Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

August 2012 Archives

Pinkett pulled from ND-Navy broadcast

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Allen Pinkett has been pulled from the Notre Dame-Navy broadcast on Saturday for his comments about Notre Dame needing more "criminals" to succeed. Here's the full statement from IMG Notre Dame Radio Network spokesperson, Andrew Giangola.

"Allen Pinkett, a commentator on the IMG Notre Dame Radio Network who made unacceptable comments this week about student athletes, will not be part of this weekend's broadcast in Dublin.  Don Criqui and Jeff Jeffers will handle the broadcast duties.  Notre Dame taking on Navy at the Emerald Isle Classic in Dublin is an historic game showcasing the very best of American college sports.  The event deserves to be free of distraction. Further decisions on this matter will be made in the coming days."


Manti Te'o didn't even know who Allen Pinkett was, let alone that they were on the same plane to Dublin Wednesday night.

So, no, he hadn't heard about Pinkett's comments on the radio Wednesday, in which he said Notre Dame needed a few more "criminals" in order to be successful, pointing to Ohio State as an example

Te'os first reaction after Thursday's brief practice at the training pitch at Aviva Stadium when asked about to respond to Pinkett: "Who?"

"More criminals? He said that?" Te'o added. "No, we just need more ballplayers and more guys that love to play the game. That's all."

Pinkett, a former All-American at Notre Dame and the Irish radio analyst, issued an apology earlier, saying he would accept any discipline that was handed down. He still traveled with the team to Dublin for Saturday's opener against Navy.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he hadn't yet spoken to Pinkett about it.

"I want guys that play the game hard and play the game the right way," Kelly said. "And off the field, I want gentlemen."

Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore hadn't heard, either, but said Pinkett was off base.

"I don't think we need to be criminals or nothing like that," Lewis-Moore said. "I think we need to be stand-up Notre Dame people. And I'm not saying Ohio State has criminals or nothing like that. I don't think being a 'bad boy' makes you a good team or not. I think we're a good team, and I think we have really good people on our team."

Allen Pinkett apologizes for "criminals" comments

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Following his poorly received radio comments on 670-AM on Wednesday, in which he said Notre Dame needed more "criminals" to win, Irish radio analyst Allen Pinkett released this apology:

"In reviewing my remarks from a radio interview Wednesday, it's clear that I chose my words poorly and that an apology is in order for these inappropriate comments.  My words do not reflect the strong pride and passion I have for the Notre Dame football program.
 
"I am deeply sorry and did not intend to take away the focus from the upcoming season opener. I especially would like to offer my sincere apology to the current members of Notre Dame's football team, including Coach Kelly, the entire Notre Dame community, the IMG College Audio Network and the Ohio State football program. As a proud Notre Dame graduate, I wish nothing but the best for our football team and the University.
 
"I understand that there may be consequences to my actions and accept whatever discipline is imposed."

The Notre Dame IMG Network added this: "The Notre Dame IMG Network is extremely disappointed in the comments made by Allen Pinkett in his radio interview.  We completely disagree with those comments.  As his employer, we will be determining disciplinary action to be taken."

Notre Dame fans flocking to Ireland in droves

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The flight attendant asked if anyone on last night's/this morning's flight to Dublin was traveling for any reason OTHER than football. Not a single person raised his or her hand. That's impressive. I'm sure most of the flights from O'Hare to Dublin this week will have a similar makeup. Lots of jerseys, sweatsuits and hats. Looked like a pep rally at 38,000 feet.

From talking to cabbies and locals, it seems everyone is stunned that nearly 40,000 Americans are coming over for the game. Now, given their economic woes, they're wondering if they should have held the game in Croke Stadium (capacity 82,000) instead of Aviva Stadium (capacity 50,000), to see if they could have wrung a few more millions of dollars from American college football fans. Oh, well. "We'll take what we can get," one jocular cabbie (they're all jocular cabbies, from what I can tell) told me.

