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How to fix Blue-Gold

Alex West | Thursday, April 16, 2009

What do you expect to see on Saturday at the Blue-Gold Game: a scrimmage or a football game? Saturday marks the 80th annual Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. For the second year in a row, the game will be decided by a quirky point system rather than a traditional scoring method. Everybody knows that a touchdown is six points, seven with the extra point, and a field goal is three, but what about how many points a team receives for a making a first down? Recording a sack? Stopping for the other team for a 3 and out? And don’t even get me started on the points for an “explosive play.”

Just two springs ago, the Blue-Gold Game was a competitive football game between a smorgasbord of players, usually a bunch of guys nobody had heard of. Don’t believe me? Just ask 2007 Blue-Gold Game MVP, Junior Jabbie.

Two springs ago, the big question was: who’s the quarterback? Evan Sharpley, Zach Frazer, Demetrius Jones, and highly recruited, freshmen phenom Jimmy Clausen were all vying for the starting role of quarterback in a post Brady Quinn era. We all know how that story turned out.

But what can we expect to see Saturday? Everyone that attends the Blue-Gold Game will be watching the first team offense play the first team defense on every single drive. Sure, popular back-ups like Dayne Crist and Jonas Gray will find some time on the field on Saturday, but it will be the starters playing the majority of the game. Where’s the fun in that?

Now, don’t get me wrong, after the way the last five regular season games ended last season, it’s clear our starters need as much time together as they can get. But, at the spring game, I want to see the former “blue chip” prospects and the guys buried on the depth chart getting some playing time instead of the same old faces.

Defenders of Charlie Weis’ mathematical system will say that last year’s game was competitive. Jimmy Clausen ended up throwing a touchdown pass in the waning seconds to Duval Kamara to win the game for the offense. But how can there be a competitive fire for the players to go out and play a game with such different rules for one afternoon?

Tens of thousands of Notre Dame faithful will flock to the stadium on Saturday with many questions in mind. Was the Hawaii Bowl dominance a fluke? Will the new faces on the coaching staff make that much of a difference? Can receiver John Goodman really throw the ball 85 yards? But the question everybody should be asking is: how many points was that last “explosive play” worth?