Notre Dame offense practice notes 3-16-16

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Someone had to take the first snap, even in a purportedly wide-open quarterback competition.

Senior-to-be Malik Zaire did the honors early Wednesday morning inside the Loftus Center, in the first drill of the first practice of spring. It was hardly a precursor to what was to follow the rest of the session and perhaps the remainder of the 14 that conclude with the Blue-Gold Game, April 16 in Notre Dame Stadium.

The lefty, coming back from ankle surgery and the long layoff that came with it, also labored the most with his accuracy among QB contenders DeShone Kizer and Brandon Wimbush during the approximate 45-minute media window.

Given the openness of the coaching staff to a fluid spring depth chart at just about every position, those taking the initial first-team offensive reps around Zaire in the opening drill are really just a jumping off point.

For the record, Mike McGlinchey lined up at left tackle and Hunter Bivin at right, with Quenton Nelson and Colin McGovern at guards and Sam Mustipher at center.

Corey Robinson, Torii Hunter Jr., and Equanimeous St. Brown were non-surprises as the first group of wide receivers. Durham Smythe was the tight end with the first group, while sophomore Josh Adams and Tarean Folston shared time at running back with the first unit.

Folston, the 2014 starter at running back who missed all but a few snaps in the opener with a torn ACL, looked fast and fluid in receiving drills, though head coach Brian Kelly had said Tuesday that the senior will likely be held out of contact when that phase of spring practice kicks in on Saturday.

Surrounding Kizer in the second unit were Dexter Williams/Justin Brent at running back; C.J. Sanders, Corey Holmes and Miles Boykin at receiver, Alizé Jones at tight end; and a line (from left tackle to right) of Jimmy Byrne, Trevor Ruhland, Tristen Hoge, Mark Harrell and Alex Bars.

A couple of highlights included early-enrolled freshman wide receiver Kevin Stepherson scorching sophomore corner Nick Coleman on a deep pass route, and junior Holmes’ strong pre-spring testing translating into a strong showing Wednesday on the field.

Walk-on Chris Finke got the best of safety newcomer Devin Studstill in a 1-on-1 drill.


Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Notre Dame quarterbacks DeShone Kizer, left, Malik Zaire, center, and Brandon Wimbush during Notre Dame's first football practice of the spring, on Wednesday inside the Loftus Center. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)