Spring Practice: Day One report breakdown


Well, it’s finally that time of year. (Again.) Let’s get to over-analyzing practice videos!

With the Irish taking the practice field bright and early Monday morning, our friends at released their first practice video of the new year. Let’s spend an unhealthy amount of time talking about what we see here:


0:06 — Wha??? That’s not Jack Nolan. You’re right, it’s Megan Bastedo, our newest reporter for Fighting Irish Digital Media! With fancy diplomas from Notre Dame and Syracuse, I think it’s safe to say that she’s got us covered, delivering us the sights and sounds of spring practice.

A little disappointed that we didn’t get an indoor weather report (you know Jack would’ve worked one in), but all in all a great start by Megan.

In case you couldn’t tell, this is all in good fun. You could? Okay. Just making sure. 

0:26Brian VanGorder and Brian Kelly talk presumably about practice plans. Gotta love the color copier being utilized. And the green and gold. Well played.

0:32 — New paint job for the Loftus turf? It looks good.

0:35 — Quarterback Everett Golson stretches his hip flexor.

0:39 — Our first look at Jarrett Grace and his surgically repaired broken leg. He’s without a helmet, but good to see him getting loose with the team.

0:44 — Recognize the guy with secondary coach Kerry Cooks? It’s new graduate assistant Kyle McCarthy. The former Irish captain has hung up the NFL pads and begun his college coaching career. Standing behind them is David Grimes, another former Domer as well.

0:50 — Kelly talks things through with new offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock. Walking behind them is new quarterback coach Matt LaFleur.

0:56 — Addressing the team, Kelly talks about precision and speed during his introductory remarks. Interestingly enough, he also talks about some new coaching points, likely infused by VanGorder and LaFleur, who bring some great experience to the program.

“Attention to detail. Let’s start fast and get this thing rolling,” Kelly said.

Also worth noting: That’s former walk-on linebacker Joe Schmidt (38) breaking down the team. Look fast enough and you’ll see Schmidt anchoring the No. 1 defense at inside linebacker as well.

1:37 — Golson works the zone read with Tarean Folston (25). That’s exactly one more time than we saw that play last season.

1:43 — Golson hits Chris Brown (2) on the inside screen before the offense gets down the field. If you are being overly obsessive, we get a hint at what the first-team offensive line looks like.

Mike McGlinchey (68) is lined up at right tackle. Christian Lombard (74) is at right guard. We see Ronnie Stanley (78) kickout out on the blindside at left tackle and then Steve Elmer working back towards the middle of the field (79), while Matt Hegarty (77) runs down the field.

Is that the No. 1 offensive line right now? Probably.

1:46 — The fiery intensity of BVG is palpable.

1:53 — Working pass rush drills are Ishaq Williams (11), Jarron Jones (94), Sheldon Day (91) and Romeo Okwara (45). That very well could be the Irish’s four-man front, with Day shifted inside to defensive tackle.

1:56 — Don’t faint. That’s Greg Bryant (1) and Folston (25) working at the same time. That doesn’t mean they’re playing together, but just doing a drill.

1:58Max Redfield (10) certainly looks the part.

2:00 — Don’t just focus on Golson making the throw. Be happy that Malik Zaire (8) is taking the rep right next to him, throwing against air.

2:05Harry Hiestand is ordering around his troops.

2:10 — Folston breaks a run against air defense.

2:13 — Really nice work by KeiVarae Russell (6), breaking up a pass to Chris Brown.

2:16 — Gotta keep your feet, Justin Brent (11).

2:20 — That’s more Chris Brown than we saw all of last year. He makes the catch in front of Cole Luke (3).

2:23Greg Bryant has some nice hands. Let’s see if the Irish can throw the ball to the running back this year.

2:26 — A nice bullet from Golson to Ben Koyack (18).

2:29 — Ditto on the throw from Zaire to Brown, who catches the ball in front of Matthias Farley (41) and Schmidt (38).

2:30 — That’s a very nice job by Zaire making that throw on the run.

2:38 — And Jaylon Smith (9) catches an overthrown ball and takes it back for a touchdown.



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.”