Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was true to his word about not wasting any time during spring practice.
The Irish opened the four-week session Friday afternoon and the pace was frantic, especially when the team divided up for position drills.
Even the stretching portion of practice went quickly. It was a seven minute period, down by about five minutes from last season's routine.
"It was different from anything I have done before in terms of tempo and practice format," quarterback Dayne Crist said. "It is something I'll get used to and build on. Coach Kelly talked about it after practice that it will continue to develop and we'll get better with it."
Here are some observations from the first practice under Kelly
Unlike last season, the team didn't divide up into offense and defense with each group stretching on opposite sides of the 50-yard line.
Instead, the players were mixed together and they stretched from sideline to sideline with various fast-paced stretches.
The stretching order was lunges then high steps then shuffling to the left then short-step jogging then heel kicks then knee lifts then a straight run then cross stepping then jumping off one foot then hopping and closed with running backwards.
Crist, who is returning from an ACL injury, had a brace on his right knee, and he participated in all of the stretching except for the lunge. He just ran across the field when it was his turn.
During the stretching, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore remarked how he liked his knee braces. One of the coaches corrected Moore, telling the end that he should love his knee braces.
Moore agreed and started shouting, "I love them!"
After stretching, the offense ran the spread in 10-yard increments starting at one of the 45-yard lines then going to the next 45 down to the 35, 25, 15 and 5.
The squad ran six plays starting with a throw to a receiver then a handoff to the running back then a short inside throw to the tight end then a reverse for the receiver then another throw to a receiver and finishing with a 5-yard run by the running back.
The first group was quarterbacked by Crist with receivers John Goodman, Duval Kamara and Michael Floyd. Kyle Rudolph was the tight end, and Armando Allen was the running back.
Kamara caught the first pass. Then Allen took the handoff on the second play. Rudolph caught the inside pass. Floyd got the ball on the reverse. Kamara caught the pass on the fifth play, and Allen ran it into the end zone from the 5.
The second group had Nate Montana, a walk-on who played junior college football last season, at quarterback. The receivers were Shaquelle Evans, Roby Toma and Deion Walker. Mike Ragone was the tight end and Robert Hughes was the running back.
Toma caught both passes to the receiver and Jonas Gray slipped into the mix to take the reverse on the fourth play.
The final group to go had Matthew Mulvey at quarterback with Tai-ler Jones, Theo Riddick and Barry Gallup Jr. at receiver. Jake Golic was the tight end and Gray was the running back.
This group only got four plays in before the session ended with Riddick catching the pass to the receiver, Gray taking one handoff, Golic missed the pass to the tight end and Gallup ran the reverse.
After the fast-paced run through the spread offense, the team divided into position specific groups.
The receivers started with ball security, with one receiver cradling the ball and another holding that receiver's jersey and trying to hit the ball out of his hands.
The pairings for the drill were: Patrick Coughlin with Toma; Chris Gurries with Gallup; Goodman with Walker; Kamara with Floyd; Derry Herlihy with Riddick, Dan Franco with Jones and Evans worked with a trainer.
The receivers then worked on catching the ball coming out a curl with a machine firing the ball at them from about 10 yards after the receiver made his turn.
Here's the order and what happened: Floyd (missed the ball); Kamara (drop); Goodman (catch); Gallup (catch); Toma (catch); Walker (catch); Gurries (catch); Franco (ball behind him); Jones (catch and he got a "Nice job" from receivers coach Tony Alford); Coughlin (ball behind him); Evans (ball went through his hands, Alford told Evans to work his way back to the ball more); Herlihy (catch); Riddick (catch); Floyd (catch); Kamara (catch); Goodman (catch); Gallup (reaches down to make catch)
The receivers then moved onto cutting to the outside. Here is the order and result: Walker and Toma went first, but the machine was offline and the ball sailed behind them. After correcting the angle, the drill resumed with Gurries (catch); Franco (missed ball); Coughlin (drop); Evans (catch); Herlihy (unable to get to the ball); Floyd (catch); Kamara (catch); Goodman (drop pass that was slightly behind him); Gallup (catch) and Riddick (catch)
Here is the order and result for when they moved to making a speed cut: Walker (catch); Toma (catch); Gurries (catch); Franco (drop); Jones (catch); Coughlin (miss ball behind him); Evans (drop, with Alford saying "eyes and hands"); Herlihy (catch); Riddick (miss, ball behind him); Floyd (catch); Kamara (catch); Goodman (catch); Gallup (catch)
Defensive backs coach Chuck Martin didn't hold back when he was displeased with his unit during practice.
When Harrison Smith, who moved back to safety after finishing last season at linebacker, didn't come down with an interception, Martin told Smith that he had to practice catching the ball every play.
Martin also yelled to his group to finish every drill, and his displeasure seemed to hit its height when freshman cornerback Lo Wood, who enrolled, early took a knee during a drill and two players almost fell over him.
"Lo! There's a practice going on," Martin said.
He also told Wood, who was adjusting his gloves, to take them off if the equipment was going to cause a problem.
Martin didn't soften when the defensive backs went against the receivers during the segment the media was allowed to watch.
He told freshman cornerback E.J. Banks, who enrolled early, that he was playing like he was in junior high school when Banks was beat by Goodman.
"I don't expect you to be perfect, but I definitely expect you to try to do what we teach you."
Receivers vs. defensive backs
Here's how some of the matchups went when receivers went against defensive backs:
Goodman vs. Darrin Walls: Goodman curled to make the catch from Crist, and when he turned up field Alford told him to finish.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Zeke Motta: Rudolph beat Motta on a cut and ran in for a touchdown.
Evans vs. Banks: Evans dropped the ball when he jumped for a 10-yard pass. Alford asked Evans why he left his feet.
Tyler Eifert vs. Smith: Eifert nearly got his hand on a pass over his head as he dove for a one-handed catch.
Toma vs. Dan McCarthy: Toma made a diving catch behind McCarthy for the reception.
- When the media entered practice, instead of watching stretching to start the team was working on individual drills. One of the drills was blocking with three guys working on footwork at once as long snapper Jordan Cowart simulated the snap.
- Quarterback throwing pairings were Crist with Montana, Mulvey and Brian Castello and Tommy Rees throwing to a trainer
- Running back Cierre Wood had his right hand in a cast
- Jordan Prestwood, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound offensive tackle from Plant City, Fla., attended the first spring practice