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Practice Report: Day Seven update

Mar 31, 2012, 9:10 PM EDT


If there’s reason to believe the Irish offense will take a step forward next season even after losing Michael Floyd, it’s Tyler Eifert. The rising senior tight end, who before Brian Kelly arrived was expected by some to disappear into obscurity after a back injury, instead has turned into the best of a recent string of Irish TEs to go to the NFL, with his All-American junior season a record breaking one.

Inside Loftus Sports Center Saturday, the Irish scrimmaged for the first time this spring in full pads, giving us our first, however miniscule, look at what’s to come with the offense next season. As usual, I’ve gone into pain-staking details to help you make heads or tails of the footage.

  • 0:09 — Way to keep up the streak, Jack Nolan. Another video, another piece of ND apparel. Nice rain-winter hybrid adidas jacket to keep you warm and dry out there.
  • 0:28 — Going to attempt to breakdown every scrimmage play we see. I might miss a few details, but let’s see how we do.
  • 0:30 — Tommy Rees hands off to George Atkinson (#4) who cuts it up until he’s met by linebacker Ishaq Williams (#11). It’d be great for the Irish if we heard a lot from both soon-to-be sophomores.
  • 0:34 — Andrew Hendrix (#12) drops back to pass, getting his throw off just in time to John Goodman (#81). From there, Goodman encapsulates his career, weaving his way across the field before he’s hit from behind and stripped on a great play by linebacker Anthony Rabassa (#56).  From the sounds of it, the defense recovers. What a great effort play by Rabassa, who looked to be a part of the pass rush.
  • 0:51 — That’s Everett Golson (#5) standing in the pocket and throwing a strike on a quick out to Goodman. Bennett Jackson (#2) finishes the play, tackling Goodman out of bounds. If we’re truly over-analyzing things, Golson’s feet looked a little happy in the pocket. (Then again, so do Peyton Manning’s.)
  • 0:56 — Rees hands off to Theo Riddick (#6), who looks pretty electric in the backfield. Theo makes a few cuts before he’s met in the hole by Manti Te’o, who ends the play rather quickly. Interesting that it was a two-back set with Atkinson on the other side of Rees, leading the way.
  • 1:06 — Gunner Kiel (#1) takes a snap under center, handing it to Atkinson on a stretch play, who runs away from Louis Nix (#9) (That’s Matt Hegarty (#77) chasing Big Lou) and makes something impressive out of nothing. Carlo Calabrese (#44) and Matthias Farley (#41) on the tackle down field.
  • 1:15 — Good news, bad news Irish fans. That’s Rees completing a nice fade route down the sideline to All-American Tyler Eifert. Bad news? That’s Bennett Jackson getting absolutely dusted in one-on-one coverage, with late safety help by Austin Collinsworth (#28).
  • 1:30 — What a ridiculous catch by Eifert, who looks about as good as you can possibly look at tight end. You’ve got to think touted-TE recruit Mike Heuerman saw plenty to like watching the Irish move Eifert all around.
  • 2:20 — Here’s the recap of BK talking about the tight end position, which is basically Tyler Eifert… and everybody else.
  • 2:53 — That’s Scott Booker coaching up Eifert, in his first season working as a position coach for the Irish.
  • 3:33 — I’m not going to get too excited about Troy Niklas (#85) since it’s still March, but even Booker talks about his hands, and I’ve got a feeling he’s going to continue that string of high draft picks for the Irish at the position.
  • 3:40 — And Jake Golic.
  • 3:55 — Nicely pointed out, Jack Nolan. For those thinking this is Booker’s first coaching job, rest easy. He’s worked as a position coach for five years, choosing to come to ND and hoping to earn his way to a position job. Two seasons later, he did.
  • 5:15 — The man, the myth, the legend Harry Hiestand making an appearance on Booker’s “mic’d up” session, reaffirming Booker’s blocking tip to Eifert as the line and tight ends work together in run blocking drills.
  • 5:50 — Even though its just a positional drill, it’s nice to see the tight ends running wheel routes and going vertical. Booker catches Golic taking a false step to start his route, but all five guys look smooth catching the ball.
  • 6:36 — For a guy that’s played TE for six practices, that’s nice work by Niklas beating Zeke Motta (#17) one-on-one.


