New York Jets Portrait Session

Spring Practice: Practice six breakdown

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After a few quiet days from our friends at UND.com (wonder if they were at home eating cheeseburgers), we had a video explosion yesterday afternoon. So without further ado, let’s get to the over-analysis!

A few things to keep your eyes out for:

  • A great weather breakdown from Jack Nolan.
  • Everett Golson throwing with — and without! — the seams.
  • Comments from Brian VanGorder and Mike Denbrock
  • Some new defensive drills.

Check back in later today for some additional thoughts on Denbrock’s comments from yesterday, but until then let’s start breaking it down and chopping it up.

0:08 — Vintage start by Jack Nolan. And another dusting of snow in South Bend? That can’t make too many people happy. As we look forward to the spring game in a few short weeks, Notre Dame’s sports blogger Aaron Horvath tweeted out a photo of the field, which is still a natural grass surface.

Get the spray paint out. A late spring in South Bend can’t make people too happy.

0:15 — Everett Golson makes that throw without the laces. That doesn’t mean he’s reverted back to the habit of just grabbing the football and throwing it, but rather that it was a quick throw with a zero step drop. When I spoke with George Whitfield a few months back, his tutelage of Golson included throwing with the seams when there’s time and adapting when there isn’t.

0:19 — A nice route by Corey Robinson (88) who catches a ball that was delivered on the money. That’s Max Redfield coming up in skeleton to close in coverage.

0:24 — We get a look at Brian VanGorder (BVG) here, looking the part of a QB. From an apples to apples comparison, VanGorder looks better as a fictional QB than former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco did, though Bob had the presence of a 1940s style whirling dervish, which was always fun.

0:28 — And there’s our look at Mike Denbrock. One of the more interesting subplots with the transition to Denbrock’s leadership will be his organizational skills directing the offense. No, he’s not calling plays. But he’s got a lot of responsibility as the unit leader while continuing to coach the wideouts.

0:39 — By the look on the faces of the reporters, Denbrock must’ve just gotten done telling a joke.

1:11 — VanGorder brings up an interesting point in that he only watched the Irish film to evaluate personnel, not to understand the scheme and assignments.

If you want a datapoint that tells an awful lot about Brian Kelly, it’s that he’s willing to bring in a coordinator with a very different philosophy on defense and let him install his system, rather than forcing him to fit what Kelly has done successfully for four seasons.

“No matter what you do, you need to succeed,” VanGorder tells Nolan. “We’ll be different, but the expectations will be the same.”

2:14 — Golson throwing with the seams. Crisis averted.

2:20 — Joe Schmidt, Notre Dame’s starting middle linebacker? Man — I’m honestly excited for the 400 features we see on him next year. The New Rudy!!! (Except good at football!)

2:23 — This is an interesting new drill, and I like the addition of the ball to simulate keeping blockers off the feet. Well executed by Jaylon Smith, who might just be the best looking player in an Irish uniform since Justin Tuck.

2:30 — After BVG gives some instruction, we see John Turner (31) go through the drill. He’s a pretty thick kid. What an interesting transition he’ll have. Physically he looks the part, it’ll be up to his instincts and ability once the game is real.

2:35 — Chris Brown (2) takes a rep.

2:38 — Lefty Malik Zaire (8) polishes a pretty nice throwing stroke. It’s certainly not the quickest motion in the world, but he spins it pretty well.

2:44 — James Onwualu (17) looks good on the fly as well. He goes downhill quickly until he’s at BVG in a position drill.

2:47 — Perfect pass beats good coverage. Will Fuller (7) makes a slick adjustment on a perfectly thrown ball that Cole Luke (3) can’t stop. After freeze-framing things, the pass was thrown by Golson.

2:52 — Greg Bryant streaks down the field vertically and beats a linebacker in coverage. That play happening on the actual field would make a lot of Irish fans very, very happy.

I like the comparison of Bryant to Theo Riddick, only a supercharged athlete and more physically dominant.

2:58 — Sheldon Day (91) applies pressure in the pass rush. It looks like he’s overpowering Steve Elmer (79), knocking him back to the quarterback. (Won’t be the first or last time Day does that this year.)

3:00 — Jaylon Smith flows with traffic before making the stop on Tarean Folston (25).

3:02 — That’s Justin Utupo (53) making Conor Hanratty (65) look silly with a nice pass rush move. Utupo is one of those guys that might be an under-the-radar performer, especially in a one-gap, up-field system. He’s looking like a player with a chance to be a productive fifth year guy.

