Here’s a frame-by-frame breakdown of Notre Dame’s highlights from Sunday’s practice.
'Rep 1: Malik Zaire hits Nic Weishar
Here’s what happened: While Zaire is the featured player on the rep, Weishar’s catch is probably better than the throw. That’s something we saw on Saturday too, with Weishar looking like Tyler Eifert-light in terms of catch radius. We’re not predicting a Mackey Award, just that Weishar might be ready to be a reliable player within the offense, at least in passing situations. He’s a big target over the middle. It’s a simple throw for Zaire, who was OK during the opening practice and seemed to suffer through some minor leg/ankle pain.
Here’s what’s interesting: Zaire is clearly working with the first team on this rep, with Quenton Nelson and Sam Mustipher up front. While that’s not all that interesting at face value, the players DeShone Kizer work with in the next rep make you wonder how valuable practice reps can be when not with the front line guys. Zaire isn’t working against the starting defensive line, but he is going against the starting back seven as Nyles Morgan, Asmar Bilal and Max Redfield all show. The fact Bilal is running with the starting defense is impressive after his patchy spring.
Rep 2: DeShone Kizer finds Corey Holmes
Here’s what happened: After showing Kizer aligned with former walk-on Josh Anderson for a flash, the action jumps forward to a different play where Kizer is aligned with Tarean Folston. With time to throw, Kizer hits Corey Holmes over the middle and the junior wide out darts through traffic for a sizable gain. Easy throw, easy catch, the kind Holmes can make every time. Where Holmes can still make strides are the competitive catches that he struggles to consistently manage.
Here’s what’s interesting: Am I the only one who watches Brandon Tiassum chase down Corey Holmes and thinks Notre Dame might have a pretty good athlete at defensive tackle? Kizer is working with and against backups here with Trevor Ruhland showing on the offensive line while Julian Okwara, Ade Ogundeji, Micah Dew-Treadway, Jonathan Jones and Tiassum show on defense. Nick Coleman and Shaun Crawford pop up too. Ogundeji still has a long way to go in the weight room before he’s ready for action, but he’s also come a long way from where he was a year ago. Tyler Luatua and Chase Claypool are part of this set on offense. Man, Claypool is a good looking athlete.
Rep 3: Quenton Nelson vs. Elijah Taylor
Here’s what happened: A preseason All-American offensive lineman worked over a defensive tackle who’s never played in a game. Surprise level: zero
Here’s what’s interesting: The word on Nelson is already getting out and will continue to get out this season. While Nelson’s weight has been listed by Notre Dame at 325 pounds, the backstory is Nelson was up to 342 pounds last year, got down to 322 and returned to campus in June at 312. He’s in phenomenal shape.
Rep 4: Cole Luke pass breakup
Here’s what happened: Notre Dame’s only experienced cornerback breaks through the outside shoulder of Miles Boykin to break up a pass from DeShone Kizer.
Here’s what’s interesting: Luke is a veteran and Boykin has never played, so big edge in the dark arts of hand play to Luke, getting into Boykin at the top of the route to help him get back to the ball before the sophomore can. Still, Boykin is 6-foot-4 and thick, so he should be able to muscle out Luke for the ball. That probably comes with experience. Not sure if the ball is on point from Kizer. It’s hard to know when either of the quarterbacks are working with these young wide outs.
Rep 5: Jerry Tillery beats Sam Mustipher
Here’s what happened: Tilley shows some of his unique flexibility to get through Notre Dame’s presumed starting center.
Here’s what’s interesting: This is the Tillery that Notre Dame needs all season, the engaged, athletic, aggressive version. He’s a tough handle when playing that way. And considering the complete lack of depth at three technique where Elijah Taylor is the backup, the Irish can’t survive on anything less.
Rep 6: Drue Tranquill doing drills
Here’s what happened: Not much. Just Tranquill doing position work.
Here’s what’s interesting: Nothing, really. The Irish need a lot from Tranquill this season and he knows it. There’s a natural leadership with Tranquill here and he knows he can deliver something different to the secondary in that department. He talked Saturday about teaching the younger defensive backs the system, which wasn’t something that got done the past two years by players.
Rep 7: Dexter Williams shows speed
Here’s what happened: Williams apparently got over that stomach bug from Saturday that kept him out of most of the practice. The sophomore looked great in the open field here. And we do mean open field. Was there ever a Mike linebacker on this play?
Here’s what’s interesting: This is the starting offensive line against the second-team defense. Mike McGlinchey is terrorizing Jonathan Bonner. Jarron Jones is completely out of the play. Andrew Trumbetti doesn’t get close. Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars flash on the screen. Te’von Coney can’t get to Williams with that angle. Presumably the Mike linebacker was Josh Barajas, but he doesn’t show up on screen. Not sure if he got wiped out by the offensive line or what happened. Regardless, Williams has a massive hole here and takes advantage. This play is more about the line blocking than the back running. Although man does Williams get low on that cut to his right. That’s a beauty.
Rep 8: Isaac Rochell vs. Mike McGlinchey
Here’s what happened: This is good versus good more than any other rep on the reel. It’s hard to imagine the Irish being able to put two better players against one another anywhere else on the roster. Ultimately, Rochell does well by keeping McGlinchey’s hands out of his chest. Note how McGlinchey’s left hand actually ends up around Rochell’s head. That’s a win for Rochell, even if it’s hard to pick out on full speed tape.
Here’s what’s interesting: Rochell is really good. McGlinchey is really good. But the perception is McGlinchey might be the best player on the team, making a win for Rochell notable. So what’s really interesting is just the fact Rochell wins. McGlinchey surely wins this battle plenty too. Basically, this is a match-up you’d watch over and over and over again in practice if you could. Notre Dame uses the phrase “Iron sharpens iron” around the athletic department. This is a good example.
Rep 9: Chase Claypool makes an acrobatic grab
Here’s what happened: Don’t know if that’s Cole Luke or Ashton White in coverage, but Claypool gets behind the cornerback to make a really nice catch while being interfered with. Impressive.
Here’s what’s interesting: Really want to see more of Claypool during camp because Notre Dame might not have an athlete like him. He toyed with the competition in high school back in Canada. Obviously this is a step up. Can he be a major exception as a freshman receiver who contributes?