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Practice Report: Day Eight update

Apr 2, 2012, 6:12 PM EDT

John Goodman

The Irish were back outside today, with the wind whipping through South Bend. But it allowed the Irish to get some work done outside the cramped confines of Loftus and allowed the video crew to pump out another enjoyable practice report. Just over half-way done with the spring work, we’re starting to get a look at how this offense will evolve, with a heavy emphasis put on running the ball and using the tight end, as different wide receivers do their best to state their case for touches.

Brian Kelly has publicly praised fifth-year wideout John Goodman. Whether it’s a sign that the lightbulb has gone on for Goodman, long one of the Irish’s most talented practice players, remains to be seen. Last spring, Kelly commented on the breakthroughs of wide receiver Deion Walker, but that didn’t result in the departing senior making a dent in the offensive.

As usual, here are a few things I noticed while watching and re-watching the practice footage.

  • 0:15 — Looked like another one of those typical windy spring days in South Bend. It didn’t stop Jack Nolan from braving the elements, though that jacket looks dangerously familiar to the one he wore last update? Say it ain’t so, Jack.
  • 0:26 — Blink and you probably missed him, but that was former Irish wide receiver David Grimes taking the field behind Brian Kelly. Grimes is working with the football program as a defensive intern.
  • 0:33 — Andrew Hendrix showing some mobility, as he picks his way through the Irish defense on a designed run.
  • 0:42 — Tommy Rees showing his mobility as well, running (for his life) as Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt chase him.
  • 0:52 — That’s our Amir Carlisle spotting for the day.
  • 1:25 — A nice look at some running back protection drills, with linebackers going one-on-one with the first group of backs.
  • 1:26 — Nice rush move, Carlo Calabrese (#44).
  • 1:30 — Uh-oh, George Atkinson (#4). Jarrett Grace (#59) made you look pretty silly there. Pass protection is a process, and it looks like George is in the middle of learning that process now.
  • 1:45 — Nice job Theo Riddick (#6) on Kendall Moore (#8).
  • 1:50 — And that’s Cierre Wood (#20) absolutely stuffing Joe Schmidt (#38). For those who think Atkinson is doomed as a blocker, Cierre is proof that it’s a developed skill.
  • 2:00 — Manti Te’o vs. Atkinson. Not all that fair of a fight.
  • 2:10 — Nice look at Ben Councell (#30). Atkinson is a big kid. Councell looks mammoth.
  • 2:30 — Gotta do a better job than that, Jalen Brown (#21). Covering John Goodman (#81), Brown struggled to stay in the camera’s frame.
  • 2:37 — Tyler Eifert (#80) looks pretty smooth running patterns detached from the formation. The Irish could do a lot worse than playing Eifert as a jumbo receiver.
  • 2:55 — That’s Gunner Kiel (#1) delivering a nice throw to Daniel Smith (#87) in one-on-ones. Josh Atkinson (#43) looked a little soft in coverage, which is to be expected in these kind of drills.
  • 3:24 — That’s Calabrese playing the role of USF linebacker in everybody’s favorite nightmare, stripping Atkinson during goal line running drills and taking it back to the house.
  • 3:42 — An artistic look inside the soul of Manti Te’o. Who says the guys at aren’t auteurs?
  • 4:14 — Calabrese drops the hammer. Nice collision.
  • 4:30 — Danny McCarthy (#15) looks the part of an athletic safety. Let’s see if he’ll play it this year.
  • 4:40 — Cierre Wood’s swagger is in midseason form.
  • 4:55 — Alex Welch (#82) takes advantage of the size mismatch with Chris Salvi (#24). If you’re looking for a reason to keep two TEs on the field, here’s one of them.
  • 5:09 — Decisions like that aren’t going to win you a quarterback job, Andrew Hendrix. Looked more like Lo Wood (#23) was the receiver than Luke Massa (#14).
  • 5:15 — Heckuva throw by Everett Golson (#5) launching a deep ball to Goodman, who makes the catch over Wood. Maybe all Goodman needed was some hack blogger to take a shot at him for fumbling in a scrimmage. (The flip-side of that being Wood’s coverage on the deep ball isn’t all that awe-inspiring.)
  • 5:25 — Two nice plays on defense by the cornerbacks. First Bennett Jackson (#2) and then Wood.
  • 5:40 — If TJ Jones (#7) could streak behind defensive backs next season, that’d be a wonderful addition to the Irish offensive attack.
  • 5:46 — Want to see Bruce Heggie (#51) on rollerskates? Thank Kapron Lewis-Moore (#89).
  • 5:53 — This footage is from before Prince Shembo was put in a boot, but he flies around the edge and Jordan Prestwood (#79). Then Zack Martin (#70) shows Prestwood how to do it. I’m not sure, but we might be looking at ND’s next starting NFL left tackle.
  • 6:19 — Nice job of Tate Nichols (#64) hanging in there with Aaron Lynch (#19). Not an easy one-on-one assignment for anybody.
  • 6:27 — That’s Nick Martin (#72) standing up Ishaq Williams (#11). Looks like the Irish got another good one.
  • 6:33 — There’s a nice little burst in KLM’s step there. Looks pretty healthy after knee surgery.
  • 6:40 — Nice couple reps there by Tyler Stockton (#92) and Sheldon Day (#91).
  • 7:04 — Another nice grab by Goodman, snaring a bullet from Hendrix on a square in.
  • 7:25 — Looks like Robby Toma needs to tell Councell he’s trying to get some RB snaps. Councell knifes through and makes a very nice play.
  • 7:40 — Gunner Kiel to John Goodman long… Goodman channeling his inner Jonas Gray.