Oh, and pity the poor Navy fans coming over. At the airport gate, the gate attendants asked over the PA how many Notre Dame fans were in the house. They didn't bother with Navy (one guy decked out head-to-toe in USNA gear bellowed, "GO NAVY!" to a smattering of applause and laughs). Same thing on the plane. The flight attendant asked how many ND fans were on the plane. Then she even asked how many were coming over for the high school games (oddly enough, there was a gaggle of Dallas Jesuit Prep folks on the flight out of O'Hare; that's the team that's playing Loyola Academy on Friday at the spectacularly named Donnybrook Stadium). Then she asked the question about anyone traveling for anything other than football. She never asked about Navy.

Poor Navy. It's their home game, you know.

Kelly feeling better about the travel plans to Ireland

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ESPN's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon had a little fun with Notre Dame yesterday based on my story in Sunday's Sun-Times, about the logistical problems the Ireland trip poses. Irish coach Brian Kelly said today, though, that everything is in order and his concerns have largely been allayed after meeting with the team's support staff.

"I'm a lot more at ease knowing all the thing have been covered," Kelly said.

It's still a very hectic schedule for the next few days. The team practices this afternoon, then tomorrow morning at 6:15 a.m. (South Bend time) for about an hour. Players will then go to class, then weight train around 2:30 and head to the airport.

"It's going to be a long day for our players, and that's purposeful," Kelly said. "We want to get them up early and keep them moving throughout the entire day so they sleep on the flight over to Ireland."

The team lands early Thursday morning, will eat breakfast at the hotel and practice in the early afternoon. Kelly said there'll be an early bedtime on Thursday so that Friday can be a mostly normal day, with a walkthrough. So getting that sleep schedule right tomorrow can make all the difference.

"Tomorrow's an important day in terms of getting acclimated to the change," Kelly said.

Kelly initially planned for nearly two weeks of early morning practices, but eventually cut it down to one day.

"As I thought about it more and got a feel for our team, (and) where they are preparation wise, physically -- college students have a tendency to cut back on sleep more than anything else," he said. "I didn't want to be the person to add to that and have it hurt us possibly later in the year."

Of course, getting up early is nothing new for Notre Dame's opponent, Navy.

"They won't be late to the game, I know that," Kelly said. "Certainly, I might have been more concerned if it was Week 4 or 5. But it's the opener. My gosh, if you can't get excited for the opener, I don't know what we're doing playing football."

Notre Dame starters for Navy

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After announcing the suspension of Cierre Wood, Notre Dame released its updated depth chart. Here are the likely starters for Saturday's opener against Navy in Dublin.

QB -- Everett Golson
RB -- Theo Riddick
WR -- TJ Jones
WR -- Robby Toma
WR -- John Goodman
TE -- Tyler Eifert
LT -- Zack Martin
LG -- Chris Watt
C -- Braxston Cave
RG -- Mike Golic Jr.
RT -- Christian Lombard

DE -- Kapron Lewis-Moore
NG -- Louis Nix III
DE -- Stephon Tuitt
OLB -- Ben Councell
ILB -- Manti Te'o
ILB -- Dan Fox
OLB -- Prince Shembo
CB -- Bennett Jackson
S -- Jamoris Slaughter
S -- Zeke Motta
CB -- KeiVarae Russell (the only freshman starter on offense or defense)

PK -- Nick Tausch
Kickoffs -- Kyle Brindza
P -- Ben Turk
Holder -- Ben Turk
PR -- Davonte Neal (freshman)
KR -- George Atkinson III

Cierre Wood suspended for two games

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Notre Dame's much-touted depth at running back is going to be tested early, as coach Brian Kelly announced Sunday that first-string tailback Cierre Wood and reserve defensive end Justin Utupo have been suspended for the first two games of the season for violating unspecified team rules.

 
"Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program, and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences," Kelly said in a release. "Justin and Cierre violated our team rules, so I've suspended them for the first two games of the season."

