Skip to content

First look at contact: Jumping to conclusions edition

Aug 10, 2011, 7:16 PM EDT

After four practices getting acclimated to helmets, the Irish were in full pads today, giving freshman their first real feel of college football. Thanks to the always excellent practice reports courtesy of, we’re able to get a sneak peak at the first day of work, which allows all of us to jump to some very early conclusions.

Here’s a look at today’s practice report, courtesy of our friends over at Because it’s my job to have no life and break down the rodeo drill for everyone, here’s a play-by-play of what you’ll see, helping to isolate some of the match-ups and battles that fly by in just under four minutes.



The first one on one we see (around the :40 second mark) is sophomore tight end Alex Welch welcoming freshman linebacker Ben Councell to to college football, and two mammoth youngsters battling with 6-8, 320-pound Tate Nichols taking on 6-6, 295-pound freshman Stephon Tuitt.

After that, we watch Michael Floyd snatch balls from the jugs machine, Ishaq Williams sprint down in kickoff coverage, and Davaris Daniels work on his hands as well. In snaps from scrimmage, Tate Nichols works at left tackle, where he rides Kona Schwenke outside the pocket. The very next snap, Brad Carrico looks pretty solid battling against veteran Brandon Newman. And for those wondering how Louis Nix would look, that’s him putting Mike Golic on rollerskates. (Golic definitely shouldn’t feel embarrassed, Nix was absolutely dominant in the one-on-one matchups he had, which we’ll get to now.)

For those looking for some rough-and-tumble power football, Let’s go to a frame-by-frame breakdown of the rodeo drill (starting at 1:42), where we’ll reach grand conclusions after watching less than a minute of drills.

1. Braxston Cave vs. Louis Nix. Winner: Nix, who stood up Cave and stuffed freshman Cam McDaniel.
2. Trevor Robinson vs. Carlo Calabrese. Winner: Robinson, who controlled Carlo and pushed him inside while George Atkinson slid by.
3. Ben Koyack vs. Unknown (Zeke Motta?) Winner: Koyack, who planted a defender unknown (I’m guessing Motta after a Zapruder like breakdown), getting a big rise out of his coaches.
4. Brad Carrico vs. Anthony McDonald. Winner: Slight edge to Carrico, who looks pretty fluid at offensive line.
5. Jordan Prestwood vs. Tyler Stockton. Winner: Stockton, who does a nice job getting physical with the freshman.
6. Prestwood vs. Aaron Lynch. Winner: Lynch, who looks every bit the part of a freshman All-American.
7. Prestwood vs. Stephon Tuitt. Winner: Slight edge to Tuitt, as it’s tough to say Prestwood lost that collision.
8. Alex Welch vs. Unknown (Anthony Rabasa?) Winner: Draw. Nice work by both guys, whoever our secret defender is.
9. Welch vs. Steve Filer. Winner: Filer, who taunts Irish fans by reminding people just how physically gifted he is.
10. Nick Martin vs. Joe Schmidt. Winner: Schmidt, who does his best Mike Anello impression, ignoring his physical limitations by blowing up a block making a nice play on Martin.
11. Christian Lombard vs. Lynch. Winner: Lynch, who once again blows up an offensive tackle at the point of contact.
12. Lombard vs. Chase Hounshell. Winner: Lombard, but credit to Hounshell for holding his ground and battling.
13. Taylor Dever vs. Kapron Lewis-Moore. Winner: Dever, who did a nice job engaging KLM, in a rare battle of ones-versus-ones.
14. Mike Golic vs. Louis Nix. Winner: Nix. He’s going to be very tough to move.
15. N. Martin vs. Jarrett Grace. Winner: Draw. A nice collision between two talented freshmen.

While I’d appreciate everybody else sharing their gut reactions below, the two guys that really stood out were Louis Nix and Aaron Lynch. They looked dominating, regardless of who they were facing.


  1. brendanunderscoreg - Aug 10, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Keith, I’m so glad you broke this down. I thought I was going crazy today because I watched this at least 20 times trying to figure out who was who and also to just watch them get at it.

    Really enjoyed the angry TE (Welch) blocking Councell.

    Irish Chocolate’s hits need no commentary. The guy is a beast. The rest of the country will find out what we already know soon enough.

    Same goes for Lynch (does he have a nickname yet?).

    Not necessarily impressed either way with the Calabrese/Robinson engagement. Both of them played a little erratically last year so I’ll withhold judgment for now.

    Hounshell certainly held his own.

    Is Stockton finally ready to show off his talent on Saturdays? Hope so.

    Koyack got a little hyped up, didn’t he? I like the attitude.

    Side note: really wish we could’ve seen Troy Niklas. I can’t remember if it was Diaco or Kelly who recently mentioned him as playing OLB. Has anyone else heard anything?

