The Notre Dame Fighting Irish took the practice field for their tenth session of the spring period on Saturday. There is no media allowed for any practice this spring, but Notre Dame has provided us with photos and video to pass along to our readers.
The videos aren’t the normal type of hype footage we normally see from Notre Dame on their social accounts — as there is a lot more meat on this 3 minute bone. After a few practice clips with some drill work, today’s version is entirely from plays in a scrimmage setting.
Here are a few quick thoughts...
Brian Kelly talked about needing to find more guys that can snap the ball — and we can see why. There were a lot of bad snaps today on this clip. Most were low, and Zeke Correll had his fair share. We’ve seen Michael Carmody and Andrew Kristofic at center this spring, but I think this was the first time I saw Quinn Carroll snapping balls.
To be perfectly honest... I’m not sure what to make of most of this clip. Drew Pyne wasn’t on it at all, and it looked more sloppy overall (the clip and the running game).
Perhaps some of the sloppy running game looks have to do with Notre Dame’s front seven on defense which, again, look very fast and very aggressive.
I only watched the clip about 10 times instead of the normal “OMG I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour now” times, so if I go back later and get a better grip on some things, I’ll drop them in the comments below.
HANGING WITH BK
It’s Saturday so we got Brian Kelly to talk about his football team after 10 spring practices.
We finally got clarification from Brian Kelly about Drew White’s injury and where he stands with the defense.
“Drew had a high ankle sprain, so we’ll be careful with him. Nothing long term, but he’s certainly a guy that we know enough about and he’s a great leader. Whether we put him back out there or not is is questionable. His presence is there, he’s with the young guys, he’s making sure that they’re picking up the things that they need to, and he’s learning too, because there’s some new nuances within the defensive that he wants to be aware of as well.”
While the Irish are still moving players around the offensive line and up and down the depth chart with other position groups, Kelly talks about the need to start putting together the best pieces.
“The little things that we need to work on, defensively we need to continue to develop our corner position, the depth at safety. I feel good about the linebackers and the front seven and certainly the offensive line. Figuring out the pieces. Now that we’ve had a lot of guys moving to different positions, we got to start in these next five practices, including the game, we got to start to look at where do we think the best pieces are after 10 practices. We know that there are dynamics that have to be worked on that will require this summer and some development internally on the field in these next five practices. We have to address some some technical and technique issues and guys being in the right position. That will be our work over the next five practices.”
Continuing with the 10 practices in — also known as 2⁄3 of the way through — I asked kelly about what has surprised him this spring. His answer wasn’t all that surprising given the amount of attention the beat as a whole has given the early enrollees this spring.
“I think what I’m surprised with is the ability of the mid years, the guys that come in from high school and have to adapt through COVID and academics and weight training and then come out here and compete. In some instances that has surprised me that they can do it at a high level. We’ve got some freshmen that are vying for playing time in their first year here and I find that not surprising, but I find that to be pretty impressive. Whether I would say that’s eye opening and use those adjectives, I would say that that is quite an achievement for kids of that age to be able to come in here in a championship program, a team that’s played in the playoffs two out of the last three years to make that kind of impact, I think it says a lot about the individual. That’s kind of where I stand on on that end of it.”
Kelly said the team is still a work in progress when I asked him about his confidence in knowing where any of the position groups stood after 10 spring practices.
“There’s bits and pieces of our offense and defense that you can look at, but I don’t think that we go, ‘Hey, we know exactly what it’s going to look like for Florida State.’ We’re a work in progress, so I’m not in that mindset of I know what we look like. I know that there’s some pieces here and there and it’s allowed us to work around not having a Jarrett Patterson or not having a Kyle Hamilton in the lineup. We’re counting on them and so we know we’ve got them for the fall. It’s allowed us to, for example, we know don’t have to think about finding two safeties. You’ve got to find who’s the next safety. Same thing on the offensive line. Other than that, we’re still a work in progress.”
Kelly talked about the nickel position and if the Irish were going to use it more in 2021 with TaRiq Bracy and/or Clarence Lewis.
