Welcome to another OFD practice report for this spring session. Notre Dame is now through 10 practices and will be finishing up the 11th practice later today. We'll provide any updates in this post when the become available. Just one more week until the Blue Gold Game inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Steady as she goes. Everett Golson remains the top man still taking nearly all the first team reps. Eric Hansen from the South Bend Tribune had a story on new quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur that went into some more detail on the battle at QB:
"If we don't have a (backup) who wants to be the guy, then we've got the wrong guy," LaFleur said. "I want them to be competitive. I think it brings out the best in people when there is that competitive spirit in the room. But at the same time, I think there's a level of respect between the two, and I think it's a good situation."
LaFleur also talked about Golson and his lack of using the laces in the past.
"It still comes up every now and again, so that's also been a point of emphasis," LaFleur said. "It's like, ‘Hey man, you've got to throw with these laces.' He's had a ball slip out of his hands, and that's the first thing I was looking for - where was his hand placement on that ball? Did he have the laces? I mean, they're there for a reason. Right?
"There's other guys who don't always grab the laces, but I never even thought about it or knew about it until I saw a picture of him. And I was like, ‘How come your hand's not on the laces?'
"He said, ‘I never throw with the laces, coach.'
"I said, ‘Well you are now."
Also of note is the fact that LaFleur is now responsible for recruiting the West Coast in addition to the state of Michigan and Hawaii.
Along with quarterback there hasn't been much to talk about at running back this spring. It's been a nice drama-free backfield. The rotation appears to be Folston and McDaniel sharing 1st-team reps with Bryant getting more than enough time with the top unit as well. I'm guessing things will stay this way into the start of next season where we'll have to wait and see how the 3-man rotation truly works out in games.
One thing to point out is that the running backs have been seen motioning into the backfield from the slot and taking the ball on jet sweeps quite often. This doesn't appear to be just a play for the wide receivers (see TJ Jones last year) anymore.
Both Corey Robinson and Will Fuller continue to be mentioned by Kelly. Fuller feels like he can beat anyone with speed. Robinson is working more with his leverage and size. They're both working on becoming more complete receivers.
The large/small units are still working together. That's Robinson, Prosise, and Brown on one and Fuller, Carlisle, and Hunter on the other.
It's been shocking how little the tight end position has been discussed this spring. I don't think think there's any doubt that at least in some small way this position is going to have a minimized role compared to the last few years.
I'll be interested to see if the arrival of a couple extra bodies in August changes the plan but I wouldn't bet on it.
Ronnie Stanley was brought up in Friday's presser with Kelly calling him 'extremely athletic for a big guy.' He went on to comment quite a bit on his strength with positioning but needs to work a little bit on his run blocking.
A rather big story for spring standards was Nick Martin getting reintegrated into practice by participating in non-contact drills with the 1st-team offense at center. While he's not cleared for contact just yet this is a strong indication, just like we believed, that Martin is going to immediately push Matt Hegarty down to the 2nd-string when the August camp opens up.
Romeo Okwara is holding his own at defensive end but still has a lot of room for growth. He's still searching for some consistency which is to be expected.
Another player being reintegrated into drills is Tony Springmann. The first-string defensive line has been steady all spring with Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day on the inside and Romeo Okwara and Ishaq Williams on the outside but a healthy Springmann immediately adds an experienced body up front. His progress with his knee is a great sign right now.
Joe Schmidt has 'earned the right to play right now because of his football IQ' and continues to hold down the middle linebacker position. Kelly mentioned the respect he has from his teammates too.
Despite the rod being placed in his leg just days ago Jarrett Grace's spirits are high and Kelly is pleased with his progress right now. The true test comes in just over a month with a crucial physical from the Notre Dame doctors.
Ben Councell is still riding the stationary bike and won't be available this spring. Don't forget he could be a big piece to the puzzle, and possible starter somewhere in the linebacker corps, come fall time.
The big news from Friday morning was the dismissal of Rashad Kinlaw for violating team rules. That leaves the Irish with 6 scholarship corners for the spring and will make this position an even bigger priority than it already was for the 2015 cycle.
The depth for this upcoming season should be fine with 5th-year transfer Cody Riggs and freshman Nick Watkins both arriving in the summer. Devin Butler is the third injured player being reintegrated into non-contact work, yet another positive sign for the program.
The big story at safety is that there is no big story. We anticipated multiple players getting looks on the first team defense but that hasn't been the case. Both Austin Collinsworth and Max Redfield look like rock steady options on the back end especially when you listen to the coaching staff talk about them.
UND.com Practice Video 4-4-14
*You can see Nick Martin without the heavy brace of his injured knee as he leads the team breakdown.
*I've always said this team needs to get better and learn how to block underneath a trampoline.
*At 1:41 Sheldon Day gets me excited with his interior pass rushing abilities.
*Stop 'n' go burn by Chris Brown at 1:57.
*I really like Bryant's foot speed and change of direction catching a pass starting at 2:10.
*At 2:26 a nice little flash of power by Romeo Okwara.
*That's a great move by Fuller at 3:00.
Golson, Stanley, and Schmidt talk to Jack Nolan
Brian Kelly Press Conference 4-4-14
Assistant Coaches Interviews