Fall Camp video: Full pads practice breakdown

25 Comments

We’re still playing catchup from the weekend, but the most recent practice report from our friends at UND.com had some good footage that we thought needed over-analyzing.

Let’s get down to it.

***

0:30 — Speakers must be pumping pretty loud as Jack Nolan has his pipes working at midseason form here in his intro.

0:36 — A good look at Sheldon Day (91) against Conor Hanratty (65). Day’s quickness is apparent, but Hanratty does a nice job of competing during the one-on-one drill.

0:41 — While he hasn’t been talked about much, sophomore Isaac Rochell (90) is taking a ton of second-team reps. He’s going to be a key piece to the puzzle up front, especially if he can play up to the 287 pounds he checked in at for fall camp.

0:46 — This is a great rep for Cody Riggs (2), who gets Will Fuller (7) off his route from the beginning and does a nice job of staying on the legal side of physical before he breaks up the pass.

0:52 — Nice rep by Nick Martin (72) who does a great job holding up against the bulk and power of Jarron Jones (94).

1:01 — Another impressive rep by C.J. Prosise (20), who continues to run with the 2s, but looking really explosive.

1:05 — That’s freshman Jay Hayes (93) doing a nice job against Ronnie Stanley (78), who looks a little wobbly before the snap. It was interesting to hear Brian Kelly’s confidence in Stanley as a left tackle (or at any position) over the weekend, a sign that Kelly expects Stanley to be another very good one.

1:10 — That’s physical coverage by KeiVarae Russell (6) who takes Chris Brown (2) out of his route from almost the start. This type of work will be very beneficial for the Irish receivers when the regular season gets started.

1:15 — Day gets underneath Christian Lombard here, with Lombard doing a good job keeping his hands out of Day’s facemask for an easy penalty.

1:20 — More video of Cam McDaniel split out wide, catching a slant underneath some soft coverage.

1:25 — That’s a promising rep by Rochell, who pushes the pocket and center Nick Martin backwards nicely.

1:30 — Interestingly, that’s Ishaq Williams (11) taking a rep on the inside against Hanratty. Perhaps Williams will shift inside on pass rushing downs, letting a young edge player come in and chase down the quarterback?

1:33 — Corey Robinson just can’t shake cornerback Cole Luke (perhaps still wearing the No. 36 jersey he wore last year when he shared the field with Amir Carlisle.

1:35 — Stanley gets great depth as he takes on Romeo Okwara (45), but the young defensive end does a decent job of recovering and getting absorbed on the initial hit.

1:42 — Austin Collinsworth (28) loses his jock strap on a double move by Prosise, who twists around the safety for a big play. It’s just one rep, but it does nothing to help the knock on Collinsworth’s coverage skills. (I prefer to look at this as a good play by Prosise more than an indictment of Collinsworth).

1:49 — If you want to win the starting tackle job Mike McGlinchey (68), you can’t wear rollerskates. A very impressive rep by Andrew Trumbetti (98) who nullified McGlinchey’s size advantage with quickness and power.

1:55 — Amir Carlisle (3) looks good.

2:01 — So does Fuller, who beats Josh Atkinson (24) on an inside route after getting a clean release. It’s worth noting that Atkinson earned a ton of rave reviews from the local media who saw bits of Saturday’s practice.

2:15 — Another victory of Rochell, this time beating out Hunter Bivin (70).

2: 18 — A good battle between Russell and Brown, with the back-shoulder throw a little low, and Russell’s coverage pretty good. Right now, when the yellow flag is in the pocket of the practice ref, everything looks gravy for the DBs. But come a Saturday with a neutral conference officiating crew? Let’s see how this all shakes out.

2:22 — Another rep where Ishaq is playing inside.

2:26 — Walk-on veteran Connor Cavalaris beats freshman Justin Brent (11) on the inside route, with Brent never getting Cavalaris off his mark. The young freshman needs to push the DB, and Cavalaris looked like he was squatting on the route.

2:33 — An interesting rep between freshman Jon Bonner (55) and guard Colin McGovern (62). I’m starting to think McGovern is a really good football player, and I’m already convinced that’s the case with Bonner.

2:39 — Nice craftsmanship by Brown, getting separation from Nick Watkins (19) and making the catch for a touchdown. Leverage lost by Watkins after a good start.

