A steady drizzle offset a noticeably warmer morning temperature in South Bend to keep Brian Kelly's Irish inside for Wednesday's full-pads practice session.
Watching from the sidelines for the Irish offense was junior wide receiver Corey Robinson (jersey and shorts), an occurrence that allowed sophomore Justin Brent second unit reps during our 30-minute viewing period.
Marching out with quarterback Everett Golson for the first string was junior running back Greg Bryant, notable in that it was the first I've seen Bryant receive first team reps over the last two seasons. It's likewise possible that usual starter Tarean Folston is mildly banged up -- he was in full gear and participation but C.J. Prosise took second-team running back reps in his stead.
No change among the offensive lines from last week:
-- First Group from Left to Right: Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson, Nick Martin, Steve Elmer, and Mike McGlinchey.
They were joined by tight end Tyler Luatua, plus wide receivers Chris Brown and Will Fuller and Amir Carlisle in the slot.
-- Second Group, Left to Right: Hunter Bivin, Alex Bars, Sam Mustipher, John Montelus, and Mark Harrell.
In addition to Prosise at running back, Durham Smythe lined up with the second unit at tight end along with Brent, classmate Corey Holmes, and Torii Hunter, Jr., in the slot. Malik Zaire ran the show.
The omission of Folston was likely to afford Bryant reps with the 1s and Prosise more work overall. Folston was full-go when the team broke into position work. The running backs worked primarly on stretch plays from the zone read in which they're to read the defender (student-manager) and cut inside or continue to the sidelines appropriately.
Luatua's work with the first unit ahead of Smythe is a change from last week's initial practice viewing. I'm curious to see if the former has improved enough in his movement/route running to be a threat in the passing attack. He doesn't have to threaten the seams as much as make himself viable to augment his blocking prowess.
I'm curious to see who the actual No. 2 RT will be because I think Harrell is more of a utility man for this line. (He's worked at both center and guard in previous seasons.) My guess is Alex Bars in the fall.
WORKING IN TANDEM
The final segments of our viewing period included working double teams (3-on-2 drill) in which two offensive linemen, a guard and tackle, went live against an interior defender while a simulataneous one-on-one matchup occured adjacent between either a tight end (usually) or offensive tackle vs. one of the Irish defensive ends/rush ends.
Notable among the reps was left tackle Mike McGlinchey getting his hands on defensive tackle Jay Hayes and controlling him after a previous rep in which Hayes showed well. McGlinchey and Hayes locked up briefly post-whistle after which Hayes gave McGlinchey a shove to which McGlinchey replied with a patronizing tap. (McGlinchey was far less accomodating against LSU's D-Line post-whistle last December -- he seemed to realize he'd already won vs. his teammate.)
Sheldon Day took time to tutor his understudy Hayes a bit thereafter.
Luatua handled both Jhonny Williams and Doug Randolph on alternate reps though Williams helmet seemed to have an isssue, ending his rep pre-whistle. Though these reps occurred 120 yards away from me (binoculars) it's clear Wiliams added weight to his trunk.
Montelus and Harrell faced off against early enrollee Micah Dew-Treadway for a pair of reps, the first of which the rookie won by getting leverage on Montelus' outside (right) shoulder. Though Harrell is also aligned to Montelus' right, the rep is about movement in the zone blocking scheme and Harrell's assignment was to move away from teh penetrating Dew-Treadway.
On the ensuing snap, the offensive line pair buried Dew-Treadway, eliciting a roar from teammates.
Starting right guard Steve Elmer buried Jacob Matuska in the next rep.
Hunter Bivin (LT) and Alex Bars (LG) won vs. Pete Mokwuah inside. Bars seemed too high on the snap but won anyway. (I think I'm alone among staff and colleauges that I like Bars more as a tackle than guard prospect.) Simultaneous, Grant Blankenship and Durham Smythe battled to a bit of a stalemate on the edge, though Blankenship earned outside leverage.
Colin McGovern (G) and Sam Mustipher (center) "lost" a rep to Daniel Cage much to the delight of his D-Line teammates. Cage ended up on the ground but had significant penetration, first.
The highlight (because I enjoy such things) came watching tight ends vs. Isaac Rochell. After "dismissing" (Check the video to be posted shortly) tight end Chase Hounshell following one rep, Rochell got into it with his former position-mate more thereafter. The two locked up in a quality rep and Hounshell kept going through the final echo of the whistle with both exchanging hearty shoves thereafter.
You take what you can get in a 30-minute viewing session. Saturday morning's practice will be open fully to the media.
Notre Dame practiced inside on Wednesday morning with rain falling around South Bend. The workout, the fifth of spring practice, was in full pads and seemed geared toward conditioning during the media viewing portion. In other words, after stretching the media watched the defense do a series of up-downs as defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder directed traffic. We’ll skip the analysis of who got up and down fastest and move on to the few observations worth noting.
Four defensive scholarship players were out of full uniform: Jarrett Grace, Andrew Trumbetti, Matthias Farley, and Jarron Jones. Jones, who had foot surgery last season, did move around during the early part of the practice in stretching lines. The other three players did not. Brian Kelly will address the media after practice, but it appears whatever kept Grace out was not related to his broken leg and recovery during the past year-and-a-half.
In full uniform today were Joe Schmidt and Drue Tranquill. Schmidt didn’t even practice with a helmet the last time we saw him work out (last Wednesday). Schmidt didn’t take contact during media viewing, but he moved through position drills with the rest of the linebackers.
Bob Elliott attended practice on Wednesday morning.
Putting a finer point on some flex players, Doug Randolph worked with the defensive ends and Kolin Hill continued to train with the linebackers. Despite looking like a defensive end, Michael Deeb remains at linebacker.
Sheldon Day appears to be practicing through some lower body pain, a question that will be put to Kelly after practice. Considering how much Day has played over the last three years, it’s a surprise he’s working at all if he’s actually hurting.
The defense showed a flash of its starting lineup in the back seven, unchanged from last week. Starting linebackers: Nyles Morgan, Jaylon Smith and James Onwualu. Starting secondary: Max Redfield, Elijah Shumate, Cole Luke and Devin Butler.
Continue to be impressed by Morgan’s physicality in wrap up drills. Some players dial it back in position drills in late March. Morgan doesn’t downshift that way. Even just wrapping up other linebackers in technique drills, Morgan delivers a blow.
Not that there’s a ton to evaluate when it comes to linebackers working coverage situations, but Te’Von Coney seems to get the basics of his position. Both VanGorder and Mike Elston had praise for Coney as he worked on spacing and fits while reading routes deep to short. Coney also got some advice on how to play against those schemes from Grace. While that observation probably doesn’t have much impact on this season, seeing an early enrollee not stick out in a bad way could be significant.
VanGorder had some good things to say about Coney on Monday.
“He’s jumped in there, he’s competed hard, it’s important to him, he wants to learn,” VanGorder said. “He’s unique. He’s a unique freshman. All three of our freshmen (on defense) are unique. They haven’t felt overwhelmed at all with the situation.”