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Notre Dame Football

Inside Notre Dame Stadium, Irish skill players shine

August 19, 2021
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Notre Dame's offense looked its crispest this preseason camp in front of media, with a trio of early “first-team” players shining for offensive coordinator Tommy Rees' unit Thursday inside Notre Dame Stadium, with the season-opener Sept. 5 at Florida State just 17 days away.

As the team worked through its 12th practice of preseason camp with more than a half-dozen NFL scouts on hand, Jack Coan again continued in comfortable command of the offense; he immediately generated chunk plays as the Irish shifted early into first-team offense versus first-team defense scrimmaging.

Kyren Williams opened with a strong run that would have picked up a first down – it was tag-down standards and not full tackling – and Coan followed up that play with a deftly executed throw down the right sideline to Braden Lenzy, who also repeatedly flashed in the scrimmage settings.

Lenzy beat Clarence Lewis off the line of scrimmage and got behind him just enough for Coan to deliver an ideally place ball; safety help was late over the top and left Lenzy with a significant gain that he might have broken to the end zone in a full setting. Lenzy also showed sudden acceleration and burst on a jet-sweep around the left end.

Chris Tyree also had a nice swing-pass reception out of the backfield from Coan for what would have been a first down.

Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa did have a strong upfield pressure early against Josh Lugg that forced Coan to get rid of the ball out of bounds.

Then later, Avery Davis had a sideline-catch when Coan had perfect touch over defenders and safeties chased Lenzy over the middle on what was easily a 30-yard or more gain for the offense.

When sub-packages rolled in, Paul Moala got upfield early and batted down a Drew Pyne pass; additionally, Nana Osafo-Mensah notched a QB-pressure when George Takacs couldn't engage his block.

In 1-on-1s, Coan again was really sharp and Kevin Austin and Lorenzo Styles Jr. mostly looked unguardable for the Irish defense.

After Lenzy again beat Lewis on a 1-on-1 from Coan, Austin followed up that play when he worked past Clarence Lewis for a catch. Kevin Baumann also beat Justin Walters for a big gain in the middle.

Pyne was picked once in 1-on-1s by JoJo Johnson in the middle of the field when there appeared to be some confusion in the route and Pyne was a bit late on the throw.

But Pyne was very sharp in goal-line 1-on-1s, with noticeably improved zip on his throws. He delivered a precision-placed back-line throw to Baumann, who went over the defender and caught the ball in the only spot it could be delivered while he kept his feet in bounds.

Pyne, earlier in the scrimmage format, had a 20-plus yard run around left end on a designed keeper. The offense executed it perfectly, and the defense sucked entirely in to the interior fake. Pyne scampered easily from the 30 to midfield.

Deion Colzie – who again had a strong day – won some big-time 1-on-1s, including a good play against KJ Wallace where he just shrugged off Wallace in coverage and easily made the catch. Colzie then also had a highlight-worthy touchdown reception in the left corner of the north end zone, keeping his body in position and catching the pass over a defender.

Austin, Colzie, Lenzy and Styles Jr. clearly flashed the most among the wideouts; Lawrence Keys III again did not participate.

Styles Jr. got some first-team work late in 7-on-7s – and promptly made a reception in traffic against his first-team defensive counterparts. Mitchell Evans also got some first-team work in that situation.

The opening offensive line again remained, from left to right, Blake Fisher, Zeke Correll, Jarrett Patterson, Cain Madden and Lugg.

However, Lugg got dinged up during some drills and was replaced at right tackle by Michael Carmody with the top unit. Lugg did return to the field after he went inside for a brief period, but he appeared mostly to do non-contact, individual drills in full gear while Carmody continued to get the most reps in his absence at right tackle.

In general, the offensive line had a much more effective day in its run-blocking work as it cleared the way for what would have been sizable gains from Williams, Tyree and multiple times for Logan Diggs – who might have sparked as much buzz as any freshman on either side of the ball aside from Fisher, who has continued to cement his hold at left tackle.

Late in the session, in a new 11-on-11 scrimmage setup, the defense quickly seized command with back-to-back sacks/plays whistled dead on Coan behind the line of scrimmage. Carmody struggled in Lugg’s absence in that series and Marist Liufau flashed with strong rush on consecutive plays off the left edge.

In the closing scrimmage work, the defensive line – first, second- and third-team units – repeatedly proved problematic for the Irish offense.

The highlight of that late work for the offense? Diggs, again. He had a beautiful run in which Jordan Botelho penetrated up the middle, which forced Diggs to bounce outside. He cut, accelerated and even got a strong downfield block from Pyne on easily a 30-yard gain.

Walters ended that drive with a pick in the end zone, when J.D. Bertrand had excellent coverage and a deflected pass was snared by a diving Walters.

Coan also had a perfectly placed to Chris Tyree on  slip-screen, who made a one-handed catch and was quickly engulfed by Houston Griffith.

Coan followed up that play with a roll-out pass to Michael Mayer; it was a precision throw moving to the right sideline 15 to 20 yards downfield and required great execution from both Coan and Mayer.

 

 
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