Defense Dominates as Notre Dame Wraps Spring Ball

Bob Diaco - 2013 Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game
Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese (44), defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, and safety Matthias Farley (41) celebrate after an interception by Farley in the second quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. (Photo: Matt Cashore / USA TODAY Sports)

It’s tough to glean much from any spring game.  Coaches aren’t going to show much.  Young players will get way more snaps than they would normally.  And for a bunch of other reasons it’s tough to really make too many definitive statements from a spring game.  That certainly doesn’t mean, however, that us fans won’t try to do just that.


  • Would it have been nice to see Everett Golson come out and thread the needle yesterday?  Absolutely.  The fact that Golson wasn’t particularly accurate shouldn’t be alarming though.  By all accounts Golson had a great spring and has taken ownership of the offense and that is a great sign.
  • George Atkinson is still running with a really high pad level and he paid the price on the wrong end of an absolute shot from Carlo Calabrese.  Atkinson showed plenty of speed but still has some work to do to be an every down, #1 type back.
  • Speaking of backs, I liked what I saw from Cam McDaniel running and receiving and was surprised with Will Mahone’s receiving ability as well.
  • Would have loved to see Davaris Daniels jump up and wrestle that ball in the end zone away from Josh Atkinson for the score.  That part of his game still looks like a work in progress, but once he gets that down the sky is the limit for him.
  • Wish we would have seen more of CJ Prosise, but not surprised that Kelly didn’t show much of him as he learns the position.  Still, it was nice to see him waltz into the endzone on the busted coverage in the 4th quarter.
  • Really impressed that Ronnie Stanley was able to step in a start at left guard for Chris Watt since he’s only worked at tackle.  He held his own and considering he’s still a true freshman and was playing a new position.
  • Nick Martin looks like he is going to be your starting center in 2013.  Brian Kelly likely won’t name a starter until into fall camp, but Martin really battled well with Louis Nix and if he can do that, he will be able to handle any other nose guard he’ll see this fall.
  • Troy Niklas looked pretty good filling in for Tyler Eifert at tight end.  Niklas had a couple catches and looked strong blocking.
  • Malik Zaire looks a lot like Everett Golson did as an early enrollee – really raw but really talented.  Zaire needed to be calmed down after his interception by Kelly, but it’s pretty clear he’s got a lot of talent.  Still really doubtful we see him this fall given the depth chart at QB, but like Golson he’s got a really high ceiling.
  • Wish we would have seen more of Corey Robinson as a receiver.  Can’t wait for this kid to get some experience under his belt and start to make plays.


  • Jarron Jones still looks like he’s got a lot of room to fill out.  This kid could be a monster when all is said and done if he puts in the work in the weight room with Paul Longo.  I thought it was really interesting to hear Mike Mayock say that Jones told him that he had a tough time adjusting because he almost had to dial it back a bit in high school because he was so much more physically dominating over the competition.
  • Great to see Tyler Stockton make some plays.  Was this a “Junior Jabbie” Blue-Gold Game type of performance or will the 5th-year senior provide some depth up front?  Impossible to say right now, but if he were able to get into the rotation and keep the Irish DL fresher it’d be a huge boost for the defense.
  • Notre Dame needs Bennett Jackson and Keivarae Russell to stay healthy this year.  Love these two as a starting combo at corner, but depth behind them is a bit dicey right now.
  • Stephon Tuitt had a quiet day.  Kelly mentioned last week that Tuitt lost some time in the weight room this off-season.  Like with Golson, nothing to be alarmed with here.  Tuitt will no doubt be ready for fall camp and will get back to terrorizing opposing quarterbacks next year.
  • Good effort by Ishaq Williams all around.  Anyone else notice him staying with Niklas downfield in coverage?  If he can drop into coverage like that and rush the passer he can still live up to his 5-star potential.  Williams had 3 tackles for loss including 2 “sacks”.
  • Liked what I saw out of all of the linebackers.  Jarrett Grace picked up 8 tackles as he looks to step into Manti Te’o’s shoes in the middle of the Irish defense this year.
  • Defense pretty much dominated throughout the day and eased some concerns over replacing veteran staters Manti Te’o, Zeke Motta, and Kapron Lewis-Moore.

Special Teams

  • If there was an area of concern on Saturday it was special teams.  The punting situation looks far from settled.  Bob Diaco has a lot of work to do with his punters between now and August 31.
  • All punts were fair caught or let go so not much different than what we’ve seen here the last few years.
  • Nick Tausch hit 3 of 4 field goals and looked pretty solid after the


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  1. Offense playing against maybe the best defense they will see all year, also it’s kind of like kissing your sister when you play against your own guys. I think we will be just fine come real game time..

  2. Its early and even after a 12-0 regular season there is always question marks. Once again the defense will have to step up and be dominate. The offense, if they can find a real running back should be more than sufficient and get the job done. Wide could receivers are going to especially be important especially if the running game falters. It will up to the incoming freshman to pick up the slack should Atkinson doesn’t come through. Go Irish!

  3. I’m really worried about our receivers this year. I know everyone loves Daniels but I just don’t see the ball skills everyone else does at this point. TJ Jones is our #1 receiver right now. He is solid and consistent, but is by far from a gamebreaker. Daniels should have caught that ball in the endzone, as well as an earlier catch he dropped in the first quarter near the goalline. He’s still got a lot of work to do.

    Troy Niklas is a beast and I’m thinking he will be used a lot this year. He’s so big that he will be able to shield defenders away and use his strong hands to make plays. I don’t see him having Eifert potential yet, but he is still young and learning too. Look for him to be a big part of the offense.

    Chris Brown is still dropping passes thrown right to him. I did like the reverse with him to utilize his speed, but catch the freakin ball dude.

    I’m thinking that Corey Robinson will end up being a starter eventually if he lives up to what everyone is saying. His size, leaping ability, and ball skills is exactly what we need right now. I would have really liked to see him in this game, but we’ll have to wait for the fall.

    I’m really worried about running back. Atkinson is going to get himself killed. He has always run with a high pad level and has been here for three years. Wouldn’t you think he would have learned by now? Cam McDaniel runs hard, but lets be honest, he doesn’t possess the talent to be a #1 back. He’s too small and goes down easy. He did have a nice catch out of the backfield. I hope Amir Carlisle comes back healthy and takes the #1 spot and catches the ball as well as we have been hearing about. The other backs don’t have the kind of talent Theo Riddick had catching the ball out of the backfield which was a huge part of our offense last year.

    Our defense is going to keep us in games this year, but I’m really worried about our offense. We’ll see, but I think this Spring game kinda showed everyone how much we really did lose with Wood, Riddick, and Eifert.

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