Opinions on Notre Dame’s First Fall Practice

If you like to chug the kool-aid there’s no better day than the opening practice of fall camp, or whenever the media gets its first full length viewing of the Fighting Irish. Think about watching 85+ football players moving all over the place and trying to judge them, yet we get tons of comments all over the place unsurprisingly almost always positive!

That’s okay, it’s a time to be excited. Let’s look at the lineups for the first practice on Tuesday afternoon from Culver Academies.

First-Team Offense

QB – Brandon Wimbush
RB – Josh Adams
W-WR – Equanimeous St. Brown
Z- WR – Chase Claypool
X-WR – Cameron Smith
TE – Durham Smythe/Alizé Mack
LT – Mike McGlinchy
LG – Quenton Nelson
C – Sam Mustipher
RG – Alex Bars
RT – Tommy Kraemer

Everything is as expected here with the lone exception of Arizona State grad transfer Cam Smith running with starters for practice one. There’s lots of talk about Smith’s familiarity with the offense due to his time in the desert while being coached by Del Alexander and Chip Long but this probably short changes him a bit in a way. He must have been working hard and looking quite good during summer workouts. It’s a long way to go to keep this spot, though.

The Chase Claypool experiment in the slot continues from the spring!

Second-Team Offense

QB – Ian Book
RB – Dexter Williams
W-WR – Miles Boykin
Z-WR – Freddy Canteen
X-WR – Chris Finke
TE – Nic Weishar
LT – Robert Hainsey
LG – Hunter Bivin
C – Trevor Ruhland
RG – Aaron Banks
RT – Liam Eichenberg

Several months ago it was looking like the Irish receiving corps was going to be quite thin. Fast forward to today and there’s quite a bit of bodies and a bevy of competition. With former Wolverine Canteen coming in on the two-deep that’s an impressive start for both new transfers and not great news for guys below them.

I’ve mentioned this before but with the favored status (for now) of the receiver transfers it just reinforces how we will need to see how the math plays out for snaps on offense. Right now, C.J. Sanders has gone from starter in the past to third team. The highly recruited Javon McKinley is also third team. Plus, the weirdness surrounding Kevin Stepherson continues…yup third team as well.

Even if Stepherson comes back to start again at some point (pretty likely) that will just push someone down further. If there’s a real commitment to playing multiple tight ends even being second-string at receiver could lead to very few snaps.

It’s not likely that Ruhland is actually the backup center but it’s interesting to see him at the position to start camp. I don’t know how many practices he’s participated in but I’m pretty sure Jimmy Byrne has never taken a rep with the second-team or higher. That’s a long time never even having hope to play.

First-Team Defense

SDE – Jay Hayes
DT – Jonathan Bonner
NG – Jerry Tillery
WDE – Daelin Hayes
BUCK – Greer Martini
MIKE – Nyles Morgan
ROVER – Drue Tranquill
CB – Julian Love
FS – Devin Studstill
SS – Jalen Elliott
CB – Nick Watkins

This is the exact same starting lineup from the spring with the exception of the missing Nick Coleman who was nursing an ankle injury and didn’t fully participate.

Second-Team Defense

SDE – Khalid Kareem
DT – Micah Dew-Treadway
NG – Brandon Tiassum
WDE – Andrew Trumbetti
BUCK – Te’von Coney
MIKE – Jon Jones
ROVER – Asmar Bilal
CB – Donte Vaughn
FS – Alohi Gilman
SS – Isaiah Robertson
CB – Shaun Crawford

Similarly, there weren’t many shake ups with the second team either as the likes of Tiassum and Dew-Treadway are still hanging around with the backups but we’ll see how long that lasts. They will be pushed immensely by younger players.

During yesterday’s presser Brian Kelly mentioned that Trumbetti (spent spring on the strong-side) will play both sides of the line and is back at his more familiar weak-side spot for now. Since he switched sides we now have Kareem in the two-deep. He’ll be someone to keep an eye on–he was pretty highly rated but has had a really quiet first year on campus so far.

Navy transfer Alohi Gilman automatically in the two-deep is a good sign, either for his skill and/or his possible ability to be eligible this season. I’ll be super curious to see who gets bumped when Coleman comes back healthy, will it be the true freshman Robertson for the time being?

In the injury department sophomore corner Troy Pride had an issue with his hamstring–no word yet how serious it is after day one. Either way, it’s not a great sign for someone who was trending in the direction of being the 5th and last corner on the depth chart and quite a distance’s away from Donte Vaughn for the fourth spot.

By |2018-05-09T22:26:04+00:00August 1st, 2017|Football|11 Comments

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The commenter formerly known as occtipusBrendan RMTI98MikeyBIrishchamp23 Recent comment authors
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hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Something’s always felt fishy to me on the Stepherson burial for all of 2017. Not sure why- discipline or practice issues maybe? He seems more like a gamer that shows up when the lights are on rather than a consistent player day in and out. Sampson alluded that too with a tweet yesterday how on one play Stepherson will make a one-handed tremendous catch, then have a few drops on more routine plays.

With as well as he performed last year, I can’t imagine they hold him off the field for too long though. It would seem disappointing if uninspired grad transfers take playing time but I suppose we shall see. Only one day of practice but it’s hard to see from the outside why playmakers like Sanders and Stepherson are 3rd stringers one month away from the season.


Smith should be able to bring some straight line speed to the offense if Kelly is pissed at Stepherson, but you’re right, I really want to see the ball get in the hands of him, Sanders, and to a lesser extent, McKinley. Long drives are nice and all, but you’ve got a first time starter at QB who could use some easy yardage. I don’t want him having to hit ESB off of a nicely timed route or Cam Smith on a deep, perfectly placed drop in the bucket every time. I want some guys who will do all of the work themselves. I still think Sanders can be that guy on screens and quick slants. And I think Stepherson can be the guy that gets 10 yards behind a defense.

Brendan R

He didn’t perform as well as people tend to think last year. Yes, he made some great plays and had great production for a true freshman, but he also ran the wrong pattern much too often and quit on plays that weren’t going to him. He’s the football cousin of Nuke LaLoosh. I hope he gets his head on straight, obviously, but right now it looks like he still has a lot of maturing to do.

For example, the practice reports on him from yesterday were essentially identical to what we heard last spring – he doesn’t hustle, he doesn’t always know where he’s supposed to be in a drill, he doesn’t know his assignment in team sessions… I don’t care how much ability a guy shows, you can’t start him if that’s his approach. He needs to take his work seriously.

Stepherson isn’t third string because the staff is stupid. He’d third string because they can’t trust him to do his job. I can guarantee you that he cost Kizer a few sacks and probably even an interception or two by screwing up his patterns last year. On my team, that guy’s riding the pine until he pulls his head out of his posterior.


How much playing time is Coney expected to get this year? I’ve never been sold on Martini except in short yardage situations.

The commenter formerly known as occtipus
The commenter formerly known as occtipus

Isn’t it pronounced GREER MARTINI?