Notre Dame finished up fall camp on Friday practicing inside the stadium and allowed the media to watch for parts of the workout. Tomorrow evening Jamie will have a more detailed recap of his thoughts on the Irish camp, and today we'll talk about some of the tidbits from the last few days.
Most agreed following Friday that Zaire had his best practice that was seen by the media this month. While he still had bouts of inconsistency the good news appears to be that those struggles are getting fewer and far between with more work. Through fall camp the consensus seems to be that Zaire can be effective on short and long throws but still really struggles on the intermediate routes.
Redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer probably could have qualified for someone whose stock is rising. Kelly mentioned after practice today that Kizer is solidifying himself as the No. 2 quarterback and everyone keeps repeating that he's vastly improved his accuracy and confidence.
The talk on Wimbush has remained pretty steady throughout most of camp--an undeniable arm talent who is still developing his fundamentals, footwork, etc. etc. Barring something major happening over the next 2 weeks he'll certainly head into the season as the No. 3 quarterback. It'll be interesting to see how he handles being in the situation Zaire was in 2013.
C.J. Prosise warmed up but didn't do much after while nursing his hip flexor. He's expected back in full for the next practice on Monday. In the meantime, Tarean Folston has been used sparingly as to keep him fresh for the season.
Once again, the most visible Justin Brent was in practice was as a pass catcher. It seems they're really trying to get him comfortable grabbing passes out of the backfield which makes sense given his previous position.
Not much was expected out of freshman Josh Adams but he has slowly impressed and got some reps on Friday with the first-team offense. Obviously, with the top two guys basically resting it's not a huge deal. Nevertheless, Adams appears to be step-by-step with fellow freshman Dexter Williams for backup carries.
I know Uyeyama is likely to mention this tomorrow--Chris Brown had a great camp and was the best receiver on Friday. That he's remained a starter on the outside is promising for the senior.
The top receivers right now appear to be: Fuller, Brown, Robinson, Hunter, Sanders, and St. Brown.
Boykin and Guyton are doing good things as freshmen but we all know about the depth here. Corey Holmes might be the one player who is falling a little bit. Elsewhere, Amir Carlisle remains the starter in the slot, however, from what has been seen this month he might not be in the top six wideouts.
Kelly was asked about Hunter today and said that he's someone they simply have to get the ball to this year. You can tell everyone in South Bend can't wait to see Torii play in 2015.
This group is getting their health back and the pieces are falling into place where all 5 players might see the field on Saturday's.
Smythe's-decent combination of in-line blocking and pass catching continues to give him a leg up as the 1st-team guy and he was back at practice on Friday after nursing a bum hamstring this week. Behind him Weishar and freshman Alize Jones are definitely pushing hard to see the field as pass catchers.
Kelly mentioned after practice that he's confident in using three tight ends (on the field at once, presumably) which is good news for Luatua, and even Hounshell, who probably won't get many balls thrown their way and are mostly just blockers.
Things have remained constant up front for all of camp: Stanley (LT), Nelson (LG), Martin (C), Elmer (RG), and McGlinchey (RT) continue working together on the top unit. Following the workout Kelly mentioned that Nelson has made tremendous strides with his pass blocking.
The second unit changed as Alex Bars moved out to left tackle and Colin McGovern slide to left guard. Bars is still set to get some reps at guard though, at least that's what Kelly keeps saying.
Not much to report on the D-line except that Jerry Tillery has been taking nearly all of the reps with the top unit at nose tackle. Line coach Keith Gilmore recently praised Daniel Cage's strength so it'll be interesting to see how much the sophomore can help out behind Tillery. Hopefully a lot.
There were reports of the Irish working on some 3-4 fronts in Friday's practice and the top unit was Tillery in the middle and Day with Rochell at defensive end.
The starting trio of Onwualu-Schmidt-Smith has remained but the 3-4 look brought something interesting during the media viewing. The Irish moved Jaylon outside and safety Elijah Shumate to the other edge with Schmidt and Martini inside.
Not much work from Grace again and it is curious that Morgan wasn't involved with the top unit in the 4-linebacker look. To this day Schmidt still has his detractors but he appears to be winning the middle linebacker race in incredibly convincing fashion.
Perhaps the biggest news from Friday was the shocking news that Devin Butler has moved into the top unit at corner. After practice Kelly said he's had a phenomenal camp, despite the media not really seeing the same when they were in attendance. On this day, Russell played a lot of nickel with Butler and Luke the outside corners.
I don't know what this says about Nick Watkins, who many expected to push for a lot of playing time.
Shumate was back with the starters at safety and received a lot of praise on Friday. He was opposite Max Redfield.
When Shumate dropped down to outside linebacker in the 3-4 look it was Avery Sebastian who came in as the starter at strong safety next to Redfield.
The media weren't allowed to view this portion of practice but afterwards Kelly mentioned that the team worked live punt/kick return for the first time since his Grand Valley days. Sounds like special teams might get a little more special.
News & Notes
- No update on Greg Bryant, per Kelly. Last he's heard Bryant is deciding on a JUCO in Florida or Iowa.
- Mike Sanford will be up in the booth this year with Mike Denbrock on the field.
- Kelly mentioned he was happy that classes begin next week instead of during game week for Texas. He likes the extra time for the players to get used to the new environment.
- Crossroads is growing!
Holy crap. This is huge. pic.twitter.com/E8oYgSoZtF— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) August 21, 2015