Notre Dame Jersey Scrimmage Recap

Analysis of the Notre Dame Jersey Scrimmage, which was won by the Irish defense
Oct 28, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Jaden Mickey (7)
Oct 28, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Jaden Mickey (7) / Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame held its annual Jersey Scrimmage today inside of Notre Dame Stadium. Below is my analysis and observations from the scrimmage, which was won by the Irish defense.


I liked the overall format of the practice. It was a live scrimmage, but wasn't a true "game situation" in that units got a set amount of plays. That's a positive because if the offense went three-and-out they'd stay on the field until they got to their play amount, which ensures more consistency with the units and makes for better work and also helps with evaluation.

They mixed up who played against who. It started off with the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense, and then flipped. There were also No. 1 vs No. 1 periods, and the No. 3 units were always against each other. The offense scored three touchdowns, the defense scored two touchdowns (literally) in the scrimmage. There was also a missed field goal.

I would say the defense had the better day, but the offense did some good things as well. It was a really good back and forth scrimmage, which is what you want.

Here's the offense and defense breakdowns, with more of my focus today being on the offense, so there will be more notes on the offense.


Here's the unofficial stats for the QBs.

Steve Angeli - 11-18, 149 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT 
CJ Carr - 7-13, 84 yards, 1 TD - 1 rushing TD
Kenny Minchey - 4-8, 33 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT - 1 rushing TD

I say unofficial because the yards might be off a yard here or there, it was us tracking it up the box. There wasn't anything official from ND.

*** Steve Angeli got the most reps today, including the majority of the reps with the first offense. His numbers above look good outside of the picks, but he had a rough day. He made a few good reads, including finding a wide open Eli Raridon on a wide stop route, and he hit Jaden Greathouse over the middle for a short throw that Greathouse turned into a 30-yard gain. The issue for Angeli was he struggled with post-snap reads. The most blatant was a pick six throw he had where Jaden Mickey jumped in front of a slant throw to Kris Mitchell and returned it for a long touchdown. It appeared to be a RPO read with Mickey playing off the ball. Angeli's pre-snap read wasn't bad, but at the snap Mickey squatted on the route and baited Angeli into the throw, which worked, and Mickey easily stepped in front of it for a touchdown.

*** The less blatant mistakes were more about him not making good enough post-snap reads and missing too many open receivers. He didn't see an open snag route to Mitchell on one read, which cost them yards, he missed Greathouse wide open on a slot fade that likely goes for a touchdown (it went for a 7-yard gain instead when he threw the option to the TE), and he missed Greathouse again on a seam route that went incomplete. He rushed on that read and went backside, failing to properly read the field side coverage. Angeli also forced a corner throw to Greathouse on a 3rd-down read, and if he takes the proper throw (Mitchell on a hitch) it's an easy first down. His last interception hit Jaylen Sneed right in the chest. I still don't know who he was throwing to.

*** It wasn't all bad for Angeli. His option read to Greathouse was perfect, and he hit Greathouse on the very next play on an out cut for an 18-yard gain. Problem is, those were negated two plays later when he threw the INT to Mickey. He quickly got a hitch ball to Mitchell on a slot fade concept that allowed Mitchell to catch it, square up and then pick up a bunch of yards after the catch. Hitch throw turns into a 20-yard gain because the ball came out quickly. Angeli also made a good read on a snag concept where he hit Greathouse on a corner throw for 24 yards. It was easily his best read and throw of the day. That drive also ended with a pick, however.

*** Kenny Minchey was a bit up-and-down, but overall he had some really good moments. For Minchey it's just about being a bit more consistent with his post-snap decisions. His numbers won't blow you away, but the pressure was greater on the QB when Minchey was in the game, and that factored into his numbers. It also showed a side of Minchey I hadn't seen yet, and that's mobility. He had about a 9-yard scramble on a pressure and another 19-yard gain on a scramble. He did a good job stepping away from pressure at times and was able to get the ball off. On one of the scrambles, however, Minchey needs to handle the pressure better and keep his eyes downfield. It was on the 9-yard scramble, and if he keeps his eyes downfield he has KK Smith open on a post route for what would have been a touchdown. He hit Smith on a hitch on a slot fade concept that allowed Smith to square up, get vertical and pick up 10 yards.

*** On Minchey's interception it was a miscommunication between him and Cooper Flanagan. It looked as though Minchey thought Flanagan was going to run a quick option route, but Flanagan ran a seam. That allowed Xavier Watts to step in front of it, pick it off and return it for a touchdown. 

