April 20, 2008 // Notre Dame Football

Thoughts and Observations from the Blue-Gold Game

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Here’s some thoughts from watching the Blue-Gold game.

Offense

  • Jimmy Clausen’s arm looks a lot stronger.  He was throwing some bullets out there today.  He only completed 10 of 27 passes but that was in part because of a large number of drops.
  • The wide receivers didn’t look too good.  Duval Kamara and David Grimes each had multiple drops and the blocking amongst the receivers in the run game was not that strong.  Considering the problems with drops last year,  seeing the #1 and 2 receivers drop balls that hit them square in the hands is not very encouraging.
  • Golden Tate looked great on the go route in the final minute, but we knew he could run go routes last year.  We still didn’t see him get the ball in space where he can use his speed to make any big plays.   Tate is still probably the only receiver who can create much separation so he’ll need a great fall camp if this offense will have much of a downfield threat.
  • Armando Allen was looking pretty good running the ball.  He ran with more confidence and was able to run through a couple arm tackles – the same type of arm tackles that he’d go down too easily on last year.  Allen didn’t get the ball in the passing game, but in his 11 carries, he totaled 50 yards.
  • James Aldridge didn’t get the ball much at all – just six times total – but he did look pretty good in limited action.  Not really sure why Aldridge only got the six carries compared to Allen’s 11 and Robert Hughes’ 22.
  • Hughes looked great again.  He showed great vision and footwork in turning
  • It was tough to tell how the offensive line is doing since they weren’t allowed to cut block.  Then again, based on how the OL executed cut blocks last year (see Michigan game), maybe they permanently shouldn’t be able to cut block.   Still, the  defense was getting a lot of pressure on Clausen throughout the day – was that the offensive line letting the defensive line through or was the increased pressure a result of Jon Tenuta’s influence.
  • Weis said two of the sacks given up were on plays where the offensive linemen yelled “cut” which was supposed to get the defender to stop in their place.  Instead, the defenders ignored the calls and kept going after Clausen.
  • A holding call negated a Clausen to Grimes touchdown – gee, where have I seen that happen before?
  • Trevor Robinson is already as big as the other ND offensive linemen – he is going to be a beast.
  • Mike Ragone had one nice catch and was lining up in more of an h-back position at times.  He was also wearing knee braces on both knees just as the ND Oline does.
  • Barry Gallup didn’t look too bad running the ball considering he spent all last season at receiver.  He won’t challenge Hughes, Allen, or Aldridge, but he could be a competent back who takes carreis in the event we are ever far enough ahead to pull the starters.  He’s also quick enough to the edge that I’m sure there’s a few plays Weis could draw up for him.  If we see much of Gallup at RB this year though, we’re either a lot better or a lot worse than we thought.
  • The fullback was not featured much at all yesterday – that wouldn’t be a bad thing if that carried over into the season.

Defense

  • Harrison Smith was lining up all over the field.  When the second team defense was on the field, he was playing strong safety.  When the first team defense was out, he was playing as a safety getting dropped down to the line in certain packages.  He made a great play in picking off Clausen on a quick pass to Ragone.
  • Brian Smith looked GREAT and recorded two sacks.  He was getting looks at ILB and if the staff can find another OLB, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smith playing inside more permanently.
  • Kyle McCarthy played well enough to secure the starting strong safety spot heading into fall camp.
  • Morrice Richardson was getting good pressure on Clausen most of the game and looked good playing along the line.   Richardson led all defenders with 7 tackles.
  • There weren’t a whole lot of negative running plays caused by the defense and it looks like we could be susceptible to the run up the middle again this year.
  • Toryan Smith was playing with the second team and it looks like he still hasn’t really put it together.
  • Darrin Walls ankles might be a little sore today after Armando Allen make him fall over with a nice cut on the run to the outside in the first half.
  • Emeka Nwankwo played A LOT and looked very solid.  I was impressed with his size in all of the practice videos and he looked the part standing next to ian Williams.
  • Terrail Lambert had the hit of the day with a punishing knock on Armando Allen at the goal line.

Gotta head off the airport and catch my flight home.  I’ll have more updates tonight.

Comments to this Article

  • bleednd82 commented on April 20th, 2008 at 10:21 am

    ESPN Covering Spring Game
    I love how on college game day over on ESPN said reporter Joe Schajdt “ND will win 8 games this year I believe”. Then goes back to the studio and all those guys started laughing and say they are lucky to win 5 games. It wasnt the usual guys in the studio. They also said “ND is the only school to win 8 games and make it to a BCS game”. Laughed some more. Actually, I have no clue to who they were. It was like they were making fun of ND and Joe Schadjt for making that prediction. What a friggin joke. Our time will come to laugh back. I think we go 8-4 with a BOWL WIN this year. Next year look out.

