- Rico Flores Jr. has continued to look solid, making numerous acrobatic catches.
- Backup Steve Angeli continues to push hard for the second-string job as he has looked very strong, completing a high percentage of his passes.
- Jaden Greathouse looks like he’ll be an immediate contributor as a freshman, as he took first-team reps and does not look like a freshman.
- The defensive line continues to impress: Howard Cross III has blown up some plays in the backfield. Gabriel Rubio, Jordan Botelho, and Nana Osafo-Mesah have blown up numerous plays as well.
- Jaylen Sneed has been moved all around the field, playing both inside and outside at linebacker as well as blitzing off the edge. He’s made plays all over, too.
- Jeremiyah Love showed flashes of speed and smooth moves although he did fumble on one play.
- Pat Coogan worked at first-team left guard and Rocco Spindler at right guard. Andrew Kristofic was working with the second team at right guard. Billy Schrauth at second-team left guard.
- Freshmen Boubacar Traore and Brenan Vernon have shown they may be ready to contribute early.
- Jason Onye has also been a breakout star in practice on the defensive line.
- Kicker Spencer Shrader also has impressed, hitting continuously from far out, and claimed that he once hit a 60+ yarder during strong winds while at USF at practice.
- Blue Gold noted that Sneed has often been a third-down pass rusher and uses his quickness to get into the backfield.
- The second-team defensive line has dominated the second-team offensive line.
- Sophomore running back Jadarian Price looks healthy, impressive, and ready to contribute.
- Quarterback Sam Hartman has shown some movement in the pocket and throws solid deep balls.
With just over two weeks to go until the season opener, roles are being solidified, and younger players are taking ownership to grab ahold of potential playing time. Practices continue to be highly competitive.
Special Teams Update:
From the Special Teams press conference, special teams coach Marty Biagi stated that the biggest difference in culture between now and when he was first at Notre Dame in 2016, “When it comes to Coach Freeman, just that push and attention to detail and really caring about everybody’s role is important. It doesn’t matter what your rank is or whether you’re a walk-on or starter.”
“I think you’re seeing more and more the emphasis being attacking,” he said.
“Whether we’re talking about a kicker, snapper, or a returner, we are trying to teach those guys that they are a golfer that is trying to get into a routine before every single rep or a closing pitcher mindset where we’re calling on you to perform in clutch situations. We do a lot of sports psychology and mental training. We’re definitely trying to put them in a prepared state before they cross the hash,” he said.
Biagi also noted the “buy-in” and consistency that the team has really brought in and has maintained energy.
He discussed Shrader’s experience and that he can perform in clutch situations.
When asked about his soccer background, Biagi said, “It’s definitely a benefit. With the level that he played, even internationally, you know he’s ready for big stage moments.”
Biagi has big shoes to fill with how coach Mason’s unit played last year and how many blocked punts the Irish had, but he believes the Irish will only build on last year’s strong special teams play.