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Football: Airing it out

Laura Myers | Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game will be fun for anyone who likes an offensive showcase, Irish coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday.

“We won’t do a lot defensively. You won’t see much,” Kelly said. “And you’ll probably leave going, ‘wow, our defense didn’t get the kind of progress we were hoping.’ I’m just preparing you for it right now: This is going to be set up for offense from that standpoint. We want to get out there and show some exciting football. We know at the end of the day our defense has made great progress this spring.”

The Irish have now completed 13 of their 14 spring practices leading up to Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game. Friday’s practice will simply be a walk-through for the scrimmage Saturday, Kelly said.

As for the game itself, the rules will be those of a traditional spring game. The Irish will be split into Blue and Gold teams and will play with normal football rules. This is a departure from the 2008 and 2009 spring games under former head coach Charlie Weis, in which the offense and defense faced off with a unique scoring system that rewarded the defense for turnovers and 3-and-outs, among other things, and gave the offense two points for “explosive plays.”

The teams will be split not by first and second teams, but in a way that makes the game more exciting, Kelly said.

“We’ve balanced up the teams,” Kelly said. “We’ve kept some positional groups together. For example, on defense we wanted to keep the corners together, but maybe the safeties won’t be. We’ve tried to balance the teams so it’s not a ones versus twos. It’s going to be very competitive.”

Kelly said the special teams play would be the only main difference in rules. All punts will be fair catches, and field goals and extra point attempts will not be blocked. Additionally, Each drive will start on the 30-yard line rather than having a kickoff to start play. Other than that, Kelly said, it will be like a normal game.

“We want to run the first half as a game situation, we’ll go in at half and we’ll assess where we are at that point and then come out in the second half,” he said. “All things will be the same, the difference maybe we may run the clock third or fourth quarter depending on where we are.”

Quarterback Dayne Crist, who was questionable for the Blue-Gold Game due to his continuing recovery from knee surgery, will play “every single snap,” Kelly said. However, Crist and the rest of the quarterbacks will wear red jerseys, which indicate that they are not to be hit.

“I think it’s important where we are right now, we need all hands on deck,” Kelly said. “And we’re moving some people around on the offensive line, so I need to be judicious and not set these guys up for some hits that they really shouldn’t take, so the quarterbacks will not be live.”

Overall, the game will be little more than an extra practice for the team, which will not have another chance to work together until summer session begins in June.

“For me to be in the Stadium on the spring game will be pretty cool,” Kelly said. “But other than that it’s really about giving these guys another chance to be on the field and learn more about what we’re trying to do here. We’ve made really good progress.”


Sophomore guard Chris Watt spent time at the center position Wednesday, delivering snaps for the first time in his career. Kelly said he was keeping his options open for the center position.

“If anybody else is interested in snapping the football, one of the things in our offense is we’re always looking for centers,” Kelly said. “We’re just trying to get some technique when we go into the summer, it’s another skill that he can work on. He’s a tough physical kid. He’s got a low center of gravity. He may be a center down the road; we just wanted to give him something to work on going into the summer.”