ND Practice Observations

From Rock’s House:

Br. Andre

1. Armando Allen is getting lots of reps. I think he is going to play a lot if he continues to progress. He is probably the worst running back in carrying the ball high and tight like the coaches want. He was corrected today by Charlie after a fumble and made to run a lap as a punishment. He also ran a little high and got stood up and absolutely hammered on one run. But I agree that he is very exciting and they are working a lot with him on fundamentals. He will probably make a big difference this year.

2. Nothing stood out in regards to the quarterbacks. I personally think it looks like a race between Sharpley and Jones. Sharpley’s arm was better than I expected. Jones performed just like I expected: exciting with his legs, so-so with his arm. Clausen did some nice things and I can’t put my finger on it, but it just seemed like Sharpley and Jones were going at it more. I realize that that’s a pretty subjective evaluation so take it with a grain of salt.

3. Charlie got pissed and sent the whole defense on a lap around the stadium. He then stared them down when the returned.

4. When the #1 defense lined up, it looked pretty much as expected in the secondary: Zibby, Wooden, Lambert and Bruton.

5. Zibby had a nice punt return for a touchdown.

6. Ian Williams looks huge. He has some baby fat, but does not look like a typical freshman.

7. Darrell Hand was nowhere to be found (unless I missed him).

8. The freshmen sang the alma mater to the crowd after practice. The rest of the team joined them for the Victory March afterwards.

9. We won’t suck at wide receiver. We may not be as good as the past few years, but it looks like we’ve got enough decent players to find a few who will make plays.

10. Good to see Corwin Brown heavily involved in special teams.

JesuitIrish

1. Allen was also the player who impressed and surprised me the most. One 7-on-7 running play had him juking through about three “tacklers”.

2. Golden Tate saw the ball a lot. He fumbled a reverse fifteen yards behind the line of scrimmage but then picked it up and went yard the opposite direction. Maybe we should run it that way?

3. The OTHER two QBs (the walk on and Bragg) got lots of reps. I dont understand why.

4. Jones threw some very poor passes, including one deep INT.

5. Clausen did NOT look at all injured or hesitant to me. He was always next to some other blonde kid, talking. Im wondering — was this Crist? I heard a FB mom on her cell phone saying what sounded like “Yeah, Dayne is down on the field.” The mystery kid was in all the QB huddles with Powlus, so I figure he is a QB.

6. We can not put a kick off in the endzone. We can not put a kick off on the 5 yard line. We sometimes get it to the 10.

7. We have at least two FG kickers whose 30 yard kicks wouldnt have been good if the goal posts were twice as wide. #14 was the best kicker, by far. And he looked average.

8. Price punted long, high balls. The second team punter also has hang time. Why cant Price try kick offs? He has a strong leg.

9. Zibby is first team punt return and navigated a TD this morning.

NDIrish1

Armando can definitely get the corner. He is strong enough, and did, run between the tackles.

1. He was the best kick returner IMO. On one particular return the only man between him and the end zone was Coach Polian.

2. Caught the ball well…got the corner on a nice screen play.

3. In scrimmage he ran tough through the line, made linebackers miss, and then typically they would blow it dead. (They had refs there) He just seemed to always have a chance to go the distance.

4. He did fumble once and Charlie had him think about it by taking a long, scenic run around Rocks House.

In summation- He doesn’t look like a freshman physically. He is not a scatback- he has some strength, and is bigger than I thought. He is elusive, pretty physical, and blazing.

DD in the shotgun and Allen in the backfield? Speed/speed. WVU.

4. Thomas vs Hughes. Travis has a ton of talent but has just never looked natural or comfortable to me at the position. Hughes looks smooth and like he’s been playing RB since he left the cradle. Just more fluid.
Not necessarily better…but not fifth on the depth chart. He looked better than Aldridge and Jabbie today.

I’m no expert, but those were my observations.

From ndwineaux:

I don’t know that I’ll add a whole lot more, but here goes, as 1 of the maybe 1000 in attendance today:

1. Weis is all over it as a perfectionist. Leadership is his strong suit. He even lit up an on-field security guard near us for not wearing a specific hat, as had apparently been agreed before. He doesn’t miss a trick. Constant advice for the QBs and others. He caught the D with only 10 on the field for a play – the D ran a lap.

2. CW has got to be couching Clausen in an open practice. He threw 2 screens and only a couple of other mid-range passes. Even if CW does decide to not start Clausen or redshirt him, I think that Sharpley showed enough tools to be the starter, at least in practice today.

3. I agree with the others that the offense will be better than most think.

4. Armando Allen and Golden Tate will be terrific.

5. Even though he is shorter than some of the others, Gallup looks great to me. He ran all of his drills well and looked good in the scrimmage as well.

