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Practice Report: A closer look at eleven-on-eleven

Aug 14, 2012, 11:53 AM EDT

Practice Team

Another day, another practice report. But if you wondered whether or not 2012 was going to be different than last season, look no further than the practice videos. With media access at practice scant, video access is some of the only looks at practice we’ll get until the Irish open up in Dublin.

While we’re seeing some great stuff from Jack Nolan and the Fighting Irish Digital Media crew, it sure feels like we’re getting parceled out exactly what the coaching staff feels like sharing.

Which is good is enough for me.

Here’s some good footage of some eleven-on-eleven scrimmaging. I’ve done my best to break this down frame-by-frame, giving you a crib sheet of the latest action.



0:08 — Here’s a nice look at All-American Manti Te’o. Interestingly, the running back (it looks like it could be Will Mahone (32), but tough to tell) got a nice juke in, causing Te’o to false step, but there’s a quickness and lightness of feet that Te’o didn’t have last season after injuring his ankle.

0:13 — That’s Danny McCarthy (15). He’ll likely be the third safety on the field in nickel packages, so coming up and tackling should be something he gets used to doing.

0:16 — The defensive line works on some drills with the sled. It’s worth noting that Justin Utupo (53) is back working at end. He had worked with inside linebackers the previous season but with the departure of Aaron Lynch, perhaps the staff wanted to get his speed up front.

0:20 — Coach Harry Hiestand has stressed better hand use among the offensive linemen. Here it is in action, first with Tate Nichols (64) and then our first look at freshman Ronnie Stanley (78). (We’ll see Stanley in action in a few seconds.)

0:26 Ishaq Williams (11) and Kapron Lewis-Moore (89) work on their swim moves with the blocking dummy. That’s a lot of force behind KLM’s swim.

0:31Cierre Wood (20) makes a play in the flat against cornerback Jalen Brown (21).

0:35 — Nice play on the deep ball by John Goodman (81) getting behind Bennett Jackson (2). You can hear offensive coordinator Chuck Martin yelling in the background, “Excellent, Goody. Excellent, Goody!”

0:38 — It’s the tight end portion of the video, with Troy Niklas (85) making a grab on the quick out from Everett Golson (5) before All-American Tyler Eifert (80) catches a pass from Andrew Hendrix against the back-up defense.

(If you’re looking way too deep into this trying to determine who’s playing with the ones, don’t. Eifert and Hendrix are paired with rookie Davonte Neal and reserve lineman Bruce Heggie.)

0:42 — Freshman wideout Justin Ferguson (15) beats walk-on safety Connor Cavalaris (40) on the slant route before fellow rookie Chris Brown (2) gets vertical on cornerback Josh Atkinson (43), adjusting to the deep ball and making a big catch.

For some perspective, thats’ Brown running by a guy that ran a sub-10.4 100m dash and then coming back and making an even better play on the football.

0:52 — He’s not doing us any favors wearing his jersey like that, but it looks like KeiVarae Russell (6) makes a terrific play on a deep ball thrown to junior TJ Jones (7). That’s an impressive play and good ball skills by the youngster.

0:56Everett Golson throws a bullet on the out route to Davaris Daniels (10) with Jalen Brown giving big cushion and Kendall Moore (8) coming from the inside to help.

0:59Andrew Hendrix looks a bit like a deer in headlights as the No. 1 defense bears down on him with a suffocating pass rush. It’s not the reserve lines’ finest hour: Tate Nichols is beat by Prince Shembo (55), Nick Martin (72) is overwhelmed by Stephon Tuitt (7), and Manti Te’o came around the outside with Ishaq Williams.

1:03 — Hendrix hangs in and throws a strike to Brown, who makes a big play against what looks like the No. 1 defense.

1:07Ishaq Williams (11) beats freshman Ronnie Stanley for what would’ve been a sack on Hendrix.

1:13 — File this one under Unstoppable: Eifert beats Jamoris Slaughter (26) on a well thrown ball with a perfect pattern and nifty one-handed catch.

1:18 — Te’o with what would’ve been a big-time tackle for loss against George Atkinson (4). A healthy season from big No. 5 would be mighty fun to watch.