 
The pair will miss Saturday's opener against Navy in Ireland and the home opener on Sept. 8 against Purdue. They'll stay home with Tommy Rees, last year's starting quarterback, and linebacker Carlo Calabrese, both of whom are suspended for the Navy game after their arrests in May following an off-campus party.  

 
Wood rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last season, starting nine games while splitting carries with Jonas Gray. In his absence, the official Irish depth chart lists Theo Riddick as the starter, with George Atkinson backing him up. Riddick only carried 14 times last year for 63 yards, as he spent most of the season at receiver, where he caught 78 balls over the past two seasons. Atkinson only had nine carries as a freshman last year, but the dynamic runner returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. USC transfer Amir Carlisle is recovering from a broken ankle, and likely won't be ready in time for the Navy game. With redshirt freshman Everett Golson making his first collegiate appearance at quarterback, there won't be much experience in the Irish backfield.

 
Utupo played in 12 games last season, mostly on special teams.

Also noteworthy on the depth chart, Louis Nix III will start at nose guard ahead of Kona Schwenke, junior Prince Shembo and sophomore Ben Councell will start at outside linebacker, and Nick Tausch is listed as the starting kicker.

Irish secondary believes it has it covered

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Bennett Jackson knows that everybody's doubting the Notre Dame cornerbacks, none of whom has any significant game experience. Jackson understands those doubts, too.

"If the secondary doesn't do good, the team is not going to win the game, basically," Jackson said. "We know that. Coach preaches that all the time. Basically, we know people are doubting us. (But) we don't really pay too much attention to it. We can't pay attention to it. Obviously we can't do anything about it until our time comes. We've worked really, extremely hard throughout the summer, throughout camp. I feel we've done the best we can do up to this point."

But Jackson, the only Irish corner to have locked up a starting job, doesn't share those doubts.

"I wouldn't say that there's doubt," he said. "I have no doubt; there's no doubts when I go out there. I'm confident in myself that I'll be able to get the job done. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but as a cornerback, you've got to be cocky, you've got to be confident in yourself. In my mind, I feel I can get the job done."

Sophomore Matthias Farley, a safety who's making a push for serious playing time, works side by side with the corners every day, and wants fans to know everything's going to be OK.

"We've got great players who could fill in at any point," he said. "I honestly feel we'll be absolutely safe and set."

As for who'll start opposite Jackson at corner, it's still up for grabs between Jalen Brown, KeiVarae Russell or Josh Atkinson.

"At the end of the day, there's going to be one guy starting," Jackson said. "We've got about a week to figure out who that's going to be."

Notre Dame news and notes

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Here's my story on Lo Wood's injury and the aftermath.

And here are some other notes:

--- Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly originally had scheduled early morning practices this week and next week to get his players ready for what will be a 9 a.m. eastern time kickoff in Dublin against Navy on Sept. 1.

But after two weeks of practices, Kelly changed his mind and scheduled afternoon practices throughout this week, which is the first week of classes at Notre Dame.

"I didn't want to get to a point where our guys were fatigued," Kelly said. "Getting up at 5:30 in the morning, I was concerned. We had a really good schedule, the guys felt good, their legs felt good. I didn't want to mess with that. Even though the master plan looked really good when we put it together. As we go through two weeks of practice, you get a sense of where your team is, I didn't think it was necessary for us to go (early) this week. (It's still) on the schedule for next week. I think that's more prudent, to be getting the kids up earlier, getting ready for that 9 a.m. start on their clock here."

--- USC transfer tailback Amir Carlisle is close to returning from his ankle injury, but he's not there yet.

"We're on a timetable that probably puts us into next week before we start to run him out again," Kelly said. "His spirits are good. He's confident in the plan that we have."

--- While senior Ben Turk will again be the Irish's punter, the kicking game is still up in the air. Senior Nick Tausch and sophomore Kyle Brindza are battling it out. There's a decent chance that Tausch will handle field goals and extra points, while Brindza will handle kickoffs. Kelly said there would be "two more auditions."

