Notre Dame offense practice notes 8-18-15

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Up, then down.

Such was the trajectory of the Notre Dame offense in Tuesday's practice, as the Irish playmakers impressed in drills early on but were erratic down the stretch.

Notre Dame's freshman pass-catchers again showed flashes of potential, as tight end Alizé Jones and wide receivers Miles Boykin, C.J. Sanders and Equanimeous St. Brown all hauled in acrobatic catches in one-on-one drills. It was perhaps the best practice of training camp for Jones — a 6-foot-5, 240-pound freshman tight end — who rebounded from several missed practices due to a neck injury to make a number of impressive catches and flash the athleticism that had many projecting that he'd contribute immediately this fall.

St. Brown performed admirably against elite competition, at one point shaking senior cornerback KeiVarae Russell for a catch in one-on-one drills. The 5-8, 185-pound Sanders continued to display impressive elusiveness, shedding freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford before making a diving catch in the back of the end zone.

The offense slowed down during two-minute drill work near the end of practice, as a Malik Zaire pass caromed off of senior wide receiver Chris Brown's hands and was intercepted by senior safety Max Redfield. Zaire also took a number of sacks, though he may have been able to elude a few of those tacklers had he not been wearing a red no-contact jersey.

The final highlight of the day was a familiar one, as speedy junior wide receiver Will Fuller took an inside screen pass and wiggled around defenders for a long touchdown.

At the tight end position, 6-3, 255-pound sophomore Tyler Luatua took snaps with the first unit, and 241-pound sophomore Nic Weishar continues to impress with sure hands in the red zone.

Notre Dame's primary kickers, freshman placekicker Justin Yoon and sophomore punter Tyler Newsome, were steady again on Tuesday. Yoon had one field goal blocked, but connected on each of his six other live attempts on the day. He nailed kicks from 24, 27, 32, 35 and 39 before cornerback Devin Butler came off the edge to block his 42-yard attempt. Yoon later drilled a 46-yard field goal in a scrimmage setting.

Offensive MVP: Fuller. While Notre Dame's young pass catchers show moments of brilliance, the Irish's top receiver has been a steady playmaker in practice.

Top Freshman: Jones. Notre Dame has more depth than it expected at the right end position, as Durham Smythe, Luatua, Weishar, Jones and Chase Hounshell could all see the field in 2015.

mvorel@ndinsider.com

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Notre Dame Quarterback, Malik Zaire finishes a drill during Media Day, Tuesday, August 18, 2015, in South Bend. SBT Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