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Practice Report: Day Thirteen update

Apr 18, 2012, 11:56 AM EST

Stephon Tuitt 1

Apologies on falling behind a day with the practice reports. (If you didn’t notice, simply carry on…) As the Irish defense deals with the voluntary departure of one of the team’s most talented players, in seasons past, this could have been a death sentence.

Yet the loss Aaron Lynch has overshadowed a lot of the impressive depth the Irish have put together along the defensive line, and while it’s foolish to say Lynch won’t be missed, there are capable back-ups ready to take the field.

Almost on cue, the guys at UND.com gave us a look at defensive line coach Mike Elston’s troops. Led by fifth-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore, who is all-the-way returned from a knee injury that ended his season early, the Irish should have plenty to offer along the defensive line.

As usual, here’s the practice report, with some thoughts and observations along the way.

  • 0:13 — While Jack Nolan tees up the particulars of this weekend’s Blue-Gold game (watch it live on NBC Sports channel, where you’ll get an appearance from some schmuck blogger…), you see the Notre Dame stadium crew putting in new field turf — just kidding, they are finishing up some drainage repair and laying new sod along the outside of the field.
  • 0:48 — It’s amazing to see the transformation of Kona Schwenke. The guy is just a monster now. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s merely one of those spring all-stars, or if this momentum carries into some significant stats next season, where he’ll likely benefit from the loss of Lynch.
  • 0:56 — We’ve already seen this play, but it’s impressive work by Kapron Lewis-Moore against Zack Martin. KLM looks all the way back from his knee injury.
  • 1:05 — “The Irish defensive line is a position group that remains one of the deepest and most talented units on the Notre Dame football team,” Jack Nolan unequivocally states (while sticking needles into his #19 voodoo doll).
  • 1:15 — Nothing not to like about Mike Elston. Smart guy, good guy, and a coach who took some lumps last year for the Irish special teams, maybe for reasons outside of his control.
  • 2:12 — Gotta love Kappy pushing to get blocker duty in special teams drills. Seniority is still seniority even in major college football.
  • 2:40 — Exchange of the video: “I don’t have swag?” Elston says (to what I’m guessing is linebacker Jarrett Grace). “What are you talking about? I’m dripping with swag. You don’t even know me.”
  • 2:52 — Of course, you’ve got to get defensive coordinator Bob Diaco into it. The guy might as well be the king of swag.
  • 3:06 — A good look at the two dog linebacker candidates, with Ben Councell and Danny Spond working some basic leverage drills. They both certainly look the part.
  • 3:56 — The transition “from speed to power” is a good fundamental to see in action. Especially with a 6-foot-7, 300-pound defensive end.
  • 4:10 — It’s amazing that Tyler Stockton, at six-foot, 285, looks small out there. He’s a product of a different recruiting system, and looks a little bit like strolling out  a Walkman instead of a iPod when you match him up with Tuitt.
  • 4:26 — Great to see Chase Hounshell back out there, after missing practice earlier with an injury. With Lynch gone, Hounshell,who many thought would redshirt last season, will now be a contributor if he can work into the regular rotation.
  • 4:40 — Elston coaching a basic sled drill, but drilling in the practical usage to Tuitt. Nicely done.
  • 5:07 — Seen this already, but Louis Nix does a great job beating Mike Golic, then tackling Cierre Wood.
  • 5:45 — Looks like we’ve got to work on the “club and slip” move again.
  • 6:20 — KLM puts Nick Martin on roller-skates.
  • 6:40 — Freshman Sheldon Day looks like he’s more than holding his own out there, doing some good work against Tate Nichols.
  • 6:52 — Call me crazy, but if I had to lose one defensive end out of Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, I’d rather lose Lynch. For the scheme the Irish run, Tuitt is more than the prototype, he’s next generation. Coming off the edge and snatching up that football is pretty ridiculous athleticism, as even Elston (and the UND.com slo-mo replay) acknowledged.

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  1. jerseyshorendfan1 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Keith, the video link is from the 4/14 practice.

    • Keith Arnold - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Fixed. Thanks.

      • jimbasil - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

        Keith. Off topic

        What is up with the interviewers interviewing Nix? Are they brain defective simpletons or have they nothing other to ask than is he (Nix) thinking of leaving ND (and when Nix was trying to talk football the half-wits went back to the same Q)? How about how happy his is to be out there playing football with his pals or has the D improved since the bowl game or how is it going against the O line this year? Anything other than what was being asked.

        If you know these guys, really, you have to tell them their audience isn’t impressed.

  2. bernhtp - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Re: “… if I had to lose one defensive end out of Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, I’d rather lose Lynch.”

    I agree. While Aaron is the most explosively gifted pass rusher I’ve seen, Stephon seems more complete and closer to the incomparable Ross Browner prototype.

