Saturday’s practice was already a victory with the Irish getting two big recruiting commitments along the offensive line. But with the team in full pads for the first time this spring, it also gave us a chance to take a look at the physicality of the team, with the UND.com practice video giving us a whole lot of action between the linemen.
This is about as in-depth of a breakdown as you can possibly get from seven-plus minutes of footage, but it should give you a crib sheet of what’s happening, almost down to the collision. There’s plenty to like, especially watching the young depth along the offensive line come together, and players like Jarrett Grace and Ishaq Williams come along.
- 0:30 — Meteorologist Jack Nolan gives us the state of South Bend weather. If this is global warming, sign me up.
- 0:39 — Mike Golic vs. Kona Schwenke. Golic wins early, Kona eventually overpowers him.
- 0:44 — Tate Nichols vs. Aaron Lynch. Very impressive work by Nichols.
- 1:07 — Prince Shembo breaks the team down to get practice started. Take a quick look on the right and you’ll see Tony Springmann in shorts and a hat. He’s a big dude, and that red hair is mighty impressive.
- 1:20 — Matthias Farley vs. Chris Salvi. Impressive work by the converted safety. Looks very physical.
- 1:26 — Cam McDaniel vs. Josh Atkinson. Wasn’t a pillow fight, but tough to give Atkinson the victory when he engaged low.
- 1:33 — Robby Toma vs. Austin Collinsworth. You didn’t expect Toma to win, but nice work by Collinsworth.
- 1:38 — Daniel Smith vs. Jamoris Slaughter. Nice work by Smith, who drove Slaughter backwards.
- 1:43 — Luke Massa vs. Zeke Motta. Nicely done by Massa. I’m starting to like that kid.
- 1:49 — Jalen Brown vs. Bennett Jackson. Slight edge to Brown, who looks impressive size wise and a legit six-foot-one, 200-pounds, something I wasn’t sure of before this.
- 1:58 — John Goodman vs. Danny McCarthy. Even draw between the two fifth-year seniors. And apparently a mediocre one, because Kelly made them go twice.
- 2:13 — TJ Jones vs. Lo Wood. Nice pop.
- 2:20 — Toma vs. Collinsworth — Round two goes to Austin.
- 2:28 — McDaniel vs. J. Atkinson. Give this one to Cam.
- 2:30 — Farley vs. Salvi. Another W for Farley.
- 2:35 — Nichols vs. Lynch. Big collision, but still leans Nichols way.
- 2:43 — Golic vs. Schwenke. Another W for Kona.
- 2:50 — Now we move onto the “rodeo” drill portion, which is basically one-on-one OL vs. Defender, with a running back having to go through the hole.
- 2:51 — Louis Nix, mans game. Stands Golic up in the hole and makes a nice play on Cierre Wood
- 2:55 — Chris Watt and Manti Te’o have a monster collision, with Te’o shaking off the block and making the play on George Atkinson. Not sure it was a victory by Te’o, but everybody was hopping around celebrating, so let’s go with it.
- 3:04 — Tyler Eifert vs. Prince Shembo, and Shembo won the battle at the line of scrimmage, standing Eifert up in the hole and making the play on the back. Nicely done.
- 3:12 — Our first Harry Hiestand appearance, who is very vocal about Matt Hegarty‘s performance against Kona. Not a great collision, as Schwenke tried to knife through the line.
- 3:16 — Carlo Calabrese vs. Christian Lombard. Nice work by Lombard, who swallowed up the linebacker one on one.
- 3:20 — After losing head up, Lynch got the better of Nichols in this drill, working off the block and swallowing up the running back.
- 3:27 — Ben Koyack vs. Danny Spond. Nicely done by the junior outside linebacker, who looked physical while overpowering Koyack.
- 3:33 — Conor Hanratty getting into the mix, doing a nice job on Tyler Stockton as Cierre Wood scoots through the hole.
- 3:40 — Bruce Heggie does a good job powering into linebacker Dan Fox, but Fox makes a great play on Atkinson, and tackles the running back nicely, to the approval of Te’o and Bob Diaco.
- 3:46 — Nick Martin does a nice job on newcomer Sheldon Day, who looks an awful lot like Emeka Nwankwo with the dreads out the back of his helmet. Robby Toma will some nice scoot through the hole at running back, showing the versatility of the hybrid position.
- 3:52 — Tight end Alex Welch takes on linebacker Ishaq Williams, who makes a pretty impressive play on the ball carrier, who goes flying. Nicely done by the new No. 11.
- 4:02 — Freshman linebacker Jarrett Grace does a great job taking on walk-on lineman Matt Tansey and then makes an impressive play on the running back. Nicely done. Very nicely done.
