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Practice Report: Day Nine update

Apr 5, 2012, 11:44 AM EDT

Slaughter Utah

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Jamoris Slaughter was seen taking reps at cornerback yesterday, cross-training at a cover position while Austin Collinsworth took first-team reps with the safeties. The move makes sense on the surface, with Slaughter’s versatility and cover skills always one of his assets, and Lo Wood not yet proven at the field cornerback position, where he’ll be tasked with covering a lot of field.

“We know Jamoris can be a great safety for us,” co-defensive coordinator Kerry Cooks said. “By moving him out and seeing what he can do at other spots, that gives us an opportunity to develop some young guys.”

With the graduation of Gary Gray and Robert Blanton and the presumed loss of Tee Shepard, Cooks and safeties coach Bob Elliott will likely be looking for the right combination in the back end of the defense right up until the Irish ship out for Dublin.

Yesterday’s practice video from focuses on the cornerbacks, and gives us a nice look at the contenders for playing time. As usual, here are some observations.

  • 0:14 — Cinematic look at Brian Kelly’s patio door, with Jack Nolan rocking a nice green Irish sweatshirt.
  • 0:55 — An introduction to the usual suspects: Jackson, Wood, Jalen Brown, and Josh Atkinson. Neither Brown nor Atkinson looked good in the clip the guys used, so I’m not sure what that says.
  • 1:30 — Cooks identifies Jackson as the guy that’s ready to go. That jives with just about everything I’ve heard, too.
  • 2:30 — Some nice insight into Cooks, who saw his title ascend to co-defensive coordinator this year, likely keeping him away from other staff’s looking to poach him. Cooks made a parallel move joining the Irish staff after spending a long time with former college teammate Bret Bielema at Wisconsin, but the move looks to have paid off, even though Cooks started at the unfamiliar position of coaching outside linebackers.
  • 3:04 — Of course John Goodman is wearing pink just because. He’s an eclectic dude.
  • 4:04 — Cooks talking with Atkinson, a really important piece of the secondary puzzle this year.
  • 4:30 — Bennett Jackson says he’ll be 8 for 9 in practices this year. I like that all-business approach.
  • 4:45 — Atkinson looks like he’ll need a little work to be physical enough to play boundary corner. He seems destined to play on the field side, which is probably best with his legit track speed.
  • 5:38 — Chris Salvi struggles before righting himself in an open-field tackling drill.
  • 6:05 — Cam McDaniel looks good going after the ball in the air. Which makes sense, considering he was a running back and punt return option.
  • 6:35 — We see Cooks explain what “stack” means, as he describes the backpedal drill the Irish are doing, imploring his DBs to stay on top of the receiver.
  • 7:35 — Cooks celebrating nice work on a five-yard route. That’s the proper attitude and it’s consistent with the defensive philosophy of last year as well.
  • 7:44 — Nice work, Josh Atkinson.
  • 7:50 — Uh oh, Lo. Can’t get turned around. If that’s a USC Trojan and not Luke Massa, that’s six points.
  • 8:25 — Good proof that the cornerback position is the toughest athletically in the game.
  • 8:50 — Great plays, Bennett Jackson. Nice break-up on a well thrown deep balls to Daniel Smith and TJ Jones.



And now, some BONUS footage from some three-on-three work.

  • It’s Ishaq Williams (#11), Kona Schwenke (#96), and Stephon Tuitt (#7) on defense against what looks like Tate Nichols (#64), Nick Martin (#72) and Zack Martin (#70). Nice work by Kona, who looks like he’s grown into a defensive tackle. That’s some nice evaluation by the staff, who found a skinny 240-pound defensive end late in the recruiting process.
  • Second round is Carlo Calabrese (#44), Louis Nix (#9) and Manti Te’o (#5) against Christian Lombard (#74), Mike Golic (#57) and Chris Watt (#66). First round won by Lombard and Co., who do a nice job (running away from Te’o doesn’t hurt). Nice work by Nix shrugging off Golic’s block in round two. Tough to say who won round three.
  • Ben Councell (#30), Ishaq, and Danny Spond (#13) defend in round three against tight ends Ben Koyack (#18), Alex Welch (#82) and a third player I can’t see. Like the physicality out of both Spond and Councell, and Ishaq seems really impressive.
  • Last round is safeties — Danny McCarthy (#15), Zeke Motta (#17) and Austin Collinsworth (#28) against Luke Massa (#14), Daniel Smith (#87) and John Goodman (#81). Again, tough to say who won, but thought Collinsworth did a great job, and the defense certainly celebrated the win. (Notice Prince Shembo still out of uniform, though standing close by.)



  1. mattnef - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    “The presumed loss of Tee Shepard” … am I missing something?
    If there is one position on this team I’m worried about, it is corner. But on the other hand, I’m slightly optimistic the young kids will step it up in the end.

    • piratey - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      No joke. Keith you can’t use a word like “presumed” and then not explain yourself. What doth thou meanst?

      • nudeman - Apr 5, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        Tee’s loss from ND is “presumed” in the same way that Amelia Erhart is “presumed” lost at sea

  2. nudeman - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Interesting comments about the QBs from Chuck Martin on Irish Illust

    1) Rees: “coming along”. Expects him to be “much better” than first two years.

    2) Hendrix: Some positives about how he learns from his mistakes but several comments about how he “doesn’t see the field” well.

    3) Golson: Sees the field much better than Hendrix; more “natural feel” for the position than him; his challenge is in “the details”.

    “Not seeing the field” is not exactly an insignificant critique; consistent with the picks he threw against Stanford and FSU. But considering how much we’ve heard about “eliminating mistakes” being a main priority … not a good sign for AH.

  3. seeeye - Apr 5, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I think 3-on-3 #1 is Day not Ishaq…looks like 91 on the jersey.

  4. domer77blowsgoats - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    ND CBs have left a lot to be desired since they days of Bobby Taylor and Todd Lyght –

    There has been an occasional flash of brilliance alla Shane Walton

    But there have been more Brock Williams’ then I care to remember – I suggest never giving the #15 to a CB at ND ever again – only means 1. At least two PIs/game 2. Getting dusted by 15 yards

    Here’s hoping they teach these kids to turn and look for the ball, especially when that joke of a UM QB comes sligning BS jump balls all day

    • dickasman - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      Domer, I actually happen to agree with you about the CB thing. Let’s not do this too often though. I have no idea how that midget of person Walton played DB…..He was dam good too! Off the soccer team too right? I remember always thinking how da hell does this lil guy get the job done?

    • nudeman - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      OK goat
      Football response.
      I agree with you on the CBs. Along the way they’ve had some talent, but no great standouts.

      The Walls kid wasn’t bad. There was another guy who played in the NFL for the Skins and the Bears for several years (in the last 10 -12 years) but his name escapes me at the moment.

      BTW, I think Lyght a safety

      • dickasman - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:06 PM

        nudester, u having a dave duerson moment or what? u thinking of dave duerson?

        tod lyght was a CB for rams for years

      • andy44teg - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:15 PM

        Allen Rossum, anyone?….One of my favorite ND players of all time ( Marc Edwards #1). He wore 15 if i’m not mistaken and wasn’t too shabby.

      • dickasman - Apr 6, 2012 at 12:24 AM

        Rossum ok great kick returner but he wasn’t great at tackling or covering.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Apr 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM

        Lyght played everywhere included tailback…

        Jeff Burris was another one – but don’t recall him playing corner and was a stud with the Bills

        Allen Rossum – fantastic KR obviously – CB not so much

        Preston Jackson used to brag in the halls the he was good for at least 2-3 PIs per game and why he chose #15

        And I totally forgot the most egregious offender of the #15 clan – Preston Jackson

      • dickasman - Apr 6, 2012 at 11:11 AM

        I just remember Jeff Burris on the goal line holtzy T formation…scored alot of TD’s. I didn’t think Burris was that great of DB but he turned out to be a better pro I think.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Apr 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        If I recall correctly he was a 1st round pick…. so had to do something “great” at ND

  5. brendanunderscoreg - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    You really get the sense that confidence building is as much of an issue as correct technique and experience with the CBs. Great teaching and patience diplayed by Coach Cooks and Coach Elliot.

    • dickasman - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      Hey, does anyone think that coach Elliott is little “too” nice? Although most DB coaches usually are compared to other position coaches in my experience.

    • ndmick - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      Technique is critical in the CB position…the more fundamentally sound they become, the better play we’ll see in ’13

      • dickasman - Apr 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM

        More importantly they gotta have smooth hips and closing speed. Is Ricky Martin too old to recruit?

  6. nudeman - Apr 6, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    I still think Neal should play CB
    A few snaps at slot because he’s so good on O …
    … but position of need is CB and he has elite talent there

  7. tony34343434 - Apr 6, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    I am no football expert by any means, but I love the Irish, i felt CB was maybe our biggest weakness last year, we lost to Michigan, Florida State and i think even the Stanford game because of our coverage. We never turned around. I know we still have a huge hole, not sure how much the guys who graduated will be missed, i know they had experience and i hear they are highly regarded, and since they are domers i hope they do great in the NFL, but i think we will be around the same as last year at CB. I hope Lynch is talking to someone at school trying to brighten his spirits, losing shepard is one thing, losing Lynch would be a disaster.

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