Skip to content

Game Day: The 84th Blue-Gold game

Apr 20, 2013, 7:40 AM EDT

Atkinson 3

The culmination of spring practice happens this afternoon as the offense takes on the defense in the 84th annual Blue-Gold game. (For those bristling about a lack of traditional scrimmage, what do you expect from a game that supposedly pits Blue vs. Gold and one team always wears white?)

With a winter blast hitting South Bend, the conditions might not be too spring like, but that won’t stop thousands of people from descending on Notre Dame Stadium, where they’ll get a look at a team that should be ranked among the best in the country heading into next season.

Before we get to the live-blog, let’s run through a few things I’m looking forward to seeing today:

Nick Martin vs. Louis Nix: One of these guys is not like the other. While Nix might have fifty pounds on Martin, the young center gets a nice status check after battling the All-American defensive tackle all spring.

Don’t expect this battle to last too long though, as I don’t see Nix getting too many reps in this game before Brian Kelly and Bob Diaco let frontline guys like Nix and Stephon Tuitt spend most of the game on the sidelines.

The Irish running backs: One of these guys is going to have a big spring game. What that means? Maybe not as much as you’d think. Last year, George Atkinson exploded onto the scene, showing a top-gear and explosiveness that had people looking forward to a breakthrough season. That didn’t happen.

This year, expect a guy like Cam McDaniel to impress. Whether that means McDaniel heads into spring with a real shot at edging ahead of Atkinson for the number one spot heading into training camp remains to be seen. I’m of the mind that McDaniel is closer to the No. 1 back than the No. 3 spot held down (for now) by Will Mahone.

That said — somebody is going to have to carry the ball this afternoon, especially with walk-on Tyler Plantz already out with an injury. Want to sound smart? Start laying odds on some action from a walk-on like Ryan Liebscher or Eric Lee. Someone’s name is going to come out of the woodwork to carry the load during the second half.

Will the Irish show any tempo offense? Sure, it might give Temple an early look at Everett Golson and company moving quickly, but after three years, it sure would be fun to see this tempo offense Brian Kelly continues to talk about.

With Golson behind center and a package of skill players with plenty of experience, it’d be fun to see how Bob Diaco’s defense reacts to an offense that just calls it and hauls it.

Bring on the werewolves! After being relegated to the background, we’re finally going to see Bob Diaco’s werewolves, better known as Austin Collinsworth and Jarrett Grace. Both players received the compliment from Diaco sometime over the past few years, a moniker meant to (I think) reflect the ability to play ferocious and attack on defense.

We will finally see Grace in the center of the defense, where he’ll do his best to fill Manti Te’o’s shoes. Collinsworth will spend plenty of time in the back end of the defense, where I think he’ll lock down the nickel back role played by Elijah Shumate last year. Collinsworth might give up a little size, but he’s one of those high IQ football players that need to find a way onto the field.

The kids will be alright. This will be our first real look at the early enrollee freshmen who got a jump-start on their college careers since they began classes in January. All reports have been incredibly positive, and it looks like each guy will play a significant role in the program sooner than later.

First let’s talk about quarterback Malik Zaire. While the plan is still to keep a redshirt on Zaire, his comfort in the system has to make the Irish staff feel much better about the loss of Gunner Kiel. Expect to see Zaire take a significant amount of second half snaps, hopefully getting some valuable experience running the offense in front of a Notre Dame Stadium crowd.

While Corey Robinson will be in street clothes, James Onwualu will likely get a lot of reps. The freshman from St. Paul, Minnesota has impressed so far this spring, and physically he doesn’t look like a high school senior playing with college kids the first time.

Mike Heuerman still needs to add some weight to his frame, but he should show an interesting element this afternoon — a tight end that’s capable of getting down the field and making plays in the passing game.

Lastly, Steve Elmer sure doesn’t look like a freshman offensive tackle. He’s got everything that it takes to be a really good one, and we’ll see that on display this afternoon. Elmer might be too valuable to keep on the bench this season, even with both starting tackles returning and Ronnie Stanley capable of playing swing man.

Who’s going to be this year’s Junior Jabbie or Kyle Budinscak? Neither of those names mean much to the average Notre Dame fan, but both Jabbie and Budinscak put on absolute shows in spring games of yesteryear. Jabbie, who never broke into the lineup as a running back, won the 2007 MVP after leading the game in rushing yards. Budinscak, who never had more than three sacks in a season, had five in the 2001 Blue-Gold game.

Looking for some below-the-radar players to break out? I’m going with Luke Massa on offense and Justin Utupo on defense.

 

Latest Posts
  1. Medical redshirts announced for Michael Deeb, Mike Heuerman

    Aug 4, 2015, 5:52 PM EDT

    Heuerman

    Two veterans on the Notre Dame football team will be permanently hanging up their cleats. Linebacker Michael Deeb and tight end Mike Heuerman have both been medically disqualified, the university announced today. Both will remain at Notre Dame, staying on scholarship while working towards their respective degrees.

  2. Greg Bryant academically ineligible for ’15 season

    Aug 4, 2015, 5:31 PM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Notre Dame won’t have running back Greg Bryant this season. Already looking at a four-game suspension for violating team rules, news broke today via Irish Illustrated that the junior running back was declared academically ineligible for the fall semester, ending his season before it even began.

  3. Irish A-to-Z: Isaac Rochell

    Aug 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    When last summer’s never-ending academic investigation froze Ishaq Williams’ football career, the next man on the defensive end depth chart was Isaac Rochell. After a mostly anonymous freshman season, counting on Rochell to be a starter looked like a stretch that exacerbated the Irish’s roster inefficiencies at defensive end.

