With Notre Dame Stadium under construction, this was already going to be a different kind of Blue-Gold game. But when Brian Kelly announced that quarterbacks Everett Golson and Malik Zaire were going to be live for the first half, he confirmed it.
Amidst a quarterback competition that’s been the story of spring practice, Kelly announced that the competition will continue with live snaps for both quarterbacks during Saturday’s Blue-Gold game. It’s another reason to tune-in and watch the spring game, broadcast live Saturday at 12:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.
“The quarterbacks will be live in the first half,” Kelly said after Wednesday’s practice. “So Everett and Malik will get a chance to really show themselves and be involved with everything within our game plan and compete.”
After years of having the quarterbacks in red jerseys, seeing teammates go after their own quarterback will be a different experience. While Kelly said the refs will have a “quick whistle,” getting a look at Brian VanGorder’s defense going after Golson and Zaire will be fun to watch.
It’ll also be a necessity for the coaching staff, who continue to evaluate the play of both quarterbacks as an interesting spring comes to a close. Kelly talked about the decision to keep his quarterbacks live, acknowledging that each guy needs the full-go aspects of the game to show his progress under live conditions.
“Both of them are guys that require that element in their game,” Kelly said. “Both of those guys need to be who they are, and that’s who they are. They’re guys that need to move in the pocket, they make plays with their feet and we want to be able to run the ball as well.”
While most have focused on the competition between the quarterbacks, Kelly opened up about how the coaching staff used the spring to advance the skill-sets of each signal caller. So while most thought Golson’s extensive playing experience likely gave him a head start on the starting job for 2015, Kelly talked about the different lenses they’re using to evaluate their quarterbacks.
“For us, it’s been working on what we perceive to be what their weaknesses were, not necessarily game experience, because you can’t duplicate game experience,” Kelly said. “We know what they look like when they win the game.
“For Everett, it’s been pocket presence and taking care of the football, so we’re really evaluating him on those things. For Malik, it’s accuracy and throwing the football and managing the offense. Our evaluation has not been about the game experience, because we’ve seen them both play and we know how they react in the game. So it’s really been about evaluating them on those criteria.”
On Saturday, we’ll get our longest look at the two quarterbacks up for the job. After Zaire outplayed Golson in last year’s spring game—though facing very different defensive play calls and while wearing red jerseys—it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out on Saturday.