The team was in helmets, shells and shorts for the third practice of fall camp. Day five is when the NCAA allows teams to practice in full pads.
The weather was sunny and warm. Irish Eyes had a few staff members in attendance. This what they saw.
Once again I was holding a video camera, so I wasn't able to focus on much. Here are some thoughts I gathered, however.
Once the Irish broke their huddle after stretching, I focused on running backs and tight ends running through the bag drills.
Kyle Rudolph looks about as big as John Carlson did when he left. He's already thick and tall. He's quite athletic as well. Not sure he's as athletic as Carlson, but pretty darn close. We'll see how he runs on Tuesday. Really looking forward to seeing what he can do because he definitely passes the eye test.
I was really surprised by how tall Joseph Fauria is. He looks at least 6-8. Man, that is one tall drink of water. He's also got some good size on him as well. He looks like he can add at least 40 pounds without losing any athletic ability.
I tried to get some good shots of Jonas Gray. He's got a very thick lower body. Looked taller than I thought as well. Nice, compact body. No idea if he can run, but he looks like an upperclassmen already.
I watched the O-line for quite some time as well as you'll see on my video posted tomorrow morning. The first thing that stood out was John Latina. He's more animated than I've ever seen him. He was barking (lost his voice) like crazy. He was yelling when they did something bad, and congratulating them when they did something well. In the reps I saw he was quite pleased with Trevor Robinson. He also gave good praise to Taylor Dever a number of times, but also got on him once for keeping his eyes up.
They were doing a lot of drive blocking through various run situations. Center and guard, and then guard and tackle. One of the two would find a linebacker.
One thing is certain, the O-line definitely got thicker. They all look to have added some good size. Can they move? That would be my only concern. Definitely like seeing the size those as I felt they lost a lot of battles last year on strength.
Weis came over to watch for a bit and pulled Dan Wenger aside to give him a coaching tip. Basically talking about hand placement and not worrying about the playing moving outside of his arms as the ball would be going the other way.
Other than that, didn't get to focus on a lot, but hopefully you'll like the video I shot.
During stretching, I tried to look around at some players I hadn't noticed this week, and Golden Tate seems to have worked on his conditioning and physique this off-season.
Ron Powlus made his usual round with the QB's. Charlie Weis came by and chimed in for a laugh and as he walked away he said, "I got it, I got it," as Jimmy Clausen and Evan Sharpley seemed to be giving him a hard time.
Sergio Brown continued to sing during stretching, much to the dismay of the players around him.
Corwin Brown spent a couple of minutes going over some things with Raeshon McNeil.
Robby Parris was giving Clausen and Sharpley a hard time for all the attention they receive. He was mimicking a girl's voice say "Hi Jimmy. Hi Evan."
During stretching, Gary Gray was jawing at Golden Tate. Earlier today, Gray told me that him and Tate have a bit of a rivalry going in practice lately, saying that each brings out the best in the other.
Trevor Robinson seems to have more muscle definition than he did in the spring. I think he must've put some good work in, because he is distributing his weight around better.
I watched the TE's for a bit and I must say, this might be the most impressive group on the field in terms of physicality. Kyle Rudolph is huge and I expected Joe Fauria to be skinnier than he is, but he is a giant. Will Yeatman has always been impressive and Mike Ragone continues to be the speediest of the bunch.
As the RB's and TE's went through the bags, Haywood was being vocal. "All the way through. All the way through, 33," to Robert Hughes. "High and tight, keep your eyes up."
Yeatman almost fumbled when on of the graduate assistant went for the strip and Haywood yelled, "whoa. What's up with that, 84?" "Let's go, pick it up."
I then went over to see Latina and the OL. He was animated as usual. "Eyes up, 78" he said to Trevor.
Sam Young had a word with a couple of the younger guys to help them out.
They then worked on run blocking and pulling the guard. When he saw that Chris Stewart didn't execute properly, he made him do it again. "Attack the outside foot, Chris. Keep your eyes up."
Weis came over and viewed the OL for about 10 minutes and pulled aside Stewart and Tom Bemenderfer for some personal instruction. I overheard that they had trouble keeping their elbows in tight.
The right side of Young and Stewart should be nasty this season. Those two can put some power in their blocking.
