Notre Dame practice notes 8-21-15

Mike Vorel and Tyler James
ND Insider

Offense

Junior quarterback Malik Zaire enjoyed perhaps his best performance of fall camp during the media’s access period to Friday’s practice inside Notre Dame Stadium, flashing consistent accuracy and the ability to diagnose and expose defenses. He was picked off because of a bad read during 7-on-7 drills, throwing into double coverage and watching as safety Elijah Shumate nabbed the interception.

Zaire’s response, though, was encouraging. The 6-foot, 222-pound quarterback followed the interception with two of his best throws of the practice, lofting a ball over a defender’s outstretched hand to Chris Brown and then zipping a laser to junior Corey Robinson on a passing route.

Though the defense had certainly gotten the better of Notre Dame’s last few open practices, that wasn’t the case on Friday. Wide receivers Torii Hunter Jr., C.J. Sanders, Will Fuller and Equanimeous St. Brown, as well as freshman tight end Alize Jones, all burned defensive backs for long receptions. St. Brown, specifically, continued his hot streak, using his considerable length to haul in several high passes along the sideline. And though he measures just 5-foot-8, Sanders continued to show the ability to create separation with his speed and hold onto tough catches across the middle, something he’ll have to do consistently as one of the Irish’s top options at slot receiver.

Perhaps continuing a negative trend of injuries, freshman offensive lineman Tristen Hoge was not dressed for Friday’s practice. Kelly has said repeatedly throughout camp that Hoge has impressed in his first summer at Notre Dame.

Defense

Notre Dame's defensive backs didn't record a lot of wins in one-on-one drills on Friday, but the Irish secondary still managed to take their share of interceptions.

In a shortened practice viewing for the media, the Irish defense grabbed two interceptions - and could have added a third had cornerback Cole Luke not dropped one early. Safeties Drue Tranquill and Elijah Shumate were both in position to haul in errant passes. Shumate's came on a soft overthrown ball over the middle from Malik Zaire during seven-on-seven.

Shumate and safety Max Redfield each added a nice pass breakup.

On the defensive line, Jerry Tillery took the majority of the No. 1 reps at nose tackle. Jarron Jones showed up to practice on crutches after his recent season-ending knee surgery.

Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire during Notre Dame Football Practice on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, at Notre Dame in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN