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Spring Practice report: Step back for the Irish

And on the fourth day, he cursed.

His words might have served a purpose greater than simply lighting a fire under his players, but Brian Kelly made it very clear to those within ear shot of the LaBar practice complex that he wasn’t happy with the effort today.

“You’re an 18, 19, 20-year-old and you’re playing at Notre Dame and it’s 70 degrees out and I’ve got to motivate you?” Kelly said after practice. “I was pleased with some of the things we did communication wise defensively, but we stink right now. We’re just so far away from where we need to be in terms of attention to detail. This was a step back for us today.”

Kelly’s ire started early in practice, directing his frustration at his offensive players in one of the earliest periods. His mood couldn’t have been helped by a fumble on an end-around to Michael Floyd.

Kelly’s teaching prowess was in full display, as he tutored individual players as well as oversaw team activities. He was heard barking at backup center Braxston Cave, who came out of his stance too quickly during a shotgun snap. He also spent time coaching up quarterback Dayne Crist, working on his footwork and drops in the pocket.

“His footwork has got to be better,” Kelly said about his presumptive starting quarterback. “He’s about as sloppy with the fundamentals as they are.”

Also in full display was Bob Diaco, who worked on tackling techniques as he continued to install his 3-4 defense. The guys at Irish Illustrated got some great video of Diaco coaching up his defensive front, working with Kapron Lewis-Moore on the art of pursuit. Diaco stressed angles and taking the ball away from a ball carrier, making an interesting point about attacking a running back’s ball side, and staying away from his “weapons,” the stiff arm and rip move he could employ with his free hand. Diaco’s just as well-spoken inside the sidelines when he’s working with his players, and uses the same care choosing his words there as he does to members of the media. I suspect he’ll quickly become both a player and recruiting favorite.

While most expected growing pains as the Irish transition to a new system and philosophy, Kelly was adamant that there is just no time for it.

“We don’t have time. We’ve got to do it now. It’s got to get done the right way,” Kelly said. “You get 15 practices and that’s all you get and then they’re going to be gone and we can’t touch them until August. I can’t wait until August to put this team in a position to win in 2010. It’s got to happen today.”


Quick injury update: Kerry Neal, who limped off the field Monday with the help of a crutch, was seen on the sideline in shorts, being put through a rigorous strength and conditioning workout. He’s got a strained calf.