I’ve heard from a few people that they actually missed my UND.com practice video breakdowns. So let’s fire up the YouTube machine and over-analyze what’s going on being closed doors at Notre Dame’s practice!
As usual, here is a time-coded, cheatsheet that’ll get you through an interesting practice report.
0:10 — It just feels like Finals Week after listening to Jack Nolan‘s tone of voice inside Loftus. Nolan reminds us that football is only a portion of life for Notre Dame student-athletes, especially this time of year.
0:34 — Brian Kelly and interim offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock talk things over. I still expect the interim tag to be removed from his name after the bowl, with Kelly potentially hiring a quarterback coach.
Right now, it’s Kelly coaching the quarterbacks, a natural transition for the head coach, especially working with freshman Malik Zaire.
0:40 — That’s sophomore Ronnie Stanley getting the opportunity to breakdown the team. A good bit of leadership for a young player that’s had a really impressive (and below the radar) season this year.
0:54 — Lefty Malik Zaire slings an out pattern to running back Greg Bryant, who is looking healthy after battling a knee injury for much of the season.
(It’s also worth noticing the new green cleats several members of the Irish are breaking in. Might that be a hint at the uniform coming for the Pinstripe Bowl?)
0:59 — Freshman Devin Butler does a nice job breaking up a pass headed for DaVaris Daniels. Butler had an impressive debut season as well.
1:05 — I’m at a loss as to what kind of drill this might be, but it looks like the Irish are working on special teams blocking and coverage, as Bryant is working as a return man.
It looks like Romeo Okwara might have lost contain there.
1:09 — Tommy Rees goes deep to Chris Brown, who gets a step on Bennett Jackson and connects for a big gainer. That’s Max Redfield (#10) working with a secondary that includes Austin Collinsworth, so this might be evidence that Redfield is getting his shot to run with the 1s.
1:16 — Yikes. Redfield reaches for Ben Koyack, missing the tight end. Koyack gets behind Redfield and connects on the pass.
(For the doomsday folks out there: This is a drill. Not the end of the world or an indictment on Redfield’s talent.)
1:24 — Andrew Hendrix hits freshman tight end Mike Heuerman (#9) on a wheel route up the sideline. Is this the last completion we see from Hendrix in a Notre Dame uniform? There’s talk of Hendrix playing out his eligibility with another program, though it hasn’t been decided yet.
1:34 — Freshman Rashad Kinlaw (#36) jams converted DB/WR Josh Atkinson at the line before letting Atkinson get inside him for a catch on a slant route.
1:43 — Rees goes bombs away again, this time connecting with Daniels over the top of Butler, a big gainer. Against one of the worst statistical passing defenses in college football, the Irish will likely try and stretch the field in Yankee Stadium, if the weather allows it.
1:55 — Slot receiver CJ Prosise gets separation from KeiVarae Russell, making a nice catch.
2:00 — For Irish fans wondering if Amir Carlisle has changed to defense, fear not. That’s Cole Luke wearing his #3 jersey in practice, which he swaps out for #36 in games because of special teams duties.
Luke makes a nice tackle on Will Fuller.
2:06 — Good tackle by Joe Schmidt, running down the screen pass.
2:15 — Kelly talks about getting a chance to scrimmage and tackle during bowl prep, while expressing regret that he didn’t do that during the long layoff before the BCS Championship game.
From the sound of it, nobody got hurt, so that’s a plus.
2:28 — Corey Robinson posts up and makes a catch on a Rees pass.
2:35 — If you’re looking for a reason why Chris Brown maybe didn’t make the forward progress some people expected, this pass route could be Exhibit A. This advanced pattern just doesn’t feel natural for the speedster, and Bennett Jackson was with him step for step.
2:43 — That’s George Atkinson split out wide making the catch against the No. 1 defense.
3:15 — Looks like another carry for Greg Bryant.
3:57 — A very nice catch by Troy Niklas in traffic.
4:20 — It sounds like the focus will soon turn to Rutgers, with the Irish getting a few bonus two-hour practices after finals to prepare for the Scarlet Knights.