Notre Dame Practice Report: Offense (April 2)

PRACTICE OPENING

• Absent from practice No. 8 of spring drills inside the Irish Athletics Complex was wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr., who suffered a broken foot – we’re being told a Lisfranc injury – a week ago. Goal Deion Colziewho was in a red jersey last Saturday, was back in full-go action.

• Interesting to see just three offensive players – Josh Lugg, Drew Pyne and Avery Davis – among the 12 line leaders as the Irish conducted flex. Jarrett Patterson would be with that group, but he was in the northeast corner of the Irish Athletics Complex where the injured players rode stationary bikes and did various stretches/workouts.

Among the offensive players in the group were Patterson, fellow offensive linemen Joey Tanona, Billy Schrauth and Pat Cooganas well as tight end Cane Berrong.

• Prior to flex, train Notre Dame defensive line coach Greg Mattison was engaged in conversation with offensive line coach Harry Histand. Former Irish great QuentonNelson was in attendance. Assistant Offensive Line Coach Chris Watt was in conversation with Irish defensive coordinator Al Golden. Watt nodded his head in taking the sage advice from the veteran defensive coach.

PASSING GAME

• As we saw a week earlier, Notre Dame’s offense and defense worked on a tackling/leverage/angle drill to open practice with running backs and tight ends taking swing passes from the quarterbacks with a defensive player upfield in a prone position. The defender then pops up to make an open-field square-up (no tackling).

The drill favors the offensive player. And thus, only a handful of defenders were able to successfully square up the offensive player with a full head of steam and no fellow defenders to help leverage the play. The “defensive wins” by Jordan Botelho, Bo BauerDJ Brown, JD Bertrand and linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka came against walk-on tight end Charlie Selna, tight end Michael MayerSelna, running back Logan Diggs and walk-on running back Chris Velotta.

• For the third period of the allotted five open to the media, the offensive line and tight ends went outside for some one-on-one and combo work. During this time, running backs coach Deland McCullough had a row of large garbage cans lined up to represent the offensive linemen. The running backs – per a McCullough decree – were instructed to adhere to hitting the proper gap, which McCullough expounded upon earlier in the week. McCullough was seen drawing an imaginary line and emphasizing hitting a specific gap. High-and-tight control of the football was accentuated as well.

• While the receivers went through drills to get off blocks, Avery Davis was on his own agenda, moving pretty well for a guy coming off ACL surgery last fall. He looks to be progressing toward an injury-free summer.

• Throwing against air, the most challenging of the routes were deep-ins run by the wide receivers. Tyler Buchner threw behind Jayden Thomas and Drew Pyne missed low badly to Colzie. Buchner then overshot Braden Lenzy. After that, however, Buchner and Pyne were nearly perfect in throws to Lorenzo StylesMatt Salerno, Colzie, Thomas and Lenzy.

Swing passes were accurately executed by Buchner to Audric Esteemtight end Kevin Bauman and running back Jadarian Priceand by Pyne to Mayer, Bauman and Mitchell Evans.

• When consistent with his throwing motion, Buchner is tight and compact with accuracy. His release is quick. That’s three practices the media has seen where Buchner has been mostly accurate.

• On an in-up-and-out route drill, Buchner threw behind Lenzy, but was accurate to Matt Salerno while hitting Chris Tyree in stride we have swing pass. Pyne was accurate on the same routes to Styles, Colzie, Esteem and walk-on running back Chase Ketterer. Every pass in this drill thrown by freshman Steve Angeli was on target to Jayden Thomaswalk-on wide receiver Conor Ratigan, Logan Diggs and Chris Velotta. Freshman quarterback red shirt Ron Powlus III was accurate to Jadarian Price.

• As we saw in last Saturday’s practice, the offense and defense worked on executing from a trips formation (offensive) and diffusing the passing scheme (defense). Not surprisingly, the first rep was immediately diagnosed by linebackers Bo Bauer and Jack Kiser. Wideout Lorenzo Styles was beaten by a physical Marist Liufau. That’s Notre Dame’s starting linebacker corps. They’re good.

offensive coordinator Tommy Rees dug deeper into his playbook as the offense and defense played a game of play-calling cat-and-mouse. A little disappointment off the snap of the football shook Michael Mayer free for a pass from Drew Pyne. Safety Ramon Henderson got the best of Styles at the line of scrimmage.

Another deceptive route out of trips freed up Braden Lenzy we passed from Drew Pynegoal red-shirt sophomore cornerback LuckTucker nearly made a circus-catch interception. Running back Logan Diggs successfully absorbed a big hit from safety Xavier Watts. Buchner threw a dangerous pass on a play that was diagnosed well by the defense. The pass fell complete. Tight-end Kevin Bauman man-handled Jaylen Sneed in a trips blocking assignment.

KICKING GAME

It was a real mixed bag for kickers Josh Bryan and Blake Group. Each attempted six field goals at the start of practice.

Bryan was good from 32, way left from 35, good from 37, good from 43, good from 46 and way left from 50. Grupe was wide left from 34, wide right from 36, good from 42, good from 44, good from 48 and way left from 50.

Grupe continues to show the more explosive leg with more of a line drive kicking approach while Bryan is, in theory, less likely to have a kick blocked with his trajectory. Both showed some good bang off their right kicking foot but had a few directional issues.

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