Welcome to our last practice report for the spring football season. The Blue-Gold Game is this Saturday and if you're not heading to South Bend make sure to hang out with us in our open thread as we experience live Irish football for the first time in 3.5 months. Once the BGG is over we're in it for the long, dark summer layoff until August camp begins.
There were lots of good nuggets of information from Brian Kelly's presser today.
BIG PICTURE STUFF
There was lots of talk about the exotic blitzes and "500 level stuff" that new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has been throwing at the offense. In recent interviews with the coaches it seems like they were pleased with the progress the defense has made understanding and executing the new schemes. Although this appears to have gotten the best of the offense on Wednesday I think it's nice to see the defense starting to come together a little bit.
Kelly reiterated again that he likes a potential matchup with Georgia for 'geographic reasons.' It's no secret that he wants to have a greater presence in the rich recruiting state of Georgia.
The spring game will be the same rules as last year, offense versus defense. Golson and Zaire will rotate on each series and the roster will be mixed. The first half will be two 12-minute quarters and the second half will be running time. No one really knows what the scoring system means.
Good news everyone. Brian VanGorder will be coaching from the field this year.
Kelly mentioned that they recently graded the quarterbacks and nobody had over a 2.0 GPA. Panic! Panic! Everybody panic! But seriously, the optimist in me says this new-look defense might be giving the offense some troubles in practice but it'll help them when the season rolls around.
Greg Bryant will be joined by Amir Carlisle and Torii Hunter as punt returners during the spring game. I really like those players battling in the competition. Quite excited to see how Bryant looks handling these duties. Kelly also said they'll try anyone with a pulse at punt return, also joking that they'll fair catch all five of them and drop three to make the 'internet blow up.'
Lots of talk about the running backs adding some pass protection this spring. Kelly singled out Greg Bryant again for having a strong spring and raising the game of Tarean Folston.
Brian Kelly notes Greg Bryant has had a "really great spring" and "we love the ability to match him up."— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) April 9, 2014
Some very interesting talk about the offensive line. Steve Elmer missed Wednesday's practice with a stomach bug and the staff had Matt Hegarty move from his center position to cover left guard while Mark Harrell took over the snapping duties with the first team. Kelly also mentioned that they'll keep the door open at a guard position for a freshman (presumably Quenton Nelson?) if Elmer ends up moving to right tackle. We seem to know the 4 starters will be Stanley, Elmer, Martin, and Lombard but that battle for the 5th starter spot might be a lot harder than we were thinking a couple weeks ago. Hegarty could seriously win the left guard spot too.
Kelly also singled out Colin McGovern for having a really strong spring. He thinks McGovern is a guard for the long-term but he's been working at tackle due to low numbers in the spring. It's very nice to see him stepping up and adding depth to the program.
It was briefly mentioned that BVG is using Jaylon Smith as an edge rusher in some situations. He's truly playing all over the place. From what we saw last year this was the strongest part of Smith's game in my opinion.
During Wednesday's media viewing session the defense was very similar to what we've seen for most of the spring. Andrew Trumbetti and Anthony Rabasa were getting a lot of reps with the first team as defensive end pass rushers, Michael Deeb & walk-on Austin Larkin were working behind Joe Schmidt at Mike linebacker, and Elijah Shumate was working with Nicky Baratti as the second-team safeties.
BGI Practice Video
Irish Illustrated Practice Video
Brian Kelly Presser Video