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College football: Irish air it out indoors

Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (10) picks up first down as he's tackled by Purdue safety Max Charlot (34)

Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (10) picks up a first down as he's tackled by Purdue safety Max Charlot (34) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Updated: May 15, 2013 7:17AM



SOUTH BEND — It was snowing. It was windy. It was cold.

Football weather?

Not for what Notre Dame needs to get accomplished.

The conditions forced the Irish inside — again. The team has had one full outdoor practice this spring.

Being stuck indoors hasn’t slowed the Irish down.

“I would like to get outside just because of the elements and throwing the football and consistency there. (Practicing indoors) really doesn’t affect what you do. We can push long balls in Loftus (Sport Center, the team’s indoor facility). Sometimes you concern yourself with not being able to vertically push the ball down the field. We’ve been able to cover that,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said after Saturday’s practice.

“That’s not a concern of mine. I’d like to get out in the elements (to see) more of the quarterbacks and the passing game. But not to the point that concerns me.”

Notre Dame’s vertical game was on display in Saturday’s open practice. Wide receivers DaVaris Daniels and Corey Robinson made spectacular one-handed circus catches.

The Irish also focused on the ground game, with George Atkinson III as one of the key contributors.

“I think George has done outstanding,” Kelly said. “He’s really turned himself into a guy that we can throw the football to. We were a little concerned last year when he was in there what kind of ball skills — now we had a guy like Theo Riddick who we thought was outstanding at that position.”

Atkinson rushed for 361 yards and five touchdowns last season. He had two catches for four yards.

“I think the biggest jump we’ve seen from George is the passing game,” Kelly said. “We still need to consider some other things in the passing game that we think he can do. And then, continue to run the ball with lower pads. He has a tendency to rise up a little bit. He gets that. All in all, it’s been a very good spring for George.”

Kelly said it’s also been a good spring for Elijah Shumate. The defensive back is making the transition from nickel to safety. The 6-foot-0, 198-pound sophomore appeared in all 13 games last year and made nine tackles.

“He is what we thought he was in terms of a tackler. He’s a very good tackler, a sure tackler. He’s physical,” Kelly said. “He can play the safety position. (Safeties) coach (Bob) Elliott has done a nice job with the learning curve. That’s what this is going to be about. Picking up the nuances. (Safety) Matthias (Farley) has done a very good job in helping him. But I think the entire defense is helping as well. He’s our guy back there. He’s got to continue to learn. The spring has been really good for him. He’s going to have to continue to take steps forward in the summer.”

Note: ACC commissioner John Swofford confirmed to Florida State that Notre Dame will play the Seminoles in Tallahassee in 2014. Florida State made the news official with a tweet. No date for the game has been announced.



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