The departure of defensive end Aaron Lynch cast a fairly large shadow over the Irish football program, just as the Notre Dame coaching staff was opening its doors to over 600 high school coaches. Saturday’s practice was an open look for observers (media included) to see first hand the state of the Irish football team.
With the spring game set for Saturday, and more social-media melodrama happening this morning, it’s been an eventful few months for the Irish, and a full-contact scrimmage was likely just what the doctor ordered.
As they have been all spring, UND.com had the only video footage of the action. Here are some thoughts and observations.
- 0:10 — That’s one understated truck.
- 0:20 — We’ve got some serious hitting coming up, so I’ll do my best to give you guys the breakdown of who is running into who (or is it whom).
- 0:28 — Mike Golic (#57) vs. Kona Schwenke (#96) with Everett Golson dropping the snap before handing the ball off to Theo Riddick. Let’s look past the nightmare of Golson’s dropped snap. That’s impressive work by Schwenke, standing up a fifth-year senior offensive guard.
- 0:32 — Manti Te’o and Chris Watt (#66) have a mighty big collision before George Atkinson (#4) runs through the hole. The defensive staff were very fired up after Te’o’s play, but it sure looked like Watt did everything you’d ask of a lineman.
- 0:40 — That’s Zack Martin (#70) getting the best of Kapron Lewis-Moore (#89). It might be too soon to get really optimistic about Martin, but he’s got the chance to be a big-time, awards-level offensive lineman.
- 0:46 — Ishaq Williams (#11) stood up All-American tight end Tyler Eifert (#80). Running back Tyler Plantz got through the right side of the line, but Ishaq held up well at the point of attack.
- 0:54 — Louis Nix (#9) stood up Matt Hegarty (#77) then slid off the block and made the tackle on Cierre Wood. Nix had members of the Irish fanbase sweating bullets after some late-night tweeting, but all seems to be fine.
- 0:58 — Christian Lombard (#74) against Carlo Calabrese (#44). Well done by Lombard, who is having a really good spring.
- 1:05 — That’s Sheldon Day (#91) against Tate Nichols (#64). Heckuva job by the early-enrolled freshman holding up against a really big right tackle.
- 1:07 — Alex Welch (#82) against Ben Councell (#30). Welch did a nice job driving blocking, but Councell eventually shakes it and shows a nice bit of nastiness by finishing the play.
- 1:16 — Conor Hanratty (#65) handles somebody nicely, as Theo Riddick makes his way through untouched.
- 1:22 — Top collision so far. Justin Utupo (#53) absolutely stands up Bruce Heggie (#51) in the whole and makes a great play on the ball carrier. Don’t sleep on Utupo.
- 1:29 — Stephon Tuitt (#7) reminds Irish fans that things will still be okay at defensive end by dominating the point of attack against Nick Martin (#72).
- 1:35 — Nice job by Ben Koyack (#18) against Danny Spond (#13).
- 1:39 — Walk-on Dennis Mahoney (#71) takes it to sophomore walk-on Kevin Carr (#67) one-on-one.
- 1:44 — Jarrett Grace (#59) does his best to stand up to Chris Watt (#66). Watt did just about the same thing to Te’o, so this isn’t a knock on Grace.
- 1:49 — Good collision between Jordan Prestwood (#79) and Tyler Stockton (#92). Stockton has become a bit of a forgotten man, so hopefully he’s ready when his number is called.
- 1:54 — Jake Golic (#88) against Kendall Moore (#8). Nice play by Moore.
- 2:01 — Nix stands up Golic Jr. in the hole, but Wood still squirts out of trouble.
- 2:07 — Lombard is just too big for Joe Schmidt (#38) who does his best to stand-up in the hole.
- 2:12 — Nice job by KLM standing strong in the hole against Zack Martin.
- 2:15 — Koyack and Anthony Rabasa (#56) meet in the hole, as Koyack drives Rabasa away from the runner.
- 2:44 — This looks just plain crazy. Kickoff gunner work and a massive collision on the first rep. Another gigantic hit by Utupo. (This drill is giving my flashbacks to my days as a gunner in high school football.)
- 3:15 — Good example of why we’ll see Ben Councell on kickoff coverage.
- 3:25 — That Jarrett Grace has himself quite a disposition.
- 3:34 — After nearly getting his clock cleaned by Utupo, cornerback Joe Romano gets his revenge on cornerback Josh Atkinson, who tries to take Romano on high and loses a big collision. Hearty celebration follows. Nobody wants to see guys get cleaned out, but I think it says a ton that Cierre Wood, Manti Te’o, and other starters are just as quick to celebrate the big play of a walk-on, as they are of a scholarship player. Good team atmosphere on display there.
- 3:58 — I’m on the Cam McDaniel bandwagon. I think he’s going to make a difference next year, even if it is in the secondary. He’s just a good football player.
- 4:04 — Looking for offensive evolution? How about that playcall/design by Chuck Martin and Brian Kelly, lifting a play from West Virginia’s playbook, on a quick lateral sweep that absolutely shredded Clemson last season. Fun design, and a lot less dangerous than it looks.
- 4:20 — Cierre Wood looking very decisive as her runs through what looks like the first team defense. Lot of real estate created by Harry Hiestand‘s guys.
- 4:25 — I’ll choose to call this good coverage by McDaniel, but it looked like Riddick had a step on him and Tommy Rees just overthrew it. (Look forward to being shredded for this defense of Rees, too.)
- 4:38 — Live bullets out there, as Anthony Rabasa cleans up Andrew Hendrix in the backfield for a big loss on the keeper.
- 4:47 — The benefit of running backs making plays out of the backfield? That’s Cierre Wood on Kendall Moore in coverage. Good throw by Hendrix and a nice gain on the mismatch.
- 4:55 — Catch by Robby Toma, strip by Cam McDaniel. I’m going to have him fighting Lo Wood for his job by the end of this video.
- 5:02 — Nice stick, Jarrett Grace.
- 5:15 — Shake and bake, Robby Toma, carrying the ball on a nice little end-around. Don’t think we saw that even once last year.
- 5:20 — Keep running Everett. We all want to see that come fall, too.
- 5:37 — Think we heard a (presumably) red-faced Brian Kelly scream “Two Hands!” during that scramble.
- 5:48 — Hi there, Davaris Daniels. I’m guessing we’d all be happy to see more of you in these videos.
- 5:53 — Tommy Rees: Speed Merchant.
- 6:05 — Kona Schwenke making plays in the backfield.
- 6:18 — Gunner Kiel steps up in the pocket and throws a dart into a tight window, with Alex Welch feeling the impact after the catch. Tough to see from this angle, but I’m guessing Gunner held onto it a second too long.
- 6:24 — Daniel Smith making an appearance, too. Slant from Golson goes for nice yardage.
- 6:34 — Theo Riddick definitely has the juke stick working pretty well. Haven’t seen those moves since last season’s EA Sports NCAA football videogame.
- 6:38 — Everett Golson connects with Robby Toma in the corner of the endzone on a beautifully thrown ball. Thumbs up.