1:20 — Watching Everett Golson run in the open field is a lot of fun. Watching him hold the football like a loaf of bread isn’t.

1:26 — All-American Te’o breaks up a pass aimed at All-American Eifert. Then gets a little air-bump from defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

1:32 — This time it’s Prince Shembo that beats Stanley around the left edge, with Tuitt and Te’o coming on strong as well. It may be against the reserve offensive line, but there looks to be plenty of speed in this Irish pass rush.

1:37 — Great deep ball by Golson to Eifert, who beats Jalen Brown on the go route. That was Cierre Wood running a deep route down the seam as well.

1:44Hendrix hits Ferguson for a nice gainer.

1:47Golson looks off Niklas in the flat and finds Eifert deeper down the field. Sign me up for more packages with those two on the field together.

1:52Atkinson tries to run against the first-team defense.

1:57 — Bravo to the camera man for hanging in there with 6-foot-7, 260-pound Troy Niklas rumbling towards him out of bounds. Braver man than I am.

2:01 — Give Robby Toma (9) a 20-yard head start and nobody can cover him. Don’t blame Zeke Motta (17).

2:08 — Either that’s a repeat of earlier, or Chris Brown beat Josh Atkinson on another deep ball. (On a repeat viewing, it’s not a re-run. That’s just another impressive rep by the true freshman.)

Photo property of Matt Cashore

  1. cam2ham - Aug 14, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    I often forget Te’o wasn’t 100% last season, looks like he’s definitely going to go out with a bang. I pity the running back who has to meet Te’o in the hole.

    • nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      Well he won’t fumble, we know that

      • irishbornraised - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        why does everyone say Te’o hasn’t forced any fumbles, I don’t know where they’re getting this! He was the one who forced the fumble in the Champs Sports bowl that gave us a touchdown and he in 2010 he forced one against USC. Those are just the ones I remember. Anyway, it’s often because he makes tackles in the open field, fumbles come most often from group tackles where one is worried about the tackle, and someone else can work on the ball. The way Te’o tackles, he’s not looking for the ball he hits the body hard, but RBs know that in the open field, they have to have that ball tucked. Te’o is a beast, fumbles or no.

        • nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:25 PM

          I don’t have any stats to back it up but I have very few memories of him forcing fumbles. Maybe a bum rap, and maybe not.
          Here’s the video of the FSU game, and yes he did cause the fumble. It wasn’t a crushing blow, but an arm tackle. Still, gotta give him credit for a forced fumble.

          • irishbornraised - Aug 16, 2012 at 6:16 AM

            doesn’t blow you away, all the same, I’ll take what he gives us

  2. nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Keith, I could be wrong but I don’t think those were “swim moves” by Ishaq and KLM.

    A swim move is when the DL brings his in sidearm and shoulder (the one closest to the OL) up over the OL’s arm/shoulder in an attempt to get his upper body past him, obviously. The arm motion resembles a freestyle swimming stroke.

    What I saw in the video was more of a slap. Don’t know what the name for it is, but it definitely was not a swim move.

    • captainspaulding22 - Aug 14, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Dumb comment, Nude. Anyways, it’s called a rip move.

      • nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        You tell me it’s a dumb comment, then you validate what I’ve said, mostly in an attempt to make yourself look smart

        Now THAT is dumb

  3. irish1958 - Aug 14, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Tome reminds me of Wes Welker: not real big, not real fast, difficult to cover because he always appears to be open and catches anything near him.

    • jimbasil - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:26 AM


  4. NotreDan - Aug 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Keep working hard boys.

    Coach, keep kicking some tail.

    September 1, damn you, come faster.

    • runners00 - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      we’re not ready. i want September 1 to drag along. We NEED to be holding onto the football by then. No turnovers (especially in the Red Zone)

  5. joeschu - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Niklas, Eifert, Wood, Riddick, and GA3 in the game together would be a remarkable “jumbo” package. That group could sit in a power formation or motion Eifert and Riddick out into a more spread-ish look. You’d have 4 legitimate running threats in the backfield, and TE’s that can either hold the edge in the running game or run by your LB’s and Safeties on the pass. I think you’re going to see more multi-back and multi-TE sets than ever. I really hope BK shows the imagination and creativity to make this happen.

    • nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      All that sounds fine
      But I’ll settle for something more basic: I just hope BK has polished his game day skills

      Getting plays in on time, not shuffling in QBs at the goal line, not blowing up at the players, and making decisions re: the QB position that don’t make me say “WTF?”

      If he does those things I don’t care if he trots out a formation with 9 TEs

      • NotreDan - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Nude, I have to agree here. I’ve always thought the inability to get plays in rests as much with BK as it does with the QB. How many times do you watch the game and he is staring at that damn card, maybe muttering some words into the microphone and the play clock is ticking.

        I’ll leave open that maybe he can’t call the flow the way he really wants because of a lack of confidence (or athletic ability) in the QB, but this is why he gets paid so much, to figure this stuff out with the personnel he has.

        As I have learned, when there are problems, ALWAYS look inward first. BK is talking the talk on this, just hope he can complete the very difficult task of self evolution.

      • nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        Who knows the reason for the problems getting the damn plays in. I think the word sort of leaked out (if you did a lot of reading between the lines) that he and Molnar weren’t always on the same page.

        Does that mean Molnar was at fault?
        Maybe/maybe not.

        My enduring image of this was that fateful trip into the red zone against Stanford when Rees was gesturing wildly to give him the play, then had to take a time out. In fact I think they took 2 time outs down there.
        Then they didn’t score. It was ND offensive football at its absolute worst.

        Will Martin’s calling the plays make a diff?
        Well he and Kelly are tight, so we can only hope so.

      • ibleedirish - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:38 AM

        Martin is calling plays? I guess I thought BK always did that?

      • joeschu - Aug 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        I think BK is calling plays still, but I’m not sure.

        Nude, we saw all the same things in this 2 year sample. I’ve been very skeptical about BK for all the reasons you list. You and I have agreed on the points you list many times.

        However, despite my natural pessimism and cynicism, this guy was a winner. He won at UC, he won on smaller stages. Just because the players aren’t 4-5 star guys at those schools doesn’t mean you can get away with sloppy game day skills. Did he have so much talent vs. his competition that he could squeak by these sorts of coaching deficiencies and win at the rate he did?

        I’m going to try to be an optimist and say the last 2 years of oddness were the outliers in BK’s record and overall, this guy is a good game day coach. Let’s hope bringing in Chuck Martin was a move designed to help share some of the load of responsibilities in a way that gives better attention to winning details (signaling, ball security, penalties, etc). I also hope that Martin becomes a key voice of reason in making QB decisions.

      • nudeman - Aug 15, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        You and I are 100% in synch. The positives still outweigh the negatives with BK.
        Great recruiter, solid staff, very committed, great pedigree and has made significant program improvements. Also like the fact that he’s an offensive minded guy. And for what it’s worth, he looks the part of an ND coach: Irish, Catholic, clean cut and relatively young. Everything you’d want.

        That is why the negatives are so confounding. An offensive, quarterbacks guru and he starts Tommy Rees? Then stubbornly sticks with him terrible performance after terrible performance?
        The penalties, the turnovers, the inability to get plays in on time?

        The juxtaposition of those two sides of BK are confounding. Whether he or Martin is calling the plays, I hope we see a much “cleaner” and efficient variety of offensive football this year. However if it’s the same old sloppy sh**, and if he trots out Tommy Rees as a starter at ANY point, then my BK support will take another big hit.

  6. johnjtague - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    The way Golson was holding the ball makes me cringe, but the way he runs makes me very optimistic.

    Does that offensive line want to kill Hendrix? Did you see the pressure the D put on him in those plays. What was that about? Tuiit would have killed Hendrix on that play.

    Name Golson the starter now and get this crap over with. I’d also like to know what TJ Jones’s status is? Haven’t heard much at all about him.

    Anyway, getting excited.

    • vegasmark - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      Yeah EG was holding the ball like it was his old lady’s purse, but there also wasn’t a defender within 5 yards of him, he tucked the rock in tight when he was getting into traffic. At least he was able to get out of the pocket, Hendrix would have been destroyed by Tuitt and Ishaq.
      Only two Saturdays left without football!
      GO IRISH!!!

