We finished up lunch and were able to speak with several of the Notre Dame commitments. For more direct quotes read Steve Wiltfong's article or watch the videos. What I can offer from the various conversations is that the Irish players down here in San Antonio are confident, ready to get started at Notre Dame, and are solid with the Irish.
Now on to the football.
We expected both teams to participate in an intra-squad scrimmage. We were disappointed at the end of the day. Both practices were light on action. At the beginning of practice the West players went through a lengthy special teams period.
The action picked up following the special teams period. Each position broke into groups and went through individual drills. The quarterbacks and receivers then came together or run routes on air.
After the individual period was over they West split up for two drills. The linemen went together for an inside run period. The wide receivers and secondary players broke off for a 7-on-7 period. The quarterbacks, running backs, and linebackers rotated between the two drills.
The West ended the practice with two separate team periods. They began the team period running their normal offense. They finished the team period down in the goal line in the most physical part of practice.
Overall it wasn't a real intense practice. Each unit spent considerable time rotating players in and out. None of the skill players were able to get into much of a rhythm. The linemen were able to get the most reps due to lack of numbers on each side.
NOTRE DAME PLAYERS
DAYNE CRIST, QB
The Notre Dame High School star continues to impress. You can't help but notice how effortlessly Crist throws the football. While he needs to continue to be more consistent mechanically Crist has shown himself to be the best drop back quarterback at this game. All afternoon he showed great zip on his intermediate routes. He throws the "curl" route and "in" routes with great velocity and keeps the ball in the chest of the receivers. When asked to throw deep he lofted several beautiful deep throws. What I like about Crist's deep passes is the arch he puts on the football. He gets good air on the ball but doesn't float it. He's very accurate throwing down field.
Crist hooked up with Michael Floyd and Dan Buckner all day. They were able to get open and Crist was able to put the ball on the money all day. It gave me dreams of seeing him hook up in the future with Floyd, Duval Kamara, Golden Tate, John Goodman, and others while at Notre Dame. Crist started the team period with a gorgeous throw on a curl route to Jermaine Kearse. Kearse ran a deep curl route and Crist threw a bullet between the linebacker and cornerback. It was a thing of beauty. What we haven't seen from Crist this week is his running ability. Although he is labeled as a "drop back" quarterback Crist is also a very good runner when forced out of the pocket.
MICHAEL FLOYD, WR
During the team period Floyd didn't have any balls thrown his way. But during the routes period and the 7-on-7 period he was impressive. To me Floyd and Buckner are clearly the top two receivers on the West. Buckner is a tremendous athlete but Floyd is the complete player. There really isn't a weakness in his game. He has areas where he will need to improve and develop but he has the total package.
At one point Floyd was running a "slant" route and Blaine Gabbert threw a bullet behind Floyd and above his head. Floyd reached back with his right hand and plucked the ball out of the air. It was a tremendous catch. He gets choppy at times but Floyd proved again he is a good route runner at this stage of his career. Floyd also showed a nice ability with the ball in his hands on screen plays.
TREVOR ROBINSON, OG
In the run game Robinson really is a beast. He fires off the ball hard and wins the majority of his one on one battles. The West coaches have asked Robinson to get out on the perimeter on several toss plays. Robinson has showed good agility on the perimeter and works well in space. This isn't something I had seen before. Robinson might be the strongest player at the point of attack on the West line.
When Robinson gets beat it has to do with two things. The first, and this is his biggest issue, is when he stops his feet. At times Robinson gets a wide base and it prevents him from really working his feet. His strength allows him to hold his ground but he will get pushed back a bit. It also causes him to get beat in the gaps at times. But when Robinson is right he is an animal. He showed good foot quickness today and a nasty attitude. The West running backs should fine big lanes to run through on the right side of the line on Saturday.
ANTHONY McDONALD, MLB
These periods aren't the best for linebackers but McDonald continues to show good ability. The 4-3 defense employed in the Army All-American game is much different from the 3-4 defense that Anthony is used to at Sherman Oaks. But McDonald has adjusted well and is getting used to playing the Mike linebacker position. The Sherman Oaks, CA native continues to show good range and instincts in the run game. He continues to be strong at the point of attack and is a better sideline-to-sideline player than I have seen from him in high school.
At times McDonald will take a bad angle to the football which allows him to be blocked much easier than usual. He also was a bit slow on two occasions getting to the perimeter on the toss play. After missing it twice he adjusted well and made the play on the next toss play he saw.
There were several other national players who stood out today. Gerrell Robinson, who is of interest for Irish fans, is one of them. Here are my thoughts on them.
GERRELL ROBINSON, S
Gerrell continues to show great range from the safety position. He covers so much ground. He was asked to play some man coverage in the slot today and held up well. It's not something I would expect him to do a great deal as a safety but he didn't look bad at all. Where he needs to improve as a safety is taking on blocks. He allows blockers to get into him a bit which makes it hard to get off the block and make the tackle. But from an athletic standpoint Gerrell is impressive.
ANDREW LUCK, QB
Luck isn't the prettiest looking quarterback out here. I'm talking about his throwing motion of course. But he's very accurate and has solid arm strength. He should be good in Stanford's offense under Jim Harbaugh.
DARRELL SCOTT, RB
Scott continues to show why he is considered the nation's top back. He is solidly built at 6'0, 210 pounds but also shows tremendous speed. The St. Bonnaventure star has broken off several long runs during the week of practice. He is fun to watch!
SAM McGUFFIE, RB
I'm not looking forward to seeing McGuffie in the Rich Rodriguez offense. Sam is lightning fast and a water-bug with the ball in his hands. He isn't afraid to lower his shoulder into a defender when he needs to but prefers to make people miss....which he has done all week.
DAN BUCKNER, WR
Bucker is the most athletic of all the wide receivers on the West, and talks more than anyone else at the game. He really never stops talking. But Buckner is truly a special talent. He's very raw at this point but has great agility and ball skills.
AUSTIN HOLT, TE
He's not the fastest tight end out there but he is very smooth, has good size, and tremendous hands. He'll be a stud at Brigham Young.
R.J. WASHINGTON , DE
Outside of Darrell Scott he might be the most impressive player on the West roster. He is so fast off the ball. On one snap he beat Matt Kalil, who is very good, on a straight speed rush to the outside. Kalil didn't even touch him as Washington got into the backfield and would have sacked Dayne Crist if he were allowed to hit the quarterbacks.
LYNN KOTOA / MARK MAUTI, LB
These two players are very similar in style. Both are fast and are true sideline-to-sideline players. They are easily the two best backers on the West roster. I knew Kotoa was good but didn't know about Mauti. Penn State (Mauti) and Colorado (Kotoa) are getting themselves two outstanding linebackers.
ROBERT GOLDEN / D.J. MONROE, CB
Golden and Monroe are both on the shorter side but have shown very good foot quickness, hip turn, and don't get beat. They are consistently in the hip pockets of the West receivers. Golden is physical in coverage and impressed me big time. Mike Stoops is going to love him at Arizona !
AARON WILLIAMS, CB
Williams has proven this week he can play cornerback in college. He's always been known as a hitter but this week he proved he can cover as well. He got beat by Buckner on one deep ball but for the most part has been consistently good in coverage. He's raw right now technique wise but has great size (6'1) and has very good athletic ability.
RAHIM MOORE, S
I only saw him for about four or five snaps but what he showed me was tremendous range and that he's one of the smoothest athletes on the West defense. I'm going to watch him more in the coming days.