Saturday saw The Fighting Irish put practice number eight in the books and a new name, Jarrett Grace, on the operating table. With the Blue-Gold Spring Game on April 12 and at the half-way point of the Spring season, I’m excited to see what develops over the next seven practices. I’m also pleased to see that Kelly’s staff picked up two solid commitments over the weekend, both out of talent-rich Texas. So let’s get to it.
But first, I had the pleasure of meeting Tex, our fearless co-leader and Editor-in-Chief, last weekend at the (absolutely beautiful) wedding of a (-n absolutely beautiful) mutual friend of ours here in New Orleans. My two Hot Tex Takes: 1.) the man is marrying way above the rim (I also met his fiancée) ; and 2.) his eyebrows do, in fact, look like that in person.
Back to the football, though. With eight practices under their belts, all of which have been indoors, The Irish seem to be adjusting nicely to having Everett Golson back at the reins and under center. His likely backup, Malik Zaire, though, is, by all accounts, making terrific progress of his own and looks ready to provide Notre Dame another offensive weapon instead of a serviceable play-caller to get them off the field and into the locker-room. As one example, pay attention to the zip on the ball and in the step of Number Eight at 2:07 in the video from Saturday’s session:
In fact, if you listen to Malik, he’s not backing anyone up. And, if you read the previous link all the way through, Coach Kelly isn’t exactly pooh-poohing the idea of a two quarterback system come August.
In personnel news, the most significant is Jarrett Grace’s surgery on the right leg he has been recouping since breaking it in four places last season. Over the weekend, he underwent a successful rod placement to further encourage the fusing of the JESUS CHRIST IT JUST SOUNDS PAINFUL. According to Coach and Dr. Ratigan, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the operation, Jarrett should be back to compete for his starting position at “Nerf” (middle) linebacker. In the mix for his spot are (former) walk-on Joe Schmidt and two others, one of whom is a true walk-on.
Staying with the D, Coach VanGorder gave a thirty minute press conference last Wednesday. For all the hype about The Irish turning away from Diaco’s 3-4 system, it seems that VanGorder’s philosophy is to move in-and-out of fronts depending on the package, play, and position. His watch-word is “multiple” and he’s been pinging Jaylon Smith inside and outside. KeiVarae Russell is apparently turning out one heck of a solid Spring and Ishaq Williams has done a “good job so far.” Though “struggling” in coverage, converted wide receiver James Onwalu is “a good learner.”
In recruiting news, it was two steps forwards and one step back this weekend. The gets were Prentice McKinney (DB) out of Dallas, and Jaylen Guyton (WR) from Allen, also a city in Texas, evidently. Both a solid three-stars at their positions and both represent a widening of the pipeline between The Lone Star State and South Bend. The loss was four-star LB Josh Barajas to Penn State, who verbally committed to Happy Valley on Sunday. Whatever. They’re just verbals. They’ll all wind up playing for Tulane, or something.
Here’s how Coach Kelly felt after Saturday’s session. Monday will be outside and it sounds like they’re leaving the Jugs inside. Should be fun:
To get a flavor for where Brian’s Boys are in their development, you can watch NDFIDM’s terrific video-shorts in sequence here.