Notre Dame’s final spring practice, which took place outdoors Wednesday, was focused on executing some of the finer points the Fighting Irish coaching staff installed recently both on offense and defense. Head coach Brian Kelly obviously wouldn’t go into specifics, but he believes it was a “good spring” overall and is excited to getter a better sense of where his program stands after Saturday’s scrimmage.
Brian Kelly is interested to see which players stand out at Saturday's Blue-Gold Game.
“When you get into a game situation, you’re looking for a flow,” Kelly said. “If you remember last year, I think the offense was sloppy. The ball was on the ground, missed timing on handoffs. I really want to see a clean game from the offensive perspective. And there are a lot of guys that are going to get a chance to compete for the first time in a longer format defensively. You’re going to take a look at [safety Elijah] Shumate; you’re going to take a look at [safety] Eilar Hardy; you’re going to take a look at, from a defensive standpoint, [linebackers] Jarrett Grace, Ben Councell.
“I think there’s a lot to look at individually defensively. Offensively, I want to get out of it feeling that we’ve really made that next step from an offensive standpoint in terms of continuity and execution.”
The next step, Kelly said, is being able to change tempo at will offensively — something the Irish, led by first-year quarterback Everett Goslon, were unable to do in 2012. With a better grasp of the playbook and 12 games of experience, Golson is expected to crank up the speed come September when necessary.
“What I want to be able to do is go into the Temple game, and if we have to play fast the whole game, that we can,” Kelly said. “I believe that we’re really close to doing that. I’ll let the game kind of dictate how we play in terms of what we need in that game. I want that to be part of the toolbox if you will. It wasn’t part of the toolbox last year. I want that as an offensive tool that we can go into a game and at anytime and change how we play the game. We couldn’t do that last year; I believe we’re close to being able to do that this year.”
Head coach Brian Kelly listed seven players that won’t take part in Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game, with the obvious inclusion of defensive lineman Chase Hounshell (labrum), who will miss his entire junior season. Fifth-year senior linebacker Dan Fox (shoulder), sophomore safety Nicky Baratti (shoulder), senior cornerback Bennett Jackson (shoulder), junior running back Amir Carlisle (collarbone), walk-on senior running back Tyler Plantz (undisclosed) and freshman receiver Corey Robinson (hyperextended elbow) will be held out of action. Carlisle is four weeks removed from surgery and campaigned to return to contact this week to no avail.
Because of limited bodies at positions such as the defensive backfield, offensive line and wide receiver, it will be an offense versus defense showcase Saturday like last year. The defense will wear blue and the offense will be in white Saturday, and there will be no special teams action other than junior Kyle Brindza’s punt work.
“I know it’s the thrilling scoring system that you’ve all been waiting for, but it will be a similar format to what we had last year,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “We just don’t have the numbers. Hopefully I’m standing here next year at this time with a full stock of offensive linemen, DBs and wide receivers. That’s really holding us back from splitting the squads up into a true Blue-Gold scrimmage.
“… Really try to create a game-day atmosphere, especially for a lot of the young guys. I want them to go through pregame; I want them to go through the tunnel; I want them to get into a game-like atmosphere. The game will probably be stop clock in the first half and probably run in the second. We have a window of a couple hours that we have to take care of, but we’ll play that by ear as well.“
The scoring system is expected to be the same as last year:
• Six points for touchdown
• Two points for two-point conversion
• Seven points for forced turnover before offense crosses midfield
• Three points for forced turnover after offense crosses midfield
• Four points for defensive stop before offense crosses midfield
• Two points for defensive stop after offense crosses midfield
Thinking Of Boston
Brian Kelly, a native of Boston, was asked about the bombings that took place Monday.
“We were obviously devastated with the news as everybody else was,” Kelly said. “After a few hours of making calls and making sure all family and friends were safe, our next thought was to the victims. Terrible, terrible day, especially being from Boston and growing up with Patriots’ Day being kind of our holiday, if you will, as a Bostonian. Not only the tragedy of the loss of life and the injured, it shakes you when that kind of private holiday that is so much Boston is kind of shattered. It’s going to be hard. A lot of people are going to take some time to get over this.”