3:06 — The more we see of Amir Carlisle (3), the better he looks in space. His running style makes him look a little bit like a mini-Michael Floyd, especially wearing No. 3. He beats Max Redfield on a shallow out cut, making a nice catch on a low throw.

3:10 — A battle for tomorrow: Jacob Matuska (89) goes up against Hunter Bivin (70) in a spirited rep.

3:15 — Nice pattern and catch by Tarean Folston, in front of Nicky Baratti (29).

3:19 — Jarron Jones (94) overpowers Mark Harrell (75) one-on-one.

3:23 — Here’s Carlisle creating separation from Matthias Farley (41).

3:29 — Colin McGovern (62) gets the better of Romeo Okwara (45). We haven’t seen much of him, but McGovern’s done a nice job in the limited snaps we’ve seen on UND.com footage.

3:32 — Durham Smythe (80) gets open. He’s another young player that looks good on tape.

3:35 — Speaking of young players that look good on tape, we see Greg Bryant and Malik Zaire, Tarean Folston and Zaire slash up field on consecutive snaps. Get ready for your 2016 Fighting Irish.

3:40 — Chris Brown looks like he’s still got sprinter speed in the open field. Would be good to unleash him in 2014.

Notre Dame gets 10 invites to NFL Scouting Combine

2013 NFL Combine
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Notre Dame will send ten former players to the NFL Scouting Combine. The annual event in Indianapolis serves as the unofficial apex of draft season, a meat-market where the best professional prospects are poked, prodded, questioned and tested in a variety of on- and off-field drills.

Heading to the festivities from Notre Dame are:

Chris Brown, WR
Sheldon Day, DT
Will Fuller, WR
Nick Martin, C
Romeo Okwara, DE
C.J. Prosise, RB
KeiVarae Russell, CB
Elijah Shumate, S
Jaylon Smith, OLB
Ronnie Stanley, OT

For a prospect like Smith, it’ll be teams first opportunity to talk to the elite prospect and check his progress medically as he returns from a Fiesta Bowl knee injury. Russell will also be a non-participant in physical drills, waiting until Notre Dame’s Pro Day to go through testing.

Invites to Chris Brown, Romeo Okwara and Elijah Shumate are crucial in finding their way into the draft, as the three former Irish starters participated in the Shrine Bowl, where scouts had an early look at them. Likewise, Nick Martin and Sheldon Day continue their ascent, both coming off strong Senior Bowl weeks.

For Irish fans, it’ll be fun to watch early-enrollees Fuller and Prosise test. Both are expected to be some of the fastest players at their position. Brown may also have the ability to surprise teams, with his track background and leaping ability capable of earning him an extended look. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley will look to impress as well, hoping to check out as one of the draft’s most impressive athletes at offensive tackle.

Ohio State led all schools with 14 invites. National Champion Alabama had nine former players invited.

 

WR Corey Robinson named Notre Dame student body president

Notre Dame v Florida State
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On Wednesday, wide receiver Corey Robinson added another impressive title to his resume as a student-athlete at Notre Dame: Student Body President.

The junior, paired with classmate Becca Blais as his vice presidential running mate, won a majority of the votes cast by his fellow students, a runaway winner with 59.4% of the votes, nearly triple the next highest vote getter.

Robinson posted the following on Twitter, thankful for the opportunity to serve his fellow students:

Robinson’s time at Notre Dame has been filled with accomplishments both on and off the field. He was named an Academic All-American as a sophomore. He’s a six-time Dean’s List member in the prestigious Program of Liberal Studies and is also pursuing a sustainability minor. He’s won the team’s Rockne Student-Athlete Award as well.

That’s quite a bit on the plate of Notre Dame’s lone senior wide receiver. But as you might expect, Robinson is well prepared for the next challenge ahead.

“I’ve planned ahead, gotten all of my hard work out of the way this semester, and I’m finishing up my senior thesis,” Robinson told The Observer. “I’m doing all the hard stuff now so in the fall and the spring, I just have to take two classes pretty much.”

Robinson’s other contributions as a student-athlete at Notre Dame include One Shirt one Body, an opportunity for college athletes to donate their athletic apparel to local communities. Robinson has presented the plan to the ACC as well as the NCAA, earning immediate support from both organizations.

 

Mailbag: Now Open (scheduling input requested)

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JUNE 01:  Actors Mike Myers (L) and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth from "Wayne's World" onstage during the 17th annual MTV Movie Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre on June 1, 2008 in Universal City, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Okay folks, we’ve had enough semi-positive encouragement to keep the video mailbag going for another week. With that said, I’ll need some reader participation to keep this thing rolling on.

