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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame offensive observations from open practice

March 26, 2022

Notre Dame’s most consistent first-team offensive line had moments of controlling the line of scrimmage, moments a variety of blitzes left the unit exposed, and Notre Dame’s tailbacks – especially Audric Estime and Logan Diggs – flashed Saturday inside the Irish Athletics Center.

Closing the first-third of spring camp with its fifth practice, Notre Dame worked through a variety of team settings, worked extensively on bubble and quick screens and also stressed perimeter blocking.

Chris Tyree was on the practice field but a non-participant for the offense, which afforded additional carries to Diggs, Estime and Jadarian Price – who was widely praised last week by Irish linebacker Marist Liufau.

Working consistently with the Irish’s top offensive line unit, from left to right, were: Joe Alt, Andrew Kristofic, Zeke Correll, Josh Lugg and Blake Fisher.

Avery Davis was on the field, with no brace on his surgically repaired knee and participated in the Irish’s stretch and warm-up session. Davis likewise was active with his fellow wideouts, even as just observing practice in his recovery from a torn ACL.

Alt and Fisher continued to impress at the offensive tackle positions, but the interior of Notre Dame’s offensive line certainly scuffled at times. Al Golden’s defense flashed a variety of blitzes and stunts at the offense, from corner blitzes to looping stunts, and those at times proved highly effective against the offense.

Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne continued to largely split snaps, with their top-tier skill weapons consisting of Braden Lenzy, Joe Wilkins Jr. and Lorenzo Styles at the wideout spots while Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman worked very effectively at tight end. Mitchell Evans also got considerable work with the de facto top unit.

Buchner heated up late in the session, which was fully open to media. He had a really strong touchdown pass to Mayer in red-zone work, anticipating Mayer’s break along the backline and firing in a strike. Moments later, into an even tighter window, Buchner hit Bauman for another scoring strike in the red zone work. He capped that particular session with a strong throw into the left corner of the end zone to Mayer, again throwing the ball to a spot in the field in anticipation of Mayer’s break.

Pyne likewise had a couple of nice touchdown tosses, and near the end of the practice had a really good rushing touchdown when coverage was thick and protection broke down. Pyne darted around right end and scampered untouched into the corner of the end zone.

Both Diggs and Estime flashed throughout the session, with the tank-like Estime showcasing a bit more of a streamlined but compact and powerful frame while Diggs had strong burst. On one particular offensive snap, the offense appeared to anticipate a corner blitz, utilized a quick handoff to Diggs up the middle and watched him burst into the secondary for a large gain.

Estime had an impressive catch-and-run on a quick flare, juking Junior Tuihalamaka on a play that ultimately was called back after officials flagged the offense for a perimeter hold away from Estime’s work. Estime also worked past JD Bertrand in running back-versus-linebacker pass drills for a long gain.

Price later uncorked a long gainer around right end; the play well blocked and Price quickly accelerating into the second and third levels. Diggs then added another long-distance scoring run, bursting through and dodging back-end traffic for a score that drew a loud roar from the offense.

The single-best throw of the day might have belonged to Buchner, when he completed a 30-yard out along the right sideline to a leaping Wilkins; the connection covered from the Irish’s own 35-yard line down to the defense’s 35.

The drop-off from the Irish’s top offensive skill players on the perimeter was precipitous; the unit largely featured multiple walk-ons, as well as redshirt-freshman Jayden Thomas and Deion Colzie, who participated throughout practice but wore a red, non-contact jersey over his standard blue practice top.

Notre Dame early in the session worked extensively on sprint-outs for the quarterbacks. Mayer flashed even without the ball; the attention he commanded consistently opened up opportunities underneath him.

Steve Angeli also tossed a very nice ball for a chunk play in the early going, drawing praise well downfield from offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.

There was briefly a late damper on things when Styles was popped hard by DJ Brown on a crossing route. Styles stayed on the turf for several moments, was examined by medical personnel and coaches, and then eventually popped up and jogged off to the sideline. It appeared to be an unnecessary hit from Brown.

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