Posted: 5:51 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013
By Eric Murtaugh
Friday's practice was supposed to be open to the media but Notre Dame moved the access to Saturday instead. Here's a recap of what's been going on in South Bend.
First the injury bug hits Notre Dame hard.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly: "Danny (Spond) announced today to the team that he no longer will be playing football."— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 17, 2013
It's funny how a greater plan, Is too hard to understand. Right now it doesn't make sense.. No I can't make it make sense.— Danny Spond (@Dspond13) August 15, 2013
Terrible news for Notre Dame's returning starting Dog linebacker. Spond hadn't been practicing with the team for a while and though it's not clear exactly what led to his retirement Kelly said his family will come out with a statement soon discussing his medical issue.
Elsewhere, backup defensive end Tony Springmann injured his knee and was in a brace for Saturday's practice. He won't be available for Temple and they are waiting on the results of a MRI to see the extent of the injury.
On the offensive line starting left guard Chris Watt missed practice with a concussion, guard Connor Hanratty did not participate in contact, and John Montelus continues to show up in street clothes.
At running back Cam McDaniel was not dressed on Saturday, Tarean Folston was excused due to a death in his family and Will Mahone suffered a high ankle sprain that will keep him out for a while.
Freshman linebacker Doug Randolph had shoulder surgery and will miss the 2013 season.
Still not much to talk about. Hendrix has mentioned that he'd like to return for a fifth-year if given the opportunity. Also:
BK - Hendrix has picked up the knowledge of the game over the years. He didn't grow up with the game, but now he recognizes things easier.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 17, 2013
It sounds like Hendrix is improving but Rees continues to be the clear No. 1 with Zaire the clear No. 3 behind the Voodoo Child.
Rees has reportedly looked sharp but still struggles with his deep ball.
Folston wasn't at practice on Saturday as mentioned above but he's apparently been in the mix lately after nursing an injury in the beginning of camp.
Atkinson remains the top back although Bryant and Carlisle are getting a lot of time with the first team offense as well. Curiously after our last practice update Carlisle was seeing most of his time in the slot during scrimmages but he was back at running back exclusively on Saturday.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly on Greg Bryant: "He’s a great kid. Hard worker. He’s gonna be a really good player. He picks things up quickly."— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 17, 2013
If I had to guess at the pecking order it's probably Atkinson, Bryant, McDaniel, and Folston with Carlisle the wildcard obviously subject to where he'll get the most playing time. As time goes on I expect Folston to pass McDaniel.
For those of you who've wanted to see TJ Jones in the slot it looks like that's becoming a reality. The first time receiver unit at times was DaVaris Daniels and Chris Brown outside with Jones in the slot.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly on Corey Robinson: "There’s no question that he can help us on the perimeter."— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 17, 2013
Daniel Smith has been banged up and is expected back soon but his absence has opened the door for someone like Corey Robinson who continues to impress. Right now it appears Robinson is the fifth receiver off the bench with fellow freshman James Onwualu in the mix too.
Mahone's high ankle sprain probably sets him back in the competition in the slot---if he was seriously in the running there anyway. With Carlisle, Prosise, and now Jones getting work in the slot, plus the use of two tight end sets, I doubt there's much playing time available for Mahone.
No real information to report.
With Hanratty still nursing an injury Christian Lombard remains at right guard and Ronnie Stanley at right tackle.
BK - Ronnie Stanley is strong and big with long arms and he's huge.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 17, 2013
BK - Steve Elmer can play anywhere other than center. He likes left tackle, but he'll play anywhere.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 17, 2013
We'll see if Hanratty comes back and pushes Stanley off the field but it's looking like the starting unit is going to be Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Nick Martin, Christian Lombard, and Ronnie Stanley with Steve Elmer being the first off the bench. Elmer filled in at left guard on Saturday in the absence of Watt.
Kelly did mention that freshman Colin McGovern was able to practice full go, while Montelus is making great progress with this shoulder.
The injury to Springmann (likely long-term) could really hurt the depth up front and push some backups into the limelight. Kelly did say that Ishaq Williams is basically the third defensive end in addition to his duties at Cat linebacker. Williams was also working at linebacker so it's obvious he's going to play a ton.
Isaac Rochell appears to be solidifying himself in the rotation as he's still working with the 2nd team at defensive end. The battle on the other side between Jarron Jones and Justin Utupo is still on-going while Anthony Rabasa is also seeing some time at defensive end.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly on Tuitt again: "He didn’t go off the reservation and just decide he was gonna eat bad food."— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 17, 2013
Tuitt seems to be rounding into shape and looking better in practice. Good news!
In nickel coverage the front was Ishaq and Shembo with their hand on the ground with Tuitt and Nix in between them.
Without Spond on the field freshman Jaylon Smith has been seeing a lot of time with the first team in combination with Ben Councell.
Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese continue to work on the inside with the first team and Jarrett Grace and Kendall Moore are with the second team. With Fox at Mike linebacker I'm interested to see if he'll move back over to Will when Grace comes on the field. Grace is on the field quite a bit in nickel and dime situations.
Of note, sophomore Romeo Okwara is still 3rd string at Cat linebacker but is also cross-training at Dog linebacker with the loss of Danny Spond.
Cole Luke has been making waves and is settling into a role as a backup corner. He's also been working a lot as the nickel corner.
Backup safety Austin Collinsworth is seeing the field in dime coverage situations and he blitzed a lot from that position during scrimmaging.
Redfield continues to impress physically and athletically but it doesn't appear that he's pushing hard for immediate playing time as a true freshman. He'll probably make up ground as the season progresses.
Nick Tausch is seriously pushing Kyle Brindza for placekicking duties, which is mildly interesting. Kelly did mention he wants Tausch to focus on punting so perhaps Tausch wins this job back?
The battle between Brindza and Wake Forest transfer Alex Wulfeck at punter is coming down to the wire.
Working on the kick return duties were George Atkinson, Greg Bryant, and Amir Carlisle.