ND Football: Spring Football Has Sprung

Photo By Lisa Kelly
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There is something about mid-April and sitting in the press box at Notre Dame Stadium. Media folks reuniting to watch Team 131 in an open practice on a chilly Saturday afternoon. In the 90th Blue and Gold game on Saturday, fans once again got to come out, do a little tailgating and then get a small preview of the team they love, the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish. There was also a different vibe to the team. Gone was the Yoon chant for Justin. There was no Julian Love breaking up a pass, no Drue Tranquill bringing the heat on a QB. They have now become an echo from a year past.


Ian Book (Sr, QB, 12)

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Coach Kelly on Ian Book: “I mean, you guys saw him I thought his first drive was clean and it was efficient. He moved the ball around to a number of different receivers. I thought he had complete control of our offense. And so, my sense was complete control of what he was doing and it was very assertive.”

I think what I liked the most was, it was some of the things that he struggled last year with was getting lost in the pocket, lost meaning, taking himself out of throws. The touchdown throw that he made was indicative of the progress that he’s made this spring where he slid and bought time in the pocket. Those are the kind of throws that separate good players from great players. I’ve had some great quarterbacks in the red zone. That’s what you’re required to do and I thought he did it.”

Book had a decent day. 16-21 for 220 yards, 1 passing TD, 5 yards on 8 attempts rushing, 1 rushing TD and a 179.9 QBR.

Phil Jurkovec (Soph, QB, 15)

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Coach Kelly on Jurkovec: “I think we’ve had a number of sessions where I have said he is still cooking, still growing. There’s a lot of things that he learned today. Recognition of when the ball needs to clock in his head, so to speak. You know those are all things that, you know, getting a game today really helps that awareness.

“So, I think you will learn a lot from today’s experience about awareness. I think sometimes when you’re quarterback you get too locked into progressions. He’s got to get the ball out of his hands and take some one on one match-ups but he gets him as well. And that’ll come, it’s just a matter of time.”

Jurkovec is making the transition from H.S. to college still. 15-26 for 135 yards, -71 yards on 16 attempts and a 101.3 QBR.

Jafar Armstrong (Jr, RB, 8)

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Jafar Armstrong appeared to put on more muscle and his speed seems to have improved as well.

Receiving: 4-4 targets for 71 yards a long of 22

Rushing: 9 attempts for 85 yards (long of 42), 1 TD

Chase Claypool (Sr, WR, 83)

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Claypool had a great spring game as well. The returning Sr also has some unfinished business to clean up.

Receiving: 4-5 targets for 92 yards a long of 43

Jahmir Smith (Soph, RB, 34)

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Coach Kelly on Smith: “He is a truck. I mean, you know, he just assumed to run over your than miss ya which is fine. We know what his style is. He will also trip over lines when you swing them out of the backfield. So we’ve got to clean that end up. But, he’s a physical kid. He’s game he had a hamstring. He fought through it. I’m proud of him. But he runs physical.”

Jahmir had a productive spring game

Receiving: 3-5 targets for 37 yards a long of 19

Rushing: 8 attempts for 56 yards (long of 27), 2 TD


Paul Moala ( Soph, DB, 13)

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“Paul’s been put in a situation where he’s got to leverage the football, he’s got to be smart. You know that’s a, it’s a big field he’s a big field safety. So, you know, you’ve got to protect real estate. You’ve got to be smart and savvy. Paul is a smart player you know he can sense and feel where the ball may leverage him and he keeps it inside him good short tackler is a natural tackler.”

” But I feel pretty comfortable with with him out on the field, knowing that he’s going to tackle the football needs to continue to grow and develop. He got his feet wet last year, with some kickoff duties. We only played him ina four, but he’s a kid that I think you’ll see plan for us next year.”

Moala‘s number’s on the day

9 Total Tackles, 8 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL (Tackles For Loss)

Temitope Agoro (Sr, CB, 26)

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Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question to Coach Kelly: Agoro had a pretty good break up in the second quarter. How do you fill the shoes of Julian Love and bring Agoro up to speed?

Coach Kelly response: “Well you know, Timmy, Timmy is done a really nice job. You know, we feel like he’s he adds to our depth as well. You know, sometimes he doesn’t get enough respect amongst our staff, our players respect him. I remind our guys even though he’s a walk on, he’s earned every rep that he he takes.”

” He’s a physical player. He can do some really good things for us. He’s not going to fill Julian shoes, a combination of players will, and he could be one of those combinations of players if you will. And as I mentioned earlier, you know, Vaughn’a going to get a chance, Crawford’s going to get a chance. Houston Griffin’s going to get a chance Timmy is going to get a chance. You know, Rutherford’s coming in as a freshman he’s going to get a chance Bracy he’s going to get a chance. You know, there’s a there’s a long list there. So all those guys will get a chance.”

Agoro‘s number’s for the day

6 Total Tackles, 3 break-ups

Special Teams

Jay Bramblett (Fr, P, 19)

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Bramblett’s number’s for the day

8 Punts for 279 yards with a long of 49 yards

Jake Rittman (Soph, P, 30)

Rittman‘s numbers on the day

1 Punt for 39 yards


Coach Kelly

“The good news, we start with that, no injuries, always happy about that, when we can leave injury free. You know, obviously a number of things out there that we can certainly get better at. But you’re looking for competition, you’re looking for opportunities for guys to grow and learn. After, you know, a month of practice, this is, you know about how they perform. How do they, how do they react? You know, when it’s a game like situation versus a controlled situation. So, you know, all those things. That’s why you play these games, right? You know, it’s like, why do you have a spring game? I think they’re important because they’re different than practices.”

“You know, a lot of people say, Well, you know, there’s not a big deal about playing the spring game, it is a big deal. They give you another measuring stick when you’re evaluating individuals that haven’t played a lot of football, and then those guys that are looking to take that next step for you into championship level football, and I think there’s, there’s a lot of those instances out there today. And I could rattle off a bunch of them, but I’m sure you’ll hit me with a bunch of questions that I’ll be able to answer for you accordingly. So let’s let’s go that way.”

You can view Coach Kelly’s Press Conference here

Ian Book

Ian Book is stepping into the leadership role of this team. We had an opportunity to speak with him post Spring Game. us.

Closing Thoughts

Though the Blue and Gold is a public practice. It’s important to get the players on the field and to evaluate them. It’s priceless to the early entrants to move into the realm of college football and to experience the energy of Notre Dame Stadium. There is 151 days until those players play in the stadium and that game will count.

Cheers and Go Irish ☘🏈⚡

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