6. Either the OL is very good or the DL is not as great as we hoped. Corwin may have his work cut out for him.

7. The frosh singing the Alma Mater at the end was a nice touch.

From LoR:

but reading all of the practice updates (thank you all very much for those) it seems that CW displayed exactly what he wanted the crowd to see.

Running game- let it be known that we will run.

QB- let it also be known that much won’t be known until CW diecides. There is most defintely an air of secrecy and game-playing with respect to naming a QB.

Depth- this will be huge for us and not neccessarily because of out talenting other teams. The ability to substitue freely and confidently is quite simply, the biggest improvement we have and will make all year.


Raoul

* All five backs (Allen, Aldridge, Hughes, Jabbie, Thomas) seemed to get alot of reps. Would seem to be a real wide open contest for playing time. Allen is clearly the quickest and most different from the other four backs. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen get PT for that reason alone. Only other observation, Hughes looked more agile for his size than I would have expected. I think he was on the punt coverage team – which surprised me a bit, too.

* As someone else pointed out, Ian Williams looked huge – strikingly so. He and Kuntz are now all we have at NT. Thank goodness he isn’t 275. Because I suspect he’s going to have to play alot as 2nd team guy. Kuntz looked decent. I think he had a nice hit to stuff a run in 11 on 11.

* On the OLB’s – Ryan is really big. He looks the size of a Mike Vrabel type OLB (we should be so lucky!) or at the very least, a Frank Stams type. He looked more agile than his size would seem to indicate. Intercepted a sort of bubble screen pass along the line of scrimmage in a drill (not in 11 on 11). Vernaglia (54?) seemed to pull up with a rib issue at one point. Didn’t seem too serious.

* The defense lines up a little like the Barry Alvarez 1988 team. Big OLB’s close to the line. So it sometimes looks like a 5 man front because the OLB’s are right on the line, though standing up.

Watched the WR’s a fair amount:

* Duval Kumara has very good hands. I don’t recall him dropping a pass. He doesn’t come off as being super quick or fast, but he’ll catch it if it is close to his big body. I would not be surprised to see him play alot this year.

* Grimes had a nice catch on a deep pass to the corner in drills (and I think he also made a great catch on a nice pass from Jones in the 11 on 11) He is what we know him to be: a very capable and very solid receiver with good hands (except on punt returns – as he fumbled one though got it back).

* West seems to be headed towards becoming a clone of Grimes. I don’t see him as a speed burner. Maybe he’s really fast/quick – but it doesn’t come off that way to me. But he catches the ball. Not hard to see why he’s one of the top 3 receivers. Grimes and West both seem size-wise alot like the WR’s Charlie had at NE during their glory years.

* Parris has good hands. Not nearly as big overall as Samardja. But seems to effortlessly catch the ball with his hands.

The above four seem to be the top four (unless I am completely blanking on someone). [Edit – Just realized I forget Hord. He played alot on 2nd team. Nothing to make your jaw drop, but capable. Again, seemed like West and Grimes – to me] Though I could see Gallup getting time as well. He’s so small. But he caught what was thrown to him. He has some good quickness. He could surprise as a contributor.

As for the others, Jackson had some nice catches but he also dropped some. He seemed a little smaller than Kumara and not as polished in catching with his hands. Tate was probably the nicest surprise of the rest. He’s defintely quick (think he did a punt return, too) and he is more polished as a receiver than one would expect from a HS RB. He did a reverse and fumbled it and then made something out of it (I believe that was him, anyway) showing nice moves. I was pretty encouraged on that one.

On Special Teams:

* Price is a stud. We knew that already. He seemed capable of effortlessly booting it 45-50 yards with excellent hang time. Only problem that arose was when he out kicked the coverage on what appeared to be a 55 yarder (the one TZ returned for a TD) Maust is capable. But the ball doesn’t explode off his leg like it does with Price. Price has to be a top 5 punter in the nation and one of our best weapons this year. He probably has a shot at making it in the pros.

* On punt returns, I hope TZ does it all the time and Allen does it if he doesn’t. TZ returned one all the way. Grimes and West are nice. But TZ and Allen seem to get your blood racing much more.

* For Kickoffs, I realize they were going from the 30, but based on what I saw we will have it tough if it is Whitaker or Walker. For the few kicks they did, Whitaker seems more consistent, Walker with a more live leg, but he gets under it sometimes and only gets it to the 15 or so. I hope he improves enough as having a lefty kick off at least changes the dynamic of the run back slightly. Nevertheless, I’d take the ball everytime we win the toss and then punt with Price, rather than hope for a good kick off.

* I won’t discuss the QB’s other than to say you couldn’t glean a whole lot and Sharpley just seems small out there. I have no opinion on who the coaches think is leading based on what I saw. None of them looks much like Quinn.

