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Notre Dame Football 2015 Blue Gold Game Preview

We need answers.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Blue (PK) at Gold

LaBar Practice Field in South Bend, Indiana

Kickoff: 12:30 PM ET

Date: April 18, 2015

Television: NBC Sports Network

Series: Notre Dame 85-0-0

Spring football 2015 comes to an end this Saturday. Shortly after high noon the Fighting Irish will make the short trek across some foot paths from the Gug to the LaBar practice field for the latest edition of the Blue Gold Game.

Here's what to watch for this weekend.

1) How's NBC pulling off their camera work?

Taping a spring game at a sparsely equipped outdoor practice facility is quite the challenge for Notre Dame's broadcast partner. It does offer NBC the opportunity to get creative with some shots, though. I'm excited to see how they pull it off.

2) What will be done to make it feel like the game isn't on a practice field?

Is there anything planned to spruce up this operation? Notre Dame finally used some white smoke in the team's entrances for home games last year--admit it you liked it and it's better than doing nothing. Is there a plan to use this by the practice field gates? Are we getting a proper "Here come the Irish!" from Dan Hicks? What about a laser show? Too much to ask?

3) Will anyone understand the scoring system?

No, they will not.

4) Can we see something from DeShone Kizer?

Everyone's attention will be focused on the other quarterbacks but let's not forget that Kizer will be making his spring game debut and basically his first audition in front of Notre Dame fans. At nearly 6-5, Kizer has size the other quarterbacks lack and less running ability. We're not expecting an athlete like the others but is his throwing motion tightened up and can he display quality accuracy yet?

5) Is Greg Bryant going to give us something to talk about?

As the highest rated running back on the team the hype surrounding Greg Bryant won't recede any time soon. During last year's spring game the freshman totaled 95 yards, including a game-long 51-yard scamper that got the crowd off its feet. It's been a quiet spring so far for Bryant--does he change that on Saturday?

6) Who will jump out at tight end?

The Irish are carrying 5 scholarship tight ends for spring right now, 4 of which should get varying amount of playing time this Saturday. This feels like a good positional group where we need to take a solid temperature before spring. Can Smythe show why he's the No. 1 guy? How much flexibility does Luatua really provide? Will this be Hounshell's last official practice with the team?

7) Amir Carlisle--truly a starter on this offense?

Just a month ago no one was sure if Carlisle would even come back for a 5th year, whether it was his decision or not. Now, he's spent the entire spring starting in the slot. For a someone with just 37 career receptions there are still a lot of questions if Carlisle is truly one of the top 5 or 6 playmakers on this offense. He's likely assured of a roster spot at this point but showing out in the spring game could be important for a player who relies so much on confidence.

8) Will there be a surprise performance on the offensive line?

So many bodies. Even for a spring game. The Irish will have 13 linemen available on Saturday not including quality walk-on Sam Bush. We won't need to spend too much time watching the likes of Ronnie Stanley or Nick Martin. Where there might be something worth focusing is on some of the backups. There's supposed to be depth, will anyone stand out as being developed this spring?

9) Is Jerry Tillery a super-duper star or just a super star?

Officially the most hyped Irish freshman in a number of years, we might as well call Saturday the Jerry Tillery Show. For real though, the praise for the early enrollee from Louisiana has been as absurd as it has been justified. As excited as I am to watch I just hope he plays decently well so as not to start a backlash. Lots of time left in his career, you guys.

9) Will there be a pass rush? Will it matter?

Pressure from the front four is sought by thousands of fans, maybe millions. We desperately need someone to flash during the spring game. Flash, multiple times even. Ideally, against one of the best offensive lineman and not off an exotic blitz or anything. Straight up pass rushing explosion.

10) Is Jarrett Grace healthy enough to be a legit starter?

If you haven't done so yet please watch the latest installment of "Onward Notre Dame" that was aired this past Tuesday. It heavily features Jarrett Grace detailing his recovery from injury and learning how to strap the pads on again, literally and figuratively. He's been able to take contact for a while now, and physicality was never an issue before his injury, so if those areas hold up we're left wondering if Grace can run with the necessary speed and athleticism to still play linebacker at a high level.

11) Can the corners win enough reps against the receivers?

Even though I thought the hype of an All-American season for 2014 was a little premature the truth is that Notre Dame is going to be welcoming back a top corner when KeiVarae Russell returns to South Bend this summer. We never got to see what Russell could do last fall due to suspension but he should team up with the blossoming Cole Luke to form a very successful duo at corner. It's the number three and four corners that are under critical examination which includes Devin Butler and Nick Watkins. Will they be ready to compete this fall and can they make some moves with good spring game performances?

12) Will a safety make a play?

Elijah Shumate is heading into his senior season and has made 15 career stars. Max Redfield will be a junior and has seen action in 25 games, including 12 starts. Both of these players have combined for 2 interceptions and 10 pass break-ups over their careers. Both of those picks came courtesy of Devin Gardner last year. These players have been serviceable to good at times as run-stopping physical safeties. Can we just see one play where the safety tracks a deep pass, makes a run, and forces an incompletion? All I ask is for one such play!

13) How much improvement will we see from Golson in the pocket?

Any turnovers will be dissected for weeks. Lord help us if there any turnovers. One of the main themes throughout spring practice is having Golson play better from the pocket by staying anchored to the ground and delivering the ball in rhythm. We've seen Everett get into this type of rhythm before but when under pressure last season he lost some of those fundamentals. Golson had a promising initial spring game but over the past two Blue Gold games he hasn't looked like a calm passer all the time. Can he reclaim that sense of control and head into summer as the leading candidate in the quarterback competition?

14) How much improvement will we see from Zaire's throwing repertoire?

As Malik Zaire continues to make strides as a passer he's transforming from a runner with a strong arm into a legit college quarterback who can direct an offense with his decision making. This spring left the media still wanting to see more accuracy, a better deep ball, and more diverse throws besides the bulk of short passes near the line or on the perimeter. We know the athleticism and physicality as a runner are there for Zaire but can he expand on his passing abilities during the spring game and quiet some of his critics who think he will struggle as a passer once exposed to a full season of game time?

15) Who will win the contest to call a play during the spring game?

Did you submit your play? What did you choose?

I'd go with a QB kneel to stay classy and respectful after we blow these Notre Dame guys out.