As always, submit your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold. You can also ask your questions live via Facebook. You’ll need to LIKE THIS PAGE first, and then at the appropriate time, head on over to watch and participate.

To that point, let’s pick a time that works for everyone. Right now, here are the options that work at Inside the Irish HQ.  Weigh in and the best time wins. (How’s that for a democracy?)

***

 

Restocking the roster: Offensive Line

Notre Dame offensive line
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When Notre Dame takes the field this spring, there’ll be two very large holes in the offensive line that need filling. All-American left tackle Ronnie Stanley is gone. As is captain Nick Martin at center. Both three-year starters leave Harry Hiestand with some big decisions to make in the coming months as the Irish look to fill those key positions and still field a unit with the ability to dominate in the trenches.

The Irish have had incredible stability at left tackle, with Stanley sliding in seamlessly after four seasons of Zack Martin. Perhaps the best six-year run in the program’s storied history at the position, Stanley will likely join Martin as a first-rounder, back-to-back starters at a key spot that often dictates the play of one of the most important units on the field.

Replacing Nick Martin could prove equally tricky. Rising junior Sam Mustipher served as Martin’s backup in 2015, filing in capably for Martin after an ankle sprain took him off the field briefly against UMass. But Mustipher will face a challenge this spring from rising sophomore Tristen Hoge, the first true center recruited by Hiestand and Brian Kelly since they arrived in South Bend.

Kelly talked about 2017 being a big cycle on the recruiting trail for restocking the offensive line. You can see why when you look at the depth, particularly at tackle. Let’s look at the work that’s been done the previous two classes as Notre Dame continues to be one of the premier programs recruiting in the trenches.

 

DEPARTURES
Ronnie Stanley
, Sr. (39 starts)
Nick Martin, Grad Student (37 starts)

2015-16 ADDITIONS
Tristen Hoge
, C
Trevor Ruhland
, G
Jerry Tillery
, T
Parker Boudreaux
, G
Tommy Kraemer
, T
Liam Eichenberg
, T

PRE-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Hunter Bivin, T
Quenton Nelson, LG
Sam Mustipher, C
Steve Elmer, RG
Mike McGlinchey, RT

Alex Bars*, T
Colin McGovern*, G/T
Mark Harrell*, C/G
Tristen Hoge*, C
John Montelus*, G
Jimmy Byrne*, G
Trevor Ruhland*, G

*Has an additional year of eligibility remaining. 

ANALYSIS:
It’ll be a fascinating spring up front for the offensive line. We’ll get our first look at potential replacements and see if the Irish staff values a veteran presence (as it has done in the past) or puts former blue-chip recruits in position to become multi-year starters.

For now, I’m putting last season’s backups in line to ascend to starting spots. That’s not to say I think that’s what’ll happen. Hunter Bivin may have been Stanley’s backup last season, but as long as Alex Bars is fully recovered from his broken ankle, I think he’s the best bet to step into that job. Sharing reps at guard—not a natural spot for Bars to begin with—was more about getting him some experience, with the aim to move him into the lineup in 2016. That allows Bivin to be a key swing reserve, capable of playing on either the right or left side.

At center, the decision is less clear cut—especially since we’ve yet to see Tristen Hoge play a snap of football. Size and strength is a genuine concern at the point of attack for Hoge, not necessarily the biggest guy hitting campus. But it sounds like he’s had a nice first season from a developmental standpoint, and if he’s a true technician at the position, he could be a rare four-year starter at center if he’s able to pull ahead of Mustipher this spring.

On paper, the other three starting jobs don’t seem to be in question. Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey are ready to step to the forefront. Concerns about Steve Elmer’s buy-in will certainly be answered by spring, there’s little chance he’ll be on the field in March if he’s not going to be around in August. I’m of the mind that Elmer’s too good of a character guy to leave the program, even if his life doesn’t revolve around football 24/7. Now it’s time for him to clean up some of the flaws in his game, the only starter from last season who held back the Irish from being a truly elite group.

Depth isn’t necessarily a concern, but there isn’t a ton of it at tackle. That happens when you move a guy like Jerry Tillery to defensive line and lose a player like Stanley with a year of eligibility remaining. That could force the Irish to cross-train someone like Colin McGovern, a veteran who can swing inside or out if needed. McGovern seems to be a guy who would start in a lot of other programs, but has struggled to crack a two-deep that’s now filled with former blue-chip recruits, all of them essentially handpicked by Hiestand and Kelly.