* The first team OL of Duncan, Turk, Sullivan, Wenger and Young seemed very set.

* Whoever plays QB, hard to see anyone as the leading receiver other than Carlson. He will probably exceed his catch total from LY. A great safety valve for an inexperienced QB.

* As has been pointed out, Charlie looks very good. He must have lost alot of weight. Good for him and his personal health.

Overall, it was a nice, laid back event. Maybe 2K people – hard to say. First half hour was all stretching – nothing really. Of the next 1/2 hour, the WR drills were probably the most revealing to the casual fan. The defensive drills were of a nature that I doubt the casual fan could see much. They don’t let them really crunch people. When they moved to 7 on 7 and then 11 on 11, things then started to be more interesting for a fan. And they ran alot of plays in 11 on 11 – fast pace of actions. So you got alot of football in 20 minutes. I enjoyed that alot.

Not sure I’d go again. (2 hour drive) The campus was pretty empty (Lafortune closed so trying to get lunch was harder than I thought). But it was a nice way to spend a morning with my kids and dad and see some football (and ND).

El Capitan

I see a number of posters have already reported back so I will try to add in things others have not covered:

1. Where is Aldridge? I don’t recall him seeing any reps or action. I took pretty good notes, but #34 is completely absent.

2. Gallup got some reps with both return units and could be a viable option.

3. Harrison Smith performed very well with the coverage unit. The kid runs like a gazelle.

4. From what I saw today, Sharpley is the best passer of the group. From what I saw, I expect him to start against Georgia Tech. While Jones does bring a “playmaking” ability, there is a dropoff in passing ability from Sharpley to Jones.

5. It’s been said, but Armando Allen looks outstanding. I think he is our most complete back and is probably going to be an upgrade from Walker. I expect him to receive the bulk of the carries. Allen also brings return skills to the table that we have not had in quite a while.

6. I expect several freshman to have significant roles this season and perform well. Allen, Williams, Kamara, and Harrison Smith should play significant time (although I expect Harrison’s time to come in the form of special teams). Depending on utilization, Hughes could factor here as well.

7. Our kickers are a disaster. Maybe Holtz gave Weis his kicking curse.

8. There are too many possibilities regarding Clausen not throwing past 15 yards, so it’s really worthless to discuss the implications. That said, I do not anticipate him starting this season.

9. The receivers might not be star players, but I wonder if they will not be more consistent than last season. As others said, Grimes caught everything and Hord looked pretty good, too.

10. Laws has a ridiculous goatee. Kuntz has a mohawk.

11. The personnel packages in the scrimmages where “vanilla,” (3-4-4) but the defense did use some 3-4, 4-3, and 5-2 looks. Barring key injuries, I believe our defense will be an asset rather than liability this season. When is the last time we could say that?

Verde

Most everything already posted I agree with, but a few things I didn’t see mentioned:

– The player that looked the most physically different to me was Maurice Crum. He always looked like a “thin” linebacker to me. But now he looks much thicker, especially his legs. On one play he really crushed Armando Allen.

– Last year I saw some of our offensive linemen pigging out at the Bruno’s pizza buffet on Thursday night before the PSU game. I had been hoping that some added competition might make them consider adding a little more salad to their diet this year. For the most part, I think that is the case. All five of the starters looked to be in good shape. I thought two of the backups looked to be out of shape, but one of those is Stewart and he is considerably improved from being “a Bic Mac short of 400 lbs”. The other one, I’m not going to mention his name, but he needs to work on his beer gut if he’s ever going to crack the starting five.

– One thing that was posted that I didn’t agree with was Raoul’s comments on John Ryan looking quick. Maybe it’s a psychological thing for me, but seeing a player with a number in the 90s lined up at outside linebacker worries me. If there is a slot receiver on his side of the field he needs to cover him. He does have safety help behind him, but I’m worried that on 3rd and 5 a slot receiver could run a slant route in front of him for an easy first down. I hope he proves me wrong, but I’d rather see one of our quicker guys out there and bulk him up and have him at defensive end.

– I was surprised to see Robby Parris go 2 for 4 having the ball thrown to him in a cone drill the first time through. The coach got on him quite a bit for it, and the next time he caught all 4.

– Duval Kamara jumps out at you compared to all of the other receivers. I could tell who he was even when I couldn’t see his number because he was obviously taller than the other receivers. The only ones close were Richard Jackson and Parris.

– I was really hoping for Richard Jackson to have a breakout season. But it looks like he still has problems catching the ball reliably. If he can improve Weis could put him and Kamara in at the same time to have two big receivers for situations where they might want to run a fade to the corner of the endzone.

– Grimes, West, and Hord almost look like identical players out there. All short and fast. But Grimes has the best hands of the three. Gallup looked pretty quick too.