  3. keelio19 - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    I totally agree with the choice between Lynch and Tuitt. We can all agree Lynch was a beast, but his intense pass rush left our defense vulnarable on that side of the ball for draws and any decent QB to just step up in the pocket and lynch was then out of position. Looking forward to seeing KLM really step into the role and help take our D-line to one of the best in the country this year, something we haven’t been able to say about either sides of the ball for awhile. I have liked our LB core but to have a solid D-line means the world, especially with our lack of experience at the DB position, a good D-line makes our CB’s look even better.

    GO IRISH!

  4. fnc111 - Apr 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Nothing to not like about Mike Elston? Dude is a scUM grad and in January of 2011 tried getting hired by Hoke at Michigan.

  5. ndgoldandblue - Apr 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Keith,
    I believe you said last year that the spring game is usually a good indicator of how the upcoming season will go. Last year’s spring game was filled with a lot of sloppy play and turnovers, yet the defensive line was pretty impressive. I’d say you were right when it comes to the spring game. It was definitely a microcosm of what happened. I’m incredibly psyched for the game on Saturday. I’d like to see one of the four quarterbacks show that he is “the man”. Ya know, I’d like to see a strong enough performance out of one of our quarterbacks that we can confidently say that he will do well in the fall. Plus, I’d like to see one of the wide receivers step up. What are you hoping to take from Saturday’s game? And, do you think the spring game will, again, be an indicator of this upcoming year’s success? Or, will there be substantial growth between Saturday and the Navy game? Heck, anyone could address these talking points. I’m just curious as to what our Irish insiders think.

    • joeschu - Apr 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      I don’t think you can look at it in any great detail, just as an indicator of trends or story lines that may emerge in the system. As you said, hindsight with sloppy QB play by the “leading” 2 candidates last year turned out to carry over into the season, as did the surprisingly mature play of the young D-Line.

      However, this is going to be a really challenging year to take a lot from. I don’t think you’re going to see terribly sharp QB play with the way reps were split. In other areas, we’ll be left asking questions like:
      – “Did the WR’s really step up like we hoped, or is the defensive backfield as bad as we feared?”
      – “Is our front-7 on D really that dominant, or our line that bad?”
      – etc…

      I think the only thing you can take away from the spring game is that nothing is ever as great, or as terrible as it seems. In particular, this year, the inexperience at DB and WR will make it hard to come up with any definitive predictions as to what we’ll see in August.

      • ndgoldandblue - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:27 PM

        One thing I do wish BK would do is play the second half like the first: without a running clock. This is the only taste of Irish football that we will get until the fall. It just doesn’t seem like it’s long enough for me to get my fill. It’s like going to a restaurant and only getting an appetizer. It’s good, but not nearly as satisfying as the whole meal.

  6. dmac4real - Apr 18, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Hey Keith:

    Jack Nolan said that the game will be online on both UND and NBC. So will it be similar to regular season games where u just come to this page and it will be easily accessible? Thanks.

  7. rambler09 - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    I, for one, did notice that you fell behind, Keith. Absolutely unacceptable. How am I supposed to obsess about a few minutes of video without your help to tell me who’s who. In other news, I love Stephon Tuitt but I would ultimately rather have Lynch. AL is just more dynamic. You can teach a kid discipline. Tuitt is a 5 star talent and maybe more reliable, but Lynch provided an explosiveness that we don’t otherwise have. Some might actually prefer Tuitt… But I just hope we aren’t resorting to a protective psychological mechanism.

    • rambler09 - Apr 20, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      I just wanted to clarify that I was joking with the first part of my post. There’s a reason I check this blog multiple times each day (and I don’t just mean to procrastinate studying). I apologize if that was unclear, Keith. Also, please excuse the incorrect grammar… I was typing on my phone. On the discussion of Lynch and Tuitt, though, I am serious.

  8. yaketyyacc - Apr 19, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    who will be the starting quarterback? Rees. coaches need their security blankets too. so, who of the four fit that category? Rees. ever notice, if a back rips off 12 yards, the coach goes to him again, and he get three yards, and again and he loses a yard. well, the opposing definsive coordinators do.
    the only coach I remember beching the startiing quarterback, and going to the third string quarterback, as his starter was Ara, who picked Terry Hanratty, who just happened to win a national championship ring and then go to the pros and win four, coint them, super bowl rings.
    I like Brian Kelly’s descriiption of the fake field goal call by MIchigan State: GUTSY call.
    Be nice to make one, huh, coach Kelly?

  9. mattnef - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    I heard a stat that may or may not be true (didn’t have a chance to check it out), and may or may not be important or relevant. Aaron Lynch lost more yards in personal fouls than he gained in QB sacks. I’d rather have them both, but I would take Tuitt over Lynch. Aaron Lynch is incredibly talented but also appeared to be an incredible pain.
    That being said, any truth to the rumor he is changing his mind? … Doesn’t everybody love rumors?!?!

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