby Parris has learned that up-tempo means just that…every play!

"You're just not used to the tempo, the plays, everything," Parris said. "Then the physical part comes in because you're going so hard every play.

"Practices are (conducted) at 100 percent all the time. If you take a play off, you fall behind."

And yet, although the playbook is huge and the expectations are even bigger, sometimes we tend to think everyone struggles grasping the concepts in the Notre Dame playbook.

Although admitting that picking up Weis' offense isn't easy, quarterback Zach Frazer says he hasn't been overwhelmed by it either because he's had plenty of assistance.

"I don't think it's that difficult," Frazer said. "With all the help around like Brady Quinn and Coach Vaas and Coach Weis walking you through it, it's not an impossible task."

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