Noie: Peek behind the curtain of Notre Dame’s spring football, a quick and incomplete | Notre Dame Insider Football
From empty parking spots strewn across the Joyce South field to minimal fans in the stands, a weekend of football at Notre Dame’s house looked a lot like Saturday, like when we last started in December.
When the Irish poured out of the tunnel at the north end of Notre-Dame stadium a little after 12:30 p.m., for the annual Blue-Gold bore game, uh, that was our first real look at everything since the January 1 loss to the college football playoff semi-final to future Alabama National Champion.
Many of these Irish are different. Different game makers. Different voices. A different direction?
The core of this 2020 squad, over a four-year 43-8 span, is chasing the dreams of the NFL. Guys like quarterback Ian Book and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and four dominant guys on an offensive line that was arguably the best in the country. Former defensive coordinator Clark Lea has fled to Nashville, where he will try to be head coach at his alma mater, Vanderbilt.
Even the guys with remaining eligibility and beckoning big roles weren’t there on Saturday – safety Kyle Hamilton and O-Line goalie Jarrett Patterson and linebacker Drew White were held / limited during all 15 sessions of spring training due to injury / recovery.
It was good. Autumn will be their time.
Other famous guys were pushed back on Saturday. No need to give the ball back to running back Kyren Williams 30 times, or target tight end Michael Mayer a dozen or hijack defensive lineman Kurt Hinish on a ton of clichés to terrorize the inside. Save that for September as well.
Saturday – and really, all spring – was about finding a few other guys who could elevate their status when the Labor Day Sunday season opens in Florida State. We saw players do what they do and coaches do what they do on Saturday, but is it enough to finally stand by Alabama and Ohio State? Will it ever be enough?
“We’re a good team and good teams aren’t good enough,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “No one here is interested in the good. We want to be great. “
Saturday was no longer an indication or an indictment of anything Irish. It’s a spring game. Come in, get out, carry on to 2021. Kelly later said his schedule was coming out on Saturday exactly what he wanted and needed. No head coach has ever said differently. Like, boy, we were really ugly.
There is no such thing as a good mystery to catch his eye, and this Notre Dame football team is sure to do so in the summer months. There’s a lot to love (running backs, defensive line, linebackers) about a program that has won at least 10 games each of the past four seasons with two visits to the sport’s Final Four, but there’s also a lot of things we don’t have. know.
Like, are there any game breakers on the outside who don’t call themselves Avery Davis?
“We’re still trying to figure out who we are,” said Chris Tyree, a half-second running back.
It usually starts at quarterback, a position in recent years that was taken for granted, and maybe even taken for granted. Could the transfer of Drew Pyne and / or Wisconsin graduate Jack Coan be close to Book? Neither looked ready to run with the role on Saturday, but it’s Spring Ball – take the good and the bad and the indifferent. It’s also that the remaining pound bar is really high.
“It’s fair to review this position every week,” Kelly said of his quarterbacks. “We do that too.”
Kelly stopped last week to move all in. He’ll reserve that decision for fall camp, where naming a guy will mean more. There is so much time between the last preview on Saturday and the opener on September 5.
Sunday has been 126 days.
“I don’t feel like it’s going to move the needle in the locker room,” Kelly said last week of the quarterback’s decision.
What will move the needle? Certainly not the Blue’s 17-3 win over gold ahead of close friends and relatives and the squad (presence announced of 6,195). Or Tyree’s 43 rushing yards. Or Jack Kiser’s eight tackles. Either teams go a combined five for 21 for third or finish with nine sacks.
Watching from the press box was a challenge to always get stuck on what was going on, especially during the second half game clock. On the pitch, it was about who you saw. Upstairs, it was about who we hadn’t done it about.
On the ninth floor on the east side was longtime Blue and Gold Illustrated writer Lou Somogyi. Cartography plays. Talk about trends. Decipher the depth map. Just like he had done every Notre-Dame football season since 1984.
The 58-year-old Notre Dame graduate died of a heart attack exactly two weeks earlier. With a touch of class, Notre Dame officials reserved Somogyi a seat in the Social Distancing Press Box – Section B, Middle Row, Seat 1. Lou’s Seat. It was hard not to look there and think of him more than dissecting a certain series. He should have been there. That he didn’t make everything feel like this team and this coming spring and season – different.
Like much of Saturday, this spring we saw what Our Lady wanted us to see. It was Message Control 101. Want to start a fire under the offense? Show the defense that dominates them in certain situations. Want to give freshman coordinator Marcus Freeman’s defense guys reason to believe? Show them run, tackle and play and freewheels in a system everyone seems to adopt. Pump the quarters? How about a video montage of them doing all the necessary throws.
It was in April. Now it is May. Let’s see what everyone feels, and ultimately reads and reacts, when it all counts in months. Saturday was like taking out presents for your kids to see in August, to put them away in the closet for the next four months, not to be seen again until Christmas morning.
We’ve had a glimpse of quite a sunny and windy spring Saturday in South Bend, but uncertainty will persist through Memorial Day and July 4 and the summer that both envelop. What will Notre-Dame football be like when autumn returns? When will more fans come back? When is a college football season more like a college football season?
Can this group go from good to excellent?
The mystery continues.