Notre Dame offense practice notes 4-9-16

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — The Notre Dame media watched its first full practice of the spring inside the Loftus Sports Center on Saturday, as the Irish sheltered themselves from the snow mercilessly pounding the sidewalk outside.

But regardless of the disagreeable Midwest weather, DeShone Kizer was plenty warm.

Notre Dame's junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes on Saturday — a deep ball to Torii Hunter Jr., who breezed past cornerback Cole Luke; another deep pass on a wheel route to running back Justin Brent, who was miraculously uncovered due to a bused coverage; and a shallow crossing route to speedy slot receiver Corey Holmes to end practice.

Kizer also threw one interception, though the turnover was hardly his doing. The junior's pass on a crossing route hit tight end Ben Suttman in the hands, popped up in the air and landed in the diving, bobbling grasp of senior safety Max Redfield.

As for senior quarterback Malik Zaire, Saturday's practice was a little more uneven. Zaire showed off his signature mobility throughout the more than two-hour practice, repeatedly escaping a caving pocket and creating long gains. He also hit sophomore Alizé Jones for a long touchdown down the sideline, as Jones blazed past cornerback Devin Butler.

On the other end, however, Zaire threw two interceptions. On the first, the senior quarterback tried to sneak a pass into Holmes, but sophomore cornerback Shaun Crawford jumped the route, intercepted it and returned it for a sizable gain. Freshman safety Devin Studstill also nabbed an interception when Zaire overthrew his receiver down the seam.

Both Kizer and Zaire took turns working with the first-team offense, as did running backs Tarean Folston, Josh Adams and Dexter Williams. The first-team offensive line consisted of the following, from left to right: Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Sam Mustipher, Hunter Bivin and Alex Bars.

Hunter, Holmes and sophomore Miles Boykin regularly worked as starting receivers. Boykin filled in for sophomore Equanimeous St. Brown, who fell on his shoulder in Friday's practice and sat out on Saturday as a precaution. Senior Durham Smythe was the team's starting tight end. Wide receivers Kevin Stepherson and Chris Finke worked with the second team, as well as tight ends Jones and Nic Weishar.

Jones and Boykin both made an array of nice catches, but also struggled with occasional drops throughout Saturday's practice. The fourth running back on the depth chart, Brent had a nice showing — catching a touchdown, busting a running play up the middle for a long gain and receiving encouragement from running backs coach Autry Denson for his blocking.

Senior wide receiver Corey Robinson (concussion) missed practice again on Saturday. Head coach Brian Kelly said Robinson will see a specialist on Tuesday and decide on his football future with his family following that appointment.

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, left, runs during Notre Dame spring football practice on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex at Notre Dame in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN