Some quick hits from Saturday's practice, the ninth straight day for the team before an off day Sunday. Three weeks until Texas, folks.
Kelly confirms Jones out for the year
The biggest and worst news of the weekend was confirmed by Brian Kelly in his post-practice session with the media - Jarron Jones suffered a 3rd degree MCL tear in practice on Friday and will miss the entire 2015 season. The knee injury apparently took place when he was rolled up during 11-on-11 and will require surgery. Kelly did confirm that Jones plans to return next season and will travel and stay close to the team, good news for a player that's developed into one of the more vocal leaders on the defense.
Next men In
True freshman Jerry Tillery and sophomore Daniel Cage will be the primary replacements at one-tech DT. Tillery had been backing up Sheldon Day at the 3-technique, and freshman Elijah Taylor may be a candidate to now move into that rotation. BK also confirmed that Isaac Rochell will not move inside in the first-team base defense, but line up there in certain situations.
Both DeShone Kizer and Brandon Wimbush took off the red jerseys today and took contact running the ball. Both were impressive, with Kizer in particular impressing running the read option. Not a lot of word on Malik Zaire, other than continuing to respond well and make the right decisions during a lot of situational work and tests, with the area for improvement being consistent accuracy.
The running game continues to impress, with freshman Josh Adams scoring on a long TD run. CJ Sanders and Will Fuller also showed their ability to make defenders miss in space, and should be on the receiving end of many carries and screens this year.
The presumed starters, Will Fuller and Corey Robinson, continue to cement their status as top targets for Zaire to start the year. On freshman watch, Jalen Guyton has received a lot of praise for his hands and consistency, and CJ Sanders was the star of the day from many reports. It's going to be a deep, deep rotation at receiver, but players like Sanders who bring something unique to the table may be able to cut the line pretty quickly.
KeiVarae Russell continues to shut down his receiver and side of the field and is sounding more and more like a potential first round draft pick. We'll cover more below, but Nick Coleman and Shaun Crawford appear to be picking up the defense very quickly and are providing Nick Watkins and other older corners with a lot of competition.
Isaac Rochell had a big day, blocking a field goal attempt and generating some solid pressure. Andrew Trumbetti also had a few nifty moves, but overall the question marks remain about rushing the passer. Maybe the secondary is good enough to cause coverage sacks, maybe some scheming from BVG will get it done, but there's a need for real improvement from the Trumbetti/Okwara/Bonner group.
Freshmen making moves
In addition to a more important role for Tillery, many freshmen have impressed early on. A rundown of those who look like they'll contribute in 2015:
- CJ Sanders scored a long touchdown off a punt return and will battle Will Fuller for returning duties. He's also continued to impress in the passing game with his speed and elusiveness, and was praised by Kelly for his ability to cut at full speed, an ability he mentioned he hadn't had a player with in his time at Notre Dame.
- Shaun Crawford has been getting a lot of work with the first team defense at nickel, and according to BK already knows the defense and calls. Matthias Farley seems to be working more with the safeties as a result, although he'll still continue to work at nickel too.
- Nick Coleman seems to have placed himself firmly in the mix at corner, working with Russell, Luke, and Crawford. Kelly praised his ability to play the ball in the air, and mentioned the flexibility they now have with Russell, Coleman, Farley, and Crawford all able to line up in different places in the secondary.
- Equanimeous St. Brown (spelled it on the first try!) also received a BK shout-out - he can "run like a deer" and has showed toughness in bouncing back quickly from some sprains and bruises.
- Justin Yoon's perfect streak in practice came to an end with a blocked kick, but he still hasn't missed a kick that's made it over the line.
Band-aids and Ice Report
After a healthy start to fall camp, many more players are banged up and were held out or limited:
- Alize Jones (neck injury) participated but was protected from contact with a red jersey.
- CJ Prosise (hip flexor) is out ten days, and Shamrock Series model / new scholarship recipient Josh Anderson has filled in getting some work at running back with first and second teams.
- Freshman linebacker Josh Barajas has a grade two hamstring pull and is out two weeks.
Full Brian Kelly media session below: