The sniffles have returned, as have the freezing hands, the denim of our jeans sticking to our calves and shivering even though practice ended a while ago.
Notre Dame had its open practice Saturday and decided to head outside to Cartier Field.
Midway through the practice, it began to rain extremely hard, forcing the notebook to be put away and to seek shelter under the kind umbrella Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune had fetched from his car. Even Charlie Weis didn't seem too pleased with the rain, blaming director of football operations Chad Klunder, who had eyed the forecast. Note to Chad and to self: NEVER TRUST WEATHERMEN. So if anyone could send chicken noodle soup, we're betting an illness might be coming along. Or at least an ear infection.
Anyway, here's what we saw -- and some of what Weis told us in his post-practice news conference -- before the rains steadily came.
- Nose tackle Chris Stewart is dinged up a little bit. He spent a good portion of the practice riding the stationary bike, which became more miserable once the rains came. He looked like the saddest man in South Bend for the final hour, even having a blue towel over his head. It didn't help.
- Each week, Weis is letting a different quarterback act as the starter. He wouldn't say who this week's starter was, but the order of the first set of quarterback drills went Demetrius Jones, Zach Frazer, Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen.
- George West is beginning to separate himself as the No. 2 receiver alongside David Grimes. What that means is that the Irish could have a miniature receiving group to start the season with West at 5-foot-8 and Grimes at 5-foot-10. We also noticed again how fast West's feet are during drills.
- During a quarterback/running back drill these were the pairings: Armando Allen/Jimmy Clausen; Travis Thomas/Evan Sharpley; James Aldridge/Demetrius Jones. Zach Frazer, at the time, was throwing to the wide receivers with walk-on Justin Gillett.
- When the defensive backs and wide receivers broke into 1-on-1 drills, defensive backs coach Bill Lewis had to yell for a quarterback to come over and throw. His yelling ended up in Clausen being sent over with Sharpley following later.
- Wide receiver D.J. Hord made a nice catch on a pass from Clausen -- whose arm looks fine, by the way -- in traffic over the middle.
- The best catch of the day goes to walk-on wide receiver David Costanzo, who beat cornerback Darrin Walls for a long touchdown pass from Sharpley. After the play, Lewis said Walls "lost him at the line of scrimmage because you didn't move feet."
- Hord beat running back-turned-cornerback Munir Prince on a catch over the middle. Prince came up limping, looking like he might have dinged up his right leg, although it didn't appear to be too bad.
- Fort Wayne native Jake Richardville made a nice cutback and catch on a pass from Clausen.
- Cornerback Terrail Lambert made a nice recovery hit on West after West beat him on a slant route inside.
- Sharpley was the first quarterback up in 7-on-7 with Frazer second, Jones third and Clausen fourth.
- At right guard, Matt Carufel slid in with the first team. Weis said during his post-practice interview that Dan Wenger is a little bit injured.
- The parents of offensive lineman Bartley Webb and wide receiver Barry Gallup Jr. were in attendance.
- Around this time the rains started coming and things became more difficult to track much of anything.
- That said, it appears Nate Whitaker may have passed Ryan Burkhart at kicker. Whitaker took more attempts than Burkhart during the kicking session and was the man who had to take the pressure "team runs or not" kick at the end of practice. He hit the 40-yarder, which sent Notre Dame's players into a frenzy rushing the field. Darrin Bragg took off his helmet and started doing a dance and Jones gave a fist pump in the air. The players, it seemed, wanted out of the rain as much as the media did.
- After practice, Weis said Whitaker had kicked well Friday in practice, so he earned the Saturday attempts. And after making the run-stopping kick, "he's the most popular guy in the clubhouse," Weis said.
We'll have a mailbag Sunday. Get your questions in to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the Final Four games tonight.
-By Michael Rothstein of The Journal Gazette