He also felt comfortable with Brindza next year, when Turk and Tausch will both be gone.

"Brindza gives you a lot of flexibility, because he can punt, kick off, and do your field goal (and) extra point work. If you're looking toward next year, there's a guy that could compete for all three of those positions."

--- Kelly said that while freshman receiver Davonte Neal is no longer an option to move to cornerback -- not after the Irish already moved Kaivarae Russell from running back to corner -- he raved about his ability as a receiver.

"From an offensive standpoint, he's an electric runner with the ball," Kelly said. "He's exciting with the ball in his hands. He's learning, every day's a new experience for him. But he comes with a great attitude and he loves the game."

--- Junior offensive tackle Tate Nichols (knee) likely will miss the Navy game, but could be back for Purdue, Kelly said.

--- As for the Ireland trip, Kelly's not a big fan of the travel and disruption the game is creating.

"I love everything about Ireland; I'm not a big fan of playing football games in Ireland, I'd rather play them right here," he said.

Irish lose Lo Wood for the season

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Notre Dame's already questionable cornerback situation took a huge hit yesterday when projected starter Lo Wood suffered a season-ending Achilles' heel injury, which Brian Kelly confirmed to reporters at today's press conference.

That leaves converted receiver Bennett Jackson, sophomores Jalen Brown, Josh Atkinson and Cam McDaniel, and freshman Elijah Shumate, a converted safety, and freshman KeiVarae Russell, a converted running back, as Notre Dame's entire depth chart.

Wood, a 5-10, 195-pound junior, played 10 games last year, and had a 57-yard pick-six against Maryland. He and Jackson are the only corners on the roster with any college experience beyond special teams play.

Even when Wood was healthy, cornerback was easily the most troubling position for Notre Dame. The Irish lost Gary Gray and Robert Blanton -- who started all 13 games last season -- to graduation and didn't bring in a single recruit at the position (two high-profile recruits, Tee Shepard and Ronald Darby, each originally committed, but didn't stick).

News and notes from Thursday

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Wrapping up today's media session at Notre Dame Stadium:

--- Brian Kelly is inching closer to making a decision on who will start at quarterback against Navy.

"I think we're getting closer to that," Kelly said. "It's not going to be a 50-50 proposition. We're moving closer towards that as we move into actually working against Navy. I think probably Monday, we sit down and talk about how the reps are going to be distributed. But there's still so much learning, so it wouldn't be as cut and dry as say, 'Here's my No. 1.' The door will still be open for growth during that week, but we'll start to separate the reps a little bit."

But he might not tell anyone outside of the team. With no more open practices, he doesn't really have to.

"I have not thought about it in those terms, in terms of making a public announcement about the quarterback position because I've never had it in my mind that we were going to get there at a certain time," he said. "If it's clear to me that we've got a No. 1 and there's a great separation there, then there's a possibility I could announce it. But I have not thought about it in those terms."

--- Reserve tackle Tate Nichols has a patella subluxation in his knee. Kelly said Nichols had it happen before, and missed two or three weeks. So his status for Navy is uncertain, at best.

--- Linebacker Danny Spond's mystery injury turned out to be a migraine.

"He had a migraine that was so severe that it required hospitalization," Kelly said. "He's seen specialists, the best in the country. He's been through a battery of tests. Now it's just a matter of getting him reacclimated. He's been cleared, now it's just a matter of when can he get back out there and start contact and those things. We really don't have a timetable for that."

--- Safety Jamoris Slaughter sat out practice with a bruised heel. Kelly said it was just precautionary. His absence allowed sophomore Matthias Farley to shine, as he has for much of camp. Farley is threatening to take senior Dan McCarthy's spot as the third safety.

"Farley has done very, very well," Kelly said. I think he's changed the dynamics back there. I know I had spoke that McCarthy had that position locked up. Well, it's a battle now. Farley has really been impressive the last 10 days or so."

