Notre Dame defense practice notes 3-29

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame's defense didn't get a chance to ease into Thursday's practice. The typical warmup included a bit more conditioning — and chaos  than usual. 

Rather than the defense lining up and sprinting to the sideline, the Irish defenders didn't line up in much of a defense at all. Instead, they grouped up in a circle, hit the ground and then got up to sprint to a different location. Each group had to sprint to three different locations before finishing the drill. 

That left little depth chart observations to be made during the media viewing session. But these are the players that worked in the first two groups of the warmup. 

Group one: Defensive ends Daelin Hayes and Khalid Kareem, defensive tackles Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner, linebackers Drue Tranquill and Te'von Coney, rover Asmar Bilal, cornerbacks Troy Pride Jr. and Nick Watkins, and safeties Nick Coleman and Jalen Elliott. 

Group two: Defensive ends Julian OkwaraAdetokunbo Ogundeji and Jamir Jones, defensive tackles Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, linebackers Jonathan Jones and D.J. Morgan, rover Isaiah Robertson, cornerbacks Shaun Crawford and Julian Love and safeties Nicco Fertitta and Alohi Gilman. 

After the warmup, the defense split into position drills. Defensive line coach Mike Elston led his players in pass rush drills. He gave Tagovailoa-Amosa extra attention to get him to sprint through the drill. 

Freshman defensive back Houston Griffith worked with safeties in the first portion of practice Thursday. In previous media viewings, Griffith has been working with the cornerbacks. 

The highlight of the media viewing session was once again the open-field tackling drill. Defenders were asked to tackle wide receivers and some running backs in a confined area. But there's plenty of room for the offensive players to operate with a full head of steam. 

Elliott became one of wide receiver Chris Finke's last victims. Finke, who is virtually undefeated in the drill, ran past Elliott as he lunged at him too high. But Elliott redeemed himself later by forcing the only fumble of the session. He stripped freshman wide receiver Micah Jones and picked up the loose ball. 

Coleman, Love and cornerback Donte Vaughn each made nice tackles. On the last rep of the drill, Gilman stopped wide receiver Javon McKinley and gave him an extra shove after the whistle blew.

With seven spring practices in the books, the Irish will take a break for Easter. Notre Dame won't practice again until next Thursday.

Houston Griffith during Notre Dame football practice Tuesday, March 20, 2018, inside the Loftus Center at Notre Dame in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN