What appeared to be a ploy to spice up an overall dull offensive performance at the Blue-Gold Game Saturday was actually Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly paying off a losing wager. Following the only touchdown of the scrimmage, 347-pound senior nose guard Louis Nix III lined up at quarterback, dropped back as if to pass and bolted, as quickly as that size a man can, up the middle for a two-point conversion.
Always an entertaining character, senior nose guard Louis Nix III can cross off playing quarterback from his bucket list.
It woke up the 31,652 spectators in attendance and put a smile on every Fighting Irish player’s face — none bigger than the 500-watt grin beaming from the behemoth defensive star. That the Blue (defense) topped the Gold (offense) 54-43 in a modified scoring format became more of a side note.
“Lou and I had a personal bet on some academics and he surprised me,” Kelly said. “He surprised me, and so I paid up. I said, ‘What do you want?’ I figured he would want something.
Nix’s response: “I want to score a touchdown in a spring game.”
He’ll have to settle for a conversion … and the extra attention on top of the boatload he receives in normal circumstances.
“I was supposed to throw the ball, but we haven't actually positioned me to read defenses yet, so I just ran,” Nix said. “Got me a quick two and I was happy. … Yeah, official quarterback spot, I made it. I'm making strides to push Everett [Golson], the rest of the guys and get the starting spot, and hopefully Coach has enough trust in me to put me there one game.”
With the offense having only scored six legitimate points before early enrollee quarterback Malik Zaire connected with sophomore wide receiver C.J. Prosise for a 35-yard touchdown strike with 9:10 remaining in the game, there were no opportunities for Kelly to square things up with Nix.
“As you know, we had a hard time scoring touchdowns in the spring game and I didn't think that was going to come to reality,” Kelly said. “We tried a couple of times, right before the half to get the opportunity and we couldn't get the ball close enough. We had to settle for some field goals.”
In an extremely rare serious moment, Nix appreciated Kelly pushing him in the classroom and hanging a carrot, no matter how ridiculous, out there.
“I love when Coach involves me to push myself to do something, whether it's on the field or in the classroom,” Nix said. “I guess would I have to run [had I lost the bet] or something like that. I didn’t really listen to that side because I knew I would win the bet. Other than that I’m just happy I got the ball.”
Kelly had other plans if the gamble had swung in his favor.
“I would have got Louis Nix to play for 67 plays, at minimum, every game,” he said. “He’s just a great personality and the guys got a kick out of it. I thought it was a great way to finish up the spring.”
One reporter asked Nix if Temple, Notre Dame’s opponent in the 2013 season opener, should be worried about the possibility of another cameo on offense.
“That's something all teams need to be scared of, everybody, including you,” Nix deadpanned.