Denbrock

Pinstripe Bowl practice report breakdown

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I’ve heard from a few people that they actually missed my UND.com practice video breakdowns. So let’s fire up the YouTube machine and over-analyze what’s going on being closed doors at Notre Dame’s practice!

As usual, here is a time-coded, cheatsheet that’ll get you through an interesting practice report.

0:10 — It just feels like Finals Week after listening to  Jack Nolan‘s tone of voice inside Loftus. Nolan reminds us that football is only a portion of life for Notre Dame student-athletes, especially this time of year.

0:34Brian Kelly and interim offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock talk things over. I still expect the interim tag to be removed from his name after the bowl, with Kelly potentially hiring a quarterback coach.

Right now, it’s Kelly coaching the quarterbacks, a natural transition for the head coach, especially working with freshman Malik Zaire.

0:40 — That’s sophomore Ronnie Stanley getting the opportunity to breakdown the team. A good bit of leadership for a young player that’s had a really impressive (and below the radar) season this year.

0:54 — Lefty Malik Zaire slings an out pattern to running back Greg Bryant, who is looking healthy after battling a knee injury for much of the season.

(It’s also worth noticing the new green cleats several members of the Irish are breaking in. Might that be a hint at the uniform coming for the Pinstripe Bowl?)

0:59 — Freshman Devin Butler does a nice job breaking up a pass headed for DaVaris Daniels. Butler had an impressive debut season as well.

1:05 — I’m at a loss as to what kind of drill this might be, but it looks like the Irish are working on special teams blocking and coverage, as Bryant is working as a return man.

It looks like Romeo Okwara might have lost contain there.

1:09Tommy Rees goes deep to Chris Brown, who gets a step on Bennett Jackson and connects for a big gainer. That’s Max Redfield (#10) working with a secondary that includes Austin Collinsworth, so this might be evidence that Redfield is getting his shot to run with the 1s.

1:16 — Yikes. Redfield reaches for Ben Koyack, missing the tight end. Koyack gets behind Redfield and connects on the pass.

(For the doomsday folks out there: This is a drill. Not the end of the world or an indictment on Redfield’s talent.)

1:24Andrew Hendrix hits freshman tight end Mike Heuerman (#9) on a wheel route up the sideline. Is this the last completion we see from Hendrix in a Notre Dame uniform? There’s talk of Hendrix playing out his eligibility with another program, though it hasn’t been decided yet.

1:34 — Freshman Rashad Kinlaw (#36) jams converted DB/WR Josh Atkinson at the line before letting Atkinson get inside him for a catch on a slant route.

1:43 — Rees goes bombs away again, this time connecting with Daniels over the top of Butler, a big gainer. Against one of the worst statistical passing defenses in college football, the Irish will likely try and stretch the field in Yankee Stadium, if the weather allows it.

1:55 — Slot receiver CJ Prosise gets separation from KeiVarae Russell, making a nice catch.

2:00 — For Irish fans wondering if Amir Carlisle has changed to defense, fear not. That’s Cole Luke wearing his #3 jersey in practice, which he swaps out for #36 in games because of special teams duties.

Luke makes a nice tackle on Will Fuller.

2:06 — Good tackle by Joe Schmidt, running down the screen pass.

2:15 — Kelly talks about getting a chance to scrimmage and tackle during bowl prep, while expressing regret that he didn’t do that during the long layoff before the BCS Championship game.

From the sound of it, nobody got hurt, so that’s a plus.

2:28Corey Robinson posts up and makes a catch on a Rees pass.

2:35 — If you’re looking for a reason why Chris Brown maybe didn’t make the forward progress some people expected, this pass route could be Exhibit A. This advanced pattern just doesn’t feel natural for the speedster, and Bennett Jackson was with him step for step.

2:43 — That’s George Atkinson split out wide making the catch against the No. 1 defense.

3:15 — Looks like another carry for Greg Bryant.

3:57 — A very nice catch by Troy Niklas in traffic.

4:20 — It sounds like the focus will soon turn to Rutgers, with the Irish getting a few bonus two-hour practices after finals to prepare for the Scarlet Knights.

***

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.

 

 

Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.

Will Fuller brings his game-changing skills to the Texans offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass before running into the endzone for a touchdown in the second quarter in front of Avonte Maddox #14 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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In all the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, one key tidbit linking Will Fuller to the Houston Texans never seemed to come up. The relationship between Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien.

The two coaches share a high school alma mater, a friendship that made the due diligence on Notre Dame’s prolific playmaker easy. And it was clear that after all their research, Houston was aggressive in their pursuit of Fuller, trading up to make Notre Dame’s All-American the second receiver off the board, triggered a run at the position.

“He was a guy that we felt strongly about,” Texans general manager Rick Smith told the team’s official website. “We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

That move made Fuller’s decision to leave Notre Dame after three seasons a good one. While it’ll require the Irish to rebuild at a position where Fuller served as one of college football’s best home run hitters, it gives Houston a vertical threat that can extend the top of a defense for a Texans offense that was serious about finding some solutions for a team already in the playoff mix.

Yes, Fuller has work to do. Completing the easy catch is one big area. But for all the pre-draft talk about his limitations, Brian Kelly took on some of the criticism head-on when talking with the Texans’ media reporter.

“Some people have compared him to Teddy Ginn, that’s not fair. He can catch the ball vertically like nobody I’ve coached in 25 years,” Kelly said (a sentiment some hack also laid out). Teddy Ginn is a very good player, but this is a different kind of player. If you throw the ball deep, he’s going to catch the football.”

Fuller is never going to be the biggest receiver on the field. But while most of the banter on his game focused on the negative or his deep ball skills, expect Fuller to find a role not just running deep but unleashed in the screen game as well. After the Texans spent huge on quarterback Brock Osweiler and have invested in fellow Philadelphia native and 2015 third-round pick Jaelen Strong, Fuller wasn’t selected for the future but rather expected to be a day-one piece of the puzzle.

“This will change the speed on offense immediately,” Kelly said. “It was not ‘Hey, let’s wait a couple of years’. It was ‘Let’s go get this right now’ and I think Will will do that for them.”