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  • JC commented on April 20th, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I agree bleed, every nickel-dime 40,000 dollar a year media mouth looks to bash ND thinking they are making a name for themselves. Well, how many statues do they erect for professional critics? ND is going to have a good year! It is obvious from the Blue-Gold Game progress has been made. GO IRISH!!

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  • Chris commented on April 21st, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Aside from Jappy Olivers emotion this team looks to be in a state of emotional numbness. While just the spring game,I witnessed absolutely no emotion or energy from this same team that was 3-9 last year.

    Yes – CLausen appeared to have more zip on the ball and great accuracy however receivers dropped too many balls and appeared to get no reprimand.

    Heard absolutely nothing from Tenuta. Weis at this point is the walking CEO of the team. I see a replay of last year however due to schedule – 6 wins maybe – and that will be a stretch as there appears to be no hurry or emotional uplift on this team to prompt them back into the hunt of college football greatness.

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  • irishfan commented on April 21st, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Shut up Chris, the intensity, most notably by the O-line was was great, especially compared to last year, and the swagger and confidence was there. The emotion was to high at sometime, when the scuffle broke out after smiths interception for a TD. while the O-line needs to continue to improve, the WR need a way to counter there lack of speed(the hands could have been first action jitters, and the D line desperately needs to find a way to establish themselves, i think we see an unrecognizable team from last year. Im not promising a bcs bowl, but with the schedule it will be a incredible leap to set up for next season.

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  • JC commented on April 21st, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Amen irishfan, progress has indeed been made! The glass is have full not half empty. The extraordinary possibilities, the X-factor and the it-factor are on the way in the form of the #2 class in the country!

    In addition to the uniquely exciting players we now have, we will be in a better position to have speed and talent at the critical positions. Sure, not all the freshman will start, but when one considers we had 16 new starters last year, most of them will play an important role.

    This will be a vastly superior talented team than last year. However, for the high expectations, patience has to be a virtue to culminate. I remember when we were beating USC on regular basis and so does Charlie.

    The arrow is headed in the right direction! Why? RECRUITING! We are winning that battle and during the Blue-Gold Game certainly demonstrated that commitment further. So give all the coaches high marks for at least breathing, they will deliver. Moreso, the sports pundits need to give it a break! Ignorance is dangerous but stupid is forever!

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  • Chris commented on April 22nd, 2008 at 6:06 am

    You same guys are crying foul and blaming lack of experience for the Irish woes last year then in the same breath see incoming Freshmen as the new saviors!
    I would love to see ND start playing some serious football however there was no improvement in any element of play last year when we should have at least expected some progress in several areas as the season drew to a close.

    Based on the way they finished against mediocre teams a 6 win season would be a tremendous season for the Irish this year.

    Talent is better – agreed there however the question is can Charlie and company develop the talent? The jury is still out on that and this is Charlies 4th season.

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  • JC commented on April 22nd, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Ah Duh…..When’s the last time we had the #2 class in the country? How do you think USC, Florida, Texas and LSU does it year in and year out? Also, it is unfortunate you are blind, which could only explain not seeing Huges’ improvement at the end of the year and guess what…this year in the Blue-Gold Game also. One example only, to go further, I would have to get out crayons and draw pictures. Your dogmatic blanket coverage posts have the same simplistic theme. “You same guys are crying”! Coupled with your ultra-advanced armamentarium of Duh….

    “3-9 Season, Charlie’s
    4th season, the jury is still out” and WOW, now all of us in ND Nation should have an immediate grasp of the obvious thanks to you!

    Finally, “I would love to see ND start playing serious football” What a joke, you must be a SEC fan without a doubt! So, now let’s talk academics! Don’t count on making money as a motivational speaker.

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  • Chris commented on April 22nd, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hey JC – keep drinking the Kool Aid! Bottom line buddy – Willingham got booted not only for poor recruiting but getting blown out repeatedly by teams ND used to dominate, not winning a bowl game and not beating USC. Yeah – ND made it to the BCS bowl but proceeded to get blown out in each game(unless you were watching a different channel), got blown out by SC past two years and posted the 3rd worst string of straight losses in 122 years of ND football history – not to mention the loss to Navy this past year. Play some serious football? Hell yes! Unfortunately you are just to politically correct to admit it yourself. It is good to see however that you are expanding your vocabulary thanks to Reader’s Digest!

