Offensive practice report: Notre Dame football 8/9
SOUTH BEND -- At the start of Saturday morning's practice, Notre Dame sophomore wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. walked into the LaBar Practice Complex with crutches instead of wearing football gear.
A few hours later, after the Irish concluded their first on-campus practice, Irish fifth-year coach Brian Kelly said that a torn groin will sideline Hunter for 4-6 weeks.
Hunter was one of a handful of Irish players who sat out Saturday's two-hour practice.
Freshman offensive lineman Sam Mustipher wore a protective boot on his left foot and did not participate because of a foot sprain. Because Mustipher is likely headed for a redshirt year, it's not expected that the staff will be in a hurry to rush Mustipher's recovery.
Senior offensive lineman Matt Hegarty, who is fighting to win a starting job at guard, was not in pads because of a concussion but did spend a brief time snapping to quarterbacks during individual passing drills. Senior Conor Hanratty worked with the first group at left guard. Kelly said that Hegarty appears to be on the back end of his recovery.
Sophomore tight end Mike Heuerman continues to be sidelined after undergoing hernia surgery prior to the start of camp.
Senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels practiced but was slowed by a groin injury, Kelly said.
It wasn't, though, all injury news.
The best sight of the day was offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock arriving to watch practice. Denbrock recently underwent a surgical procedure and will miss part of camp. Kelly said the plan is for Denbrock to ease his way back into work, and joked that he must be feeling better because he was complaining to referees.
Senior quarterback Everett Golson continued to receive most of the snaps with the first-team offense while sophomore Malik Zaire garnered the snaps with the second team. Kelly said the first week of practice was more about offense installation while next week will begin a focus of who will be the No. 1 guy.
Kelly jokingly apologized about not entering practice on a horse, as he did during Friday's final day of practice at Culver Academies. His voice, however, was a bit hoarse.
During the 7-on-7 portion of practice, ladders again were placed near where the tackles would stand.
Zaire threw interceptions on consecutive passes during the 7-on-7 portion, first to Cole Luke and then Cody Riggs. Both passes, however, were tipped by the intended receivers, first Durham Smythe and then Corey Holmes.
The team will practice Monday on the new FieldTurf at Notre Dame Stadium.
Expect to see 6-3, 260-pound freshman tight end Tyler Luatua to line up in a fullback/H-back role.
After a drop near the goal line, a rarity, Corey Robinson could be heard yelling "Ahhhhhhh."
The first offensive group during the early part of practice included Golson (QB), Bryant (RB), Chris Brown, Amir Carlisle and Will Fuller (WR), Ben Koyack (TE), Ronnie Stanley and Steve Elmer (OT), Conor Hanratty and Christian Lombard (OG), Nick Martin (C).
The second unit during the early portion of practice included Zaire (QB), Tarean Folston (RB), Justin Brent, Daniels and C.J. Prosise (WR), Durham Smythe (TE), Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin (OG) and Mark Harrell (C).
Offensive MVP: Bryant received a lot of work with the first group and ran the ball well between the tackles. Running backs coach Tony Alford spent a lot of time between plays working with Bryant and fellow sophomore running back Folston discussing routes and blitz pickups.
Biggest surprise: The offense struggled in red zone 7-on-7 drills. Part of the problem seemed to stem from the quarterbacks not taking off and running, but give credit to the coverage of the defense.
Best freshman: Sort of by default, but freshman wide receiver Justin Brent looks the part. The injury to Hunter might provide the depth chart opening he needs.