Notre Dame defensive practice notes 4-7

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Take care of the ball around Julian Love or you will pay.

The Notre Dame offense was given a few lessons on the subject during Friday’s practice, the 10th of the spring, inside the Loftus Sports Center. The sophomore cornerback forced three turnovers in less than two hours as he tormented his teammates.

Love forced his first turnover on an interception of a pass by quarterback Brandon Wimbush. He stepped in front of wide receiver Austin Webster in a one-on-one coverage drill to prevent the completion.

The other plays came in seven-on-seven action. Love intercepted another pass and forced a fumble on tight end Alizé Jones. After Jones caught a pass, Love perfectly punched the ball loose and picked it up for the recovery.

Turnovers have been a particular focus in defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s practices. Various drills are designed to get players to develop habits for forcing turnovers such as deflecting passes and separating the ball from a ball carrier.

A number of defensive players were able to get their hands on the football, but only Love turned opportunities into turnovers during the media viewing session. Cornerbacks Nick Watkins and Troy Pride Jr. each broke up several passes. Safety Drue Tranquill blanketed wide receiver C.J. Sanders on one route in what would normally be a mismatch in favor of the offense.

The defense also had its share of struggles. In the first session of one-on-one coverage, the Irish offense went through long stretches of continuous victories. The defense also showed a weakness in covering running backs in the passing game during seven-on-seven in the red zone.

Defensive line coach Mike Elston worked diligently with his position group as they focused on the fundamentals as small as a player’s stance. Defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum drew Elston’s ire for not following instructions on the preferred stance.

Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery showed a lapse in focus when preparing to take on double team blocks in a drill. He jumped offside on the first rep, was asked to do the second rep again after not completing it to perfection, and jumped offside again on the third rep.

When the Irish were working on defensive sets, cornerback Donte Vaughn received a scolding from Elko for failing to communicate with his teammates.

Safety Nicco Fertitta did not practice for the Irish and was riding a stationary bike at various times.

The top 11-man unit Notre Dame used in a tempo scrimmage featured many of the same faces seen throughout the spring. The second unit saw some younger players getting into the mix.

No 1 defense: defensive ends Daelin Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti, defensive tackles Jonathan Bonner and Jerry Tillery, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, rover Drue Tranquill, safeties Jalen Elliott and Nick Coleman and cornerbacks Nick Watkins and Julian Love.

No. 2 defense: defensive ends Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Khalid Kareem, defensive tackles Brandon Tiassum and Pete Mokwuah, linebacker Te’von Coney and Jonathan Jones, rover Asmar Bilal, safeties Isaiah Robertson and Devin Studstill and cornerbacks Brian Ball and Troy Pride Jr.

Notre Dame's Julian Love runs a drill watches during practice at the Loftus Sports Center in South Bend Saturday, March 24, 2017. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA