With shoulder pads and helmets on, the intensity seems to have been ratcheted up at Shiloh Park, the site of Notre Dame’s first week of training camp. And while we’ll get to the practice video breakdown, head coach Brian Kelly encapsulated the mission for today at the very end of the video, where he all but threw down the gauntlet.
“We’ve got great guys, there’s no doubt about that,” Kelly said to his troops. “But we need tough guys. This is football. It’s a damn tough sport. And it takes guys that have to separate what happens on this field from what happens off this field.”
With the first day of collisions likely being interspersed with some Kumbaya and team-building, Kelly likely made sure that the two hours spent on the field carries the intensity levels needed to form the identity of this team.
Let’s take a look at the video, with a comprehensive breakdown of what we’re seeing.
0:15 — That’s more like it, Jack Nolan. Gotta get that weather report in during the first thirty seconds or you really aren’t trying…
0:38 — From a motivational point-of-view, nothing gets a football team going more than an open question about the team’s toughness. Here’s a good look at Kelly pulling a few time-tested strings, and doing it with the type of respect that inspires a team.
0:58 — Either Carlo Calabrese is a really great clapper, or he’s taken on a pretty impressive leadership role with the team. He’s broken down the team in just about all of these videos.
1:06 — Troy Niklas (85) vs. Ishaq Williams (11). That’s a lot of man on display and Niklas gets the best of Ishaq, no slight on the Irish OLB. Considering Niklas was learning to block on the fly, this season could be a true breakout for the 270-pound tight end, who 20 years ago would’ve been a high first-round draft pick at left tackle at that size.
1:10 — On the flip side, here’s Romeo Okwara (45) taking the heat to Alex Welch (82). That’s a mighty large outside linebacker for a kid that is still a few days from turning 18.
If Notre Dame could find a way to preserve a year of Okwara’s eligibility, especially with the outside linebacker depth chart so stout, it would be amazing to see how Okwara continues to grow. That said, keeping him off the field might not be an option.
1:15 — And now for the young pups. Freshmen Durham Smythe (80) and Jaylon Smith (9) battle in the trenches, with Smith looking fairly stout for a guy many worried needed to put on weight in a hurry. As you can see, defensive line coach Mike Elston is fired up after Smith’s rep.
1:21 — Might be another rep (or another angle) of Niklas vs. Williams, with Hercules looking the part.
1:25 — You might as well put this on Zack Martin‘s All-American highlight reel. Stonewalling fellow All-American Stephon Tuitt in one-on-one pass rush drills.
No, Martin doesn’t have the prototype left tackle size. But he’s going to make an NFL team very happy for the next 10 years, and he deserves to be in the national awards conversation this year.
1:29 — Don’t look now, but that’s another impressive rep by Isaac Rochelle (90), who puts a nifty move on fellow freshman Steve Elmer (79) as he blows by him. Looks like ND has a guy that’s going to do some damage sooner than later in Rochelle.
1:34 — Kona Schwenke (96) blows by Mark Harrell (75) in a powerful rep. Lost in the shuffle a bit last year, Schwenke looks really fit and strong in the limited reps we’ve seen so far. (Literally two or three, but isn’t this where we’re supposed to jump to conclusions?)
1:39 — In case you were worried about Andrew Hendrix‘s (12) arm strength, this deep comeback route to the sidelines should remind you that a cannon has never been Hendrix’s problem.
Nice job getting separation by freshman James Onwualu (17), beating good coverage by KeiVarae Russell (6), though I’m not sure he came down with the football in bounds. (In many ways, maybe this rep encapsulates Hendrix’s first three seasons in South Bend.)
1:49 — Our first look at Jarron Jones (94), who does his best to do some damage to the blocking sled.
1:52 — Ben Koyack (18) runs a nice route against air. It wasn’t too long ago where Koyack had the same type of upside potential as Kyle Rudolph or Tyler Eifert. After a disappointing sophomore season where Koyack got lost in the shuffle and lost confidence after a few early drops, expect him to have a bounce back season.
1:56 — It’s a nice open field run by Cam McDaniel (33) breaking into the secondary against what looks like the No. 2 defense.
2:01 — George Atkinson (4) takes a handoff from Tommy Rees and follows the inside blocking of what looks like his starting offensive line. Once he gets to the secondary, it’s not hard to see what’s so tantalizing about GA3’s speed. He’s a home run threat every time he touches the ball.
2:04 — Hendrix connects with Chris Brown (2) in front of Jalen Brown (21).
2:07 — Freshman Malik Zaire (8) delivers a nice pass to the flat and Will Mahone (32).
2:10 — Steve Elmer wins a rep against recruiting walk-on DL Marquis Dickerson (92).
2:13 — Hendrix hits TJ Jones (7) on the quick out cut. (Do I smell a QB controversy? Hint: No.)
2:16 — TJ Jones turns around DBs Cole Luke (3) and Eilar Hardy (4) with some fancy footwork, though it appears acting referee Brian Kelly signals the catch out of bounds. (Bonus footage — watching Jones nearly run into the forest after the catch.)
2:25 — It’s not lip service when Brian Kelly talks about throwing Malik Zaire into the deep end. Here the freshman quarterback throws a nice route to Davaris Daniels (10), who makes the catch in traffic.
2:30 — That beanpole running patterns is Corey Robinson (88), planting his foot in the ground and beating Josh Atkinson (24) and Austin Collinsworth (28). From the sound of Chuck Martin‘s voice, that throw was delivered by Rees.