  1. dickasman - Apr 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM


    How’s our O line looking for this year? Where would you rate them? Dominant? above average? average?
    Im assuming above average but i’d like to see the OL blossom and start kicking some major arse and taking numbers. Put the guys on their backs and stomp on their faces!

    Who’s the nastiest O lineman?

  2. Keith Arnold - Apr 2, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    This offensive line is going to be very good. They might have an All-American caliber left tackle in Zack Martin. Chris Watt is going to be very very good and Braxston Cave will be among the top centers in the country.

    The right side will be all new, but Christian Lombard was good enough to be a starter last year. Tate Nichols is an absolute giant of a man, and the best fit at right tackle. The line should benefit from Harry Hiestand’s addition, and I expect the Irish run game to take a step forward, even replacing two starters.

    I’ll leave the face-stomping and the rest of it up to you.

  3. ndfanwabashman - Apr 2, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    It’s nice to see John Goodman showing he was worth bringing back. Ft Wayne Dwenger is really representing this spring.

    One thing I don’t like about watching spring football is you can’t tell if people are playing well because their opposition is bad. Is the O-Line weak, or is it going to be a dominant year for the defense? I’d like to think the latter, but who knows?

  4. jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Am I seeing things or does Rees look much improved? Looks like arm strength has improved.

    • nudeman - Apr 3, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      I choose “Seeing things”
      Personally saw no evidence of that

      • domer77blowsgoats - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        nude – we get it – you don’t like TR for the 571st time this week

        So based on your esteemed football knowledge who is it going to be?

        Since you insist that I never contribute anything football related here is my prediction and reasons why

        1. TR – most experience, but most limited upside
        2. EG – biggest upside but hasn’t taken a snap
        3. AH – still doesn’t grasp offense after 2 years
        4. GK – redshirt

        I’m guessing first few games will be 70% TR and 30% EG with roles eventually switching about the midpoint of the season with 100% EG by end.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Rees may just surprise us all nude.

        • nudeman - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:54 PM

          See my other post. I think you’re right. Right now it sounds like he’s winning the job.

      • nudeman - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Please see other post where I offered you a truce.
        As for your question, from everything I read and hear it sounds like TR is stepping up. Or maybe I should say the others are failing to step up.
        So here’s how I see it:

        TR: I’m betting he starts in Dublin. I can’t believe it; and I hope I’m wrong, but if the others can’t demonstrate superior command then I guess he deserves it.

