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2011 Blue-Gold Game

Chris Masoud | Monday, April 18, 2011

The numbers are almost identical: the Gold squad finished with 266 yards of total offense compared to the Blue squad’s 262, each converted 16 first downs and neither team scored a touchdown until the second half. But led by freshmen quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix, Gold earned a 17-14 victory over Blue on a wet Saturday afternoon.

Blue quarterback and early enrollee Everett Golson led all quarterbacks with 153 yards of total offense, including a game-high 62 yards on the ground. Golson also accounted for the only touchdown pass of the game, a 15-yard strike to junior wide receiver John Goodman to pull Blue within three in the fourth quarter. While Golson handled the majority of the snaps for the Blue, the versatile Hendrix did not disappoint in a similar role for the Gold. Hendrix finished with 150 yards of total offense, including 113 yards through the air, to go along with a game-high two rushing scores.

Saturday’s scrimmage marked Hendrix’ first live-action snaps in Notre Dame Stadium.

“It felt awesome,” he said. “Knowing that I was on the bench the entire last year, to get out there and actually play, in a stadium that was half full but felt like it was full, it was a really special experience.”

While far from a perfect game simulation, Kelly said Saturday’s scrimmage gave the coaching staff a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of his young quarterbacks, in addition to valuable live snaps.

“I thought it was a great, great opportunity for [Golson and Hendrix] in a game-like atmosphere,” Kelly said. “We had a nice crowd early on when they got in there before the rains really hit, and I think they got that sense of playing in a big time atmosphere.”

Quarterback Dayne Crist may be accustomed to the atmosphere of the stadium, but the junior had not experienced live action since injuring his knee Oct. 30 during Notre Dame’s 28-27 loss to Tulsa. Wearing a non-contact red jersey, Crist showed signs of a quarterback who missed the last four games of the season, finishing with 34 yards on 5-of-11 passing for Blue.

“It was sloppy,” Crist said. “It’s tough when you split up a team close and have the scrimmage and stuff like that. But you know you do some things well, and obviously didn’t do [others] as well. But I think it was a good ending.”

Rees, Crist’s replacement in 2010, finished with 61 yards on 7-of-14 passing for Gold while also wearing a non-contact jersey. While neither signal caller found the end zone, Kelly said Rees lived up to his reputation as an accurate passer.

“[Rees] can see the field,” Kelly said. “He had three legitimate drops out there today where he put the ball right on. I think in terms of accuracy today, and again I’ll go back and watch the film, but I think Tommy was the most accurate in throwing the football.”

Kelly emphasized that the scrimmage will do little to determine which quarterback starts the first game of the season behind center, but added that it could help determine which receives the most reps when fall practices begin.

On the defensive side, a number of players made their case for increased reps when practice resumes. Sophomore outside linebacker Dan Fox tallied seven tackles while freshman linebacker Prince Shembo added six of his own.

Early enrollee Aaron Lynch may have made the strongest impression in the coaching staff’s eyes. Lynch tallied seven tackles and penetrated the Gold pocket on a number of occasions.

“I told him after the game that I can’t wait to see him do that to other quarterbacks,” Hendrix said. “It was pretty painful.”

Despite Lynch’s impact Saturday, Kelly reaffirmed that Lynch’s transition onto the field in the fall will be a complete process and will not be rushed.

“He’s a good football player,” Kelly said. “You know, we’ve got to go slow with him. The one thing that he did today is he went against our first offensive linemen. He went against [junior] Trevor Robinson and [senior] Taylor Dever. But it’s going to be a process with him.”