After losing two of their last four to end the season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish eagerly look to next season as the team wraps up its spring practices with the annual Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.
This will give fans a chance to see the ability of some of the new recruits and the progress of returning players who look to play a big role on the team.
NBCSN will be broadcasting the game live, and it should be a fun and revealing day of football. In the end, the importance of this day is not about which team wins, but which players step up and make coaches and fans take notice.
When: April 12 at 12:30 PM ET
Where: Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
This scrimmage will get the full TV treatment. According to Broadwayworld.com, Paul Burmeister and Mike Mayock will be in the booth, and Alex Flanagan will be patrolling the sideline.
During the broadcast, fans will not mistake it for a regular game. That is because fans will have an opportunity to listen in on the action. Head coach Brian Kelly and his quarterbacks will be mic'd up.
In an especially revealing opportunity, Kelly will be talking during the game directly with Mayock and Burmeister.
What to Watch
There is no doubt that Everett Golson has the edge in winning the starting quarterback's job, but it is no certainty. Just ask redshirt freshman Malik Zaire, who is gunning for Miller's job.
Zaire flashed his self confidence in the following quote tweeted by ESPN College GameDay:
"There will only be one guy starting on Aug. 30th against Rice…and I believe that will be me." - Malik Zaire Story: http://t.co/Uith8NAgur— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) March 28, 2014
In The Associated Press article in the above tweet, Kelly made it clear that no starting quarterback has been named. Golson is returning from a suspension that cost him all of last season, but he certainly has the experience edge after throwing for 2,405 yards in 2012.
This will be Zaire's second spring game, and the only other time Irish fans have had a real chance to get a glimpse of him was in last year's spring game.
Commenting on the same Zaire quote, Black Hat Football's Richard T. Estrada highlights that Zaire made an impression in his limited time with the team heading into last season:
Love confidence of the kid :) Plenty of folks felt Malik Zaire should have been Irish QB last fall, stead of redshirt http://t.co/vsWYx1gv9o— Richard T. Estrada (@BlackHatFootbal) March 31, 2014
Unlike last year, Zaire will have all season to try and prove he can be the starting quarterback, but if he wants to make his own prediction of starting the first game of the season come true, he would be well advised to rip it up in this game.
Is Greg Bryant the Real Deal?
Sophomore running back Greg Bryant entered Notre Dame last year as one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. He then had three carries for 14 yards in three games before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury.
In his absence, classmate Tarean Folston surged to end the season to steal the spotlight that seemed destined for Bryant. Bryant would appear eager to take that spotlight back, and the coaches are noticing. Apparently, as the tweet from CSN Chicago's JJ Stankevitz explains, so did Folston:
Brian Kelly: "Tarean started slow but picked it up at the end, but that might be because Greg Bryant has had a really good spring."— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) April 9, 2014
No matter who emerges as the lead back next season, this is wonderful news for the Irish. Bryant is a possible threat in the run and pass game. Whether he starts or not, if his talent starts to shine on the college field, coaches will find a way to get him in the game.
Now we will see if he is ready to grab attention, not just in practice, but in this game setting.