Notre Dame Football: Spring Game Analysis


Apr 12, 2014; Notre Dame, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire (8) hands the ball off to running back Greg Bryant (1) in the third quarter of the Blue-Gold game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Spring football came to and end this afternoon as the 85th annual Blue-Gold game showcased the teams’ development over the past six weeks. The offense marched up and down the field, succeeding on getting the ball in the hands their play makers and creating in the open-field after the catch.

Quarterback Malik Zaire proved he is a contender to start next fall and was able to keep his game inside the pocket. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 292 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Everett Golson, looked sharp, completing 13 of 24 passes for 154 yards and one rushing touchdown, but he also scooted outside the pocket frequently and mentioned after the game that he knows he still needs to improve.

The defense held a significant handicap, not being able to touch the quarterbacks; but as a whole the unit dialed up pressure, considering the scrimmage aspect of the game. John Turner and James Onwualu demonstrated their speed and aggressiveness at the outside linebacker position and I would expect the two to share reps this fall.

The defensive backfield is still under repair, but appears to be on right track of following assignments and tackling consistency. Although the wide receivers were able to get open and create space, the defenders were seemingly in the right positions. Cole Luke and Elijah Shumate were able to break up a couple passes.

Overall, the team has a solid foundation to build on for the fall. Between the incoming freshman, and the players who are currently injured or academically ineligible, the Irish should be fielding the most talented roster in the Kelly era.

This is it for the team until summer workouts. For today’s action, the weather in South Bend with the offensive firepower and seemingly getting though the game injury free, led to an exciting Saturday for Irish fans and for the players and coaches who took the field.

Here is a revisit from my predictions earlier in the week

  1. Offense wins 34-28: PUSH – Offense won 63-52.
  2. Greg Bryant scores a touchdown: MISS – Had a nice run late and came a few inches short of the end zone on the following play.
  3. Jaylon Smith gets my attention more than five times: MISS (I would say about four times) – His best play was tracking down Tarean Folston on a run outside. He lined up inside a lot too, and also rushed off the edge. He is the best player on defense, if not the team.
  4. Offense has 3+ plays over 40 yards: HIT – Had about 5-6. Some, as mentioned earlier, were on plays that could have been dead with a QB sacked, but the offense did not shy away from airing it out.
  5. Corey Robinson will catch a jump ball in the endzone:  MISS – He did catch a jump ball, out of bounds, and short of the endzone, so this was another miss. Will Fuller and C.J. Prosise stood out. Chris Brown played with consistency with five catches for 105 yards.
  6. QBs for at least two interceptions and a fumble: MISS – Zero interceptions thrown and no significant fumbles, as I misjudged the level of contact the QBs would be subjected to.