Notre Dame opened fall practice today in mild conditions.
While it was starting to warm up when the 35-minute media viewing session closed, it wasn't overly hot and the sun ducked in and out of clouds as the team workout without pads.
The walk to the practice facility was met by the usual pack of reporters and a sprinkling of fans.
Former Bishop Dwenger standout John Goodman, a junior receiver, walked to practice with offensive coordinator Charley Molnar. The two were among the first to arrive for practice and were quickly followed by the rest of the team.
The team kept the same stretching routine from spring practice with offensive and defensive players mixing in lines and going across half the field at a brisk pace.
After stretching there was a long huddle before the offense and defense split apart to start drills. The players broke after a cheer and moved quickly to position to start practice.
Receiver Duval Kamara joined practice late and did not work out during the media portion.
Here are a few things from Saturday's session:
The offense opened by units having five plays to reach the end zone from half field.
Quarterback Dayne Crist led the first team which had receivers TJ Jones, Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick, tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Armando Allen – with Robert Hughes shadowing the group – and the offensive line was left tackle Zack Martin, left guard Chris Stewart, center Dan Wenger, right guard Trevor Robinson and right tackle Taylor Dever.
Crist wore a brace on his right knee as coach Brian Kelly said he would. The junior quarterback has recovered from his torn ACL but is keeping the brace on for precautionary reasons.
Quarterback Nate Montana led the second team which had receivers Goodman, Robby Toma and Shaquelle Evans, tight end Tyler Eifert – another former Dwenger star – running back Jonas Gray and the offensive line was left tackle Matt Romine, left guard Lane Clelland, center Braxston Cave, right guard Chris Watt and right tackle Andrew Nuss.
Quarterback Tommy Rees led the third team which had receivers Deion Walker, Austin Collinsworth and Barry Gallup Jr., tight end Mike Ragone, running back Cierre Wood and the offensive line was left tackle Tate Nichols, left guard Dennis Mahoney, center Mike Golic Jr., right guard Alex Bullard and right tackle Christian Lombard.
The fourth unit got two plays in before the session was over. Kelly told the group that it was a good pace as they moved to the next portion of practice.
After running through the five plays, the running backs, tight ends and receivers rotated through four stations to catch passes after short routes of about 10 yards.
The quarterbacks groups at the stations were: Crist alone at one, Montana with Brian Castello, Tommy Rees with Matthew Mulvey and Andrew Hendrix with Luke Mass.
Castello did relieve Crist for one set of throws about midway through the drill, but Crist finished the last three throwing sessions by himself as the other quarterbacks switched between throws.
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner was working with the linemen's footwork while I was watching them.
The three units went back and forth across a 10-yard stretch with a focus on the first step after the snap.
The groups were the same as when the offense ran through its five plays with the first unit consisting of Martin, Stewart, Wenger, Robinson and Dever; the second unit was Romine, Clelland, Cave, Watt and Nuss; and the third unit was Nichols, Mahoney, Golic, Bullard and Lombard.
With the media window for practice viewing closing was able to peak in a little bit at what the linebackers were working on with defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
Diaco was getting the middle linebackers in the correct stance and worked on there steps.
Freshman nose guard Louis Nix, who reported to Notre Dame at 350 pounds, appeared to be struggling a little bit when I walked past the defensive linemen.
Nix was listed at 315 pounds in high school and has some work to do to get in shape to be able to keep up with the crisp pace of Notre Dame's practice.
"I believe that he's a bit heavier than he was when he was in high school," Diaco said of Nix during Friday's media luncheon. "My understanding is that he's working on it diligently, and he'll be just fine.
"He's a young guy like the rest of the young guys. And you live and learn. You learn that if you do that particular thing and this particular thing, that's the result. The result for him was whatever it was, 35 pounds of weight gain. He's with our strength and conditioning staff now and it sounds like everything's on track. He's working to get his body in position to compete. And it's going to be a while."