The Irish players were in helmets, but no pads on Saturday afternoon. A light drizzle started as the media was escorted into practice, but it quickly subsided.
Irish Eyes had a few staff members at practice for the allotted 20 minutes of viewing. Here is what they saw.
I had the video camera, so I didn't get to focus much on players. But, a few things I noticed.
Hafis Williams is a big dude. He'll need to reshape his body, but he has a real nice squatty lower body that should be perfect for the nose position. He moved pretty well as well.
Brandon Newman also looks to be in better shape than what we saw at the All-American game, but he'll also need to reshape his body. ND has two good interior bodies to work with. Hopefully they'll be nasty players as well.
Anthony McDonald is taller than I thought. He looks all of 6-1. Pretty cut kid. He also moves pretty well.
Had some nice video of Harrison Smith. You can tell he's added some strength on his arms. He has a lot of room to add some weight in his lower body.
Ian Williams looks to have added some good weight to his frame as well. He's listed at 310, but looks about 300. Good weight though. Hopefully he'll have some stamina as he'll have to play a lot of minutes.
Didn't really get to see much as I was running the camera, and you just work on staying in focus and that you're filming something.
The mood was relaxed and upbeat. Duval Kamara was still sporting #60. Weis said in the press conference today it's a type of punishment for coming in slightly overweight.
Like Mike reported yesterday, Weis wasn't joking around all that much like he was in the spring before practices. It will be interesting to watch how he continues throughout the fall.
Ron Powlus made his usual rounds to the QB's to chat with them.
Weis did go over to chat with Deion Walker for a little bit as they shared a laugh.
I've noticed that during stretching, Jon Tenuta likes to keep his distance from the other coaches and seems to be more of a loner during practice.
Mike Haywood, who likes to talk to the DB's during stretching stopped by with David Bruton.
I noticed that R.J. Blanton is a little thin, but after-all he really is a freshman so that's expected. When I was watching him during DB drills, he has quick feet and nice agility on his backpedal and breaks to the ball well.
Gary Gray seems to have bulked up a bit in the off-season.
Kyle McCarthy also looks to be in great shape. Despite the neck injury, his brother Dan has been in practice and looks good too.
Once the huddle broke, I went over and watched the defense. They first worked on pursuit out of their formation.
The DB's were from left to right: Terrail Lambert, Bruton, McCarthy, Raeshon McNeil. The LB's included Brian Smith, Harrison Smith, Maurice Crum and Toryan Smith. Along the DL it was Pat Kuntz, Kerry Neal and Ian Williams.
Ethan Johnson looks pretty thick, and some time in a college weight program should do him very good.
Darius Fleming looks thick as well, and during pursuit displayed some quickness too.
I overheard Crum say to a graduate assistant: "You don't want me to hit you. I'll hurt you real bad."
Emeka Nwankwo has definitely bulked up and should see the field this season.
I watched the linebackers for a while and Tenuta was barking to his players. "Right foot, downhill. It starts in your stance fellas. Quicker, quicker." He said to B. Smith, "just relax and bring a little more weight forward." To H. Smith he said, "finish the play, finish the tackle." He asked Crum, "which way are we going Mo?" to start the drill to which Crum replied, "right, coach."
Anthony McDonald also looked like he's worked on the off-season. I think he could definitely add some bulk to his frame with more work.
They went to hit a wood sled and Tenuta yelled, "quick first step, fellas, or they'll knock you on your ***."
Steve Filer is impressive for a freshman. In terms of height and muscle, he looks solid.
Jappy Oliver was yelling at the D-line, who was hitting their sled: "These are everyday drills. Practice good habits. See what you're hitting."
Justin Brown went over and gave Ethan Johnson some pointers.
As we were walking out, I caught a glimpse of the WR drills in which they danced around the cones and then caught a pass thrown to them. Deion Walker went through his effortlessly, and Michael Floyd did the same. On Floyd's catch, the ball was thrown behind him, and he made a great adjustment to haul it in.
I went to practice today. Keeping with the trend, the new practice fields are very impressive, and will certainly give another boost to recruiting.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was how much more mature Golden Tate looks physically. He is bigger than last season, and looks like he can take on a bigger role with the team this fall.
The mood was light during stretching, as the players were laughing, joking and a few were singing. It was tough to tell who the sound was coming from.
Following stretching, the team broke into individual drills with a "Get Better!"
I walked over with the offensive linemen for the bag drills. Michael Turkovich led them through the fast feet over the bags.
"Fast, fast," offensive line coach John Latina yelled. "Move your arms Bemer (Tom Bemenderfer)! Lets go Matt (Matt Romine)!
Then the offensive linemen slid side to side with their arms up and in around the bags.
"Drive burst, that's it E (Eric Olsen)," Latina boomed. "Down lower Danny, power, power! Hands up!"
As Mike Golic Jr., who looks about 30 pounds bigger than when I last saw him at the Army game back in January, was going through bag drills, his fellow offensive linemen were commenting on his facial hair.
"That's a man's beard," one of the older players said. The older guys also were coaching up the younger players through the bags.
I noticed the running backs on the other side of the field hitting the sled. Last year, I made the comment once or twice that Robert Hughes physically looked more like a Chicago Bear than a college player. Jonas Gray fits the bill physically. Maybe not as much as Hughes a year ago, but close. He was driving that sled high into the air.
I glanced to my right and saw the quarterbacks doing some light tossing to get warmed up. I hate being another person that said this, but No. 10 sure looked a lot like Brady Quinn for a second. Dayne Crist is a big boy.
The WRs were doing the four cone drill, where they catch a ball after cutting at each cone. David Grimes, George West, Robby Parris and Golden Tate all went through the drill smooth. Richard Jackson bobbled the last ball, and Deion Walker looked as good as anyone making cuts and catching the football until a drop on the final one.
As I was watching the WRs, I turned my attention to the TEs when Charlie Weis made his way over to give instruction. It looked like he was really talking to Joseph Fauria while addressing the whole group on staying low while blocking outside linebackers and defensive ends. The TEs look like a real athletic group from top to bottom. Fauria's height could make him an immediate red-zone threat.
On my way out, I went back to watching the WRs. Walker and Mike Floyd looked smooth making cuts around the cones and catching a hard-thrown ball. Floyd's grab was on a ball thrown a little behind him.
The QBs again led the WRs through the form running drills. Jimmy Clausen was teasing Kamara throughout the practice shouting "Let's go 60! Let's go 60!"
Powlus and Rob Ianello came over and also seemed to be giving Kamara some grief.
Powlus and his son made a treat trade. Powlus gave his kid a couple of pieces of gum and his son gave his dad a tootsie roll.
Haywood seemed to be partaking in some light trash talk with the defense. As stretching was finishing, Haywood jogged away from the defensive players after saying, "I'll see you guys in about 25 minutes."
Clausen led the QBs and WRs through ball security drills with bags.
Some Ianello comments: "High and tight George (West)." "That's better Deion. Better with the ball." "High and tight Johnny Goodman" "Lock that ball up Dayne" "Quick, Golden"
The QBs than partnered up and made some stationary throws after stretching out with heavier, round orange balls. Powlus was by himself with the QBs for the most part.
The tight ends worked on drive blocking against pads. Mike Ragone and Will Yeatman were in one group with Rudolph and Fauria in the next and Luke Schmidt in the final group. Kyle Rudolph does not look like a freshman.
Bernie Parmalee told the freshmen group to "Stay under control" and later said "That's better."
Both times Schmidt went Parmalee said "Good. Great. Nice pop."
Weis looked on for awhile before stepping in and giving Parmalee and the tight ends a coaching point.