April 5, 2007

Safety search continues

Tom Zbikowski's next partner in crime remains unidentified.

In fact, there's a good chance Notre Dame won't be able to pick out Chinedum Ndukwe's replacement until mid-August. While secondary coach Bill Lewis would love a quick resolution to the one starting spot open in the defensive backfield, the veteran assistant doesn't expect one.

"I think that competition will probably spill over into the pre-season," Lewis said. "We'll come out of the spring with some idea. I like to keep the competition open through when you start to prepare for your opening opponent."

That date usually falls halfway through training camp when the focus shifts from nickel defenses to Georgia Tech. Until then, Lewis is content keeping the competition ongoing for all Notre Dame's safeties, not just the ones that play Ndukwe's spot. While most depth charts classify safeties as free or strong, Lewis wants his players to know both positions.

That means while David Bruton has been running with the first team opposite Zbikowski this spring, Ray Herring is also a strong candidate. Herring backed up Zbikowski last season, starting in his place against Stanford after the veteran suffered a shoulder injury against Purdue. Kyle McCarthy and Sergio Brown were also mentioned by Lewis.

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