Latina had my favorite quote of the day with, "I want to hear contact, I want to see contact, I want to feel contact."
He added later, "Come one guys. That's still horse****!"
I then went over to the WR's and Ianello was giving Mike Floyd some pointers off to the side.
David Grimes has apparently been having a very solid fall camp thus far, and it shows in his work ethic.
Duval Kamara wasn't lying to me when he said he felt sluggish in the spring. This time around, I can completely see him focused more and being more aggressive.
George West was struggling a bit and kept dropping some passes.
And many will be thrilled to hear this, but Mike Floyd catches anything thrown his way. He continues to make fluid cuts, explode, and then haul in the pass as long as it's in his vicinity. From what I've been able to gather, he is turning some heads in camp and should see the field.
As we were led into the stadium, Charlie Weis was addressing the crowd and explaining how the practice was going to be run. He said that the first team session was going to focus on runs and play-action passes, but that there would be another team session that featured drop-back passes. He also said that there would be a "special surprise announcement" at the end of practice. I can't imagine that it would be something major, but again we had to leave after 20 minutes.
As we came in, the players were warming up before coming together for stretching. As the offense and defense came together to stretch, I noticed that George West and defensive player, it might have been Terrail Lambert, bowed to each other. I'm not positive that it was Lambert, so I'll have to see if they do it again.
As the defense broke out of stretching, they went through there pass coverage drops near the south end zone with John Tenuta passing the ball to the defense. It looked like they were in a nickel package because the first group included Lambert, David Bruton, Kyle McCarthy, Raeshon McNeil and Sergio Brown, but no Harrison Smith. Smith ran with the second team, but after talking with Weis this morning, that was probably just for the one drill.
The defender who got the interception would return it to the end zone while the entire group celebrated together.
After this drill, the LBs went with Tenuta to practice form and angle tackling while the DBs went through backpedal drills with Corwin Brown.
Bruton and Lambert were the leaders of the DBs. Gray and McNeil are close in size and both looked good in the drills.
Some comments from Brown:
"Don't lean back Jamoris. Don't guess Gary Gray."
Behind the DBs, the defensive line went through drills with Jappy Oliver. The DL was making a lot of noise, but Kyle McCarthy was not too impressed as he said "Making noise is for show."
Brown then put the DBs through interception drills and only one ball hit the ground until they went to the one-handed fade drill. S. Brown, McNeil, Gordon and Lambert all made their catches with one hand, while Blanton used two on his first attempt. Everyone was much better the second time through, with almost everyone, including the McCarthy brothers and Blanton, making one-handed grabs.
The team was in a chatty mood during stretching, and the assistant coaches made the rounds talking with players. Even Jon Tenuta seemed more social than normal, chatting with a couple coaches and players as the team stretched.
After stretching the team broke up. I went with the defense. They lined up in a 4-3, working on what looked like pressure coming off the edge with the OLBs, and one of the defensive ends and middle LB dropping back into zone.
Morrice Richardson intercepted the first Tenuta pass, returning it for a TD. The team really got into these interception returns. Harrison Smith returned the second pass for an INT.
"Be quick 9," Jappy Oliver yelled to freshman defensive end Ethan Johnson, who was blitzing.
The ND defense lined up in a 4-3 base on all of these reps, with Pat Kuntz and Ian Williams as the defensive tackles and Richardson and Kerry Neal as the ends with the first unit. Perhaps we‘ll see a lot more of this formation in the fall.
After this segment, I went with the defensive line. This unit doesn't appear to be lacking the size it was a season ago, with the freshman joining the mix, and guys like Kerry Neal and Pat Kuntz getting bigger.
"Work the goal line, on the ball get off," Oliver yelled to his group.
The first group to explode out of their stance and run downfield was Neal, Kuntz, Williams and Richardson. The second group was John Ryan, who is finally healthy and gaining size, Emeka Nwankwo at tackle, Paddy Mullen at tackle and Justin Brown as the other end. The third group was Kallen Wade at end, Sean Cwynar at tackle, Brandon Newman at tackle and Ethan Johnson at end.
"We have to be quicker than that," Oliver said.
After doing a few of those reps, the defensive linemen then were asked to explode out of their stance, see the RB cut and chase as a unit.
"Plant and drive," Oliver exclaimed.