Cam McDaniel

Spring practice video breakdown: Part six


On Saturday, Notre Dame had their first and only open practice of the spring. (Until the Blue-Gold game, that is.) With Loftus packed to the walls with a thousand high school coaches a a large group of local media getting their looks at an Irish squad three-quarters of the way through spring ball, there was plenty to see.

Let’s get into our breakdown of’s official look at practice, which features one impressive catch by freshman Corey Robinson and a few other revealing snippets that give you an idea of how the 2013 squad is shaping up.



0:09 — Kicker/punter Kyle Brindza was given the task of breaking down the squad. Brindza has a lot on his shoulders next season, with the place-kicking and punting jobs both his to lose.

Irish Illustrated’s Tim Prister reported that it was a rough day for the specialists, with Brindza only making two of five field goal attempts, which fifth-year senior Nick Tausch made just one of five. (Worth mentioning: The sky isn’t falling. Kicking in Loftus is far from the real thing.)

0:36 — It sounds like Everett Golson is mic’d up again. That’s a nice reminder that the NBC Sports Channel is airing another one-hour special on the Irish, in the lead up to the Blue-Gold game next Saturday.

0:39 — A little drill work to get us going. Sheldon Day (#91) tackles a fake ball carrier. Ishaq Williams (#11) drives a blocking sled. Bob Diaco coaches up the fundamentals.

0:45 — There’s a lot athletically to like about Daniel Smith (#87). This should be an interesting season for the local South Bend product. Will he be just another spring achiever, or will he play a significant role in the offense.

Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Brian Kelly was singing the praises of Deion Walker in spring ball. I think he ended up with one catch the season after.

0:49 — Here’s one of Brindza’s field goal attempts. The snap looked good — thanks to new long-snapper Scott Daly, who is taking over for departing veteran Jordan Cowart.

0:51 — What’s up, Manti?

0:54 — That’s a tough match-up for Austin Collinsworth (#28), trying to match-up physically with Alex Welch (#82).

0:59 — I’ve done my best not to rave about Cam McDaniel (#33) yet, but I’ve got to believe he’s going to get some significant carries in the offense this season. He seems to be a guy that has such a strong grasp of the game, and is too productive of an athlete to keep off the field.

1:05 — About the only guy that CAN keep McDaniel off the field is George Atkinson III (#4). Here’s Atkinson on one of those nifty stretch pitches, getting around the edge and running for a nice gain.

1:11 — Here’s your catch of the spring by freshman Corey Robinson (#88). That’s a heckuva play by a kid many didn’t expect to be ready to contribute. Now (if we’re jumping to conclusions), it’s going to be hard not to imagine a role for him in next year’s offense, especially with his height and ball skills.

1:20 — New receiver CJ Prosise (#20) just did bad, bad things to Eilar Hardy, burning by him for a big gain in one-on-one drills. Prosise is a really intriguing athlete. He’s a 220-pound guy that seems to have pretty good jets, too. (He was a 10.9 100m guy in high school.)

It’s too early to call him a poor man’s Percy Harvin, but it looks like Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin seem to have a guy they think can excel in the slot.

1:27 — Looks like Josh Atkinson (#24) got away with some interference.

1:35 — This looks like some eleven-on-eleven work, with plenty of talent getting after it.

1:38 — Ishaq Williams just plants Will Mahone here. From other reports, it sounds like freshman Mike Heuerman whiffed on his block.

1:45 — Don’t look now, but Tommy Rees has been showing some good touch on his fade routes. Here’s a nice conversion with Davaris Daniels (#10).

1:51 — Big Louis Nix (#1) just burns past Nick Martin on his way to a big hit in the backfield.

1:59 — This would be an exciting development. Golson buys time, keeps his eyes down field and throws a strike to Prosise, who gallops away from defenders for an easy touchdown.

2:04 — That’s a nice play by linebacker Kendall Moore (#8) who is fighting for his chance at middle linebacker. Right now, he’s slotted behind Jarrett Grace, but Moore definitely has the athleticism and physicality necessary to play.

2:10 — That’s Mahone bursting through for a nice gain.

2:12 — Rees throws another nice deep ball — this time it’s Chris Brown (#2) making the back-shoulder catch.

