Gastelum: Exhibition provides few meaningful takeaways (April 22)
Andrew Gastelum | Monday, April 22, 2013
A year ago, I filled this very space with reasons why the Blue-Gold Game mattered.
Holy boredom, how the time has passed, albeit slowly.
Yes, this is the only time anyone can see the team in a (semi)competitive setting. But after looking at last year’s results, here’s what should have happened last season if we put a Louis Nix-sized emphasis on the Blue-Gold Game:
George Atkinson would have been the undisputed No. 1 running back in 2012.
Ishaq Williams would have been an All-American, while Anthony Rabasa’s performance could have bumped his draft stock up to make him a projected first-day selection.
Everett Golson would have been the starting quarterback (okay, I didn’t go hitless on the day).
And there was no way anyone – including the ND Nation radical – thought Notre Dame would go 12-0 and head to the national championship game.
In fact, the only two crossovers from last season to this season were the absence of Amir Carlisle and the natural grass he was supposed to be running on.
The only reason last year’s Blue-Gold Game seemed to mean much of anything was because of the Survivor-esque, four-way quarterback battle everyone was sort of hoping would turn into the Hunger Games.
After that, we came up short on the learn-something-new-every-day front.
This year wasn’t much different, except for the fact Malik Zaire replaced Gunner Kiel in the role of impressive early-enrollee quarterback who will redshirt and whet the appetite of Big East and MAC teams everywhere.
The Irish defense dominated the entire scrimmage, not giving up a touchdown until walk-ons entered during the last nine minutes of the game. But we already knew the Irish defense was miles ahead of the Irish offense, even if defensive coordinator Bob Diaco got his Iron Chef on and had to add some chili powder to last year’s cake.
Cam McDaniel saw significant playing time Ã la the Miami game at Soldier Field, but one can expect that to disappear more quickly than Greg Bryant’s 40-time combined with Amir Carlisle’s recovery.
The fact that the biggest moment of the spring game came during a two-point conversion says wonders about the game’s significance. Don’t get me wrong, it would be sweet to see the installation of an Irish Chocolate package to satisfy our Nix Fix, but it will never come to fruition because either the points will mean too much to mess around during a competitive game or it will come across as a insult to the opposing team during a blowout.
The attendance of 31,652 may have been the fifth-highest in Blue-Gold history, but the student section was hard to locate. Just blame it on the new ticketing policy or playing basketball in the Big East.
All in all, the Blue-Gold Game was boring, confusing and lethargic. The players didn’t even look like they wanted to be there, seemingly misconnecting in terms of execution and mental preparedness while running half-speed to the ball. I bet Irish coach Brian Kelly would have liked it if they taped a cheetah to their backs.
Meanwhile, the Irish could have used that ludicrous scoring system during last season. Imagine the inflated scores and reduced number of heart attacks if Notre Dame got two points for consecutive first downs or four points for forcing a punt before midfield.
The USC game would have been an easy win by halftime, while the Alabama game would have been one of the biggest blowouts in the history of NCAA football. In fact, my fifth-grade addition skills lead me to a BCS National Championship Game score of 123-62, and 44-0 at the end of the first quarter (margin of error: five points).
There are a few things Irish fans can take note of, but just not in permanent ink.
Kyle Brindza, who was the No. 1 kicker for most of last season, didn’t kick a single field goal, leaving those honors to Nick Tausch. C.J. Prosise saw plenty of time at the slot receiver position, and no one should really challenge that. Josh Atkinson and Elijah Shumate impressed in the secondary. And Everett Golson still has a long way to go in terms of his development and grasp of the offense.
But overall, maybe this season’s harvest could be quite fruitful once again. That is, unless I took this game too seriously.
Contact Andrew Gastelum at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.