SOUTH BEND — Maybe all Ian Book needed was a return to Notre Dame Stadium.
With the Irish practicing outdoors and on their game field for spring practice No. 12, the Irish quarterback dissected Notre Dame’s defense. The momentum started when Book threw five touchdown passes when the Irish wide receivers were working on red zone routes in 1-on-1 coverage. Book connected for five touchdowns on 11 passes.
Book and the passing game later carried the offense in the scrimmage portion to end practice. In three drives, Book delivered six completions of more than 20 yards. Wide receiver Chase Claypool was on the receiving end of three of them.
Claypool’s first two receptions totaled 50 yards on the first drive that ended in a Jonathan Doerer field goal. On the second drive, Claypool made a leaping catch down the sideline for a 22-yard gain on third-and-1. Claypool ended that drive with a nine-yard touchdown catch on a route across the middle of the field.
Wide receiver Michael Young also made a couple big plays in the scrimmage. He gained 25 yards on a back shoulder throw along the sideline from Book. Young also caught the final pass of the day for a 21-yard touchdown on a deep in route from Book on third-and-8.
The No. 2 offense was a bit more boom or bust with Phil Jurkovec at quarterback. The first drive ended when cornerback Temitope Agoro deflected a pass intended for wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. and safety Patrick Pelini secured the redirect for an interception.
With the help of wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr., Jurkovec put the offense in position to score on the next drive. Jurkovec found Wilkins deep for a 32-yard reception that Wilkins completed with only his right hand. Wilkins beat the tight coverage from Agoro. Running back C’Bo Flemister finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run after being stuffed on first-and-goal.
Notre Dame’s offensive tackles had a bit of an easier day with defensive ends Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara and Daelin Hayes all missing the one-on-one pass rush portion of practice. That went a long way in helping the Irish offensive linemen control the drill. None of the starting offensive linemen lost more than one of their two reps. Right guard Tommy Kraemer, center Jarrett Patterson and left guard Aaron Banks each swept their reps on their interior against defensive tackles Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Kurt Hinish and Jayson Ademilola.
The Irish lines also met in a one-on-one run-blocking drill. The offensive line had a few more issues during that session. Patterson lost twice to Hinish, and Hainsey fell on his butt after getting shook by Hayes. Kraemer and Hainsey both managed pancake blocks on Tagovailoa-Amosa and Jayson Ademilola, respectively, in an earlier run game drill.
When Notre Dame started practice with its tempo offense, the first unit included left tackle Liam Eichenberg, left guard Aaron Banks, center Jarrett Patterson, right guard Tommy Kraemer, right tackle Robert Hainsey, tight end Cole Kmet, wide receivers Chase Claypool and Michael Young, running backs Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong and quarterback Ian Book.
The second unit consisted of left tackle Andrew Kristofic, left guard Dillan Gibbons, center Josh Lugg, right guard John Dirksen, right tackle Quinn Carroll, tight end Tommy Tremble, wide receivers Javon McKinley, Lawrence Keys III and Joe Wilkins Jr., running back C’Bo Flemister and quarterback Phil Jurkovec.
Wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr and running back Kyren Williams also rotated in at their positions.
Kicker Jonathan Doerer had a good day inside Notre Dame Stadium. He hit seven of his eight field goal/extra point attempts early in practice. His only miss came wide left from 43 yards out. Not all of his makes were pretty, but he nailed attempts from 43 and 47 to end the session.
Doerer also made three extra points and a 30-yard field goal during the scrimmage portion at the end of practice.
In the middle of practice, special teams coordinator Brian Polian led a drill that involved one punt/kickoff coverage man against one punt/kickoff return blocker. Most of the victories went in favor of the coverage units as Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” played over the sound system.
The matchups of running back Mick Assaf and linebacker Bo Bauer were a highlight of the drill. Assaf won the first two reps between the two, once on coverage and once as a blocker. Then Bauer redeemed himself with an easy win over Assaf near the end of the drill.
Linebacker Jonathan Jones had one of the few successful blocks when he successfully kept back running back C’Bo Flemister. Jones also beat Flemister as the cover man by juking past him.
The biggest hit of the session came from running back Cameron Ekanayake when he trucked through a block attempt by safety Patrick Pelini.
Notre Dame offensive line coach Jeff Quinn had former and potential future Irish offensive lineman watching his group work on Saturday. Former ND linemen Alex Bars and Sam Mustipher attended practice once again. A pair of 2020 offensive line targets — Andrew Gentry and Jimmy Christ — were also at practice at part of their official visits.
Notre Dame’s two tight end commitments in the 2020 class — Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman — and 2019 wide receiver signee Cam Hart watched practice as well.