The Notre Dame Fighting Irish took the practice field for their fourth 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.
I had a last minute family schedule change on Friday, so all of this is going to be a bit late because I was out doing this. Here are just a few quick thoughts:
I’ve been waiting to see more of Tyler Buchner on the run because, in the future, that’s the part of his game that will eventually separate himself from everyone else. He throws a good ball (despite arm mechanics people saying otherwise) and has a strong arm, but when you add his running ability to the mix, he really does start to look like one of the best quarterbacks from his class.
Jordan Johnson in action was nice. He broke a tackle with some power and shake, and executed a nice spin move to get a few more yards.
I’m continually impressed with the defensive line. They look quicker and on the attack. I’m not sure how much of that is from the scheme change that Marcus Freeman installed, or if they are just that much better this year with the returning guys. Kurt Hinish, Jayson Ademilola, and Isaiah Foskey flashed in the clips.
D.J. Brown is a funny one because sometimes he looks great out there and sometimes he looks lost — of course the “lost” look happens a lot to players if they get beat.
I really wish I could see more of the defense in a wide lens. These clips aren’t doing any justice to that side of the ball with little shown of pre-snap formation and secondary alignment.
So... when I was planning on being available for the presser on Saturday, the only thing I wanted to ask Brian Kelly was about the offensive line and what they’re doing there. It’s like he read my mind from 1000 miles away and touched on it in his opening statement.
“I know you guys kind of look at the video we send out and I would try to be careful to not look too far into, ‘this is the starting lineup.’ We’re really trying to build position flexibility right now. You know, Josh Lugg is playing guard, and he’s playing tackle. Carmody is playing center and was playing tackle. You know, Kristofic is playing center and guard.”
“I’m using the offensive line as an example because with those guys, we’re trying to build a lot of positional flexibility there.”
He expanded more on the line a little later in the presser:
“I think I’ve kind of talked a little bit on the offensive line...We’re giving everybody a look at an opportunity at different positions. And there’s there’s very competitive opportunities for each position. And I mean that for all of them. So, I could probably give you 10 guys right now of 13 guys in total that are all kind of competing for different positions. You know, the left tackle is an interesting one with the, you know, Blake Griffin, Blake Fisher out there. Blake Griffin, he’d be pretty good.Probably be a pretty good football player. But Blake Fisher at left tackle with Tosh Baker. That’s an interesting one, right? Those two guys kind of battling it out. You know, Rocco Spindler’s getting a lot of work at the left guard position. As I mentioned, we’ve got to two guys working at center and (Michael) Carmody and (Andrew) Kristofic. And then, you know, the tackle position, we moved Quinn Carroll out to get some tackle work as well. So, it’s really fun in that respect, because they’re all getting a lot of work. And it’s going to take some time.”
I’m on the record (as are most people) that despite the quarterback “battle” between Jack Coan and Drew Pyne, this will eventually be Coan’s job. As far as Tyler Buchner is concerned, we’re starting to see more of what makes hime special — which bodes well for 2022 and beyond — at least a little bit.
“Today, we started to see some of the rust come off of Tyler Bucher. Today was a really good day for him. He was much more comfortable out there, threw the ball with a lot more confidence. And I say this in that he hadn’t played football for a year. So it was nice to see him out there. He had a smile on his face, he had some confidence.
“In all those mid-year (freshmen), I actually commented after practice, man, what a whirlwind for those guys. You know, we throw them right into the deep end, academically, in the weight room, and then on the football field, and they’re doing a terrific job and Tyler’s no exception to that. So good day for Tyler. But each one of them a little bit different from that perspective.”
Besides the offensive line, wide receiver needs guys to step up in a big way. Kelly talked about the progress Braden Lenzy and Lawrence Keys are making, and then dives in with some Jordan Johnson tidbits.
“As it relates to the wide receivers, who’s been impressive. You know, I think what we’ve been looking for is consistency and performance. And you know you’re going to get that from Avery Davis. He’s been a leader of the group.
“I think the guy that has caught my attention, or two guys who caught my attention - now, this is only practice Four, so, I’m going to put an asterisk next to it and they know why I’m putting an asterisk next to it, because it’s Practice Four - but (Braden) Lenzy and (Lawrence) Keys had been really good. Now, they have to be consistent, because that has been the area that they haven’t been for us. They haven’t been consistent. But they’ve made a commitment in the weight room that is different than what we’ve seen in the past. These guys have been outstanding in the weight room. And you can see it in the way they are translating that onto the field. They’re explosive. They’re running out. They’re breaking tackles. You can see it in the way that they’re practicing and playing. So, I would say Lenzy and Keys, and that takes nothing away from any of the other receivers.”
“You know, I know you guys love Jordan Johnson, and he’s doing a nice job. I think what I’m most impressed with Jordan is what he’s doing in the classroom right now. He’s really turned the corner there. And you can start to see that confidence showing itself on the football field too.”
We’re seeing more and more of the Justin and Jayson Ademilola, as well as the shift of Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa to strong-side end. Kelly talked about Jayson’s play with MTA’s move.
“So, two things, right? You know, this is pretty common when we’re talking about good interior play. (He) doesn’t stay blocked. And he makes plays, he makes tackles. And, you know, that’s the mark of a good player. He’s a guy that grades out very high. When he’s in there, he’s been very, very efficient as a football player for us. So, you know, sometimes we kind of kid about how to get guys off blocks is to just yell louder. You know? Because it’s almost an innate ability to do it. Some guys are good at it, some guys not quite as good. It’s just, you know, a natural ability, and he’s got some natural ability.”
As far as Justin goes...
“You know — earned his snaps just as Ade earned his snaps. You know, one thing about Justin is he’s a pretty smart player...When we look at him and last year when he got his opportunity, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Like, you’re not going to boot or run a naked (bootleg) on him. He’s going to be up field in the right position, reverses you know, he’s really gap conscious. We want him obviously to cut it loose a little bit more. And I think he’ll be given that opportunity in the role that he’s in now that he’s going to be getting more reps. But very fundamentally sound player that now can take that next step now that he’s going to be getting some more reps, and cut it loose, and be more of a playmaker.”
Notre Dame made Justin Ademilola, Jayson Ademilola, Drew Pyne, and Jack Coan available to the media. You can find all of their interviews in the player below.
- Justin Ademilola Notre Dame Athletics
- Justin Ademilola and Josh Lugg Notre Dame Athletics
- Tyler Buchner Notre Dame Athletics
- Jack Coan Notre Dame Athletics
- C’Bo Flemister Notre Dame Athletics
- Kurt Hinish and Jayson Ademilola Notre Dame Athletics
- Drew Pyne in the huddle Notre Dame Athletics
- Jayson Ademilola Notre Dame Athletics
- Lawrence Keys Notre Dame Athletics
- Braden Lenzy and Clarance Lewis Notre Dame Athletics
- Marist Liufau Notre Dame Athletics
- Michael Mayer Notre Dame Athletics
- Tommy Rees Notre Dame Athletics
- Tommy Rees Notre Dame Athletics