April 26, 2006

Extensions filed on taxing spring questions

Notre Dame opened spring practice with holes to fill on the offensive line, at linebacker and in the kicking game. On top of that, there was the defensive question of turning big plays from a regularity into an anomaly. Notre Dame made progress on all four fronts in the past month, but none of these issues appear completely solved with the off-season's second half under way.

Based on the spring game's results, Notre Dame has settled on Paul Duncan at right tackle. The sophomore-to-be took virtually all the snaps during the Blue-Gold Game, meaning the Irish appear to have a clear-cut winner in a contest that included Michael Turkovich and Brian Mattes. The bad news is that Victor Abiamiri exposed Duncan as a work in progress.

Admittedly, any player with 25 minutes of experience will struggle against a future NFL defensive end, but Abiamiri had no trouble bull rushing Duncan into the backfield. As much as Abiamiri's encyclopedia of moves should leave Duncan tentative, the rush end overwhelmed his teammate as much with pure strength as polished skill.

"All spring long I've been talking about getting pressure up front without blitzing and I thought there was good pressure applied, especially by that first group on defense," Weis said. "If we didn't double-team Abiamiri, he would have been in the backfield all day."

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