SOUTH BEND — The scrimmage portion of Notre Dame’s 11th spring practice didn’t last long. The Irish didn’t line up in 11-on-11 until late in Thursday’s practice.
But that’s when Notre Dame’s defensive line took over. Even with defensive end Khalid Kareem sidelined, plenty of pressure was created up front. Adetokunbo Ogundeji slid in and played Kareem’s role well.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Ogundeji pressured Book by beating left tackle Liam Eichenberg on one play. Not long after that, Ogundeji ran by right tackle Robert Hainsey and knocked the ball out of Book’s hand for a forced fumble.
The offense couldn’t counter the pressure with screens either. Defensive end Daelin Hayes smothered running back Tony Jones Jr. on a screen. Safety DJ Brown was all over Chris Finke on a short completion as well.
Notre Dame’s No. 2 defense created pressure too with nose guard Jacob Lacey and defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah causing problems for the offensive line.
Rover Paul Moala put himself in position for a tackle for a loss against running back Kyren Williams and also stopped running back Jafar Armstrong for a short gain.
The earlier portions of practice were highlighted by 1-on-1 coverage action in a couple different settings. First, the Irish linebackers were tasked with covering running backs and tight ends in the red zone. Rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and buck Jack Lamb both recorded pass breakups. But Owusu-Koramoah also allowed a touchdown pass to tight end Brock Wright.
Asmar Bilal, Shayne Simon and Bo Bauer, all of whom were working at mike linebacker Thursday, allowed touchdown catches by running back C’Bo Flemister, Armstrong and tight end Tommy Tremble, respectively.
Safety Jalen Elliott made the coverage play of the day when he intercepted a Book pass intended for Cole Kmet. Elliott knocked the ball away and then was able to catch the ball near the sideline after the initial deflection. Elliott also started the 1-on-1 segment against wide receivers with a pass breakup in coverage of Finke — though Elliott was aided by an underthrown pass from Book.
The next play after Elliott’s interception, safety Alohi Gilman tried to match him. Gilman did catch the Book pass intended for Joe Wilkins Jr., but Gilman likely would have been called for interference or holding on the comeback route. Gilman did have a clean pass breakup on Kmet earlier in the session.
The Irish defense didn’t come together for a team session until late in practice. When that finally happened, the first unit to take the field together included defensive ends Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Julian Okwara, defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, nose guard Kurth Hinish, mike linebacker Asmar Bilal, buck linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath, rover Paul Moala, cornerbacks Troy Pride Jr. and Houston Griffith and safeties DJ Brown and Jalen Elliott.
The next men in at those positions included defensive ends Jamir Jones and Daelin Hayes, defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola, nose guard Jacob Lacey, mike linebacker Shayne Simon, buck linebacker Jack Lamb, rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, cornerbacks Temitope Agoro and Avery Davis and safeties Patrick Pelini and Derrik Allen.
When the Irish used a nickel package, cornerback Avery Davis replaced the rover position, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa slid down to nose guard, Daelin Hayes came onto the field as a third defensive end and Jack Lamb played buck linebacker.
Defensive end Khalid Kareem was not dressed for practice Thursday, but he stuck closely with the defensive line group and did not do the workouts that the other players do when sidelined for an extended amount of time.
Cornerback TaRiq Bracy, who was dealing with an ankle sprain last week, didn’t take much work after not finishing hard on a 1-on-1 rep when wide receiver Michael Young beat him badly.
Safety Alohi Gilman took more reps than he has most of the spring. He participated in drills and took part in the 7-on-7 portion of practice, but he didn’t participate in the 11-on-11 segment.
The following defensive players also remained sidelined: cornerback Donte Vaughn (shoulder), linebacker Drew White (shoulder), linebacker Jack Kiser (shoulder), nose guard Ja’mion Franklin (quad), defensive tackle Hunter Spears (knee) and walk-on safety Christopher Schilling.
Jonathan Doerer had one of his better days in front of reporters this spring. He made his first five extra point and field goal attempts to start practice. Then Eric Hansen noted how well he was kicking and immediately jinxed him. Doerer missed three of his last four attempts from longer distances. He pushed one way wide right, hooked one left from the same distance and came up short on his final attempt, which appeared to be from 50 yards out.
Distances on the field goals were hard to judge from our vantage point, but Doerer did drill what appeared to be a 47-yard field goal in that final stretch.
The Irish also worked on some punt coverage drills later in practice. While that was going on, five players worked on catching punts from a machine: wide receivers Chris Finke, Michael Young, Lawrence Keys III, Joe Wilkins Jr. and safety Alohi Gilman.
Linebacker signee JD Bertrand attended Thursday’s practice.