The Irish took to the fields in full pads this afternoon, the 16th practice of August camp and sixth session since early Monday morning.
Following practice, head coach Brian Kelly informed reporters that Kyle Rudolph (donned the jersey and shorts today) would be shut down for the rest of the week (the team is off Saturday) and would then be expected to return at full go on Monday.
In street clothes chatting with Williams and McDonald was center Dan Wenger, who remained out for precautionary reasons after suffering a concussion on Saturday.
Tight end Mike Ragone was back in pads after a hospital visit over the weekend due to heat exhaustion.
"He was at 50 percent "full.' When we rate a player out, I want to know how long he can go full go – not that he can go 50 percent (of his usual ability)...we'd keep him out," Kelly offered.
"He was ready to go full speed at 50 percent today. So for about an hour. He's taking a tablet that you can swallow that helps monitor body temperature. His body temperature was normal."
Kelly expects "all hands on deck by next Tuesday or Wednesday."
"Looking at the ledger – (Dan) McCarthy's got a little bit of a hamstring – nobody that I'm concerned about going into Purdue."
The great Ara Parseghian addressed the team for several minutes before practice – once drawing a round of applause from the group.
"It was just an honor; I know for our players, they haven't had Coach Parseghian speak to the team. A lot of them hadn't met Coach Parseghian. So it was really cool to be on the field and have him come out and really take control of the huddle.
"Listen, this was not walking out a guy that doesn't have an aura about him. He walked out there, took over the huddle right away, and talked about toughness – mental and physical, and what it takes to win. It was just a great message."
Practice Observations: Session #1The first-team offense in the standard "Tempo" (5-to-score) drill was as follows:
- QB: Dayne Crist
- RB: Armando Allen
- WRs: Duval Kamara, John Goodman (more on that in a minute) and Theo Riddick
- TE: Tyler Eifert
- OL (from right to left): Taylor Dever (the only veteran RT in pads today), Trevor Robinson, Braxston Cave , Chris Stewart and Zack Martin
- Michael Floyd subbed in for Goodman after a specific play to begin the drill.
Second Team Offense:
- QB: Nate Montana, replaced in the drill by Tommy Rees (scheduled, not a mistake-incurred).
- RB: Jonas Gray, replaced by Cierre Wood
- WR: Goodman, TJ Jones, Robby Toma
- TE: Jake Golic
- OL (right to left): Christian Lombard, Alex Bullard, Chris Watt, Lane Clelland and Tate Nichols.
Third Team Offense:
- QB: Montana then Rees again
- RB: Robert Hughes
- WR: Bennett Jackson, Deion Walker, Shaquelle Evans
- TE: Alex Welch
- OL (Skeleton, other than center Mike Golic)
Session #2Ventured over to the running backs, all of which were healthy and participating, for three drills:
- Pad Level: A sharp cut (right first, left next time through) then a burst through the arms of the gauntlet into a heavy bag from which the backs take contact off one shoulder and spin off. Cierre Wood provides comic relief with a dive (some would call it a stumble) after his first rep.
- Attacking inside blitzers: The ‘backs attacked the two-man sled, in pairs, as follows: Allen and Hughes; Gray and Wood; walkon Patrick Coughlin and Cameron Roberson. Nothing to speak of from a non-coach such as myself other than the fact that Patrick Coughlin does everything at full speed; Allen and Hughes still probably the most effective pair in the drill.
- Hand Placement: Leading with the left then right foot in two reps, keeping hand-level high as a key teaching point.
A walk toward the wide receivers to catch the tail end of what is best described as a Figure 8 pass-catching drill: Two quarterbacks (WR coach Tony Alford and a manager) fire passes at the receivers running through cones at the beginning (bottom of the "8") middle, and end (top of the "8") from extremely close range.
The key for the receiver is getting his head around quickly and reacting to (often) a badly thrown, hot-to-handle pass. Deion Walker and Robby Toma both struggled, though the passes were off target while freshman Daniel Smith made a nice finishing catch (I only caught the tail end of the reps). Walker came close to a remarkable one-handed stab…then again, it was incomplete.
Session #3Wide Receivers attempting to block charging defensive backs in a confined space. Rather than illustrate the particulars, just know that it was live, and the matchups are determined (by me) below:
- Floyd and Harrison Smith draw (slight edge Smith)
- Slaughter wins over Toma
- Goodman wins over Gary Gray
- Lo Wood blows by and is held by Deion Walker
- Zeke Motta wins over Shaq Evans, though Evans recovered at the end by maintaining his feet.
- Bennett Jackson wins over walk-on safety Chris Salvi
- Theo Riddick dominates Barry Gallup (shoves him out of bounds)
- Robert Blanton wins handily over TJ Jones
- Jamoris Slaughter makes freshman Austin Collinsworth complete whiff in the small space
- Lo Wood does the same (obscured number). Regardless, second easy win for Wood.
- Harrison Smith wins vs. Michael Floyd in a heated exchange
- Gary Gray completely handles Deion Walker
- Duval Kamara dominates walkon safety Chris Salvi (shoves him 10 yards out of the play)
- Jamoris Slaughter and Robby Toma battle to a draw
- John Goodman and Barry Gallup (no advantage gained – which means the offense wins, I suppose)
- Walk-on Patrick Coughlin throws Bennett Jackson to the ground
- Lo Wood finally loses, as Austin Collinsworth handles him, drawing cheers from the group for his effort
- Zeke Motta and freshman Daniel Smith battle to a draw to end the drill.
Following practice, Kelly offered a minor surprise in the form of senior outside linebacker Kerry Neal.
"He's starting at 'Dog' right now," Kelly said of the OLB position also referred to as "Drop" linebacker. "Right now he would be the starting Dog if we played tomorrow. But its still competitive – Brian Smith is fighting at that position, but right now it's Kerry Neal."
Asked about perceived starter (as of last week at this time) Steve Filer, Kelly added, "He's Dog, he's playing a little 'Cat.' He's playing both sides."