  1. bernhtp - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    re: “Goodman encapsulates his career, weaving his way across the field before he’s hit from behind and stripped…”


    Keith shows he can be as caustic as anyone else here.

    • jimbasil - Mar 31, 2012 at 10:07 PM

      He makes an excellent grab, makes a nice move, switches the ball into the opposite arm makes some decent yards and is stripped from behind. Up until the strip, he looked great. The Strip looked far too easy. Oh well.

  2. herringbonesports - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Is anybody seeing some of this Atkinson footage and getting flashbacks to the late 80’s & early 90’s when ND had those bigger but leaner, more athletic backs … and a lot of them?

    I’d love a side by side of GAIII in that #4 next to Lee Becton at the same point in his career. The more we see of him the better.

    • bernhtp - Apr 1, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      The top four backs are likely to be Wood, Riddick, Atkinson and Carlisle, with some work at the slot for some of them. What’s your prediction on their total yards production order, from top to bottom?

      • herringbonesports - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:35 PM

        Funny you ask that, because I made a random prediction about GAIII today. I think Atkinson is about to fill in the “combo” role that they tried unsuccesfully to force onto Riddick, but ultimately failed due to little fault of his own (playcalling for him disappeared for LONG stretches).

        For GAIII I think 8-10 touches/game (not counting returns) isn’t out of the question if he continues his strong play. If he averages 3.5 catches and 6.5 rushes/game, I think he might pass 1,000 yards and 6 TDs (450+ Rec, 55+ Rush). Add in 2-3 return TDs and we’ve got ourselves a guy ready to explode in 2013. I realize how optimistic this is, but I think he fits what the offense is trying to do better than anybody on the roster, including Wood/Riddick/Carlisle.

      • bernhtp - Apr 1, 2012 at 10:56 PM

        I still want to hear your rank ordering of the four backs on their total yards (rushing and receiving, lined up wherever). This is difficult.

      • joeschu - Apr 2, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        It is a good question, but almost impossible to answer. Riddick is such an enigmatic wildcard in that question. I think he’s such a streaky guy, that if he gets hot at the right time, he could easily surpass C-Dub. It would be ironic that Jonas stole the spotlight last year, and now Theo may do it to him again. Ciere is really a remarkable guy, because he seems to get that it is all about the team.

        I’d love to think GA3 and Carlisle will make an impact this year, but I think both will contribute mostly as fill-in’s if (when) there are injuries to the 2 primary guys. Some touches this year will pay both dividends in what should be a monster 2013 campaign.

      • bernhtp - Apr 2, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        Absent injury, here’s my prediction, or the first half of the season:

        – Wood lines up at RB >50% of the the time takes about 50% of the RB position rushes. Riddick takes 25%, and GA3 and Carlisle split the rest.
        – Riddick takes the slot 25-50% of the time that will feature not only receiving, but also the occasional QB hand-off and reverse. GA3 will also get some work at slot, and maybe even Carlisle. Carlisle is the hardest to predict given that we have never seen him other than in the wrong colors.
        – I expect two or more of these four to be on the field at the same time >50% of the time in slot/back combinations and maybe occasionally in double-back sets.
        – For total offensive yardage rank, my (very tenuous) prediction is: Riddick, Wood, GA3, Carlisle.

        I think that GA3 and Carlisle have the ability to dramatically increase their production as the season wears on, their experience increases, and the inevitable injuries creep in.

  3. turknd - Mar 31, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    My biggest impression was at the 3:35 and 6:20 mark w/ Niklas. What a specimen at 6’7″ with the speed and athleticism.

    • brendanunderscoreg - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      After watching this video his move to TE makes complete sense now.

      • turknd - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:51 PM

        I agree – I think it had a lot of us scratching our heads, but now I’m excited.

