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Farmer: ND will win, but it does not matter (Apr. 15)

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, April 14, 2011

This weekend thousands of Notre Dame fans and alumni will descend upon campus to watch a football game. Thousands of Notre Dame fans, alumni, students and even those who despise the Irish will post tens of thousands of messages on forums about a football game.

Thousands will forget one crucial fact about this weekend’s game: It doesn’t matter. At all.

Yes, the 82nd annual Blue-Gold Game will give promising early enrollees and underclassmen opportunities to shine in front of the coaching staff. Yes, this spring football game could shed some light on the pecking order of Irish quarterbacks for next season. And yes, Saturday’s performance could sway some recruits toward the Golden Dome.

But really, this game doesn’t matter.

If it mattered, Irish coach Brian Kelly would not wear a microphone for the entire game to better serve the broadcast.

If it mattered, the four quarterbacks would not wear headsets, again tapped by Versus for the armchair quarterbacks.

If it mattered, Kelly would not promise to primarily use two quarterbacks – two who have never taken a snap in college – and that they would be the leading rushers on the day.

“Dayne [Crist] and Tommy [Rees] won’t get a lot of work,” Kelly said following Wednesday’s practice. “This is going to be [early enrollee Everett] Golson versus [freshman Andrew] Hendrix really, relative to the offense. They’re going to do everything … You’ll see the quarterbacks as probably the biggest end of the running game. They’ll run the ball quite a bit.”

If it mattered, Kelly would never consider utilizing a huddle for most of the game, a concept even he finds laughable.

“We will huddle. That’s when 11 guys get together on the offensive side of the ball,” he said sarcastically. “They relive the last play.”

The microphones and huddles will likely lead to some easy misconceptions from any Irish fans watching. Following last year’s Blue-Gold Game, few Irish fans had any idea who early enrollee quarterback Tommy Rees was. Instead, the name on their minds was that of then-sophomore walk-on Nate Montana, the progeny of the one and only Joe Montana.

That April afternoon, Nate threw for 223 yards on 18 completions in 30 attempts, with three touchdowns and only one interception.

In the 12-game 2010 season, Nate threw for a measly 116 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. He has since transferred to the University of Montana.

Indeed, some aspects of Saturday will be worth noting. Senior offensive lineman Taylor Dever, junior linebacker Manti Te’o and junior defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore could truly assert themselves as team leaders, as precedent-setters, plain and simply as the faces all Irish fans recognize.

In a more tangible vein, two youngsters last spring separated themselves from the pack in the eyes of their coaches, earning crucial roles come fall.

Then-freshman running back Cierre Wood tallied 111 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 carries, and early enrollee receiver TJ Jones added four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.

This weekend, current early enrollee defensive end Aaron Lynch could tally a few sacks and leap up the depth chart, while another standout performance from Jones could seal him a starting spot.

So do note the stand-out performances like Montana’s, Wood’s and Jones’, but do not expect any specific results to inherently follow.

Allow a smile at the promising plays and highlights, but do not bother remembering the inevitable fumbles, blown coverages, missed tackles and boneheaded mistakes. None of those mishaps will matter longer than they take to occur in the first place.

Of the 14 games – yes, that is assuming a bowl game appearance – Notre Dame will play over the next nine months, 13 will have lasting effects. In those 13, the Irish could go 13-0 or 0-13, 1-12 or 12-1 and 6-7 or 7-6.

In this one, since none of what happens on the field will really matter, at least Notre Dame will win. And in all honesty, what else matters?


The views in this column are not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Douglas Farmer at dfarmer1@nd.edu