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Spring Practice: Practice 11 breakdown

Apr 4, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

Notre Dame v Air Force Getty Images

A little Friday practice video gives us a good look at the rapidly improving wide receiver depth chart. After relying almost solely on TJ Jones last season, it looks like the Irish are going to be able to spread the field and pick their poison in the passing game.

Will Fuller looks ready to take a step forward. So does Corey Robinson, who just keeps getting better and better, with hands that look like Velcro. Amir Carlisle and CJ Prosise are intriuging options in the slot, while Chris Brown is another good option on the edge, a player that’ll have to fight for reps when DaVaris Daniels returns to the program.

The move of Onwualu likely confirms the confidence the Irish have in the players out wide. And while they’ll need to fill a really large vacancy left behind by Jones, the team’s MVP last season, it looks like they’ll be able to do it.



0:15Jack Nolan sporting a nice zip up for his intro. Just as important, he reveals that the Irish did indeed get outside for two practices last week. For a team committed to fixing their special teams, it’s likely that both outdoor sessions gave Kyle Brindza and the return men (could that be a potential band name?) a chance at getting some much needed live work in.

Jack gives us the bad news that we’re out of practice reports, so we’re going to be blind until next weekend’s Blue-Gold game.

0:34 — A nice reminder: Set your DVR for Monday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET for a special “Strong and True,” an inside look at spring practice on the NBC Sports Network.

0:46 — Welcome back, Nick Martin. The Irish’s starting center broke down the team for drills on Friday, wearing a helmet and jersey, but not in full gear. Multiple practice reports had Martin running the No. 1 offense when the team went to tempo drills, a nice sign that the rising senior is back and healthy after late season knee surgery.

1:03 — We see the Irish pass rush drills work on stripping the football, with tackling dummies armed with footballs. It’s noteworthy that defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs are all doing the tackling.

1:12 — That’s a good look at Everett Golson‘s fastball, as we go right over his shoulder as he throws a bullet to Corey Robinson on the curl route. Malik Zaire follows it up with a perfect ball to Greg Bryant, who releases late out of the backfield and crosses the imaginary linebackers.

1:19 — A cool drill to enforce staying low has Anthony Rabasa (56) matching up against tight end Durham Smythe (80) in blocking drills.

1:24 — Welcome back, Devin Butler. The rising sophomore cornerback was working out with the Irish in helmet and jersey. Butler took to social media to express his pleasure in getting back on the field three months removed from surgery, something that I’m sure made Brian Kelly happy.

1:28 — After watching (and rewatching) these videos all spring, there’s a distinctly different look to CJ Prosise than the other receivers on this roster. Physically, Prosise is a gigantic guy, with a lower body that looks like it should be on a linebacker.

He does a nice job running a speed out, though juggles the ball before coming up with it.

1:32 — Golson fires downfield to Corey Robinson and Cole Luke is up to the task, breaking up a vertical route.

1:36 — Now THAT’S the Amir Carlisle I thought the Irish were getting. The slot receiver looks mighty dangerous in the open field, cutting back against the grain against the reserve Irish secondary and getting loose.

Carlisle is a high character, highly skilled athlete. He might not be a true tailback, but there’s room in this offense for his skill set, especially as the Irish transition back to a speed/spread attack.

1:44 — If we were making Steve Elmer highlights this spring, not too many reps would take place against Sheldon Day. Day gets inside Elmer’s length and powers the guard back, all but dominating another rep.

Day could catch a lot of teams by surprise next season, wreaking havoc on the inside of the offensive line as he’s allowed to attack up field.

1:46 — Welcome to the party, James Onwualu (17). The converted wide receiver steps into the hole and lays a good stick on Greg Bryant, joined in the backfield by Michael Deeb.

1:48Mike Heuerman (9) breaks an out route off right in front of Elijah Shumate (22). Then Amir Carlisle does the same in front of Eilar Hardy.

1:53 — Good rep by Chase Hounshell (50), who works against Mike McGlinchey before being passed inside to Conor Hanratty. If you’re an Irish fan, you should be rooting for Hounshell, who has had horrendous luck as he’s had to work his way back from multiple shoulder surgeries that have kept him off the field for the better part of three seasons.

1:56 — McGlinchey kicks Ishaq Williams outside, easily deflecting the Irish’s defensive end.

1:57Chris Brown (2) hits the brakes and shakes off Connor Cavalaris before ripping down field on the deep route. You’re going to need some good protection to hit on that throw, but it’s a home run shot that Irish fans have been looking for from Brown since he did it against Oklahoma.

2:04 — On the roll, Zaire throws a perfect deep ball to Will Fuller (7) down the sidelines, connecting for a big play against the back-ups in the secondary.

2:07 — That rush of air you just heard? That was Ben Koyack (18) blowing by Nicky Baratti (29). If Koyack is given the chance to match up with a safety down field, Kelly and Mike Denbrock will like that opportunity.

2:10 — Speaking of open field, getting the ball to Greg Bryant down field might not be safe for Irish fans battling high blood pressure. Bryant eliminates space between him and Eilar Hardy, breaking off his route as Hardy bails out and makes an easy catch.

I’m having a hard time wondering how a defense can defend that play, and think (or hope) this could finally be the year where we see the Irish offense utilize their speed out of the backfield in the passing game.

2:16 — Not hard to see the difference between Cam McDaniel and Bryant. Matthias Farley stays in his backpedal before breaking nicely on the ball, making a great play for an interception.

2:22 — Robinson hits the brakes and makes a nice catch in front of Jalen Brown (21). The senior cornerback could see the field more with Rashad Kinlaw’s dismissal.