    • dickasman - Apr 1, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      Yeah, definitely. That ki got baby grok all over him. I don’t see how he doesn’t see the field at least 10-12 plays per game. He’s going to pose major match up problems for the defenders. I hope we use him bunch in redzone passing situations. Welch looks good as well.

  4. jerseyshorendfan1 - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Jack Nolan is THE LAST WORD in ND fashion. Everett looks good at QB……..keep him there.

  5. ndgiants11 - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    Don’t forget we got our daily look at the injured Amir Carlisle. You can see him in the background at 3:09 hobbling across the field to catch balls from Matt Mulvey.

    Don’t worry, I’ve got your back, Keith.

  6. degosavage23 - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    Looks like from the sounds of it Eifert will be splitting out wide more often than he will be in a down stance on the line. Good news about that is there’s no question we have a good “receiver” to catch the ball. Not saying I have no faith in the WR corps (I actually think some of them will turn some heads this year), but ND can really create some serious size mismatches on the field. I was a little skeptical at first about the Niklas switch to TE, but if you consider the fact that not only does he allegedly have great hands according to the coaching staff, but he is gonna be a huge asset in the run game as a blocker. He’s got LT capability and putting him at TE gives you another OL in run situations. Big enough to hold up a DE when running between the tackles, and athletic enough to keep up with a LB or DB when running outside the tackles. BK really knows how to use the talent he has around him.

    • joeschu - Apr 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      I think the WR “issues” are being a bit overblown. If you think back to the run at the end of 11, a lot of that was done in “power” sets with 2 TE and/or 2 RB.

      Honestly, you could spend a lot of time with Eifert and Hercules in tight, C-Dub and Theo in the backfield, and whoever among Jones/Daniels/Toma/Goodman/etc… you want. If you go base, you’ll get a heavy dose of throws to whatever poor 5’9″ corner picks up Eifert or Troy. Are you going to cover Theo out of the backfield with a safety? Hope an LB can deal with Ciere or GA3? The reads for Goldrix in that set should be manageable. If you decide to go nickel, we’ll run it down your throat.

      I’m usually dead-set against irrational exuberance, but if Martin and BK get this right, it could be VERY interesting. You could even get away with rolling the “low ceiling” QB out there with that line-up. For all my disdain for how BK handled the QB’s, every bit of footage of Hercules at TE makes him look smarter and smarter.

  7. 1historian - Apr 1, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    With the talent and depth we have at tight end I’m seeing Tyler Eifert as an occasional hybrid tight end/wide receiver, aka matchup nightmare. Occasional to start with but as it evolves use it more and more. 3 tight ends in at once – te/wr, pass catching tight end and blocking tight end.

    Degosavage23 – your 3:26 – your 2 points about size mismatches and about BK knowing how to use the talent he has around him – agreed.

  8. turknd - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Just heard EG is transfering, can anyone confirm?

    • dmac4real - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      Never make an April Fools joke about EG. Dont need bad Karma.

      • turknd - Apr 1, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        Ha – got me.

    • keelio19 - Apr 2, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      turk, you nearly had me, I was looking at this post today 4/2/12 and didn’t realize your post was from yesterday. Damn you.

  9. getsome99 - Apr 2, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Special teams will be a huge wild card for ND this year. Hopefully, the defense will continue to improve and be more aggressive and I’m not concerned at all about o- line play this year, other than quality depth.

    With that said, we know what we have minimally at QB ad the incumbent will either improve enough to keep the job or someone better will leapfrog him for the #1. But it’s the special teams that will get us over the top. Can Atkinson and Neal team up to form the most feared return game in the country?

    Someone else mentioned this first on this site a few weeks back but I don’t think it got enough recognition.

  10. getsome99 - Apr 2, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    With a strong o-line, a feared defense, and a dangerous return game, you can compete for championships with a game manager at QB. Just ask Alabama and LSU. Was anybody really impressed with either of those team’s QB’s last year?

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