Its finally here. The 2014 football season begins this Saturday with the 85th Annual Blue Gold game. Its that time of year where the fan base is actually optimistic for a change. Well at least most of the fan base. There are always those outliers who always want to complain about something or another. But I digress. Saturday will be our first glimpse at the 2014 version of the Irish football squad. Now while the spring game is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage and we as fans are not going to see to much of anything in terms of scheme and the playbook, it is a good opportunity to see how some of the individual players have progressed through spring practice and to get an idea of who might be ready to contribute on the field this fall. And almost even more importantly, it will give anyone who is coming to town to watch the game a chance to come by the first ever Down the Tunnel Tailgate with our partners at Indiana Whiskey. So along with meeting good people and enjoying some great whiskey, here are some things to watch for on Saturday.
What to Watch For:
Receiving corps- With Davaris Daniels suspended for the spring and TJ Jones and Troy Niklas headed to the NFL, the Irish receiving corps is going to look very different this spring than what we have grown accustomed to over the last couple years. While some of the young receivers did get playing time last season, Tommy Rees was the one throwing them the ball. In fact only one receiver who is on the roster for the spring game has actually caught a pass from Everett Golson; Chris Brown. While the amount of talent in the receiving corps is not argued, it will be interesting to see how the connection between Golson and receivers like Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, and Justin Brent will look after being away from the team for over a year.
Everett Golson- Speaking of Golson, this will be the first opportunity for Irish fans to see him on the field since he was dismissed from the university last spring. During his time away, Golson worked with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield and so far the reports out of practice paint Golson as a “Bigger, stronger, and faster” version than before. Yes it is just the spring game, but this will give everyone an opportunity to see how Golson has improved in his year away from the program.
The defensive line- After losing Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, and Kona Schwenke to the NFL the defensive line is a bit too thin for my liking. Sheldon Day, who has shown flashes of brilliance so far in his career, is going to have to be the leader in the group and we all expect Ishaq Williams, who was moved to defensive end from OLB this spring, to finally start living up the hype he received when he signed with Notre Dame. Now the defensive line we see Saturday will most likely not include everyone who will receive playing time next season, as incoming freshman like Jay Hayes will almost certainly be among the rotation if not only due to the lack of depth at the positions. Don’t expect to see any new wrinkles in the new defensive scheme that Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder has brought with him to South Bend just yet. Coaches don’t normally do anything but run a plain base defense in a spring game. But it will be nice to see the individual players along the D-line and be able to see who has stepped up to fill in some large voids
It’s good to finally have football back, if only for a short while. The Spring game is always a fun event that helps bring excitement to a new season of Notre Dame football. So if you are in town to attend the game, enjoy the great experience and make sure to stop by the Down the Tunnel tailgate. Indiana Whiskey will be there along with a lot of other delicious beverages, tasty foods, and good people. I have the final details and information for everyone tomorrow so stay tuned. Its going to be a fun weekend. If you are watching from home, just kick back have a drink and enjoy the first glimpse of 2014 Notre Dame Football.