The first practice of spring is in the books for Notre Dame football. 14 more to go until we move into the cold, dark off-season between spring and fall camp.
Check out some of the practice reports from those who were present in the beginning this morning.
No major shocker as Everett Golson opened up working with the first team. We'll see if this changes at all when the media next gets a look at the Irish offense.
Everett Golson took the first snaps at quarterback during the opening tempo period. Doesnt mean much, but wanted to point it out— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) March 18, 2015
Brian Kelly on his quarterbacks: "It was exactly what I wanted on the first day."— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) March 18, 2015
If Golson continues to start practices as the first quarterback--even if he splits time with Zaire later in the workout--I think we'll be seeing a clear plan for Everett to completely win the starting job back. It was interesting that Kelly mentioned in his presser yesterday that he hasn't talked to Golson about splitting time and he wants #5 to take the job and win it outright.
Barring a really bad spring, I think Golson is still on schedule to start against Texas.
Not much was going on at running back this morning. Folston remains the top dog with Bryant working in some reps and C.J. Prosise now added to the mix on occasion, I think this will be a very boring spring for this position despite the talent on hand.
It should be noted that Prosise worked with the running backs during positional drills.
The big news at this position over the last 24 hours has been the effort to get Prosise more touches and moving him into the backfield for some snaps, as noted above. Interestingly, it was Amir Carlisle who worked with the first team in the slot during the media viewing period. Carlisle was joined by Chris Brown and Will Fuller on the outside.
Brian Kelly on C.J. Prosise cross-training at RB: "He’s such a natural athlete I think he’ll pick it up."— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) March 18, 2015
Someone I'm keeping a eye on this spring will be Justin Brent. As an early enrollee last year he's now participating in his second spring and it seems clear that Brian Kelly is expecting more out of the in-state product. The coaching staff doesn't usually talk all that sternly in the spring but when the words 'passed up' are getting thrown around right now that's not a great sign for Brent. He'll need a big spring to fight for some playing time.
BK said Justin Brent has the athletic tools to compete at a high level, just not consistent. Needs the light to go on or he'll get passed up— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
The staff looks to be pushing Corey Robinson this spring, and I bet this continues to be a theme during the off-season. The rising junior has shown a little bit of versatility in the short passing game but needs to develop into more than just a jump ball target.
Kelly said he wants to see Corey Robinson improve catching balls outside his framework. Has picked up route running extremely well— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
Durham Smythe opened up spring camp as the number one tight end, to the surprise of no one. During the media viewing period he was noticeably active in his flexibility and alignment.
Both Nic Weishar and Mike Heuerman need to come into focus this spring, particularly the latter athlete who still has not gained necessary tight end weight, is heading into his third year, and could see a true freshman pass him on the depth chart for the second straight season.
It was sophomore Tyler Luatua who worked with the second team on Wednesday morning.
The lineup on the first team offensive line was as predicted: Stanley (LT), Nelson (LG), Martin (C), Elmer (RG), and McGlinchey (RT). I think it's going to take something catastrophic, or injury, for this not to be the opening day starting lineup for the Irish.
Kelly said Nick Martin is ideally suited for the center position. Can handle the nose and is athletic enough to move on combo blocks— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
Nick Martin on Quenton Nelson: He's a strong dude. He likes to maul people— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
The second team line consisted of Bivin (LT), Bars (LG), Mustipher (C), Montelus (RG), and Harrell (RT). For now this leaves Colin McGovern (rising redshirt sophomore) as the oldest member of the offensive line not on the two deep. I expect he'll eventually work his way up but it's something to watch this spring.
It's not out of the ordinary during this time of year to see a position group like defensive line being split up by age and that's exactly what happened on Wednesday morning. Okwara and Rochell ran with the first team at end, while Day and Matuska manned the insides at tackle.
Jay Hayes does appear bigger, but still looked agile and athletic without pads. Good sign— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) March 18, 2015
The second unit featured Trumbetti and Blankenship at defensive end with Hayes and Cage at tackle.
The third unit consisted of Williams (DE), Dew-Treadway (DT), Tillery (DT), and Bonner (DE).
The big news at linebacker is the legit return of Jarrett Grace who finally is showing no ill effects from his leg/ankle injury suffered in October of 2013. For now Grace is running with the second team at Mike linebacker but it's wonderful news to see him healthy and with a legitimate shot to come back for a fifth year in 2015.
Jarrett Grace looked healthy and quick going through pre-practice drills— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) March 18, 2015
The starting linebackers on Wednesday were Onwualu at Sam, Morgan at Mike, and Smith at Will. Joining Grace on the second team were Martini at Sam and true freshman Te'von Coney at Will. The third team consisted of Hill at Sam, Deeb at Mike, and walk-on Austin Larkin at Will.
Hill playing at linebacker (and only weighing 230) is a curious sight.
Kelly compliment Jaylon Smith’s leadership, including helping Te’Von Coney pick up the college game this winter.— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) March 18, 2015
Nothing surprising at safety where Redfield and Shumate are the starters. Somewhat surprising though was to see Devin Butler running opposite Cole Luke with the first team right now.
There's an expectation that rising sophomore Nick Watkins is going to blossom into a star this year, and while we certainly don't want to read too much into one practice, it wouldn't be crazy if it took him a while to get going as he didn't play a ton last year.
Kelly said Cole Luke isnt vocal, but leads by example and by his work— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
Your second team in the secondary was Watkins with walk-on Connor Cavalaris at corner, plus Farley and Turner at safety. It sounds like the defense wasn't in any nickel formations during the viewing period if Farley stayed back at safety.
Nicky Baratti worked with the third team as he is being brought along slowly after his shoulder surgery.
It looked like a matter of when not if as former Buffalo head coach and long-time Brian Kelly assistant Jeff Quinn has finally found a role in South Bend. Quinn was on the field at practice and Kelly told the media afterwards that he is the offensive analyst for the team this year.
#NotreDame coach Brian Kelly said Jeff Quinn has joined the staff as an offensive analyst. .. a non-coaching position.— Eric Hansen (@EHansenNDI) March 18, 2015
Quinn is more brain power on the staff. His role is off the field. Will do a lot of opponent breakdowns and off the field gameplanning— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
One of the big off-season topics is definitely going to be how the VanGorder defense goes about handling the up-tempo offenses after North Carolina provided a template in 2014 that would be repeated until the end of the season.
I think it's kind of funny that Bob Elliott has kind of turned into the consigliere for the football program.
Kelly said defense learned how to better communicate the defensive structure to better handle tempo teams.— Bryan Driskell (@CoachDrisk78) March 18, 2015
Interesting to hear Bob Elliott on the road researching sub patterns against up-tempo offenses. Kelly said defending tempo a priority.— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) March 18, 2015
It took only a few minutes but multiple people misspelled Pryce Tracy's name after Brian Kelly brought him up during this morning's presser. I expect this to continue.
Pryce Tracy moves to special teams analyst for #NotreDame. Previously a recruiting and personnel assistant.— Tyler James (@TJamesNDI) March 18, 2015
The fact that Kelly singled out the sophomore class seems really weird to me. I'm wondering if he meant the current sophomores but rising juniors?
Brian Kelly notes that the sophomores will have a major influence on the 2015 team.— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) March 18, 2015
We wait with bated breath, NBC.
#NotreDame FB media relations director Michael Bertsch told me nothing official yet on TV for spring game but NBC Sports is working on it.— Lou Somogyi (@BGI_LouSomogyi) March 18, 2015