I decided to wait a bit before I recorded my thoughts about the Blue & Gold Game. I thought surely the beautiful weather, the friendly fans, and the festive atmosphere would color my perceptions on the field.
So, I decided to wait. Now, with 24 hours elapsed since Notre Dame’s Spring scrimmage, I can calmly summarize my impressions of the new incarnation of ND football in three words:
Speed: This team is noticeably faster. Way faster. From Armando Allen’s explosive running (he is full-speed the moment he touches the ball) to the swarming defense, this is a team that, on Saturday, looked as if it had taken an impressive stride in this department.
Depth: The array of receivers is almost unprecedented, as is their size. Most of them are over 6 feet tall. They will be a challenge to virtually every defensive backfield they come up against in 2009.
And they will be catching passes from Clausen, who is backed up by two guys who both looked fantastic: Dayne Crist and Nate Montana, who both engineered scoring drives. (It was great seeing his father Joe sitting in the stands.) Virtually every position has depth and experience.
Aggression: It was obvious, even with the generic packages they were fielding, that this defense is off the leash. They were fast, aggressive, and blitzing constantly. (This team will eat whatever QB Michigan fields alive.)
And finally, the offensive line needs a round of applause. We haven’t seen this kind of surge off the line, this kind of blocking, and this kind of running lane creation in ages.
It was a thing of beauty, and if it is any indication, the infusion of coaching talent in key positions is paying off.
Now, as a qualifier, it was, after all, the Spring Scrimmage. We don’t see a lot. They hold things back. We see a lot of starters against second-stringers. But…make no mistake, this was impressive.