The Notre Dame Fighting Irish provided fans with an early look of what to expect this coming fall on Saturday in the 84th annual Blue-Gold spring game. Led by Malik Zaire and Louis Nix III, the Blue team won a hard-fought battle, 54-43.
Don't let the score fool you, though, only one touchdown was actually scored on Saturday, the other points were awarded for mini in-game accomplishments similar to a video game.
The weather was chilly, but the sun was shining as a decent-sized crowd packed into Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
The action began a little after 1 p.m. ET following a brief moment of silence for the victims of this past week's tragedies in Boston. College GameDay later tweeted out a look at the decals Notre Dame players wore on their helmets Saturday to honor the city.
After a slow paced first quarter that featured no touchdowns or field goals, only imaginary points awarded for spring game accomplishments like big gains and turnovers, the Blue squad led comfortably over the Gold team, 15-6.
End of the first period. Blue 15 - Gold 6 #BlueGold— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) April 20, 2013
The first real score of the game came on a field goal in the second quarter from senior kicker Nick Tausch.
40 yard field goal attempt by Tausch is good. Blue 20 - Gold 15 #BlueGold— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) April 20, 2013
First half offensive stat leaders: GA3 with 49 rushing yards, Golson 6 of 13 for 98 yards, INT. Daniels with 3 catches for 48 yards.— Tyler James (@TJamesNDI) April 20, 2013
Defensive leaders at the half: Jarrett Grace with 7 tackles (2 solo), Tyler Stockton with 6 tackles (2 solo) and 2 sacks. Farley with INT.— Tyler James (@TJamesNDI) April 20, 2013
Highly-touted freshman quarterback Malik Zaire started the third quarter for the Gold team, and looked solid for the most part, making quick decisions and playing decisive football until an interception halted his drive. Growing pains, sure, but the future is bright in South Bend.
The second half featured a non-stop clock and flew by seemingly in a matter of minutes.
Zaire threw the game's first touchdown late, but the final period was highlighted by a unique and hilarious play from defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who took a shotgun snap on a two-point conversion attempt and steamrolled into the end zone, all 300-plus pounds of him.
In the end, there were some positives to take away, but plenty of teaching points for Brian Kelly to make this summer as he looks to prepare the Fighting Irish for another challenging season next fall.
Everett Golson: C
Starting quarterback Everett Golson, who threw for over 2,400 yards and 12 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2012, went 6-for-13 for 98 yards in the first half on Saturday and showed some promising flashes when given the time to observe the coverage down field, but tossed a costly interception in the second quarter.
Golson has to continue to improve as a decision maker with the ball in his hands in order to lead Notre Dame back to a big-time bowl game next season.
George Atkinson III: C
After averaging 7.1 yards per carry for Notre Dame a season ago, running back George Atkinson III struggled to get things going on Saturday, moving east and west rather than north and south.
Atkinson rushed for 49 yards in the first half but took a vicious hit from linebacker Carlo Calabrese, and received some coaching on the sidelines from Brian Kelly following a few plays where he was unwilling to cut his losses and accept a short gain.
Matthias Farley: A
Irish safety Matthias Farley had a strong showing in Notre Dame's secondary on Saturday, recording an interception in the first half and making sound reads in the passing game.
The sophomore will play a much more vital role for Brian Kelly's squad this coming season, so Irish fans have to be happy with what they saw from him in the spring game. No need to get carried away, but boasting a playmaking safety can go a long way in college football.
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