Notre Dame defensive practice notes 3-22

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — After a week off for spring break, Notre Dame football took the field on Wednesday morning for practice No. 3 of the spring.

And while the calendar officially turned to spring earlier this week, a 20-degree morning kept the Irish inside the Loftus Sports Center.

As viewed through drills to open practice, the defensive depth chart remained largely unchanged. The first 11 men to take the field on Wednesday were the exact same as the first practice two weeks ago. The 4-2-5 defense of Mike Elko consisted of defensive ends Daelin Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti, defensive tackles Jonathan Bonner and Jerry Tillery, linebackers Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini, rover Asmar Bilal, cornerbacks Nick Watkins and Julian Love and safeties Nick Coleman and Drue Tranquill.

The second unit remained the same minus the absence of defensive tackle Elijah Taylor, who was sidelined with an apparent left foot injury. Brian Kelly said Taylor suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his foot and has already had surgery.

Daniel Cage slid into the No. 2 defense with Taylor out of the lineup. The rest of the unit consisted of defensive ends Julian Okwara and Jay Hayes, defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway, linebackers Te’von Coney and Jonathan Jones, rover Robert Regan, cornerbacks Donte Vaughn and Troy Pride Jr., and safeties Jalen Elliott and Devin Studstill.

The defense split up for its typical position drills. One entertaining addition was the introduction of giant donut-like wheels used for tackling practice with the defensive backs. The wheels were rolled to give the defenders moving targets to hit.

When the defense came together for some installation, each position group joined together except for the defensive tackles. Defensive line coach Mike Elston worked with the eight healthy interior defensive linemen on the side for an extended time.

The highlight of the media viewing session came in the form of a one-on-one tackling drill with wide receivers and defensive backs. In an area of roughly 10 yards by 10 yards, a defender was tasked with trying to tackle a ball carrier in the open field. It didn’t go great for the defense.

When wide receiver Chase Claypool ran through White, it drew a scolding from Elko. The yelling didn’t always produce better results. White struggled in his ensuing reps. Claypool was also a problem for Studstill, who whiffed when Claypool juked him. The surest tacklers proved to be Tranquill, who wrapped up Chris Finke and Kevin Stepherson, and Nicco Fertitta. Nick Coleman successfully corralled Miles Boykin for one of the rare victories for the defense.

Notre Dame's Daelin Hayes runs drills during practice, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in South Bend. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