2:18 — Nice grab, Davaris Daniels.





Irish prepared to take on the best Navy team in years


Brian Kelly opens every Tuesday press conference with compliments for an opponent. But this week, it was easy to see that his kind words for Navy were hardly lip service.

Ken Niumatalolo will bring his most veteran—and probably his most talented—group of Midshipmen into Notre Dame Stadium, looking to hand the Irish their first loss in the series since Kelly’s debut season in South Bend.

“Ken Niumatalolo has done an incredible job in developing his program and currently carrying an eight-game winning streak,” Kelly said. “I voted for them in USA Today Top 25 as a top-25 team. I think they’ve earned that. But their defense as well has developed. It’s played the kind of defense that I think a top 25 team plays.”

With nine months of option preparation, Notre Dame needs to feel confident about their efforts against Georgia Tech. Then again, the Midshipmen saw that game plan and likely have a few tricks in store.

As much as the Irish have focused their efforts on stopping Keenan Reynolds and the triple-option, Navy’s much-improved defense is still looking for a way to slow down a team that’s averaged a shade over 48 points a game against them the last four seasons.

Niumatalolo talked about that when asked about slowing down Will Fuller and Notre Dame’s skill players, an offense that’s averaged over 48 points a game during this four-game win streak.

“We’ve got to try our best to keep [Fuller] in front of us, that’s easier said than done,” Niumatalolo said. “We’ve got to play as close as we can without their guys running past us. I’ve been here a long time and we’re still trying to figure out how to do that.”


Navy heads to South Bend unbeaten, defeating former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco‘s team just two Saturdays ago. And while Diaco raised a few eyebrows when he said Navy would be the team’s toughest test of the year (they already played a ranked Missouri team), the head of the UConn program couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.

“I have been competing against Navy for some time and this is the best Navy team I have seen for, let’s say the last half-dozen years,” UConn coach Bob Diaco told the New Haven Register. “I could click on footage from three years ago and see a lion’s share of players who are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group and they look like the stiffest competition among our first four opponents.”

As usual, there will be those who look at this game as the breather between Clemson and USC. That won’t be anybody inside The Gug. So as the Irish try to get back to their winning ways in front of a home crowd, a complete team effort is needed.

“I’ll take a win by one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “That would be fine with me.”


Kelly confident Robinson will rebound

Notre Dame v Florida State

Corey Robinson‘s season was already off to a slow start. And that was before a difficult night at Clemson. The junior receiver came into last weekend with only four catches, held out against UMass after a pregame tweak of his knee put a scare into the Irish.

Robinson’s knee checked out fine. But mentally, it appears that the sure-handed junior is struggling.

Just before halftime against the Tigers, Robinson failed to reel in a long catch that would’ve given the Irish a much-needed touchdown heading into half. Early in the fourth quarter, a high throw from DeShone Kizer on the Irish’s first failed two-point conversion play slid through Robinson’s hands. Made worse was a mental mistake by Robinson, the Irish needing to use one of their second half timeouts when the junior wasn’t on the field.

Coached hard on the sideline by Brian Kelly and coached up by his position coach Mike Denbrock (as we saw on both Showtime and Fighting Irish Media’s ICON), the staff is doing it’s best to get Robinson’s confidence back.

With some wondering if Robinson’s struggles should open the door for talented freshman Equanimeous St. Brown, Kelly talked about their belief that the junior will return to form.

“Corey Robinson is going to get the job done. I had a very lengthy conversation with him yesterday,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I believe in Corey. Corey’s got to believe in himself, and he will. He’s got to go attack the football. He’s letting the football come to him. He’s letting it eat him up a little bit, but I believe in Corey.”

There’s no better place to showcase that belief than against Navy. The Midshipmen don’t have a defender physically capable of matching up with the 6-foot-5 Robinson, who will likely face his share of single coverage with Will Fuller likely demanding safety help.

Then it’s just a matter of Robinson showing the hands and confidence that made him one of last year’s most consistent performers.

“Once he starts attacking the football, I think we’re going to see somebody that can make the plays that we expect him to make,” Kelly said. “So I’m optimistic that we’re going to see the guy that we need to see on Saturday.”