April 16, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Under the watchful eyes of more than 200 coaches from across the country, the Notre Dame football team returned to the practice field Friday afternoon for a two-hour workout that featured some impressive play on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame is hosting its annual Coaches Clinic this weekend and members of the Irish coaching staff spent the better part of Friday offering presentations on offensive and defensive techniques to the assembled masses. The visiting coaches were then invited out to watch practice and see those techniques put into action.
One of the early highlights of the day was the play of the offensive line during a nine-on-seven rushing drill. The line opened up several large holes and running backs Ryan Grant and Travis Thomas took turns chewing up big chunks of yardage on the Cartier Field turf. Thomas scored twice and Grant added another touchdown, all from 21 yards out, and Grant also came up with an 18-yard burst before being pushed out of bounds at the three-yard line.
The team closed out practice with a pair of game-ending situations starting at the opponent’s 43-yard line. The Irish were given 43 seconds to work with and needed a touchdown to force overtime. On the first possession, quarterback Brady Quinn began by finding Thomas (eight yards) and tight end Marcus Freeman (nine yards) on consecutive plays before spiking the ball to stop the clock. Quinn then looked for wide receiver Carlyle Holiday in the end zone, and the converted QB came up with a sensational 26-yard touchdown catch, but it was wiped out when Quinn was ruled to have been touched (sacked) by nose guard Trevor Laws back at the 30 just before the pass. Undaunted, Quinn came back two plays later and flipped a long strike to Rhema McKnight, but just as the junior wideout went to “dot the i” for six points, cornerback Dwight Ellick reached in and knocked the pigskin free.
The second late-game drive took much less time and had better results. On first down, Quinn connected with wide receiver Jeff Samardzija on a 19-yard gain, followed by a four-yard toss to fullback Josh Schmidt once the chains were reset. As the clock continued to run, Quinn calmly stepped back and lobbed a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chase Anastasio, who went over two defenders to haul in the pass and end the day on a solid note.
The Notre Dame Coaches Clinic wraps up Saturday and the Irish will be back on the gridiron in the afternoon for another practice session. Including Saturday’s workout, there are only four practices remain before Notre Dame hits the field for the 75th Blue-Gold Game on April 24 at 1:30 p.m. (EST) at Notre Dame Stadium.
— ND —