Our friends at UND.com have put out two new videos filled with practice footage from an eventful Wednesday session that gave an open look to the media and fans. There’s been thousands of words across the net dedicated to practice reports, but I figured I’d chime in with my own 1,300 or so and breakdown the footage the guys at UND.com gave us.
With things being intentionally kept under wraps as the Irish prep for the regular season, it’s still fun to try and go frame by frame hoping to pick up some morsel that could enlighten all of us in the days before the snaps starting counting for real.
Let’s get rolling through this footage and give you a way over-analyzed look at what you’re seeing.
0:08 — Jack Nolan is back. All is right in the UND.com world.
0:47 — Zeke Motta looks like he’s ready for a breakout season. While it’s tough to tell if this is actually him making a great break on the ball, Motta has all the physical traits necessary to put together an excellent season.
0:52 — That’s freshman wideout Chris Brown (2) running away from Cam McDaniel (33) on the underneath route. He looks mighty skinny, but those rumors of Brown’s elite speed don’t appear to be recruiting propaganda.
0:56 — We’re into the rodeo drill portion of the program. We’ll focus on this more down the page, but I’ll point out a few nice plays.
1:02 — Yes, that was quarterback Andrew Hendrix taking the handoff and running through the gauntlet, evading the tackle of Ishaq Williams.
1:04 — Unfortunately, that was also Hendrix trying to force a ball late into Tyler Eifert. Bennett Jackson makes a nice play for an easy interception. Fast-forward a month and it won’t just be Brian Kelly turning purple if we see that again.
1:18 — In four years, I think I saw two good plays by Darius Fleming dropping back into pass coverage. In his first week in an Irish uniform, talented freshman Romeo Okwara (45) is showing some serious talent in space, making a nice play on Cierre Wood.
1:20 — Freshman Justin Ferguson (15) beats corner Jalen Brown (21) with a nifty catch… caught on camera from both angles.
1:33 — That’s talented freshman Davonte Neal (19) making the catch from Gunner Kiel on the speed out. I’m very excited to see what the lightning-bug freshman can do this season.
1:38 — Quarterback Everett Golson hits Wood on a nice throw. It looks like Cierre made a cut and would’ve been tough to catch after that play.
1:40 — Golson puts another throw in a tight window. Not sure it would’ve counted as a catch or been the correct read, but there was plenty of zip on the ball and it should’ve been caught.
1:44 — Senior Zack Martin (70) teaches freshman Sheldon Day (91) a few things about pass rushing.
1:58 — Brian Kelly can say all he wants about Louis Nix (9) and Kona Schwenke running even for the starting nose tackle job. I don’t believe him. Nix is an absolute beast, as seen here.
2:03 — Not sure who made the pretty throw, but John Goodman (81) gets open behind the coverage for a big gainer on a deep flag route.
2:10 — All-American linebacker Manti Te’o shows some improvement in his pass drops, getting a hand on a ball headed towards an open Davaris Daniels (10).
2:14 — Chris Brown gets plenty of good blocking as he breaks loose on a quick screen pass.
2:21 — Walk-on outside linebacker Connor Little (93) (from St. Paul’s Hill-Murray high school) lays a big stick on quarterback Gunner Kiel.
2:24 — Jarrett Grace (59) holds his own in coverage against Will Mahone (32).
2:30 — That’s Daniel Smith (87) making a catch for the cameras. Will that happen this season? Only time will tell.
2:33 — Nightmare revisited: Golson throws a screen pass into the hands of a waiting defensive lineman. The only good news? It was Kapron Lewis-Moore (89), not a Michigan defender.
2:40 — Want to know why my money is on Golson winning the job? This play right here. Great presence in the pocket to buy time and then find an open receiver.
2:55 — Don’t be surprised to see Cierre Wood run for six-yards a carry this season. (At least.) With great depth behind him to keep him fresh, Wood — no finesse back right now at 6-foot, 215-pounds — could be a load for defenses.
3:10 — Team huddle breaks down with a “Count on Me.”
Now, for our favorite video… Breaking down the Rodeo Drill!