2:43 — Heckuva toss by DeShone Kizer (14), floating a touchdown pass over the top of coverage to Prosise. Matthias Farley tries to pick a spot and get to the ball, but Kizer made a great throw.

2:51 — 11-on-11 reps start, with Everett Golson working the play-fake before trying to connect with Fuller. A very good breakup by Cody Riggs. Looks like a snap from the pistol. Also like the way that Joe Schmidt (38) and John Turner (31) are flying to the ball.

3:00 — A big hole opens up for Tarean Folston (25), who bursts through the second-string defense. Nice work on the zone read by Malik Zaire. The fake froze Michael Deeb (42) in the slop, and allowed the big run.

3:05 — Great job on the mesh by Golson, who rides the handoff with Greg Bryant until Ishaq commits to Golson. That gives Bryant the chance to get around the edge, and from there he blows around the corner, picking up about 15 explosive yards against the No. 1 defense.

3:15 — That’s another big play by Bryant, who starts off the right side, bounces it back to avoid a few tackles, and ends up with a 20+ yard carry against the No. 1 defense. It looked like half-a-dozen defenders had a chance at Bryant, but he cut on a dime and made a big play at the second level.

3:25 — Nice pitch and catch between Golson and Brown, who had one-on-one coverage on the outside hash against Cole Luke. Brown made Luke miss and made Max Redfield (10) had to come over and clean up.

3:36 — Pretty much the typical Cam McDaniel run. Not much there, but McDaniel shows patience before falling forward for a modest gain. Nice backside work for Ishaq and Collinsworth, who comes crashing down in the box.

3:40 — It wasn’t pretty, but Bryant fights his way into the end zone. That’s Tyler Luatua (13) motioning into the backfield, given the not-so-fun assignment of blocking Jaylon Smith. He gets just enough of Smith to help spring Bryant.

 

 

 

Notre Dame adds another 2019 commitment out of Georgia

rivals.com
3 Comments

Eight months from now, Notre Dame may be forced to sign a smaller recruiting class than usual thanks to the larger class this past recruiting cycle. If that expectation does indeed hold, this past week’s five commitments, including consensus three-star safety Kyle Hamilton’s (Marist High School; Atlanta) on Tuesday evening, will be a hefty portion of the class.

Hamilton becomes the second safety in the class, and in the week, following the Saturday pledge of rivals.com four-star Litchfield Ajavon (Episcopal H.S.; Alexandria, Va.). Hamilton’s list of finalists included Michigan, Georgia, Ohio State and Clemson, a grouping more telling than perhaps his recruiting ranking is.

Some of that expected potential may derive from Hamilton’s 6-foot-3 frame. Such length at safety would be a change for the Irish, currently without a safety taller than six-feet in the rotation. Even heralded incoming-freshman Derrik Allen, also out of Georgia, is listed at only 6-foot-1.

It is a coincidence those two Georgia recruits, one signed and one now verbally-committed, are both safeties. Add in the January commitment of rivals.com three-star cornerback K.J. Wallace (Lovett; Atlanta), and a third defensive back comes from the state, along with class of 2018 signees tight end Tommy Tremble and running back C’Bo Flemister. Five prospects from Georgia, presuming both Hamilton and Wallace do indeed sign with Notre Dame, is not a coincidence.

“My point being is that it’s such a fertile ground in recruiting, you just need to be in [Georgia], and there’s great football players in there,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in December 2017, during the inaugural early signing period. “We’ve got so many players that we can talk about that came of there. It’s just having a presence and getting back into a very, very good recruiting area for us. We need to have a great presence there.”

No matter what state Hamilton comes from, he could find himself quickly in the mix at safety upon his arrival. Presuming health for the current safety depth chart, juniors Jalen Elliott and Devin Studstill will have one year of eligibility remaining apiece upon Hamilton’s enrollment. Junior Alohi Gilman will have two, thanks to spending the 2017 season sidelined following his transfer from Navy. Early-enrolled freshman Griffith and Allen will both have three more years, presuming both play in 2018.

Thus, Hamilton and Ajavon could find themselves backing up that last duo as soon as 2020.