*** Minchey had a go ball to Micah Gilbert that had a chance to go for a long touchdown, but Gilbert didn't battle for the ball and allowed Christian Gray to break it up. Minchey made a good decision on a Y Under screen play where the defense jumped the under and Minchey kept the ball and got up field for a touchdown. 

*** There is little doubt that CJ Carr was the teams best quarterback today. He led the offense on two of the three touchdown drives, he showed good poise in the pocket and he was willing to take a lot more chances down the field. He was far from perfect, but CJ overall was really, really good today. I'm not even talking about "for a freshman." He was the best quarterback on the field today (no Riley Leonard today). Part of the reason his completion percentage was a bit lower was that he was taking shots down the field. He had a go ball to Cam Williams that should have been a 20+ yard touchdown but Williams didn't play the ball well. Carr was the most decisive of the quarterbacks with his post-snap reads. He wasn't perfect by any stretch, but his willingness to go through his progressions and hit open receivers. Another downfield incompletion was a bit of a throwaway.

*** Carr threw a post-route to Williams for a touchdown that was a great read and ball, and he did it with pressure getting near him. He also did a good job finding Williams on a stop route for 17 yards. He was on the move and found Jack Polian over the middle for a 21-yard gain that got the offense to the 1-yard line. He scored on the next play on a read zone keep. He had Deion Colzie open over the middle on a post route for what should have been a big play, but Carr sailed the ball. That was one of two big misses he had, but overall he was really, really good. 

*** Carr led two touchdown drives, Minchey led a touchdown drive and Angeli led a field goal drive but the kick was missed.

*** The running backs weren't used as much today, as it appears the focus was a bit more on the pass game today. There were some missed cuts at times in the zone, but overall the backs ran hard and maximized yards. One of the more impressive highlight reel type plays was when Jeremiyah Love ran over Adon Shuler for a first down. Love also spent a series in the slot. Aneyas Williams had one big missed read on a zone, but overall he ran really well. Williams was decisive and he ran with authority. Pass pro was solid at times, but the defense threw a lot at the offense blitz wise.

*** Jaden Greathouse was outstanding today. He was by far the best player on the offense, and the fact is the defense could not cover him today. He caught four passes for 82 yards, but honestly he should have had at least 75-100 more yards if the quarterbacks would have done a better job with post-snap reads. Greathouse showed the ability to get really quick, easy separation over the middle, his vertical speed was good and he knows how to find open spots in the defense. We never saw him against Christian Gray (I don't think at least), but against everyone else he was impossible to cover as a field player.

*** Kris Mitchell caught three passes for 41 yards and showed the ability to make plays after the catch. Mitchell also had a tough catch in traffic on an In throw that went for 17 yards (it was from Carr). Mitchell should have had a couple more grabs in the game but the reads didn't come his way. Mitchell showed good vertical speed, but his suddenness as a route runner stood out today. KK Smith only caught one pass for 10 yards, but he showed very good speed and should have caught a post route for a touchdown. He might have shown the best initial burst today off the line and he showed today he can play inside and outside.

*** Micah Gilbert didn't make any grabs per my play-by-play breakdown. He had a chance for a down the field throw, but he has to battle more for the ball. That was a theme, and as much as I liked what the receivers showed today, Gilbert, Williams and Deion Colzie all had chances for touchdowns on go balls, but none of them fought for the ball enough. Will certainly be something for Mike Brown to focus on. The unit has grown a ton, but this showed they still have work to do, at least in this area. Overall, however, I really liked what I saw from the receivers.

*** Cam Williams showed his elite talent today, but he also showed his game is still very much a work in progress. He caught five passes for 62 yards and showed off impressive athletic skill. He's very fast, and he showed that when he beat Chance Tucker for a touchdown on a post route. He also showed that when working vertical, even on stop routes. His speed forced the corners to bail hard, and that allowed him to get open on stop throws. He could have had another long touchdown where he ran right by the defense, but the pressure on Carr kept him from getting the ball off and forced him to scramble. There's a lot to work with when it comes to Williams and Gilbert, they are impressive looking young players, but as you'd expect from rookies, they still have plenty of room to grow the technical part of their game and show greater consistency.