--- Nose guard Kona Schwenke has a "cracked" knuckle and practiced with what Kelly called a "lollipop cast" on Thursday. Kelly said the cast will shrink for the Navy game, and that Schwenke is not going to be limited by it.

Chuck Martin breaks down offense vs. defense

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Chuck Martin was Notre Dame's secondary coach the past two seasons. Now that he's an offensive coordinator, he's bringing an interesting perspective to his offensive players, giving them an idea of what it's like on the other side of the ball.

"Defense, and being successful on defense, is completely different," Martin said. "Defense is about disruption. They're trying to do everything they can to disrupt you from timing to your schemes. I would say defense is like a rock concert. The louder, the crazier, the more jumping, hooting and hollering, the better the defense is. And offense is like an orchestra. You need 11 pieces not only doing their job, but they have to do it at the right time. It's not good enough to run the dig route right, you have to do it at the right depth and the quarterback has to take the right drop. He can't take a five-step drop instead of a three-step drop because the timing's off. He took a good drop and made a good throw, and you ran a good route, but it's still not going to work because our timing's off. On defense, if Louis Nix throws the center out the way and runs up the field, the corner could fall down and there'd be a guy wide open, but you sack the guy. That's just defense."

And if you couldn't tell by that, yes, Martin admitted that anyone who knows him knows he prefers being on the defensive side of the ball. 

"That's where my roots are," he said.

No timetable for quarterback decision at Notre Dame

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For those fans who are desperately waiting to find out who Notre Dame's starting quarterback will be against Navy in Ireland, Brian Kelly has a message for you.

"I think this is going to require all the 29 practice opportunities we have," the Irish coach said Saturday. "I would not be holding your breath for an announcement anytime soon."

Kelly said he's still installing the offense -- "we just put the quarterback sneak in today," he said -- so it's too early to get a full evaluation on the race between Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix.

That said, Kelly said he's been encouraged by both the progress his quarterbacks have made so far in training camp.

"I don't have a better idea as to who the starter is, but I can tell you that Andrew and Everett have begun to display the skills necessary -- not just physical skills, but the mental skills necessary -- to be the starter," Kelly said.

For Golson, that means showing better poise in the pocket, and not looking to run at the first sign of pressure. For Hendrix, that means protecting himself out there and checking down to the best option on each play.

"Now, it's honing those and building on what we did this past week," Kelly said.

As for freshman Gunner Kiel, the nation's top QB recruit has been working with the third team and has been getting significantly fewer reps than Golson and Hendrix. Like any freshman, even an early enrollee, there's still a lot of learning to do. But Kelly had high praise for Kiel.

"He continues to do really good things," Kelly said. "He's got to catch up with the knowledge bae of the other two kids, but
physically he has all the skills. If I didn't have those other two kids, I would not be afraid of playing Gunner Kiel. He's got all the
intangibles you're looking for."

Rees, Calabrese address suspensions

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Tommy Rees hasn't take a meaningful snap pretty much all camp, as Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly chooses between Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix and Gunner Kiel for the season-opener against Navy in Ireland -- a game for which Rees is suspended following his arrest in May.

"I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the offense," Rees said on Saturday in his first public comments since the suspension was handed down. "I'll be prepared when my name's called."

Both Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese -- also suspended for Navy following his arrest that same night -- said all the right things.

"It's tough, but I accept the punishment," Rees said. "I'm out there trying to help the other guys."

Said Calabrese: "I learned a lot from it and Coach Kelly made a decision, I respect that. I put myself in a bad situation and he had to do what he had to do. I respect that. It's already done, I've moved on from that. I'm just working harder and harder every day."

Calabrese's job at inside linebacker is relatively secure for when he returns against Purdue. Rees will have an uphill climb when he starts getting reps again during the Purdue week. But he doesn't think he's done as Notre Dame's quarterback.

