Practice Report: Defense

Our first of a trio of practice reports from today's two-hour session open to the media.

Special Assistant

Spend 15 minutes at a Notre Dame practice and it's apparent Irish head coach Brian Kelly has added more than one new defensive coach to his 2014 staff.

Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will direct Kelly's fifth-edition Irish defense and former program standout Kyle McCarthy appears entrusted to tutor the team's safeties. A first-year graduate assistant, McCarthy's presence and instruction has already proven invaluable, allowing Kerry Cooks to work with the team's cornerbacks and Bob Elliott the linebackers as VanGorder roams the defensive practice field.

Said Kelly of McCarthy prior to the spring session: "He's a guy that not only played here at Notre Dame and got a chance to play in the NFL, but when I interviewed him, he's a guy that can stand on his own two feet in front of a room. He can coach. He's labeled as graduate assistant but we feel he's a guy that can really go back there and coach at a high level.

"We feel we're really strong with the addition of McCarthy on our staff as well. Gives us a lot of flexibility with coach Elliott down with the linebackers."

Those safeties today included the usual pairing of Austin Collinsworth and Max Redfield with the first unit while Nicky Baratti worked into the rotation alongside Eilar Hardy in reserve. Baratti delivered a form tackle during the team's late-practice scrimmage, lowering his shoulder on Amir Carlisle after the former caught a deep in-route in traffic. The hit suggested Baratti is fully cleared and confident his twice-repaired shoulder has heeled.

Asked today about Redfield, Kelly offered, "He's getting better each day. A better grasp each day. He's got a ways to go there, there's no question. But crazy, crazy, crazy athleticism. He can make a mistake and get himself out of it.

"His knowledge base (entering spring) was zero in terms of what we're asking him to do."

Scrimmage Observations: Defense

Sophomore Jaylon Smith appeared alongside Joe Schmidt as an inside linebacker on 1st and 10. John Turner lined up outside (rush linebacker) with a base front four of Ishaq Williams, Jarron Jones, Sheldon Day, and --- early enrollee Andrew Trumbetti.

Cole Luke and Keivarae Russell again worked as the No. 1 CB tandem.

Asked about Trumbetti's presence with the first unit, Kelly offered, "He's got a great motor. He has pretty good football instincts, and he's got opportunity. If we had a little more depth at that position, we probably wouldn't be talking about him.

"He's physically mature enough to go in there and mix it up but I'd tap the breaks on Andrew Trumbetti. He's a young kid. Generally what happens, that catches up with him. He's done really well, but it's a lot for him. He's shown really well though."

Trumbetti gave good chase (across scrimmage) against a rolling Everett Golson who was forced to thus throw the ball away. Trumbetti came from the left side of the line to the right sideline.

-- Sophomore defensive end Isaac Rochell made one of the top hits of the day, drilling Greg Bryant in the backfield for lost yardage. (Zaire should have kept the read option opportunity).

-- Durham Smythe made a tough catch in traffic despite a huge hit from Michael Deeb.

-- Rashad Kinlaw can run, he made up some ground on Zaire (who is definitively faster than Golson, though I'm not sure who's "quicker") when Zaire kept a read-option over the left side.

-- Right tackle Mike McGlinchey took Trumbetti for a nine-yard ride downfield on a pitch to Tarean Folston. Folston was stopped in the backfield by a horse-collar tackle (and throw) from Jarron Jones.

McGlinchey might have been exacting a measure of revenge for Trumbetti caving him in during an 11-on-11 (tag-off) scrimmage on Wednesday.

Jones also broke up a third-down pass during the scrimmage.

-- Defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks corrected Cole Luke's alignment, noting, "Know where your help is coming from when the ball is on the (near) hash!"

-- The second unit sub package showed the following: Anthony Rabasa (rush linebacker), Chase Hounshell (DE), Jacob Matuska (NG), Isaac Rochell (DE). Joe Schmidt and James Onwualu as inside 'backers. Jalen Brown and and Josh Atkinson at CB with Nicky Baratti and Eilar Hardy as safeties. Matthias Farley and Cole Luke rotated as the nickel (slot) CB.

As noted in our message board practice snippets (linked above), Onwualu worked exclusively with the linebackers.

We never saw the first unit sub package in the 20-minute scrimmage, but assume Farley is the nickel with Luke as a true cornerback as shown previously.

Note: I'll have more notes from Saturday's open practice Sunday and in a forthcoming podcast. Look for Anna Hickey's offensive observations later today. Top Stories