Monday, August 07, 2006

Media Day Recap

Yesterday was the big Media Day to kickoff the 06 season. That's right, football junkies, we can more or less make it official that the 2006 season has started today. I'll hit you with some quick commentary here, but, realistically, you owe it to yourself to get the information straight from the horse's mouth at The folks over there have been generous enough to put all the press conference transcripts and video up free of charge so we can pour over and dissect every word that is said.

Some highlights, for the short attention-spanned:

  • Travis Thomas makes the move to linebacker. Without question, the biggest news from yesterday's press conference was Weis' announcement of a position switch for Travis Thomas. Per the coach:
    Last spring Travis and I got together and I told him I felt I was one of best 22 players on our team, and I wanted to know if he would be interested in trying to play linebacker on our team. Of course, anyone who looks at a possibility of starting when he's a backup behind Darius would love that opportunity. So last spring we started it and went through the summer, and what I'm going to do is give him an opportunity to be a starting linebacker on our team.
    It's going to take a while to make a judgment on this move. My first reaction was negative, as it seemed like that is too much of a loss to the rushing game in order to put an untested player in the linebacking mix. However, I've started to warm up to the idea. Thomas was a standout Strong Safety in high school and, in Weis' words, is one of the fastest and most aggressive tacklers on the special teams unit over the past few years (plus he does a mean touchdown celebration). In light of this, it makes sense that he should at least get a shot to crack the starting lineup and that he has a skillset to achieve on the defensive side of the ball. Furthermore, while the running back position loses a lot of experience with this move, it seems to have enough talent to offset this. The two incoming freshmen, James Aldridge and Munir Prince, seem to have enough raw talent and explosiveness to fill in the role as change-up back, with the help of young bruising fullbacks Asaph Schwapp and Luke Schmidt.

    After long consideration, I consider it a positive thing to move some more talent and experience to the linebacking corps, where age and experience are more important than in the backup running back position. Weis has assured the media that Thomas will be fully prepared to play offense if some catastrophic circumstance makes it necessary, but has been taking reps with the defense and training to takeover the weakside linebacking spot. We'll have to wait and see, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
  • Injury Updates. Usually tight-lipped about injuries, Weis was fairly candid and informative about where the team stands right now.
    • OUT: Abel Banda and D.J. Hord. Hord is having surgery to correct a ruptured Achilles sustained during offseason workouts, Banda is off of the football team for unspecified medical reasons.
    • BANGED UP: Ryan Harris and James Aldridge. Harris is still nursing a lingering injury from last spring, and Weis has elected to play it safe and let him heal up over the next two weeks rather than risk a reinjury to such an important starter. Aldridge has been recovering from surgery that some had speculated would sideline him for the season. According to Weis, the news is more positive, and that he may come back as early as the season opener against Georgia Tech.
    • BACK AND HEALTHY: Chris Frome is back in business after last year's knee injury during the USC game. Joe Brockington is back to 100%. Travis Leitko and Junior Jabbie are back practicing with the team after non-injury issues.

And that's about that. has a full slate of player and assistant coach interviews, but those are mainly canned ham. If anyone feels like stopping by practice this week and giving a tip to the HRB, let me know.