Blue Gold Game Recap: Monday Morning Thoughts

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The 84th spring game came and went without much excitement.

Who doesn't love to read way too much in to things? T'is the season, right? Yet the spring game is typically full of almost nothing to learn from and this year was no exception. A couple years from now all we will remember is that Louis Nix ran in a 2-point conversion and that's about it.

QUARTERBACK

  • If you were looking for Golson to play like a Heisman candidate this game wasn't for you. Everett got off to a rough start with a couple inaccurate passes but settled down and completed a few beautiful passes, especially a cross-field sideline route to TJ Jones. With a modest statistical performance in limited playing time and a bunch of sloppy sacks reminiscent of Clausen in 2007 there will need to be better days for Golson. He wasn't very sharp (the wind may have played a role there) and he was handcuffed a bit without running and some 1-hand touch sacks that he probably could have escaped from.
  • Tommy Rees was his usual self.
  • Hendrix will be entering his senior season this fall and he still looks so awkward out there. There's just something about his drop backs, footwork, and the way he moves that looks so unnatural.
  • I was pretty impressed with freshman Malik Zaire---the bad interception notwithstanding. I'm looking at raw tools and noticing if the player performs like a natural out there and Zaire passed with flying colors. He had a good arm, fairly accurate, and has the wheels to really be a weapon in the future.

RUNNING BACK

  • I'm not really concerned with Atkinson's pad level as much as everyone else, at least in terms of him turning in to a power back. He needs to lower his pads so that he doesn't get decapitated by Calabrese but I think GA3 runs hard enough (and more importantly fast enough) to gain tough yardage when he hits the hole with purpose. That last part is the key. On one play Mayock highlighted Atkinson needed to lower his pad level...as he moved the pile 6 yards down field anyway. After another spring game I truly think Atkinson's vision, cutting ability, and decision making are really what he needs to work on. Without those improvements I don't think it matters what his pad-level is because he'll stay a very raw back who will begin to lose carries to others. That said, with poor blocking all day Atkinson's 49 yards on 10 carries was pretty solid and his stock is still holding steady.
  • That poor blocking really stifled Cam McDaniel's running ability but that 25-yard reception was a thing of beauty. I expect him to still push for decent playing time in the fall.
  • Mahone was also bottled up during the game with little room to run. I saw a couple nice moves in the backfield to escape tackles but there's still a lot of room for improvement. His catch in the middle of the field was one of the bright spots of the afternoon though.
  • Adding a healthy Carlisle and freshmen Bryant and Folston to the mix is looking more necessary. I still think Bryant will push for major playing time and Carlisle obviously adds a combination of quickness and agility that just isn't with the players that dressed in the spring game.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • TJ Jones continues to battle like a rabid bulldog. The way he took a sideline pass and then fought for more yards is what's going to make him the team's most reliable and admired receiver.
  • It's coming together for DaVaris Daniels but it's just a matter of being more consistent. He had a chance to have a pretty big day in the spring game but wasn't able to come down with a couple grabs.
  • I'm curious to see how much of a role Daniel Smith has this year. I had mentally written him off before last year but he's come on quite strong over the last 8 months and I think he can be more than just a guy who goes out there to block.
  • I would have liked to have seen something from Onwualu and it was too bad Robinson was unable to participate but C.J. Prosise scored the game's only touchdown which is encouraging.
  • How about Chris Brown on the reverse? That was pretty interesting to see, I wonder if that's something the coaching staff will want to do during the season? No catches for Brown in the scrimmage though---I think we wanted to see a little more in that area.