0:10 — Braxston Cave (52) vs. Kona Schwenke (96). Victory: Schwenke, who does a nice job pushing the runner (Everett Golson) over the pylon.
0:15 — Chris Watt (66) vs. Manti Te’o. Victory: Watt, who does a nice job of controlling Te;o while Atkinson runs by him.
0:20 — Zack Martin (70) vs. Kapron Lewis-Moore. Winner: Martin, who does a great job of turning the defender and opening the hole.
0:25 — Alex Welch (82) vs. Danny Spond (13). Winner: Tough to call either guy a winner after both were seriously injured during practice.
0:30 — Mike Golic (57) vs. Louis Nix (9). Winner: Nix. There’s nowhere to push the stout defensive tackle, who clogs the hole effectively.
0:34 — Nick Martin (72) vs. Dan Fox (48). Winner: Martin. Nice rep by the youngster, who might find himself pushed forward in the rotation with Jordan Prestwood gone.
0:38 —Christian Lombard (74) vs. Sheldon Day (91). Winner: Day, who gets a great rep in by slipping Lombard and then planting the runner in the backfield. Impressive play by the freshman.
0:45 — Jake Golic (88) vs. Ben Councell (3o). Winner: Golic, with the assist of Neal motoring past the attempted arm-tackle of Councell.
0:49 — Matt Hegarty (77) vs. Tony Springmann (?). Winner: Hegarty, who got a handle on the tough-to-recognize defender, allowing Cierre Wood to dash through the hole.
0:53 — Connor Hanratty (65) vs. Carlo Calabrese (44). Winner: Hanratty, who buries Calabrese into the turf, allowing Golson to fly by.
0:59 — Tate Nichols (64) vs. Kapron Lewis-Moore (89). Winner: Nichols, who smothers Lewis-Moore as he forces the veteran defender into a backpedal.
1:03 — Ben Koyack (18) vs. Ishaq Williams (11). Winner: Williams, who does a great job standing Koyack up and taking down Hendrix, no easy task with a 250-pound tight end pushing you backwards.
1:08 — Alex Welch (84) vs. Romeo Okwara (45). Winner: Draw. But nice work by the freshman Okwara finishing the drill and taking down senior Robby Toma (9), to the applause of defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
1:15 — Nick Martin vs. Jarrett Grace (59)Winner: Grace, who stands up Martin in the hole and dumps George Atkinson for a loss. Heckuva play.
1:25 — Christian Lombard vs. KLM. Winner: Draw. Nice work by KLM standing Lombard up in the hole, but he didn’t make the tackle. Tie goes to nobody.
1:30 — Mike Golic vs. Louis Nix. Winner: Nix, who gets bonus points for sporting the new Ireland cleats to practice. (Even more impressive considering the runner was Cierre Wood, who is hardly ever pinned in the backfield in this drill.)
1:34 — Connor Hanratty vs. Kevin Walsh (54). Winner: Hanratty, who got the walk-on linebacker into rollerskates as he drove him down the field.
1:40 — Zack Martin (70) vs. Sheldon Day. Winner: Martin, who shows the young pup a thing or two (understandably).
1:44 — Braxston Cave (52) vs. Kona Schwenke. Winner: Cave, who looked like a Greco-Roman star with his textbook leverage take-down of the big Hawaiian.
1:50 — Mark Harrell (75) vs. Tony Springmann (69). Winner: Harrell, who puts together a nice rep against Springmann, steering the back through the hole untouched.
1:54 — Bruce Heggie (51) vs. Kendall Moore (8). Winner: Heggie, who sprung a hole just big enough for Amir Carlisle (3). Carlisle looked pretty crisp and had a nice burst as he cut back and burned by.
1:59 — Ronnie Stanley (78) vs. Justin Utupo (53). Winner: The talented — and gigantic — freshman is too much for Utupo to handle.
2:04 — Troy Niklas (85) vs. Ishaq Williams (11). Winner: Draw. A ton of sheer force in a collision between two guys that used to wear the same practice jersey. Nice job by Niklas moving the pile and nice job by Williams holding on and taking down Hendrix.
Photo property of Matt Cashore.