The Notre Dame Fighting Irish just wrapped up spring football with a fairly entertaining spring game. Opinions are already making their rounds about things we should expect to see this fall - mostly based off of a two hour scrimmage. While I believe that there are some solid points to make within the scope of spring football, we must not look too deep into the situation.
Here are three things that you SHOULD NOT take away from this game.
NOTRE DAME WILL RETURN TO THE PASS HAPPY LIFE
A popular opinion after the Blue-Gold Game is that Notre Dame will return to Brian Kelly’s pass happy offense in 2018 rather than continue to concentrate on running the ball (as they did in 2017). Notre Dame called 123 offensive plays, and about 80 of them were called pass plays.
Miles Boykin continues the legend. pic.twitter.com/RB5KUfwCTf— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) April 21, 2018
Look... the two biggest things coming into the spring was the quarterback competition and staying healthy. Those things don’t change for the glorified scrimmage that is the Blue-Gold game. Brian Kelly, and Chip Long used this practice time as another way to help develop both Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book. It also helped define who was rising to the top among the receivers (clearly Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool, Michael Young, and Chris Finke for the wideouts and Alize Mack and Cole Kmet for the tight ends).
This wasn’t a situation that called for a consistent and punishing ground assault for the afternoon. It was a way to see how the passing game (something they needed badly in 2017) was developing.
NOTRE DAME FOUND THEIR STARTING SAFETIES
This would be an easy thing to get wrong after the spring game. Yes... Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott played well in the game and probably looked better than the rest of the group. Gilman had a terrific strip on Michael Young to force a fumble that Gilman ALSO recovered, and Elliott had the game’s lone interception.
Need more of this on defense in 2018. Safety play is crucial. pic.twitter.com/sNdpsyG0xk— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) April 21, 2018
It’s not that simple.
When Mike Elko first came to Notre Dame, his 4-2-5 defense focused on the safety play. With Clark Lea running the same system this year, that focus will most likely remain the same. Elko was able to hide the shortcomings we had at the position, but will Lea be able to do the same? Perhaps Houston Griffith continues to make his climb up the depth chart, or perhaps Nick Coleman returns from playing nickel. This is still, very much, a work in progress.
AN OPINION ABOUT DEXTER WILLIAMS
Dexter Williams had a fine day on the ground with 11 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown. He CLEARLY looked like the best option for the Fighting Irish on the ground - but not so fast.
Probably won’t be many as fast as Pride to track down a guy like Dexter. pic.twitter.com/mdpSt8Rous— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) April 21, 2018
While we have been told this spring, that the things that kept Dexter off the field in 2017 (knowledge of the playbook, pass-blocking, and injuries) have been improved upon... this is Brian Kelly we’re talking about.
I don’t think we can have any opinion about Williams coming out of spring ball other than HE RUNS THE BEST. As far as the depth chart is concerned, or just carries per game in general, I don’t think we will have any idea until the Irish play the Michigan Wolverines in the first game of the season.