*** For those worried about tight end production under Mike Denbrock, Cooper Flanagan caught four passes for 30 yards and Eli Raridon caught one pass for 14 yards. So that's five grabs for 44 yards in the game, and Flanagan was wide open up the seam on a throw but the QB didn't see him.

*** Charles Jagusah had one rough series, but outside of that he was solid in pass pro and he got very good movement in the run game. I liked what I saw from Billy Schrauth in the run game as well. The second team line had more issues in the pass game, but they did show good physicality in the run game and got a good push. The interior of the second line especially struggled in the pass game, and Sam Pendleton had multiple low snaps in the scrimmage session. 


*** Overall the defense had the better day. The pass rush had some really good moments and put a lot of heat on the quarterbacks, especially the second group. There were blitzes that hit home, dominant edge pressures and also a really good pass rush push up the middle of the defense. Overall the defense was very, very active and flew to the ball. They also caught some breaks in that their pressures prevented big plays in the pass game to open receivers, and there were obviously some blown coverage mistakes that should have resulted in bigger plays as well. But overall it was a good day by the defense.

*** Up front, the interior of the line got a very good push for much of the day, especially in the pass game. Whether it was the first, second or third group, the interior seemed to get the best of the battle against the offensive line. 

*** Boubacar Traore didn't do much early but he caught fire later in the scrimmage. At that point he went off, causing three pressures on five plays, including one play that would have been a sack in a live situation and then another where he hit the ball out of Angeli's hand as he was trying to get the throw off. His edge speed is exceptional, especially his initial burst. The other edge who kept flashing for me today was Josh Burnham, who blew up a perimeter run and also had two very good edge wins in the pass game. Junior Tuihalamaka started the day off with a tackle for loss on a perimeter run.

*** Drayk Bowen was all over the field today. I can't speak to him being assignment correct all the time, as I don't have a way of going back and watching the clips and then grading them. What I'm referring to is him always being around the ball and making plays. On the first play he was on the field the offense ran a swing screen to the running back and Bowen blew it up in the backfield from the Mike position. Jaiden Ausberry and Jaylen Sneed were also very active from the over position. Sneed had two highlight reel plays, one early and one later. Early on he blew past Aamil Wagner for what would have been an easy sack, and he ended the scrimmage with an interception of Angeli. On that play, Sneed did a very good job reading the play, dropping into his zone and then stepping in front of the ball. Ausberry is very active on the perimeter and covers a ton of ground in a hurry. Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa also impressed with his range and physicality at the point of attack. It's harder to evaluate linebacker play without being able to go back and watch the film, but watching live what I can say is that I am very impressed with this group's physicality, range and playmaking ability.

*** Sophomore cornerback Christian Gray is part of the reason the boundary receivers in the first and second group didn't catch a single pass in the scrimmage. Gray gave up a step to Gilbert on a go ball, but he outplayed the freshman for the ball and broke up the pass. Jaden Mickey was also very solid in coverage to the field, but his baiting of Angeli turned a potential offensive touchdown into a pick six for the defense. Cornerback Chance Tucker had a really good break up on a ball to Deion Colzie and had some good moments against the run, but he also got beat by Williams for a touchdown. 

*** I didn't get to see much of the safeties today, but even when you don't focus on the position you can't help but notice how often Xavier Watts is around the football. His pick six was a thing of beauty and he was around the ball in the run game all day. Watts looks more confident in what he's doing this spring compared to last, and it appears as though he is building on his All-American season.

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Bryan Driskell


Bryan Driskell is the publisher of Irish Breakdown and has been covering Notre Dame football for over a decade. A former college football player and coach, Bryan and Irish Breakdown bring a level of expertise and analysis that is unmatched. From providing in depth looks at the Fighting Irish, breaking news stories and honest recruiting analysis, Irish Breakdown has everything Notre Dame football fans want and need. Bryan was previous a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated before launching Irish Breakdown. He coached college football at Duquesne University, Muhlenberg College, Christopher Newport University, Wittenberg University and Defiance College. During his coaching career he was a pass game coordinator, recruiting coordinator, quarterbacks coach, running backs coach and wide receivers coach. Bryan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Salisbury University, where he played quarterback for the Sea Gulls. You can email Bryan at Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content and our premium message board! Click on the link below for more. BECOME A MEMBER Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time! Follow Bryan on Twitter: @CoachD178Like and follow Irish Breakdown on FacebookSubscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channelSubscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes Sign up for the FREE Irish Breakdown daily newsletter