        AH: Sounds like he’s doing well this Spring and he’s clearly the #1 threat to unseat Rees. I’d wager that right now Rees is the likely starter by a 55/45 margin.

        EG: Don’t know if “struggling” is too harsh re: his command (not physical ability), but it sounds like he’s behind the other two. If he can’t rise up and grab some serious playing time this year, I’d say he’s the best bet to x-fer.

        GK: Obviously he’s the chosen one, but probably won’t take a snap this year.

        If you replace “EG” with “AH” in your final statement, we agree. Where do you hear AH isn’t grasping the offense? That’s not what I’ve read/heard.

      • bernhtp - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        If Kelly is to make a QB change from Rees – as most believe is needed and likely – then he should do it this summer so the new QB has a couple of easier games (Navy, Purdue) to gain the experience necessary to deal with the meat of the schedule. My belief is the worst thing Kelly could do is to start Tommy, find out that he still isn’t what the Irish need, and then start a green QB against the likes of MSU, Michigan or Oklahoma. If the new guy isn’t making progress after two games, he can also return to Tommy. This is the order people should consider.

    • bernhtp - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      I would be thrilled if Tommy rubbed a lamp and a genie gave him superhuman QB abilities. Unfortunately, that is unlikely. Foot speed and throwing strength rarely change materially once someone is 19-20. I do expect him to improve in defensive reads and decision making, but that still leaves a large athletic deficit with him on the field. I’m hoping that at least one of the other, more athletic QBs can step up to the knowledge, judgment and skill level required. I trust Kelly to make the right decision ultimately.

    • irish4006 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      “seeing things”, of course. He played QB for 2 years at ND, he will throw an occasional, so-called ‘good one’. When the receiver is more than 12-15 yards away, he still doesn’t have a clue as to where to put the ball. I haven’t seen him hit a receiver in stride on a long ball, even in practice. My assessment is that, it’s not so much about having a clue, it’s just lack of arm strength to make an accurate throw beyond 15-20 yard.

      I just hope, between spring and summer, one of the other QBs step up and take the job. As much as I love ND football, I don’t think I can take any more of the crap plays we have seen in the last 2 years. TR has had enough chances and most of us are convinced that he is not likely to improve. Let’s just move on. A first year starter will make some mistakes, but they will likely improve with experience; unlike Tommy. If we have a good team, we should still be able to win games when we are going through this learning process. EG/AH, or even Kiel, I simply don’t care; Tommy doesn’t have the tools to become a D-1 QB. I think I saw a flag football player in my son’s team with a stronger arm, that kid was 10.

  5. herringbonesports - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    It seems every video we watch Atkinson is doing something that looks awesome and then doing something freshman-ey. He’s really looking like a guy they want to make a huge part of the offense in 2012 and we’ve gotta hope the little stuff (fumbling) and big stuff (pass pro) reach a point that he becomes too valuable to keep off the field because of his natural playmaking gifts.

    Also … what Zach Martin did in the middle of that highlight was Offensive Tackle clinic footage. He simply could not have performed a better set in his pass pro. Beyond impressed.

  6. fnc111 - Apr 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Kelly didn’t know how to recruit RKGs last recruiting cycle but it looks like he is getting it now on the field with his decisions. It’s going to be a lot of ball control offense this year with 7 minute drives to keep the cornerbacks off the field for as long as possible. I hope BK lets Martin do his job as OC because because he is a really good coach.

  7. keelio19 - Apr 3, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    It seems to me that every post I tend to read is all based off of speculation. That Hendrix isn’t grasping the offense, how do you know that by looking at a few quick clips that Jack and the video crew developed, are you looking at the time of these videos, compared to the actual practice time, big difference?
    Now I agree with all of you that the way our offense is headed TR is not the answer, though is our offense already at that point that Reese is out of the picture, I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, I am not hoping Reese gets the starting position by any means, but he does have the most experience out of all QB’s whether that makes a difference or not. Some of you believe TR can’t improve his arm strength in a matter of one off-season, though I think his reads were more of the problem then his arm strength, something that can improve over the offseason with dedication and a good work ethic, which I think if you are at Notre Dame those two characteristics are already there for you.

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