  4. Irish A-to-Z: Corey Robinson

    Aug 4, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    Notre Dame v Florida State Getty Images

    Perhaps the most impressive student-athlete on Notre Dame’s roster, Corey Robinson’s sophomore campaign saw him earn first-team Academic All-American honors, a rare achievement for an underclassman. Now the goal is something perhaps more superficial—sync up his work on the field with his achievements off of it.

  5. Counting down the Irish: 20-16

    Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    We kicked off our list with five candidates for a breakout season. Our next installment seems to be doing one better: All five players have already started football games (or in one case, a game), now the goal is to become dominant performers.

  6. Irish A-to-Z: Max Redfield

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Terrence Magee, Max Redfield Terrence Magee, Max Redfield

    Irish fans have been waiting to see Max Redfield emerge as the star safety Notre Dame has desperately needed since Harrison Smith went to the NFL. But entering his third season, Redfield is still a work in progress.

  7. Irish A-to-Z: Doug Randolph

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Doug Randolph

    Two seasons in and we have yet to see much from linebacker Doug Randolph. But after a shoulder injury slowed him at the beginning of his career and various injuries kept him from contributing more in 2014, perhaps a position change is what gets the rising junior back on track.

  8. Counting down the Irish: 25-21

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Quenton Nelson Twitter

    As we begin our rankings, we find a cross-section of players that represent just about every type of Brian Kelly recruit. There are blue-chippers. There are “RKGs.” And there are position switches and developmental projects.

  9. Irish A-to-Z: James Onwualu

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:06 AM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

    As a true freshman, James Onwualu found his way into the starting lineup, an unheralded freshman finding playing time by doing the little things right. As a sophomore, Onwualu made the rather unheard of transition from wideout to linebacker, and once again found himself starting football games.

  10. Counting down the Irish: Just missed the cut

    Aug 2, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    As we begin to reveal the top 25 players on Notre Dame’s roster, our raw numbers point to an intriguing amount of depth on this football team. As you consider the returning talent on this football team—only Ben Koyack, Everett Golson, Matt Hegarty and Cody Riggs depart from the Music City Bowl’s starting lineup—the depth chart and high end personnel is there, and that proof seems to be in our numbers.

  11. Irish A-to-Z: C.J. Prosise

    Aug 2, 2015, 1:58 PM EDT

    C. J. Prosise C. J. Prosise

    Spring hero? Tough to find a bigger one than C.J. Prosise. With numbers low in the backfield this spring, Notre Dame’s emerging slot receiver transitioned to running back—and immediately became an X factor in 2015.

  12. Irish A-to-Z: Romeo Okwara

    Aug 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    For most of Romeo Okwara’s college career, the defender’s young age was mentioned when discussing the intriguing athlete’s upside. With ideal length, more than adequate athleticism and a skill set that fit in both Bob Diaco and Brian VanGorder’s defense, it was always a wait-and-see proposition for the North Carolina native, who simply needed a few years in Paul Longo’s weight room to catch up to his age.

  13. Coming Soon: Counting Down the Irish, 2015 edition

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT

    Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt

    With the start of training camp right around the corner, it’s time for our annual tradition of ranking the Top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster.

  14. Irish A-to-Z: Tyler Newsome

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    247Sports 247Sports

    With Kyle Brindza gone, sophomore Tyler Newsome takes over the punting duties. And outside of seeing a few not-really live kicks in the Blue-Gold game, what that means remains to be seen.

  15. Offseason Q&A: Stanford

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT

    David Shaw

    We wrap up our offseason look at Notre Dame’s 2015 opponents with the Stanford Cardinal. The postseason could come down to a late-season showdown in Palo Alto with David Shaw’s team trying to rebound from a five-loss season.

  16. Irish A-to-Z: Quenton Nelson

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Quenton Nelson

    After a redshirt season, Quenton Nelson is ready to play. Jumping to the head of the line at a crowded (and talented) position, Nelson is taking his five-star pedigree and bringing it to the starting lineup.

  17. Irish A-to-Z: Sam Mustipher

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Property of Matt Cashore / Irish Illustrated Property of Matt Cashore / Irish Illustrated

    This spring, you’d have probably won some money if you had Sam Mustipher emerging as the No. 2 center. But with Matt Hegarty’s departure and some failed experiments before him, it was Mustipher who was backing up Nick Martin and snapping the ball to Everett Golson in a spring game played on Notre Dame’s practice field.

  18. Notre Dame ranked 11th in preseason Coaches Poll

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    Malik Zaire Malik Zaire

    Notre Dame opens the season ranked No. 11 in the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll. The Irish, who finished last season 8-5, return the majority of their starting lineup, providing some context for the bullish expectations. Only Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team is ranked higher among teams that finished with five losses in 2014.

  19. Irish A-to-Z: Nyles Morgan

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Arizona State Getty Images

    Last year, we saw what a talented freshman linebacker in over his head looked like. His name was Nyles Morgan, and the blue-chip recruit personified the second-half defensive collapse that flushed the Irish season down the drain. Want the good part? Stick around, as Irish A-to-Z continues.

  20. Irish A-to-Z: John Montelus

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Twitter Twitter

    When Brian Kelly plucked offensive lineman John Montelus from his hometown of Everett, Massachusetts, the Irish looked to be adding another mauler to the interior of Harry Hiestand’s offensive line. And after two seasons of reshaping his body and learning the ropes, Montelus is in a competitive two-deep, still looking for a role in this offense.