    I can not wait for this season to start! GO IRISH!

    • goldendeuce - Aug 11, 2011 at 10:46 AM


      After slowing down the video, it appears that Koyack pancaked not Motta, but Spond. I can make out a number 13 on the defender when he is getting up. Either way, a nice looking block.

    • surfsc - Aug 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

      Aaron L. is a beast.

      You can find Niklas on this at the 2:32 mark. It is hard to see the #58 going agains So. #82 Alex W.

      Joe S……. looking good baby!

  2. txirish2 - Aug 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    Thanks for the breakdown. It was Diaco talking about Niklas playing OLB, I found that interesting as well. Would have liked to have seen him. Lynch and Nix look like beasts, crazy that they’re underclassmen.

  3. smurphdoggy29 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    MAN I am worn out !!!

    Snapping to Judgement and jumping to conclusions makes one tired !!

    Irish Chocolate will be fun to watch engulfing BIG 10 runners as well as others in 3 of the first 5 games. My favorite player to root for this year will be Filer, I hope he emerges like Smith did !!

    Lynch = Massive. That Niklas guy, is he this years project ?

    I have a special affinity for Welch as he played for my Alma Mater and his Dad was one of our Coaches, he will be a solid player !!

    Hurry up September 3rd !!

  4. jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 11, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Keith, you know you’re a great writer when you can use snatch and jugs in the same sentence and keep it G rated. Keep up the great work!

    • Keith Arnold - Aug 11, 2011 at 2:26 AM

      Thanks, Art. Can always count on you. What are you thinking about this season on The Shore? Taking trashy to that next level.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 11, 2011 at 11:20 PM

        Don’t really watch that show……to me, the Jersey Shore is a place. It was a place before that show ever aired. It is the place where I live and has nothing to do with the MTV show of the same name. The cast, as I understand, is largely from NY and comprised of what we locals refer to as “Bennies”. Don’t watch that trash, it’ll rot your brain.

  5. ndgoldandblue - Aug 11, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Based on what we saw of Lynch in the spring (practices and the game) and what we’re seeing now, is it fair to say that we’re not jumping to conclusions on Aaron Lynch when we say that he is a great player? It’s not that he has the potential to be great. He looks great now. Granted, he looks like he needs to bulk up a little bit more, but the guy is so quick. When people use the term “fast-twitch muscles”, they are talking about athletes like Lynch. On a side note, I looked at a Sheldon Day video that was posted online, and I can see why the Irish coaching staff wanted to recruit him. Talk about fast-twitch muscles. My only other observation was that I hope Tate Nichols eventually becomes a starter. Not this year, of course, but in the future. His play, from what we’ve seen of him, isn’t overly menacing, but when you’re 6’8″ and 320 pounds, not too many people are going to get by you.

  6. fightinmad35 - Aug 11, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Wow.. Nix looks like a mountain on a football field.. What pressure he is going to take off the linebackers by being a rock at point of attack.. Very exciting to be excited about the defense! No need to go into Lych, he’s just a baller. Would love to see how that battle with Kendall Moore and Anthony McDonald is going. Go Irish!

    • paiten34 - Aug 11, 2011 at 7:50 PM

      It’s funny that you bring up Nix helping the LB’s. I think a guy like Nix will make such a difference freeing up the LB’s to make plays. You throw in two other big athletic DE and you have a line that can win games. I think Te’o has only scratched the surface of what he can do with a GREAT line infront of him. You add the speed and size that Notre Dame has at LB and you have the tools to make plays. Watching the hits and contact that was happening in that video was great to see.

  7. rarmitt - Aug 11, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Is anyone else concerned about how bad the O-Line looked? most of them got beat off the ball every time. Slow feet, no hands – let’s remember Tuitt and Lynch are still just freshman. Nix looked good but needs to play gap-to-gap – saw him pick a side once…..

    • nddomer2 - Aug 11, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      the defense has the upper hand in these kind of drills because there is no reads to be made as there would be on a regular play. A regular play the offense knows what they are doing and the snap count. In a drill like this the defense knows i just have to blow this up and their is no snap count just the QB whenever he chooses to snap.

      • rarmitt - Aug 11, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        for LBs i agree but not d-line. the play is on the whistle so each guy has a fair shake. Braxston and some starters looked like their in quicksand for a second……

      • surfsc - Aug 16, 2011 at 10:31 PM

        Additionally, O-linemen often have an angle which heydo not have here. This is straight up. It is harder to move someone than it is to stalemate them. Game time the runner will bounce inside or out. Here they have to run b/w the dummies.

  8. danno27 - Aug 11, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Love the play by Joe Schmidt – that’s how a preferred walk-on needs to work to get noticed. I also liked seeing Manti and Carlo protecting their guy, shoving Martin off of Schmidt after the play around the 2:50 mark.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!