The Notre Dame season opener against Navy in Dublin is four weeks from today. The Irish held their third fall camp practice Friday. Here are some updates:
Head Coach Marcus Freeman has made a point of approaching every player to greet them when practice begins and during stretching. Freeman has been giving motivational speeches before and during practice, firing up the Irish.
He mentioned how last season, he was too focused on the big picture and not necessarily the day-to-day:
“Last year, I’m talking about national championships, winning the 12th and all this stuff, and you’re 9-4. … That’s what I’ve gone away from. Don’t even talk about those things,” Freeman said in an interview with Adam Rittenberg. “All we need to focus on is reaching our full potential. … Who cares about Week 12? Like, stop talking about national championships. That’s too big. It’s too big for them to really understand what it takes for that to be the result. That’s been my mind-set.”
Here are some week one practice updates:
- Junior receiver Deion Colzie was back in action Friday after missing the first few practices due to a migraine.
- South Florida graduate transfer kicker Spencer Shrader went 6 for 8 with several deep field goals, including a 49-yarder.
- Redshirt sophomore Jaylen Sneed has trained at several different linebacker spots. Sneed was out for the first practice due to some minor nicks, but he was all over the field on Friday.
- Blue Gold stated from their practice review that Jadarian Price has looked fast and powerful, with excellent acceleration. Having Price back from injury is a huge boost to the Irish.
- Defensive Coordinator Al Golden has moved around the secondary to create versatility. The safeties and cornerbacks have looked solid; Oklahoma State transfer safety Thomas Harper has also looked strong at the safety position, and he has moved to corner on several occasions as well.
- The first team at wide receiver looks like sophomore Tobias Merriweather, junior Jayden Thomas, and senior Chris Tyree.
- The veteran linebacking corps of JD Bertrand, Marist Liufau, and Jack Kiser is being pushed by the young group of linebackers in Drayk Bowen, Sneed, Preston Zinter, Nolan Ziegler, and Jaiden Ausberry.
- Wide receiver Braylon James impressed in the first two practices by catching some well-thrown balls from fellow freshman Kenny Minchey.
- Kiser, in a Friday post-practice interview, said, “The younger guys have been getting a ton of reps. That’s been something that has kind of changed, and certainly that they are very fortunate for… to see their confidence grow, you can see them playing faster already.”
- Grad Assistant Max Boullough brings a “unique energy to the program,” Kiser said.
- Boullough said he grew up a Notre Dame fan. His uncle and grandfather both played at Notre Dame.
- Bertrand said, “Having so many younger guys [linebacker] has been an opportunity to teach.” All of the young guys are “picking up the defense really fast.”
- Golden said that Ziegler and Sneed made the most progress in the spring. “I’m really pleased with the younger guys, too, Ausberry, Zinter, and Drayk,” he said.
- “Four things are our focus: great ball disruption, finish – effort and attitude, understand and identify situations, and be better tacklers” – Golden stated.
- Golden said that the Irish will rush different linebackers and ends on third downs.
- Things have slowed down for him in year 2, and the players are more comfortable in his system.
- Golden also noted that the offense has been more productive: “We’re practicing accordingly.”
Strength and Conditioning coach Matt Balis resigned last week for personal reasons, and the players talked about how he preached mental toughness. Tight Ends Kevin Bauma and Eli Raridon said that just because Balis is gone, his teachings aren’t. The team will try to carry that mental toughness through a hot, humid fall camp and into the season opener.
When asked about the chemistry of this year’s squad, Freeman stated that this is the closest Notre Dame team he has been around. The team has really bonded and built chemistry.
“When you have that emotional bond, that is when great things are achieved,” Freeman said. Those great things will have to be achieved one day at a time, one detail at a time.