- 4:12 — That’s Jordan Prestwood doing a nice job on Stephon Tuitt one-on-one, before Tuitt makes the tackle.
- 4:15 — Jake Golic does a nice job on linebacker Anthony Rabasa, driving him out of the play.
- 4:22 — Louis Nix does a great job standing Mike Golic up in the hole, but Everett Golson manages to tip-toe his way around him.
- 4:31 — Nicely done, Carlo Calabrese. He stands up guard Chris Watt and makes a nice tackle on the ball carrier.
- 4:37 — Want proof that Zack Martin is the real deal? Here you go. He handles Aaron Lynch easily. (Is there a third Martin brother? If so, I hope Notre Dame has already offered him.)
- 4:44 — Baptism by fire for Troy Niklas, who stands up Prince Shembo in the hole, with Shembo winning the battle at the point of attack. Shembo did the same thing to Tyler Eifert to put things in perspective. Scott Booker is there to immediately coach Niklas up.
- 4:52 — Another nice snap by Christian Lombard, who takes on Kendall Moore and puts him on rollerskates.
- 5:02 — Kapron Lewis-Moore looks fully healthy, shaking off Tate Nichols and making the tackle.
- 5:07 — Another impressive rep by Ishaq Williams, who drives a tight end back and makes an impressive tackle. Perhaps the lightswitch has gone on for the youngster?
- 5:17 — The video breaks into coverage routes now, with one-on-one routes being run and thrown. Robby Toma makes a nice adjustment to Gunner Kiel‘s throw and makes the catch on Jamoris Slaughter.
- 5:25 — You see why the coaching staff is so excited about Bennett Jackson. Early in his backpedal, Jackson stumbles, which allows John Goodman to get a step on him, but Jackson recovers, looks to actually locate the ball, and makes a play on a poorly thrown football. He’s certainly raw, but that’s a tough play athletically and he looked good recovering.
- 5:37 — Ben Koyack just outsizes safety Chris Salvi, who can’t defend six-foot-five very well.
- 5:48 — It’s Jackson vs. Goodman again for two snaps. Jackson is all over him on an out cut, but lets Goodman beat him long on a nicely thrown ball. Savvy veteran move by Goodman on the push off, but the ref in attendance didn’t call it. (No word on what conference affiliation this ref has.)
- 5:55 — Good deep ball by Golson, who just misses a streaking wide out long, with nice coverage by Jackson.
- 6:02 — More Jackson. This time defending Eifert on the go route with Rees throwing it a little inside and long. Credit Bennett for boxing Eifert out and keeping leverage. Tommy also needs to throw that ball outside and high.
- 6:10 — TJ Jones beats Lo Wood for a big play down the field. Nicely thrown by Rees. Is it just me or is this more deep throws in a two-minute highlight clip than we saw all last season? (Bravo if that’s on you, Chuck Martin…)
- 6:16 — Prince Shembo breaks on a pass to Troy Niklas. Nice play by Prince, but TEs need to make that catch.
- 6:23 — Andrew Hendrix delivering a strike on a dig route to Eifert between Josh Atkinson and Zeke Motta. Nice throw and catch.
- 6:38 — One missed deep ball and one connection by Rees, both to TJ Jones. Wood was in nice position and so was Jackson, but TJ went over the top of Bennett for the play.
- 6:50 — Nice throw by Everett Golson, putting the ball up for John Goodman to make a play. For those of you wondering, Goodman has always been a really impressive practice player. Will be interesting to see that happens on Saturdays this coming season.
- 7:04 — That’s Chuck Martin giving a loud, “That’s it, Gunner!” to his rookie quarterback, who throws a nice out to a TE Alex Welch.
- 7:15 — Another practice video, another long run for Theo Riddick, who bounces outside for a big gainer against the reserve defense, using his stiffarm to run away from Josh Atkinson.
- 7:25 — Boot pass from Golson to Niklas, with Troy doing a nice job in the open field avoiding tacklers. (Sign me up for about two dozen of these next year…)
- 7:35 — Thankfully practice video ends, as my eyeballs were about to bleed.
It’s interesting that we saw mostly deep throws from Tommy Rees. While most people are down on the rising junior, if he can throw a more accurate deep ball, this offense would be just fine. Last year, defenses knew the Irish weren’t a risk to go over the top, and as the year went on, more teams dropped seven and eight guys into coverage, making it awfully hard to find space in the defense without going over the top.
It would’ve been nice to see Davaris Daniels get some work in the video, but Kelly said after practice that Daniels suffered a minor leg injury and should be back at work Wednesday.