TIGHT END

  • Everyone seems to be pleased enough with Niklas' performance and I agree. As an aside, it didn't seem like the passing game did much in this game but there were 5 receptions for 20+ yards including Hercules' 24-yard grab.
  • According to the participation report neither Koyack or Welch played but that can't be right. I seem to remember Koyack being spotlighted for a block but I could be wrong. I don't think I saw Welch do anything. I thought both of these players would get a lot of attention and they didn't.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • My eyes don't naturally watch the offensive line like others so I don't have much to offer here. Missing one of your potential All-Americans (Watt) with a sore neck won't make life easy for the offense. I thought it was pretty interesting that they put Stanley at left guard for some snaps.
  • I would have expected the defensive line to win a lot of battles against an offensive line without Watt but not to the extent that we saw on Saturday. It appears that freshman Steve Elmer is going to be in the mix this year and I have to wonder (especially with an eye toward 2014) if someone like John Montelus is going to come in on an accelerated plan to help out on the interior.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • The four starters up front (Tuitt, Day, Nix, Shembo) really didn't play much and combined for just 4 tackles but out of that group Nix briefly flashed his dominance. It never ceases to amaze me how quick off the line and unblockable he can be even against double teams. He sometimes effortlessly slashes between the center and guard like he's playing against little kids.
  • I know the offensive line played poorly (or rather the second unit just might not be very good) but there are a lot of encouraging signs from some of the big bodies on defense. Stockton, Schwenke, Springmann, Ishaq, Okwara, and Jones all made some big plays which is great to see.
  • Ishaq especially played really well tying for the lead with 8 tackles, notching a game-high 3 tackles for loss, and tying for the game high with 2 sacks. He's coming along!

LINEBACKERS

  • Jarrett Grace impressed me. A lot. There will still be a drop off with Te'o gone but I don't think we have to pretend like there are a bunch of questions at Mike linebacker. Grace had 7 tackles in the first half and is going to inject a lot of speed in the middle of the field. Overreacting to the spring game alert: I won't be surprised if Grace gets 100 tackles this season.
  • Councell appears to be chipping away at any walls that keep him from seeing the field in a regular role. As steady as Spond was last year I noticed a couple times during the Blue Gold Game just how much more athletic and fast Councell is at the Dog position. I can't wait to see how this positional battle plays out in the fall when Jaylon Smith shows up.
  • Shouldn't we see more of Rabasa? Especially in a game where backups are getting plenty of reps?

SECONDARY

  • After watching this game I feel a lot better about the defense because two major holes (Mike LB and Strong Safety) appear to be filled. I just don't see how Elijah Shumate doesn't start at safety because he's had an excellent spring and played really well in the B-G Game. That position is in desperate need of more athleticism and speed and Shumate brings it by the truck full. Still, I don't know what he was doing on the Prosise touchdown and it looked like he was way out of position. Still, I really feel like Grace and Shumate are going to be huge contributors on this team and be among the top 3 or 4 tacklers on the season.
  • They were helped out by the defensive line but the secondary seemed to have really good coverage outside of the busted Prosise touchdown. This looks like a really well coached unit---all the more impressive considering Jackson, Baratti, and Lo Wood didn't suit up.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • I would bet a lot of money that Wake Forest transfer Alex Wulfeck comes in and wins the starting punter job with ease. Saturday's performance was embarrassing and it doesn't appear to be Brindza's strong suit. It's probably best for him to focus on field goals and kickoffs and let the more experienced Wulfeck take over in the summer. Another storyline moving forward is that the coaching staff is probably going to have to look for a punter for the 2014 class who can come in and start as a freshman.

~~~

Notes on Spring Game Visitors

(OH) LB Dante Booker- Thought to be a heavy Ohio State lean, he's now made 2 trips to Notre Dame over a 2-month span and many insiders think the Irish are legitimately making up some ground against the Buckeyes.

(AZ) WR Mark Andrews- Large receiver who made a Midwest tour but Notre Dame didn't stand out in any way in relation to Ohio State and Michigan. Expect the staff to fight long and hard for this kid, he's really, really high on their board.

(TN) WR Josh Malone- Some wondered how serious this trip would be for him but it appears he really liked what he saw and may come back for another visit.

(FL) RB Sony Michel- Notre Dame really needed to make a huge impact on Michel to keep him away from Georgia or Miami. Nothing major to report as of yet.

~~~


Other Videos:

Brian Kelly Post-Game Press Conference

UND.com Blue-Gold Post-Game Show

Tyler Stockton

Jarrett Grace

Zack Martin

TJ Jones

George Atkinson III

Everett Golson

Louis Nix


Strong & True (Full Show)

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