"Not really," he said. "I think one of the biggest things is having confidence in yourself. If you're insecure and worried about things like that, it could be hard. But I try to carry myself with confidence, I know I can play this game I know I can help us win games."

Rees said leaving school was never an option.

"To be honest, that idea never really crossed my mind," he said. "I love being here, I love being part of this team."

Both players thanked their teammates and coaches for supporting them.

"It's been tough, but the team's great, they're great people to lean on," Calabrese said. "Not just on the defensive side, not just at my position. I can lean on anybody on the offensive side, too. They've been helping me through this. We're all tight, that's helping me out."

Odds and ends from Wednesday's practice

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Some noteworthy items from today's Notre Dame practice, in case you weren't following me on Twitter (@MarkLazerus) during the morning:

-- Sophomore tackle Jordan Prestwood. listed as No. 2 on the depth chart, is no longer on the team. "Jordan is no longer with us. I'm not able to get into the specifics about that because of privacy laws," Brian Kelly said.

-- Junior tailback Cam Roberson (knee) was not physically able to compete in practice, and will pursue a medical redshirt.

-- Junior outside linebacker Danny Spond, an expected starter, suffered what Kelly said appeared to be a concussion and had to leave Wednesday's practice. Spond dealt with a serious concussion when he played at Columbine High School in Colorado.

-- Tight end Alex Welch was helped off the field after suffering an apparent knee injury toward the end of 11-on-11s at the end of practice. Kelly had no update on him.

-- Freshman safety Elijah Shumate has been moved to cornerback to bolster depth at that position.

-- Cierre Wood got some time on the punt return team. "I know he wanted to give it a shot," Kelly said. "So we're going to put him back there and see what he can do. We're going to look at as many guys as we can right now and then whittle it down in a couple of weeks."

Gunner Kiel gets a crash course with Irish

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Today was the first day of full pads at Notre Dame training camp, and freshman quarterback Gunner Kiel was "live" during practice-ending 11-on-11 drills. Even as a freshman, he knew what that meant. 

They were coming for him. 

"Guys were really excited to hit," Kiel said. "Whenever the quarterback's live, the defense gets real excited."

And when Kiel finally got in with the third team in the final period of practice, he was sacked -- hard -- by sophomore linebacker Connor Little.

"Probably should have checked to a different line protection," Kiel said with a smirk. "To be honest, it feels good. I haven't been hit for a while. You just get right back up and move on to the next play."

It became clear during the spring game that Kiel was an extreme long shot to win the starting quarterback job this season. He played only in the second half of that game. And that perception hasn't changed in camp, as he's the clear-cut No. 3, behind Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix, and only ahead of Tommy Rees because Rees has been suspended for the season-opener against Navy in Ireland.

But Kiel isn't worrying about the depth chart yet. 

"Whatever the coaches want me to do," he said. "If Andrew and Everett are going to get more reps than I am, then that's fine. I'm going to be the best player I can be for the team and do whatever I can to make the team better."

His first priority is grasping the Notre Dame playbook, something he's been working on since enrolling early last spring. He called himself a "squeaky wheel," peppering his coaches and teammates with questions at every meeting.

"You've just got to be smart," Kiel said. "It's going to take a while to learn, but if you take the time and put in the effort to get into it and ask the questions about it, you're going to get it. That's what I'm trying to do."

 



Timing of the essence with Irish QBs, WRs

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Typically, training camp is an opportunity for a quarterback to fine-tune his timing and chemistry with his wide receivers. But with four quarterbacks getting looked at hard during this camp, the eventual Notre Dame starter won't have as many reps with his wideouts as a starter normally would. 

Receiver T.J. Jones didn't sound concerned, though.

"Our quarterbacks, for the most part, their arm strength and how they throw the ball is very similar to each other," Jones said after Monday's third practice of camp. "So the timing might be a little off, but if you're int he spot you're supposed to be in, then the ball will be there."

Jones -- who is expected to take over Michael Floyd's role as the team's go-to wide receiver -- likes what he's seen so far from Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson, Gunner Kiel and Tommy Rees.