2:27Romeo Okwara drops the BOOM! on Hunter Bivin (70). It’s still really weird seeing anybody else wearing Zack Martin’s number, especially in a collision like that.

That’s an impressive rep by Okwara.

2:31 — That’s the Playstation 3 version of Greg Bryant. Wait, that’s the REAL version of Greg Bryant. Great cut and ability to accelerate and get up field. That one looked like it could’ve gone the distance.

2:34 — He might not have all the size in the world, but Justin Utupo (53) is a disruptive player. He might be able to do some damage on the interior of the defensive line, especially taking limited snaps.

2:37 — That’s a lot of power on display by Jarron Jones, pushing Mark Harrell back into the imaginary quarterback.

2:40Isaac Rochell (90) gets underneath John Montelus (60) and pushes the big guard backwards. That’s a solid rep by Rochell, who could play a lot of football this season.

2:43 — Great catch, Chris Brown.

2:46Tarean Folston (25) shakes and bakes Max Redfield (10) split out wide. Folston looks pretty natural split wide as well.

2:50 — One of our first looks at Andrew Trumbetti (98), going up against starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Not bad, kid.

2:56 — Zaire connects with Brown behind linebacker Michael Deeb and beneath the safeties. A nice downfield gain for the offense.

3:00 — Another look at Colin McGovern (62) another good looking rep. He loses his balance a little late against Anthony Rabasa, but recovers nicely.

3:03 — That’s a pattern we haven’t seen too often by Will Fuller. From the looks of it, Josh Atkinson hadn’t either. Nice move to shake open for the easy catch.

3:07 — That’s more like it, Steve Elmer.

3:12 — Even a jersey grab can’t help Jalen Brown against Corey Robinson, who makes a ridiculous circus catch for a big gainer.

Big Bird is going to be a good one.





  1. rossumnminor - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    Keith, since about the last year, what’s the story with jacks teeth?

  2. mediocrebob - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Amir and Bryant getting loose in the open field looks nice.

  3. mtflsmitty - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    I can’t get over how good Greg Bryant looks. The fact BK references his power is amazing considering how silky smooth he looks in space. I gained a ton of respect for ol’ 33 last season. But if he gets more than 25% of the touches I’ll be shocked.

    Before #1 and #25 are through, they will be the most prolific RB tandem in college football.

  4. onward2victory - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    This is the fastest Notre Dame offense I’ve seen since the blogosphere began tracking the Irish.

  5. 25kgold - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:19 AM


    Will we be able to stream the spring game online this year?

  6. ndfaithful - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    I think you have to like the weapons on display this spring. With Amir, Bryant, Folston, Robinson, Koyack, and two dynamic quarterbacks, I think the offense will be difficult to stop this year. If the Oline holds up, there’s no reason BK should struggle on offense.

    I really think the most important unit this season will be the Dline. If they hold their own, I think we could be in the playoffs at the end of the year.

    • ndfenian - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      I agree on the d-line being the most important unit on the team. Biggest question mark. We don’t have a returning pass rusher or run stopper. Jarron Jones MUST be good.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        this is going to be one of those years where these kids just get some much better as the year goes on. at least, I hope it’s one of those years. I don’t think the ceiling on several of those guys is even known at this point. jarron jones, okwara, rochell, even day. sure, we’ve seen them before, but not a whole season of work to really evaluate how good they can be. the most we saw from day was as a true freshman. I think he sets the tone for these guys this year and becomes the voice of leadership on the defense.

  7. fnc111 - Apr 5, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Definitely a lot of talent on this team. Same can be said for about 50 other programs around the country. ND is becoming consistent at least. 8 wins is very likely. Can they make it 10 or 11? The difference between 8-4 and 11-1 will come down to a matter of a few plays this season.

    • bearcatirishfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      Who are you are you and where’s fnc? Is he locked in a closet and you high jacked his computer. Not used to seeing this much optimism with your screen name.

      • c4evr - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        It’s all about the kids at this point. No doubt, the raw potential is there, so it’s hard to find any negatives. It’s Spring… enthusiasm and optimism fill the air – in other words, it’s NDfaithful’s favorite time of year. It’s only when development and coaching strategy is questionable that the dissenters become vocal.

    • onward2victory - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Are you saying that Coach Kelly might actually be doing a good job with the program?!??

  8. fnc111 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    I’m always Fair and Balanced :)

  9. irishdog80 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    We are faster, but the videos always looked a little speeded up for effect…is that true?

    Prosise is a freak athlete with a solid combination of speed and power. He is fast, but not George Atkinson fast. That said, I would love to see him in the slot matched up against a smaller secondary.

  10. cajunirish - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Just a thought, but from the last two video releases it seems to me that Zaire looks a lot sharper than Golson.

  11. cpfirish - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    And Zaire is not snappier than Golson that’s for. The job is golson’s he will get us back to the promise land

    • 1historian - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      Thumbs down on that. In 2012 EG was the starter but when it got tight more than once TR came in to take care of business. Golson has tons of talent but he hasn’t shown me that he is THE MAN when the excrement hits the air circulator.

      • bernhtp - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Golson was pretty solid, sometimes brilliant, after mid season. Tommy filled in during earlier games.

        Overall stats and performance are far less meaningful that what he did at the end for a rookie QB. Golson got better as the season went on and had one of the few good performances in the championship game.

  12. cpfirish - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    He is the man. He was a freshman! I don’t think Zaire is ready yet. Golson will light it up this year especially with folston and Bryant in the backfield.

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