Notre Dame Football Spring Practice Report: 3-31-14

Jared Wickerham

Spring practice has reached the half-way mark.

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The Fighting Irish finished up their 8th practice on Saturday as they've officially moved past the halfway mark of spring football. We have another collection of information to share with you today after the media got a glimpse of the team workouts.

INFO NUGGETS

*Malik Zaire remains positive and is still gunning for the starting position, even believing he'll start according to his recent interview that was turned into an article by ESPN. Those comments were taken a bit out of context, though.

Redshirt freshman Greg Bryant, who has been in the 3-man rotation at running back, apparently let the cat out of the bag about the return game.

Notre Dame hasn't practiced outside yet so they haven't been able to work on the returns but they hope to get outdoors this week.

Nothing has changed at the offensive line. Your starting unit remains left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Steve Elmer, center Matt Hegarty, right guard Connor Hanratty, and right tackle Mike McGlinchey.

It may be by design or not but the wide receiver two-deep seems to be broken up into "big" versus "speed" during practice quite often. On Saturday, the first group was Corey Robinson, C.J. Prosise, and Chris Brown while the second unit was Will Fuller, Amir Carlisle, and Torii Hunter. You can expect this grouping to get mixed but it's interesting nonetheless.

In previous reports from across the internet it seemed like Elijah Shumate was falling down the depth chart at safety even running with the 3rd team at times. This looks like it was more of the New Jersey native nursing an injury than anything else as he's back to battling for more reps.

Some good news on the injury front as safety Nicky Baratti has been cleared for full-contact and was on the field in full pads this past weekend. Corner Devin Butler participated in non-contact drills as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. Tony Springmann has been able to participate in this manner as well. Linebacker Ben Councell and center Nick Martin rode the stationary bikes while linebacker Jarrett Grace (more on him below) was not at Saturday's practice.

Sophomore walk-on linebacker Austin Larkin (6-3, 240 from San Ramon, California) has been turning some heads and battling for reps at practice. According to Coach Kelly he might not be ready for snaps on defense this fall but could be an important special teams player.

UND.com Practice Video for March 29th


Tough not to be impressed by the speed and footwork of Prosise, Brown, and Fuller to open the video.

Jaylon at 1:28 is just poetry in motion.

Heck of a play starting at 1:40 by Chris Brown. He might be the Spring Video Highlight Film Star for 2014.

Nice over the shoulder grab by Torii Hunter at the 2:00 mark.

If these videos are any indication Matthias Farely should be good for about 5 interference/holding penalties in the fall.

Of course we end the video with Catch Radius hauling in another touchdown with his toes in bounds.

Brian Kelly Post-Practice Press Conference


Jarrett Grace had a rod placed in his leg and it should stabilize the healing process. He's had good bone growth and they should know in 6 weeks if he'll be able to play in the fall.

Everything is on the table at inside linebacker. It's too early to tell where they are at with the position. It will take time to sort out the playing time there which includes the freshmen coming in during the fall.

Hounshell has worked very hard to get healthy and Kelly expects the team to get everything they can out of him in 2014. He's very strong at 270 pounds and uses his hands really well.

KeiVarae Russell is ahead of the other corners by a good amount. Cole Luke is making good progress and has great feet, he just needs to refine his technique as time goes on.

Graduate assistant Kyle McCarthy is a great teacher and is like a full-time coach.

The offense is making progress and practiced well on Saturday. Golson needs to continue his relationship with the receivers and they'll continue to add packages. The defense needs to start working on 3-down fronts after working on 4-down fronts to start spring.

The defense was primarily a 2-gap defense in the past because they needed to build a new foundation and base where they kept the ball in front of them. They've reached a point now where they are creating new looks. They would have gone to a more 1-gap sub-package with or without former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

In terms of the Northwestern union case, Kelly is more interested in a player-coach relationship and not a coach-employee relationship. He hasn't really looked at it from a big picture sense beyond that.

Kelly reiterates his "5 best offensive linemen on the field" theory when asked about the guard position.

Folston has done a great job not acting like a freshman in his first spring practice.

PLAYER INTERVIEWS


Max Redfield: I'm sure you guys have heard it's a lot more aggressive defense which is a lot more fun for all of us. And it's just a total different scheme. Learning a whole new scheme is a challenge for everyone."

Cole Luke: It's [the new defense] been a little difficult but I think it just tests your game a little bit, see how well you learn and pick up things. I know it's been difficult for the whole defense but I feel like we're up and running now and everyone understand pretty well now."

Greg Bryant: I'm way faster, that's one thing. I improved my speed dramatically, like a lot.

Mike McGlinchey: I'm lucky with coming in and having Zack and Watt there for a year to learn from and see how they did things, and see how they work."

Steve Elmer: As a unit we're trying to have zero drop-off. Huge shoes to fill with Zack and Watt moving on but we're going to keep working and coming in every day and work to improve ourselves as individuals and as a unit."

ARTICLES

SBT: Bryant now trampling over frustration

SBT: Surgery for Grace raises questions

BGI: Bryant hungry and humble in '14

II: Zaire acts the part

BGI Practice Video

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