Blue-Gold Game Leftovers: Notre Dame’s offensive ceiling is tantalizing, though also unlikely

Associated Press
21 Comments

Immediately following the 2017 spring game, I walked by two much smarter, savvier and more veteran Notre Dame reporters on our way to post-game interviews. Our two minutes of exchange included them riffing on various hypothetical position changes that were eventually not seen come fall, including how much better of a guard than a tackle Tommy Kraemer could be. It should be noted, the junior began lining up at guard this spring.

My contribution to the conversation hinged entirely on repeating, “That offense just isn’t ready. It’s not close to ready.”

Of course, that assessment figured the spring game struggles were against a porous Irish defense, something freshly-arrived and since-departed defensive coordinator Mike Elko had already taken tangible steps toward fixing, far quicker than expected.

That evaluation also failed to recognize the potential of a running attack led by Josh Adams. Notre Dame knew it had a stalwart running back, and did not need to see more than eight carries for 39 yards and a touchdown from the lead back.

The point stood, though. The offense was not ready then or in November.

Driving away from this past Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game, the thought bouncing around my pickup’s two-seat cab was simple: This offense is unlikely to reach its ceiling, but if it did, it would be really, absurdly high-powered.

This time, that assessment offers some deference to first-year defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s ability to turn nine returning starters into another strong defense, perhaps superior to last year’s.

The praise of the offense must be hedged thanks to IF after IF after IF after IF. If senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush displays those mechanics and that accuracy against opposing defenses …
If senior running back Dexter Williams (pictured above) decides it is worthwhile to play, and play well, through pain …
If junior receiver Chase Claypool maintains the necessary emotional equilibrium …
If senior tight end Alizé Mack offers a consistent performance, even if not stellar, but stable …

In those four upperclassmen alone, the Irish have unique talents whom opposing defensive coordinators should lose sleep thinking about. They will determine how high this offense’s ceiling is, while the likes of senior receiver Miles Boykin, junior running back Tony Jones and sophomore tight end Cole Kmet will set the floor, along with what looks to be yet another overpowering offensive line (with Kraemer at right guard).

Obviously, the most-promising players always set the height of a vaulted the ceiling. As they perform against Michigan, Stanford and Virginia Tech will determine how the season ends. However, to pinpoint four like this is an extreme end of the spectrum.

Exiting last year’s Blue-Gold Game, it was clear Wimbush needed to learn much more of offensive coordinator Chip Long’s scheme. Aside from that, the only possible ways to increase the offense’s potency was to teach receiver Kevin Stepherson self-discipline and figure out why Mack could not make a gameday impact. The rest was essentially known, even if the running game’s potential was overlooked after the spring exhibition.

Entering this summer, the gap between the offense’s floor and its ceiling is a vast one. To have four question marks of this magnitude speaks to the possible volatility awaiting in the fall. Logically speaking, it is most likely two of the four above IFs become realities. In that case, it will be a good offense, but not the utterly threatening one conceivable. The odds are slim all four come to fruition, but crazier things have happened, especially when discussing the rapid development of 18- to 21-year-olds.

Without Adams following two All-American offensive linemen, this rendition of the Notre Dame offense may take a step backward, but the talent is there for it to actually improve, to carry the day if/when an experienced quarterback picks apart the defense (see: the Seminoles’ Deondre Francois).

That could not be said in 2017.

OTHER QUICK TAKEAWAYS FROM THE BLUE-GOLD GAME:
Much of this will be discussed in greater length in the coming two weeks, but …
— The interior of the offensive line — fifth-year left guard Alex Bars, fifth-year center Sam Mustipher and Kraemer at right guard — is quite a physically-imposing trio. Some defensive ends may find success against first-year starter and junior left tackle Liam Eichenberg, especially early in the season, but the inside trio should at least create massive holes for the Irish running game.

— Ideally Long can deploy Mack and Kmet together, but the spring performance of the latter certainly eases the concerns about the maturation and consistency of the former.

Notre Dame may need an unexpected influx of production from senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery if the fifth-year tackle he is intended to line up alongside, Jonathan Bonner, does not recover fully from a wrist injury suffered in the beginning of 2017. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

— Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly insists fifth-year defensive tackle Jonathan Bonner’s fitness will not be overly-effected by the wrist injury that kept him out of most of spring practice and all of the Blue-Gold Game.

