Practice Report: 4/4

Ishaq Williams continues to run with the 1st unit

Notre Dame hit the Labar Practice Fields for practice No. 9 of 15 this spring.

The "excused" absence of sophomore defensive end Aaron Lynch served as the wrong kind of wake-up call on a crisp spring morning; the last practice for Notre Dame until April 11. (We'll have more information on Lynch after speaking with head coach Brian Kelly following today's practice.)

Sidelined again today were running back Amir Carlisle (broken ankle/out for the spring), linebacker Prince Shembo (left foot still in a protective boot), and new addition to the wounded, linebacker Dan Fox, who walked into practice with the aid of one crutch while chatting with head coach Brian Kelly. None of the trio was in uniform while redshirt-freshman nose guard Tony Springmann (back surgery) continued to work on the exercise bike in his Irish jersey.

Viewing Period: Defense

A few notable changes in the first team defensive unit (at least for today's early sessions):

Defensive Backs: Safety stalwart Jamoris Slaughter worked at cornerback with Bennett Jackson opposite. Junior Austin Collinsworth joined senior Zeke Motta at safety to round out the unit.

Josh Atkinson and Lo Wood took their spots as the second team boundary and field corners, respectively. They were backed by safeties Danny McCarthy and former walk-on Chris Salvi. Three redshirt-freshmen Eilar Hardy and Matthias Farley (safeties) and Jalen Brown (cornerback) worked with the third unit, as did newcomer to the corner position, former running back Cam McDaniel.

Linebackers: First team linebackers were no surprise: Manti Te'o and Carlo Calabrese inside with Ishaq Williams and Danny Spond on the edges. Calabrese is competing with the aforementioned Fox; Williams with the injured Shembo at Will and Cat linebacker, respectively.

The second unit showed Justin Utupo and Jarrett Grace (Mike) inside with Anthony Rabasa (Cat) and Ben Councell on the perimeter. Kendall Moore worked with the third-team (more on him below) as did preferred walk-on and oft-reference inside ‘backer, Joe Schmidt.

Defensive Linemen: The defensive front included Stephon Tuitt and January enrollee Sheldon Day at defensive end with Kona Schwenke on the nose.

The second team defensive front showed 5th-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore and senior Tyler Stockton at end with Louis Nix on the nose. Sophomore Chase Hounshell worked with the third unit as he continues to recover from off-season shoulder surgery.

Linebacker Drills with Diaco

Need a morning pick-me-up? Forget coffee, forget 5-hour energy…just spend a few minutes watching defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Bob Diaco work with his position group.

A bundle of positive energy during a pair of non-contact drills with his ‘backers (the first drill, as described the perpetual man in motion, included the following explanation: "This is about foot acceleration and transition from speed to power"). Diaco nonetheless corrected sophomores Ishaq Williams and Anthony Rabasa, asking: "Do you know the purpose of the drill?" and following with an explanation, both players responded with what Diaco deemed, "perfect" follow-up efforts.

Also lauded for his performance was Kendall Moore: "Great drill! Great drill! (Jarrett) Grace, he's trying to take his job back, in case you were wondering…"

(Grace has been working as the second team Mike linebacker behind Te'o and ahead of Moore this spring.)

Also impressing Diaco were Carlo Calabrese, Joe Schmidt (sans one bad angle), Manti Te'o, and later, Ishaq Williams.

Tausch vs. Brindza

The pair of place-kickers squared off for a series of six kicks from alternating hash marks with the following results:

Nick Tausch: Inside 20 yards (good); 28/29 yards (hook), 34 yards (hook), 42, 45, and 49 yards all split the uprights, drawing cheers from his teammates after the uncharacteristic pair of misses.

Kyle Brindza: Good from each, including a drill shot on his 45 and 49 yard boots down the middle of the pipes and deep into the net. Brindza's kicks, however, do hit the line of scrimmage at a lower trajectory. (None were blocked vs. live defense – just an observation.)

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