"An an offense, we've made a lot of improvement (since) the spring, just in the short period of summer we had to work together," Jones said. "The quarterbacks look a lot more sound and comfortable than they did back in the spring."

Irish going with more game situations in camp

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Notre Dame wideout John Goodman says 7-on-7 drills isn't "real football." So he's perfectly happy to see Brian Kelly go with more 11-on-11 sessions during training camp, which began Saturday in South Bend.

"That's fine," Goodman said. "We like going against each other and competing. ... It gets you in the game more. Seven-on-seven isn't real football. No linebackers are dropping back and you know when it's a pass. It's a heck of a difference when they don't know if it's pass or run, there's all sorts of different combinations you can do."

The reason for the increase in 11-on-11 sessions is the offense's relative lack of experience, particularly at quarterback. Kelly wants to see Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix, Gunner Kiel and Tommy Rees in as many realistic game situations as possible before settling on his guy. 

"We've got a number of those guys (quarterbacks) we have to sort out and give them a lot of reps," Kelly said. 

He said the veteran defense will benefit, too.

"We've got over 2,000 live snaps, cumulative, on the defensive side of the ball in returning players," he said. "That's a lot of snaps. The 11-on-11 suits the offense a lot more because of our lack of experience in some key psitions vs. the defense. But

our defense is going to be able to get more of the depth work. On one side of the ball it helps our offense and the needs of the inexperienced, and on the other side it's really helping our defense build the depth."

Training camp begins

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Notre Dame's first practice of training camp began at 9 a.m. central time today, and the media was allowed in to watch the first half hour of so. That means it's time to jump to ridiculous conclusions based on precious ittle information. A favorite pastime of sportswriters and sports fans alike.

For what it's worth, Everett Golson got the first snap of camp, working with Theo Riddick. His first snap was a handoff to Riddick, his second snap was a short pass that was dropped by John Goodman. His third snap was an option, on which he flipped the ball to Riddick. He quickly led the offense down for a touchdown pass to Robby Toma. Of course, that's not terribly difficult to do when it's an offense-only drill, and the defense is on another field.

Andrew Hendrix was next under center, working with George Atkinson at tailback. Atkinson dropped a short Hendrix pass over the middle, then Hendrix ran the option on the second snap before yielding to Gunner Kiel, who led his offense (still with Atkinson) down the field for a touchdown pass to Davonte Neal. Again, no defense, so not terribly significant. Both Golson and Hendrix did have the ball slip out of their hands at one point. Not encouraging, considering Kelly's insistence that his starting QB will be the one he "trusts" not to turn the ball over.

Kelly spent the next 15 minutes or so working on the footwork of his five quarterbacks (Golson, Hendrix, Kiel, Tommy Rees and sophomore walk-on Charlie Fiessinger), trying to get them to open their hips on their drop-backs, then keep their front foot pointed forward while moving around in the pocket. 

The other units were just starting to get drills in when practice was closed. Here's what it looked like:

No surprises on the depth chart early. First-team defense was Kona Schwenke, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo, Dan Fox, Manti Te'o, Danny Spond, Lo Wood, Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter and Bennett Jackson.

So there you have it. All training camp questions have now been answered, right?

Kelly enters Year 3 with confidence, comfort

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Brian Kelly is quite comfortable as he enters his third year as Notre Dame's head coach. He expects his players are, too. There's no more adapting to his style of coaching and his style of play. He can only hope that will translate to more success on the field.

"I think a lot of it is, there is so much more of a comfort level that I have with the players and they have with me after three years," Kelly said during his training camp-opening press conference on Friday. "They know me a lot better. I know them so much better. There is just a sense and feeling within the room that we're all on the same page. I think that happens over time. You know, you wish you could get it done immediately, but I think going into Year 3, there is definitely a connection that we all have. Maybe it's because I'm doing a better job, too, as the head coach."

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