– I watched the drill where the walk-on QB was throwing swing passes to each of the running backs and fullbacks out of the backfield. I didn’t see one drop, so I don’t think any of the young guys have “hands of stone”.

– Armando Allen caught a couple of screen passes against a live defense. It looks like Weis will be able to use him in that role the same way he used Darius Walker.

– Allen and Golden Tate did appear fast, but I’m not going to go nuts about it yet. Remember that last year everybody was saying the same thing about Munir Prince at running back, and now he is a 3rd string cornerback. I watched Munir in the 1-on-1 drills against the wide receivers and he looks like he has some catching up to do on learning coverage skills. But the good news is that when a guy with that much speed is on our 3rd string you know the team is gaining the depth that we haven’t had in a while.

– Robert Hughes looks solid and I don’t want him to lose a pound. I like the fact that we have a guy like Allen who would be great on turf, and a guy like Hughes who looks like he would be a good “mudder” for the bad weather games. He did look like he had a tendency to carry the ball away from his body once he got outside the tackle, which could make him prone to fumble. But that is easily corrected.

– Golden Tate showed the ability to pull away from the corner after getting behind him in the 1-on-1 passing drills. And I believe the guy he got behind was Raeshon McNeil, who isn’t slow.

– The QBs have been discussed quite a bit and I agree with the consensus. My prediction is that Sharpley will be the starter and will play throughout the game if things are going well. Jones will be brought in if the team is struggling and needs a spark, or maybe he will play more extensively if Weis thinks a team is susceptible to a mobile quarterback.

– After watching Clausen I don’t think he is at full strength. When throwing warm up passes he seems to shake his right elbow out after most throws. A year off might not be a bad thing for him though. It should let the hype die down and take a lot of the pressure off.

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8 Responses to “ND Practice Observations”

  1. Jason Sweedyk Says:

    I agree with just about everything here except the Zibby run back and the O-line/D-line. The D-line seemed more athletic and the O-line seemed pretty vanilla. To answer the question of who was the white t-shirt/gray shorts “jimmy clausen-esque” hair kid – it was Crist. I have a few close up pics of him. Zibby ran it back, but watch the replay and you will see some of the attackers letting up. Granted, he was much faster, but I think he may have been stopped. I will do this again coming from GR because we had a great day. To answer the guy looking for food – RECKERS was open and we had a great meal. Bookstore was rather packed – once again they change the upstairs. Overall it was a lovely day. I am pretty sure two “reps” from opposing schools – PSU and MSU – were in attendance. We followed one of them in (MSU) and we say a PENN car stamped with all kinds of PSU stuff. Just a thought, but there was definitely people there. Nice to be able to sit in the seats and close to the field. If you have kids that have never been to Rock’s House, I suggest this and the Blue Gold game. Cheers and Go Irish! PS – We’ll be just fine this year sans Mark May’s comments. Make em eat crow.

  2. P Says:

    great info. thanks for the opinions and observations. coach weis knows exactly what is going on with his team, IMO. should be a really exciting year. Good to hear Armando is looking great, bad to hear jimmy shakes his arm after most throws. he’s got the same drive brady had though, so he will be fine.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I brought my camera to the open practice today, and just now uploaded them to my computer. I was going through them and noticed what looks to be post-surgery marks on Clausen’s elbow. I attached the photo so you can see. Maybe this explains why he didn’t throw any passes over 15 yards today.

    http://aycu40.webshots.com/image/24119/2005082219541667396_rs.jpg

    http://aycu38.webshots.com/image/26077/2005008508342577595_rs.jpg

    – The Irish Tiger

  4. Jim Blaum Says:

    The kickoff/field goal position(s) sound to be lacking. On September 20, 1980 an in-your-face wind died and the flag went limp. May Harry Oliver, and his memory, provide some lift, length and accuracy to the 2007 lads’ efforts. Thanks again, Harry!

    Jim Blaum ’72

  5. GeorgiaIrish Says:

    To the moderator and all posting about the open practice: All interesting info and insights. Thank you but can we yank all these comments and repost after Sept 1? There’s no need to send this info to the Ramblin’ Wreck. No need at all.

    Go Irish.

  6. Buzzweiser Says:

    Thanks for the information. As a GT fan it’s nice to know how the opposition is coming along.

  7. Buzzweiser Says:

    Thanks for the information. The GT faithful are appreciative of how ND’s preparation is going

  8. Anonymous Says:

    For those reading these postings, it is very important to realize that open practices are rather deceiving. They are very scripted, regulated, and do not give much insight into what is really going on at “normal” practices. Zibby did not run back the punt for a touchdown but was tagged off early (and as taught) the punt unite let him run it out. Regarding the QB situation, or any other position for that matter, the team does not, nor should it, give meaningful insights as to the progession of the team at the respective positions.

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