“He’s been doing everything (in weight-lifting) but at lighter weight, and now he’s only a couple of weeks away from being full-go,” Kelly said Saturday. “He was already physically really gifted, so we don’t think that’s going to be a big curve for him, and he’ll be able to start training aggressively when we get back here in June.”

Consider this scribe skeptical. Not only is Kelly often overly-optimistic about injury effects and timetables, but to think missing six months of strength and conditioning will not be noticeable along the defensive interior is idealistic at best. Bonner’s 2017 emergence was a direct result of the arrival of strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Balis.

Without more of that work, the Irish will need to turn to sophomore Kurt Hinish for an increase in snaps, perhaps pushing toward 50 per game with Bonner offering 20-30 and senior Micah Dew-Treadway filling in the balance. Hinish appears to be up to the task, which is necessary, because classmate Darnell Ewell is not.

Notre Dame gains commitments of four-star defensive end and three-star offensive tackle

rivals.com
Leave a comment

At this rate, Notre Dame might fill its 2019 recruiting class by the time the school year ends. With a Sunday morning commitment of a consensus four-star defensive end followed by a Monday evening pledge from a consensus three-star offensive tackle, the Irish class has grown from three recruits to seven in just four days.

The No. 238 prospect in the country and No. 28 at defensive end, per rivals.com, Howard Cross III (St. Joseph High School; Montvale, N.J.) announced his commitment via Twitter shortly after leaving campus from a visit for the Blue-Gold Game, choosing the Irish over offers from Michigan, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech, among others.

“I could tell [current Notre Dame players] really loved the school,” Cross said to Blue & Gold Illustrated. “It was really, really big to talk to them. When I was going to all the colleges, that was the main thing I wanted to do. I wanted to get the perspective of the players.”

Cross joins consensus four-star defensive end Hunter Spears (Sachse H.S.; Texas) as half of the four defensive linemen already in the Irish recruiting class. As always, no collegiate defensive line can be deep enough. Considering the previous two recruiting classes have yielded a total of two defensive ends — Kofi Wardlow and Justin Ademilola — opportunity should be aplenty for Cross and Spears early in their careers.

The defensive end duo will likely spend a not-insignificant portion of their collegiate career practices butting heads with Andrew Kristofic (Pine-Richland; Gibsonia, Pa.). If the high school of Pine-Richland jumps off the figurative page to Notre Dame recruitniks, that is because Kristofic has much experience protecting high school teammate and incoming Irish freshman quarterback Phil Jurkovec.

He chose Notre Dame, and new offensive line coach Jeff Quinn, rather than offers from a lengthy list including Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State.

“The combination that their school is able to provide being one of the very best schools in the entire country academically and one of the very athletically stands out,” Kristofic said to Blue & Gold Illustrated. “I think they have the best combination of those two things on top of being a school that is known for being able to produce such great offensive linemen is something that no other schools really have the combination of all those.

“When you can put together all the things that they can there, it’s certainly not something you can overlook or take for granted.”

The beginning of this influx of commitments came with the Friday decision of consensus four-star offensive tackle John Olmstead (St. Joseph; Metuchen, N.J.), the only other offensive lineman in the class to this point. Of the seven recruits committed to the Irish, five are four-star talents.

Former Notre Dame defensive lineman, Kona Schwenke, dies at 25

und.com
7 Comments

Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Kona Schwenke, 25, reportedly died in his sleep Sunday morning. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Schwenke spent four seasons along the Irish defensive front, culminating in a 23-tackle senior season, in 2013. Attrition along the defensive line in his first two seasons forced Schwenke into playing time, costing him a likely fifth-year with much greater production. He played in 31 games total, making 30 tackles.

Part of a Hawaiian surge in Notre Dame recruiting, Schwenke joined the likes of receiver Robby Toma and linebacker Manti Te’o in coming from the island in 2009 and 2010. The first two committed during Charlie Weis’ tenure, but Schwenke made the leap at the very beginning of Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s career, one of the first recruits to commit to Kelly at Notre Dame. Since then, sophomore defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa has renewed the trend.

Schwenke graduated in 2014 with a degree in anthropology. He then signed with the practice squad of the Kansas City Chiefs, moving around four different NFL franchises chasing his dream. Earlier this month he took part in a scouting event, The Spring League, gaining some notice when he forced Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel into a fumble.

Former Irish teammates took to social media Sunday afternoon celebrating Schwenke’s life and friendship.