Here’s a frame-by-frame look at Notre Dame’s practice highlights from Tuesday.
Rep 1: Equanimeous St. Brown catch
Here’s what happened: Equanimeous St. Brown beats Julian Love at the line of scrimmage and crushes the freshman cornerback while playing the ball in the air. This isn’t a great pass from DeShone Kizer unless the underthrow was by design. It’s more a huge win by St. Brown by letting Love run himself too far down the field. St. Brown turns what could have been a contested catch into an easy grab. Love has lost contact with his man at the point of reception.
Here’s what’s interesting: You’ve probably heard that Notre Dame needs a young receiver to step up after losing the entire lineup from last year. As much hype as St. Brown gets (including here) he’s yet to do much in open practices. This snap, even against a rookie cornerback, looks like a smooth veteran’s play. This is the kind of flash that should excite the coaching staff. Could St. Brown have a Will Fuller-type sophomore season? A Corey Robinson sophomore year would probably be fine. He’s got that in him.
Rep: 2: Andrew Trumbetti pass rush
Here’s what happened: Andrew Trumbetti works his pass rush moves against Alex Bars. The junior defensive end gets the edge on his classmate, although Bars recovers enough to ride Trumbetti out of the “play.” The Irish are working one-on-one matchups here, so this isn’t happening in an 11-on-11 setting.
Here’s what’s interesting: Trumbetti wins at the point of attack and stops Bars from getting his hands into his chest. That’s good strength, speed and strategy from Trumbetti, who will play a ton this year even if Jay Hayes does take this starting job. Trumbetti doesn’t have elite pass rush ability, but if he’s made gains in his rush moves perhaps there’s a handful of quarterback takedowns to be made by the New Jersey product. The Irish would love a double-digit sack player. Trumbetti isn’t it. But there’s a motor here for a half-dozen sacks if things break right.
Rep 3: Torii Hunter Jr. dismisses Cole Luke
Here’s what happened: Torii Hunter Jr. just worked over Cole Luke, discarding the cornerback out of the frame before waiting for DeShone Kizer’s pass. By the time Luke can recover, Hunter is sprinting down he sideline. Not sure what got into Hunter here, but this isn’t the kind of physicality we’re used to seeing from the senior wide out.
Here’s what’s interesting: Maybe I wasn’t watching Hunter enough last weekend in the opening practice, but I didn’t see a lot of Alpha Receiver moments. But this was one. Luke is a good college cornerback. Hunter tossed him aside like it was nothing. And it’s not like Luke wasn’t trying to get a grip on Hunter’s shoulder pads. Love to see receivers who can make something out of nothing by getting physical. Could be the difference between a first down and a punt this fall.
Rep 4: Malik Zaire drill work
Here’s what happened: Not much, just Malik Zaire tossing a ball into a net. The Irish use this net during position work most practices.
Here’s what’s interesting: Nothing. Any legitimate college starting quarterback is regularly hitting the target here. That includes Zaire and DeShone Kizer.
Rep 5: Mark Harrell stones Jarron Jones
Here’s what happened: Jarron Jones tries to power his classmate Mark Harrell straight backward and doesn’t get very far on the fifth-year senior. Brian Kelly was high on Harrell’s utility last week, believing he could help at all five positions. Harrell was a surprise fifth-year invite considering how little he’s played to date, but Kelly’s stance is the right one. Fifth-year offensive linemen who can help at multiple positions are always welcome back.
Here’s what’s interesting: Should a career reserve be stopping a defensive tackle who Notre Dame needs to be one of the roster’s better players? Probably not. Credit Harrell for really dominating this rep, though. Jones gets off balance, Harrell does not. Jones can’t his hands working, Harrell does. This is a clean win for Harrell over a player who looked like the best player on the field at Florida State two years ago.
Rep 6: C.J Sanders gets open on Shaun Crawford
Here’s what happened: With Malik Zaire working behind the starting offensive line (and rolling right), he hits C.J. Sanders along the sideline in front of Shaun Crawford. Short gain, first down. In a lot of ways the significance of the pass is Zaire getting it there while rolling right. It’s not his strength as a left-handed quarterback, but being reliable on these throws will get Brian Kelly’s attention.
Here’s what’s interesting: Daelin Hayes sighting! Daelin Hayes sighting! Forget everything else about this play, the most interesting part is the freshman defensive end tracking tight end Durham Smythe across the formation. Considering this is an 11-on-11 rep, maybe we’re getting an answer of how long it took for the other Hayes to play himself up to the second team (at worst). Like to see Max Redfield blitzing off the edge. Greer Martini is working with Nyles Morgan here. Is he in for James Onwualu? Is Notre Dame in nickel? Hard to tell, but Andrew Trumbetti and Hayes in at the same time suggests yes.
Rep 7: Tony Jones Jr. run
Here’s what happened: Not much. It’s just Jones running in a straight line in 11-on-11.
Here’s what’s interesting: What defensive set would have James Onwualu on the field with Jalen Elliott and Jonathan Jones? Probably the third-team nickel based on what we saw last weekend. Onwualu is the third nickel right now. Safe to say you’ll never see this lineup combination in an actual game. Tommy Kraemer pops up in the background in what’s probably the second-team offense considering Nic Weishar is out there.
Rep 8: Chase Claypool catch
Here’s what happened: DeShone Kizer gets a perfect pocket and makes a perfect throw over the middle. Tommy Kraemer and Trevor Ruhland are part of that protection. Tony Jones Jr. leaks out at the end into the flat uncovered. Kizer has options all over the field against this freshman-heavy defensive set that includes Julian Okwara.
Here’s what’s interesting: Man, what a throw by Kizer, dropping this pass over two second-level defenders while leading Claypool away from cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and in front of safety D.J. Morgan. Odd to see Kizer working with all these freshmen, opposed to Brandon Wimbush, but maybe this is a sign of the coaching staff giving a more aggressive audition to the young skill players. Pride has no shot at defending this one, not with Claypool’s body and Kizer’s accuracy. Te’von Coney got absolutely roasted by Nic Weishar here based on the linebacker’s, “Oh, crap” turn and run to keep up the tight end.
Rep 9: Shaun Crawford pass breakup
Here’s what happened: Malik Zaire is behind on a throw over the middle to C.J. Sanders and Shaun Crawford gets a hand on the ball to break it up. If Zaire was a little more accurate and this was a game situation, safety Drue Tranquill would have drilled Sanders in the back. Basically, Sanders wasn’t that open and the throw wasn’t that sharp. Zaire is working with the first-team offense and against the starting defense. Based on the wide shot it doesn’t look like anything was open, with Nyles Morgan and Te’von Coney in good coverage.
Here’s what’s interesting: Did Quenton Nelson block Jerry Tillery into Lake Maxinkuckee? This is one hell of a pocket. I mean, seriously. Tristen Hoge is working as the first-team right guard, which is interesting. Coney is running as the starting Will linebacker, also interesting. The staff wouldn’t be rotating if they didn’t think those jobs had multiple candidates. But man, what pass protection here. The closest pass rusher is five yards away at the point of Zaire’s release. Cool to see Corey Robinson chatting up Chase Claypool in the background.