      • bernhtp - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        The problem is that most QB fumbles appear to happen from the blindside. If Golson doesn’t see the defender coming when he is holding the ball like that, there almost certainly will be a fumble and likely a catastrophic one.

  7. mmcss690 - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Nude, that clip was intense! Remind me again how did we lose that game? Didn’t our D dominate the first half?

    • nudeman - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      Serious question? Or baiting me?
      2 reasons:
      1) Diaco
      2) Rees


      • irishbornraised - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:08 PM

        Diaco needs to stop being blamed for that, the problem was that FSU was starting to get some good screen passes going and they were afraid, it’s tough to admit, but the just outplayed us in the second half

      • nudeman - Aug 15, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        Strongly disagree.
        Change your D that had them on their heels because of SCREEN PASSES?
        Come on

      • irishbornraised - Aug 16, 2012 at 1:56 AM

        Remember Weis’ D coordinator, trying to always blitz, how’d that work out for them. If they know the blitz is coming, it doesn’t work very well. At some point you have to be able to pressure the quarterback with just your Dline. They had halftime to figure out how vulnerable those blitzes left us. Diaco did actually have some pretty heavy blitzes in the second half. Just not on 3/4 of the down like in the 1st half, which would have been terrible. Had he just kept blitzing and FSU was able to counter with ease, we’d sitting here lamenting that. Honestly, QB play, not D killed us. This proved that even in a game where our offense scored as much as our defense, we still need some offense. In my view, that game was pretty much Rees’ ceiling, or how the average 2012 game will be with him in the backfield. I was a Hendrix guy, but I’m starting to see that the more you look at it, it’s not a choice, you can talk Golson’s risk to the end of time, but he’s the only one that’s a fathomable choice.

  8. gtizzo - Aug 14, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    I find the debate on getting the play in both interesting and funny. You would think at a school like ND with high academic standards would solve the problem by calling two or three plays at a time. BK could just give his QB a wrist band and then all he has to do is remember the number and call them in sequence. The funny part is with the number of teams that run the spread offense in some form why is this a problem at all? BK could have just stolen an idea from another program.

  9. mmcss690 - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Yeah I recognize your position on Rees and agree, like many I was baffled by our ability to shut down their offense and then back off (?). That clip just took me back to that game and the second half frustrations, no bait.

  10. ndfanwabashman - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Josh Atkinson is, as we have seen, a very fast kid. However, his technique is terrible. He has to get much more technically sound to make it at this level.

    • ndfaithful - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:11 PM

      I don’t know…
      I like his technique of running past everyone into the end zone.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM

        Wrong Atkinson maybe?

    • jaz1675 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:36 AM

      I completely agree, other than a few instances I see allot of Gary Grey ala Michigan with our secondary. They need to improve immensely or it will be a very long season, especial against any team that has any sort of QB that is worth anything.

  11. glowplugv - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    I am really impressed with the speed that the offense is showing. If Coach Kelly can find a consistent QB that can get the ball to these receivers, they will be fun to watch and successful.

  12. jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Okay Keith, that video has me all fired up for 9/1/12. Can’t wait.

  13. 9irish - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    Well, I will say that Te’o was not up to snuff last year, so that’s something to look forward to now. These videos always perturb me, because you can never tell if OUR offense/defense is good or bad, because they are playing themselves. You don’t want either one to just blow the other one off the field.
    So we’ll see with Navy….very scrappy guys. We’ll definitely find out the speed of the defense, I can tell you that. And, oh yeah, that whole QB thing, too.

    Go Irish

  14. bearcatirishfan - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Just remember out best corners allegedly were not in that clip. Bennett Jackson and lo wood.

  15. ibleedirish - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Obviously its tough to draw conclusions from a couple minutes of practice, but anyone else intrigued by the complete lack of TJ Jones, Theo Riddick, and Davaris Daniels in these clips? Not that it matters if Chris Brown is half as good on gamedays as he apparently is in practice. On the defensive side I have a feeling that in 17 days Ishaq, Tuitt and Co. are going to take some pressure off our corners and are quickly going to make us forget about that ill-tempered child from Florida.

  16. grattanstanford - Aug 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Look for two Sons of Stanford Hall, Prince Shembo and Troy Niklas to have monster seasons. Back at his natural dog position rushing the QB, Shembo should put up big numbers this season as opposing O-Lines will have a lot of focus on ST, KLM, and LN.
    I think people will be surprised at Troy Niklas’ soft hands and he will see significant time as receiving and blocking tight end opposite eifert.
    I’m excited to see what the level of intensity will be in Dublin!

    Notre Dame
    Stanford Hall

    • nudeman - Aug 15, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      On Niklas, I don’t know that he’ll be that much of a pass catcher
      Not saying he wouldn’t be good,but everything I read says he’ll be more of a blocker
      Plus, there’s that Eifert guy
      I’d bet Troy catches fewer than 10 passes, barring an injury to Eifert

  17. mmanor01 - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I am probably being too optimistic and giving Kelly too much credit, but maybe the reason we haven’t seen clips of TJ, Toma, Riddick, etc., is to keep their improved abilities under wrap.


    Maybe UND knows that most fans want to see the fresh meat, so they are purposely focusing on the freshmen.

  18. bearcatirishfan - Aug 15, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Probably a little of both.

  19. pattyboy23 - Aug 15, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Everyone needs to stop complaining about BK. Personally I think he is the man for the job, he wins. honestly, 8-5 for his first two season with Charlie’s players isnt bad, he had Crist who just did not get it done. His young players are full of talent and potential and I believe he does a great job with the recruiting and his staff too. So everybody stop hating on BK

    • dickasman - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      I agree. He couldn’t win w Christ, time to recruit Buddha or Allah.

  20. bearcatirishfan - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Love BK, but I’m a Cincinnati graduate so anyone that can take that team to two bcs games is great in my book. Of course I went there during the Rick Minter years and maybe saw a 7-6 season once or twice. By the way the rest were worse. I remember classmates griping with me when i said to fire hime that that is the best we should expect from a UC TEAM. Kelly changed that and forever earned my allegiance.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:37 AM

      This guy is a butt-plug of the highest order. I read his article and he is predicting a 6 win season because Kelly hasn’t handed over the reins to Rees? Is he serious? Does he know football? Apparently doesn’t know that much about ND as he’s the only one I’ve seen advocating for Rees. Total hatchet job. Idiot.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM

        Sorry this was a reply to dickasman’s post of 5:24pm

  21. dickasman - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Did you guys read this article? Ouch this hurt, even the dick asman.

    • glowplugv - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      Reilly sounds like Obama complaining about capitalism. What is wrong with capitalism?!

  22. dickasman - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    #2 Rihanna beater looks excellent! Glad manti took my personal advice and stop looking like a muscular lard arse. He does look a bit lighter on his feet. He’s upper body is faster than his feet, manti, you need to work more on your core. Yoga, Pilates so your entire body flows as one. Right now, your body is not in unison. Work on your cores and flexibility.

    Oh I almost forgot, BRO!

    • don74 - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      Four words I never thought I would write:

      – sage advice from dickasman

      “Yoga, Pilates so your entire body flows as one”

  23. mmcss690 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Rick Reilly is a douche.

  24. bearcatirishfan - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Who is Rick Reilly never heard of him before I read that article. He get passed over by nd like mark may did?

    • don74 - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      Whether you heard of him or not he wrote for SI for many years. One of their best. Left a couple of a few years ago for a reported 7 figures a year. @jdubs88 (John Walters) on Twitter had a very interesting take this afternoon. Worth digging into the timeline and looking at the conversation.

      • nudeman - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM

        I read that and he absolutely tore Reilly to shreds
        A GREAT read

        Reilly is all about “clicks” now so he writes provocative stuff for the sake of being provocative
        Though I’ve liked some of his writing over the years, has always struck me as a geek

        As Walters aptly noted, if the topic was “irrelevance” in CFB, why not an article about Clemson? Or FSU? Or UCLA?

  25. fnc111 - Aug 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Totally different. That FSU o line was trash and inexperienced. ND had to keep it coming, it was their only shot at winning when AH and Rees looked so inept at QB. That game reminded me of the scUM game when Kelly shut it down with a quarter to go thinking he could just barely sneak out with a win. Kelly is in real trouble this year but Swarbrick didn’t do him any favors with this brutal schedule. Whether CBK goes 5-7 or 7-5 he will get a 4th year.

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