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Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game Quick Recap: Gold Dominates Blue 24-0

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Notre Dame Spring Football Game Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

On a dreary, rainy day in South Bend, Ind., the No. 1-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team bested No. 14 North Carolina by a score of 16-9. As that was wrapping up, Notre Dame football gave those fans willing to brave the elements (and to subscribe to Peacock) their first full look at the 2023 iteration of the Irish.

Here’s a brief summary: Sam Hartman looked as good as advertised — and maybe even better — while Tyler Buchner did not. In short, it was excellent message board fodder. The phrase “quarterback competition, my ass” was probably used in abundance throughout the afternoon.

The Gold Team, coached by Al Washington and helmed by Hartman, took a 14-0 lead before the first quarter was even halfway over. Skill players featuring prominently on those first two scoring drives included receivers Jaden Greathouse and Jayden Thomas (who scored the first touchdown) and running back Gi’Bran Payne. Even fullback Davis Sherwood caught a pass and bulldozed an unlucky defender on the second drive, which Hartman ultimately sealed with a QB keeper.

Notre Dame Spring Football Game Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

On Coach Deland McCullough’s Blue Team side, things didn’t go as smoothly. It quickly became apparent that if Tyler Buchner was going to be confined to a red jersey all day, his spring game was going to go about as well as Phil Jurkovec’s 2019 Blue-Gold Game (if memory serves, Jurkovec had eight touch-sacks in that game).

The first Buchner drive featured two sacks as part of a three-and-out. The second drive showed more promise, but reality quickly set in after what should have been an interception by early enrollee linebacker Jaiden Ausberry and then an actual interception by Jaden Mickey.

A couple of scoreless drives later and Hartman threw a touchdown pass to receiver Matt Salerno to make it 21-0. Thus ended the fans’ preview of Hartman as Steve Angeli — not wearing a red jersey, interestingly — took center stage for the Gold Team. As with Hartman, the early-enrollee Greathouse was a favorite target of Angeli’s, although the rising sophomore couldn’t lead the Gold Team to an even bigger lead before halftime.

Hartman finished his day 13-16 for 189 yards and three total touchdowns accounted for. Buchner went into halftime 6-13 passing for 40 yards and an interception. Again, excellent message board fodder.

Notre Dame Spring Football Game Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Buchner returned to action to start the second half, but avoiding some sacks and completing a few short passes didn’t make for a very satisfying redemption arc. Eventually early-enrollee Kenny Minchey — like Angeli, not wearing a red jersey — replaced Buchner as the Blue Team quarterback.

The ensuing slugfest was far from gripping television (or, streaming, more accurately), so naturally the saving grace was a running clock. However, it was as noteworthy as anything can be in a spring game that kicker Zac Yoakam nailed a chip-shot field goal to make it 24-0 Gold Team and safety Xavier Watts recorded an interception of Minchey as time expired.

Other Notes:

  • “Peacock’s too cheap to spring for the yellow first down line!” -my dad
  • My dad also filled me in on the announcing since I had the volume turned down, and I was not totally surprised to learn that Kyle Hamilton and Kyle Rudolph are fortunate that they have unbelievable athletic talent to fall back on. Maybe it’s just something about guy’s named Kyle that makes them ill-suited for analysis.
  • Logan Diggs’ shoulder injury sustained in the 2022 Blue-Gold game was clearly something that the coaching staff couldn’t get over. And that’s entirely valid given the number of players already out with injuries and the fact that the spring game is entirely inconsequential for actually sorting out the depth chart (that was the purpose of the rest of spring practice and the in-stadium scrimmage earlier this week)
  • Case-in-point: Buchner never doffed his red jersey, and the futility of the entire spring game was never better demonstrated than when the Blue Team on TWO OCCASIONS called a QB draw up the middle for Buchner (who, again, was wearing a red jersey) and he was quickly ruled down via touch. Of course, maybe those weren’t play calls and Buchner just defaulted to his run-first mentality, which nevertheless constitutes terrific MBF (“message board fodder”).
  • Between Jaden Greathouse, Jayden Thomas and Jaden Mickey, let Notre Dame’s Ja(y)den Invasion (or “Ja(y)denvasion”™) begin. (No disrespect to Jaiden Ausberry, but if he wants in on this then he should have intercepted Buchner when he had the chance).