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  • bleednd82 commented on April 22nd, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Chris, usually I agree with you but this time I will say the emotion level was at a high. That was pretty obvious. This almost feels like the 05 season. Weis coming in people thought ND was going to lose a lot and he turned it around. I dont know why people are so negative. I know we sucked last year but this is a new year and we have the players to win 8 games. I think we have the coaching as well. I said 7-8 W’s and a Bowl win and ill be happy. I am not one of those ND fans who says “we should in the Natl Championship every year” or “Charlie stinks he has one losing season get hime out”. He had 2 good years and a horrible year. That about sums it up. ND fans can be very fickle sometimes but I am not one of them. Hoping for a good 08.

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  • JC commented on April 23rd, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Interestingly enough, the same mouth keeps describing all the salient features of why the sky is falling in ND football and basketball. I’m sure ND is looking to hire you as the next executive consultant to the athletic program to save them from any further embarrassment. However, it may be wishful thinking the perfect complainer will be employed any where.

    By the way, I am a fan of Readers Digest! However, when it comes to ND Sports you may be suffering from a severe case of acatalepsia, sorry, you will have to get off the couch and dig beyond Readers Digest on that one.

    Finally, there is a very good CURE to be optimistic about the future of ND football, just ask Lou Holtz!

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  • Frankie V commented on April 23rd, 2008 at 8:47 am

    How is the jury still out if Weis can develop talent?

    Did Samardzija get better under Weis? How about Quinn? or Stovall? or Carlson?

    And how about guys like Grimes who was a 3 star recruit?

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  • bleednd82 commented on April 23rd, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I hear you Frankie. People will come back with the “They were Willinghams recruits” arguement. They didnt do squat with Ty. Weis did develop them and made them into stars.

    JC-ignore Chris. He is a ND fan but always is very negative about the team. I think he lost a lot of money last year lol.

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  • JC commented on April 23rd, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Hey Chris, I am sorry, I guess I am flustrated about last year also….in a different way. The good news is we are both ND FANS! GO IRISH!

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  • Chris commented on April 24th, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    OK – thanks JC we are indeed both ND fans! Frankie – although I love you – truly…I do – commentary wise…did not all the players you mention drop off the screen in the 2nd year after Weis took the helm? I sure thought they did and statistics prove that. Yes we had the poorer O Line play but there is something amiss here w/ Charlies ability to develop the talent. Think about it – the first year, they could not have possibly known Charlie Weis’s system – yet they excelled but most of it was pure emotion w/ some talent finally being cut loose.

    Case in point – the receivers STILL did not get separation from the defenders in the 08′ B/G game. Why? They know where they are going..the defenders not necessarily so in this format.

    OK onward to the positives – I AM capable of positives…. I must however still question the D and the defensive set and scheme. Looked a lot like to me like the last year’s B/G game although more blitzes were evident which we definitely like. However in the midst of Charlies own admission, namely that we need more 300 pounders on the front 3 for the 3-4 to work correctly. So – in the meantime why not institute a down line rush of five -with the main purpose of bull rush – in the same time make – make – make – the secondary check block the opposing receivers AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE!!!The line then puts pressure on the QB and the run at the same time – basically attacking and dictating which plays nicely into Tenuta’s mainstay ! I am telling you positive things WILL happen allowing the offense natural momentum to grow into themselves and finally be able to produce.

    The defense will then propel the offense – and as Lou Holtz said after the 93′ FSU / ND game – the trick is – is to first get your team to believe then good things will happen.

    That’s all I have to say about that.

    Again – thanks JC! I really am indeed a fan – had 2 brothers who were graduated from ND – just waiting too long for the return to glory….

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  • Chris commented on April 24th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Also – Bleed ND 82 – you know where I am coming from…..appreciate the support but contrary to your initial thoughts – I dont bet and didn’t lose any money…..I am in fact a daily communicant and unfortunately remain frustrated at times with my own frustration w/ ND football lately!

    As I I have previously stated, I have been there and done that. I knew Joe Moore personally which makes these observations all the more difficult. I know he would see my point here although admittedly – I am not always as concise and charitable as I seek to be as I am often clouded from emotion.

    Best to the Irish this year!

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  • Kevin commented on May 3rd, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    back to the BG game the offense looks fine except receivers but with the D-line looking bad and the loss of Zibby, wooden, and prince how will the defense fair this year

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