Practice Reports 8/10

The Notre Dame football team practiced outdoors on Friday at Cartier Field. It was a hot day in South Bend. The team was in full pads for the first time of fall camp. Here are some observations:

OFFENSE (by Colin Burns)

*A scout from the Washington Redskins (Steve Wiltfong's favorite NFL team) was spotted.

*The players were going through stretches very business-like. A trainer was overheard saying, "You have to be flexible to be quick."

*For the second straight day, AD Kevin White and Charlie Weis, Jr. were at practice.

*Head coach Charlie Weis was watching the offensive line for a good five minutes before heading over to the quarterbacks. Paul Duncan and Michael Turkovich displayed quick feet during bag drills.

*The quarterbacks did not throw the football today. That makes it 1-for-5 this week. Tomorrow's practice is open to the media and the public at Notre Dame Stadium from 9 AM to 11:30 AM. The signal callers almost have to toss it a few times.

*Bernie Parmalee was running with his tight ends over to their spot on the practice field after bag drills, imploring his group to run, not talk. Parmalee is always talking with his tight ends about plays and responsibilties during stretching and getting the best out of each guy.

*The freshmen wide receivers were struggling with a drill today. It's the one where there are three players and they jump and roll over each other. It was kind of amusing to watch them struggle with it because it's the first time I've seen the WR's do this drill. Rob Ianello made them do it over and on the second time they were much better.

*The running backs were going through a gauntlet machine today. RB coach Michael Haywood told James Aldridge to explode through the padded cones. Travis Thomas was hitting the gauntlet with his usual high intensity. It's fun to watch Asaph Schwapp and Luke Schmidt go through it because both these fullbacks just run right through it with no problems.

DEFENSE (by Steve Wiltfong)

As the defensive players were stretching, defensive coordinator Corwin Brown was patting players on the helmet and handing out a few fives, getting the guys ready for practice. You can tell through interviews with the players and how Brown interacts with them on the field that the new coordinator is well liked. He doesn't appear to ever raise his voice when coaching, and knows how to get his point across in one sentence.

Following stretching the defense ran over to the North Practice field. Zbikowski normally leads them over but he got caught behind. Ambrose Wooden could be heard yelling Zibby at the top of his lungs, and finally shooting through the middle came No. 9 ready to lead them through agility drills.

I went with the outside linebackers to get a good look at Brown coaching. They were engaging with the sled and then clearing it in preparation of tackling ball carriers. Brown was real pleased with John Ryan in this drill and mentioned to Kerry Neal that he is getting better. After this drill, the defensive linemen were charging balls in the air making interceptions. Morrice Richardson dropped his, so Brown threw him another one.

On the other side of the field, the defensive line was hitting the big sled that has multiple stations. "Stay low, pump, keep rocking," defensive line coach Jappy Oliver yelled.

The inside linebackers were hammering the sled. Brown said that Toryan Smith plays with a lot of power, and there was no denying it the way he hits the sled. Steve Paskorz, as I've said before physically fits the bill, and he puts a hurtin on that sled as well.

The defensive backs were doing their normal zone coverage drills. They also were shuffling side to side envisioning a quarterback looking from side-to-side in front of them.

MIKE FRANK'S REPORT

It's getting harder and hard to observe the same thing over and over and come up with something interesting to say, but here goes.

I took a look at Zibby as someone said he is thinner. I'd agree. Probably 15 pounds thinner if I had to guess. He looks like he did as a sophomore. Big enough (they list him at 210, but he looks a little lighter). Anyway, he is in great shape and looks primed for a great year.

I also took a look at Morrice Richardson. He's a thick kid. By far one of the biggest linebackers, but he's not overly muscular, which tells me he'll get a lot bigger. He can easily get to 240-250 without losing any athletic ability. He moved pretty well through the bags and showed good power today on the sled.

The linebackers were all hitting/lifting the sled like you would taking on a block and then using a rip motion after lifting the sled to get off a block.

Anthony Vernaglia is showing some increased strength as he was throwing the sled around pretty well. He also looks to be almost 240.

I watched Kerry Neal and I noticed he is quite a bit smaller than Morrice Richardson. He's still a big kid for a freshman linebacker, but he is at least 10 pounds lighter than Morrice. Neal also struggled a tad with the strength to push up the sled. He certainly shows athletic ability, but I'm not sure if he'll be strong enough to play a lot this year. We'll have to see.

On the flipside, I was surprised at how big both Aaron Nagel and Steve Paskorz are. I didn't expect them to look that big. Both look very similar in size. They're listed at 215, but they look at least 225. Both looked to easily weigh as much as Maurice Crum. Nagel had the slightly bigger lower body. Both seemed to handle the sled OK for freshmen. I think both will have to wait their turn, but they won't have to wait 2-3 years to get the size needed to play. They should both be ready physically next season.

The defensive backs were once again working on their backpedal. They all showed me pretty much what I'd seen in the previous few practices. Ambrose Wooden appears to have the quickest feet.

David Bruton also appears to be more confident. Don't know what it is, but you can tell he's practicing with a lot more practice.

The DBs lined up in fours today as where they'd line up. It was exactly as the initial depth chart.

Lambert, Bruton, Zibby and Wooden as first team.

Walls, Herring, McCarthy and McNeil as second team.

Ferrine, Sergio Brown, Jasaad Gaines and Prince as third team.


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