“I really think it’s going to be contingent upon who we’re playing. If we’re playing Florida State and they come out in four wides and 11 personnel, you will see a lot more nickel on the field. That position is in flux. We’re playing an extra safety or corner at that position. Wallace has been getting some work there. Bracy has been getting some work there. We’re going to continue to find what the best rotation is for us at that position and it will be contingent upon personnel groupings. We run a lot of 12 personnel and that guy’s not on the field when we go against each other simply because of the personnel matchup. This will still be dictated by what personnel groupings we see.”
The offensive line has been a huge focus this spring with so many starters gone from last year — and Jarrett Patterson sitting out because of an injury. Trying to find the five best players is getting interesting, and center seems to be a position in need of guys that can actually snap the ball well.
“You’ve got great competition. You’ve got Tosh Baker and Blake Fisher battling it out at the tackle position. You got a couple of young guys there obviously. That’s very good for your team. You look across the board, you’ve got Carmody out there. You got Dirksen. You got Gibbons, Correll. There’s a lot of guys that are in there, Kristofic, there’s a number of guys who all want their opportunity, so the competitiveness has been great. What we’re really in a position right now and focused on is that’s going to kind of take care of itself.”
“We got to really solidify another center for us right now. We know that we could pull Patterson out of the current position he’s in and move him to center if something happened to Zeke, but that doesn’t necessarily make us better because to answer your question, you may not then put your best five on the field. We’ve really got to find out — we got to get another guy to snap the ball, quite frankly. That’s been a process over the last four or five practices, finding another guy to snap, but that will then give us the ability to get the best five on the field.”
“The offensive line is is one where we know Fisher, we know Baker, we pretty much made a decision that Carmody — those guys are staying out of tackle. Jarrett, we’re not we’re sure until we get him back, whether he is a tackle, and then we move Lugg to guard, is he a guard and then Lugg stays out at tackle. We think Zeke’s one of our five, so he’s the center because if you want to get your five best, we want to leave an open mind to whether it’s guard or tackle to kind of go back to answering that original question of getting the best five on the field. What we’re doing is we’re saying all right, Jarrett is the guard right now, what’s our best five, Jarrett is the tackle, who’s the best five. So, this is kind of like a game that we’re playing right now in spring to see what’s the best five when Patterson comes back, is it guard or is it tackle. He can play anywhere right now because he is not playing, but the fact of the matter is, once he gets back, then we’ll start to figure out where his comfort level is and where he makes us the best five.”
I was surprised at how adamant Kelly was about getting Joe Wilkins, Braden Lenzy, and Lawrence Keys to the next level in terms of their play. In the clips so far, I think we’ve seen that, but they were a much more specific answer to the “what’s happening at receiver?” question than I expected.
“Receiver, it’s really about, to me, more than anything else, is getting Wilkins, Lenzy and Keys at the next level. That’s where this really is about. Jordan Johnson is getting better. There’s no doubt. He’s got to continue though on the little things. He’s missed a couple of practices. We got to get him back in the flow of things. But those three guys are where this is at. They have got a sense of the championship level. They’ve been good. Don’t get me wrong. They’ve been good. I need them to move to that great level, and they’re capable of it, and we’re seeing some signs but this is all wrapped up in those three guys really taking that next step. Now, that’s assuming we get Kevin back, if we get Kevin Austin back healthy, Avery’s obviously been steady for us in the slot, we got a great tight end, two outstanding backs, three really good C’Bo, you got a pretty good offense there. But these three guys have to ascend. That’s really the key here for us at the wide receiver position.”
There was much more from Kelly in the presser, and you can watch the session in the video below.
Nore Dame gave us Kurt Hinish, Shayne Simon, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, and Josh Lugg today.
Kurt wants to be the most violent player on the field, and about how good Rocco Spindler and Blake Fisher really are. BONUS: Scouting report on his brother Donovan — a defensive lineman the Irish are recruiting.
MTA is really happy that he’s out on the edge now, and blames Hawaiian food for his move inside as a freshman. He also has some thoughts about the freshman lineman, and their future NFL Draft status.
Shayne Simon is excited about the new defensive scheme that allows him to use more of his athleticism.
Josh Lugg talks about his weight gain, loss, and gain again — and how this will help him feel much better on the field. He too discusses the freshmen in glowing terms.