Ten Takeaways

O'Malley turns to an old standby, a 10-point list, for the first of many observation columns regarding Saturday's two-hour open practice inside the Loftus Sports Center.

Notre Dame has spent 11 of its 12 spring practices to date inside due to unseasonably cold temperatures in South Bend. Saturday morning, the entire session was made available to the media's gaze.

Here's a recap from the 50-yard line of Meyo Field:

#1 Statement of the Day

Stealing the show at running back was junior Cam McDaniel, who offered nothing spectacular, but found a way to churn for gains of six yards (all leg drive after contact), 12 yards (power and a low base through the heart of the first team defense), and finally a drive-capping touchdown in today's end-practice scrimmage.

McDaniel isn't the team's most explosive back. He's not the quickest, the best pass-catcher, the most elusive, and he might not be the strongest. But he possesses bits of every skill necessary to be a quality running back for Notre Dame.

#2 -- George Atkinson can take a hit

First, sophomore Elijah Shumate cleaned up the junior runner on the sidelines, this after a 12-yard gain on a swing pass to the right side. With Matthias Farley wrapping Atkinson's feet, it was Shumate who came in for a vicious blow on the sidelines, no more than 8 feet away from my feet.

Shumate later drilled Atkinson on a stretch run to the right, though it was a false step that caused Atkinson to buckle that aided Shumate's tackle in space. Later in the scrimmage, just one snap after the first string defense gave up a full-field touchdown pass, senior nose guard Louis Nix blew through the line and engulfed and slammed Atkinson to the turf, effectively ending his day.

(Atkinson appears fine, but Kelly noticed the repeated beating and removed him for the final minutes.)

#3 -- Golson's flick of the wrist

The points belonged to C.J. Prosise, but it was junior quarterback Everett Golson's sprint to the sidelines and last millisecond throw to a cutting Prosise just inside the right hash that broke down the Irish secondary. With Farley falling at his feet, Prosise collected the pass, cut inside, and out-raced cornerback Keivarae Russell the final 60 yards for the score.

Golson is the only quarterback capable of such a play Under the Dome since Jarious Jackson in the late 90s.

#4 -- Robinson Can Go Get It

He might not catch 10 passes this year. He might not catch five (Chris Brown didn't). In fact, he might not see the field, but early enrollee wide receiver Corey Robinson is a pass-catching machine. The downfield star of our brief practice viewings to date, Robinson again registered the day's best reception, this time a diving, juggling, one-handed 35-yarder down the right sidelines past junior Josh Atkinson. (Robinson earned some time with trainer Rob Hunt and a wrap on his arm as a result, returning later to scrimmage.)

Some day, Irish fans will see such pass-catching prowess from the 6'5" fluid weapon on Saturdays.

#5 -- Koyack, Seek and Secure

Asked last week to evaluate his weakness as a first-time regular last season, junior tight end Ben Koyack immediately noted: "Blocking in space."

Saturday Koyack found starting Dog 'backer Danny Spond near the right hash, engaged the physical defender, and shoved him toward the sidelines before depositing him out of the play on Atkinson's aforementioned swing pass that netted 12 yards.

With Troy Niklas, Alex Welch, and Koyack, Notre Dame could have three quality veteran tight ends ready for 2013.

#6 -- Kona Schwenke

It was often second string vs. second string, but senior backup Kona Schwenke was a force inside during scrimmage and 11-vs.-11 tag-off work. Schwenke forced a fumble by WIll Mahone, made three stops at or near the line of scrimmage, and appeared in my notes four times in what couldn't have been more than 12 total snaps.

That's exactly what the Irish need from their No. 2 nose behind Nix.

#7 -- Ishaq Explosion

The hit of the day belonged to either SHumate (Atkinson) or Nix (Atkinson), but Ishaq Williams' in-space annihilation of WIll Mahone on a shovel pass to the left side can't be overlooked. Mahone had no chance because early enrollee freshman Mike Heuerman either missed a check from the quarterback (Tommy Rees) or simply couldn't get to Williams in time.

Most of us only saw the end result: a massive #11 exploding through Mahone before he had a chance to make a football move in space.

#8 -- Ailing in April

Senior linebacker Dan Fox (shoulder), senior cornerback Bennett Jackson (shoulder), senior cornerback Lo Wood (Achilles), junior RB/Slot Amir Carlisle, and sophomore safety Nicky Baratti (shoulder) are three two-deep/starting candidates that won't/shouldn't appear in next Saturday's spring game.

Expect Kelly to error on the side of caution with Wood (the others are definitely out) and evaluate the quintet for their respective jobs over the summer and in August camp.

Just eight months removed from ACL surgery, expect senior tight end Alex Welch to play at least briefly next weekend. Sophomore wide receiver Chris Brown (hamstring) took part in today's scrimmage. I wouldn't be surprised if he's cleared, though time on the sidelines seems more valuable than a few meaningless snaps in a game that means nothing by the time summer conditioning begins.

#9 -- Daniels: As good as he wants to be…

A leaping, one-handed grab with his left arm barred by the defender.

A leaping, juggling, "I-have-no-idea-how-he-caught-that touchdown secured just prior to slamming to the turf.

Three pass interference penalties drawn during the scrimmage (one made irrelevant because he caught the contested pass anyway).

Junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels ranks as Notre Dame's top (future) NFL prospect on the offensive side of scrimmage. But he's not the top college wide receiver, in fact, at this point he's noticeably behind polished senior T.J. Jones.

But that doesn't have to be the case by September, October, or November 2013.

#10 -- Old Reliable(s)

There aren't many certainties in the Irish offense but you can take the following to the bank: T.J. Jones, Zack Martin, and Everett Golson will begin, and end 2013, as three of the four most reliable players on the offensive side off scrimmage.

Daniels is the obvious candidate to fill out that quartet, with Troy Niklas, Chris Watt, Amir Carlisle, George Atkinson and a host of others showing the promise to that end.

But one takeaway from Notre Dame's spring session 2013, despite all reports of players on the rise or their vast potential and variable performance ceilings is this: Jones, Martin, and Golson are three commodities you can take to the bank.

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