NOTRE DAME — It's been a spring full of (another) quarterback drama, 11th-hour recruit commits and de-commits, losing an All-American defensive end, position changes and coaching shuffles.
It all boils down to this afternoon's annual Blue-Gold spring game, the public's first chance to see this year's Notre Dame football team in full action.
Planning on going to the game or watching it on TV? Not sure what to look for out of this year's scrimmage? Not sure that you should even care?
Here are a few things to know:
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Ÿ A twist on the traditional Blue-Gold format
Instead of pitting a Blue team vs. a Gold team, head coach Brian Kelly is instead making the game offense vs. defense; the offense will wear blue and the defense will wear white.
The offense's points will count as usual (six for a touchdown, three for a field goal, etc.), but the defense will also earn points based on performance.
A defensive stop before the 50-yard line is good for four points, a defensive stop after the 50-yard line is worth two points, a turnover forced before the 50-yard line earns seven points, a turnover forced after the 50-yard line is good for three points and forcing a field goal (make or miss) is worth one point.
There will be no kickoffs; each possession will start on the 35-yard line.
Ÿ A red-hot quarterback derby
It's a four-way race between Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel, and head coach Brian Kelly plans on drawing out the competition until August.
Kelly said all four signalcallers will take first team reps today. They'll take turns based on seniority, which means Rees is under center first, then Hendrix, then Golson and then Kiel.
The quarterbacks will be “live” during the scrimmage, which means the defense can hit them.
Look to see if Rees has cleaned up his turnover tendencies and mobility issues, if Hendrix has what it takes to usurp last year's starter, if Golson can double his speed with throwing accuracy and arm strength and if Kiel can meet the hype on his first appearance in front of Notre Dame Nation.
Ÿ New faces at defensive back and receiver
Michael Floyd is gone. Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton and Gary Gray are gone.
Today is our first look at who is primed to fill in those roles.
At receiver, will it be DaVaris Daniels, the lanky sophomore-to-be who has been touted as the guy with all the physical abilities to fill in Floyd's shoes?
Daniels has had a break-out spring and has surged past incumbent TJ Jones on the depth chart.
Will Daniels continue his climb or will Jones fight back to reclaim the starting spot today?
John Goodman has also had a widely praised spring. He's had a quiet four years with the program, but today may be a sign of what Goodman can bring to the table this season.
In the defensive backfield, look for a pair of almost completely green corners in Bennett Jackson and Lo Wood and a three-man rotation between Jamoris Slaughter, Zeke Motta and Austin Collinsworth at safety.
IF YOU GO ...
Ÿ Day-of-game tickets are available at the Notre Dame Stadium ticket office and cost $15 for adults and $10 for youths 18 years and younger. The ticket office will open at 9 a.m. today.
Ÿ Gates to Notre Dame Stadium open at 10:30 a.m., provided the alumni flag football game is not canceled due to inclement weather. Gate D will be closed so fans should use gates A, B, C or E to enter and exit Notre Dame Stadium.
Ÿ Kids interactive play area at Notre Dame Fan Fest will be available from 10:30 a.m. to kickoff in the Joyce Center Parking Lot. Interactive games, inflatables, concessions and more will be present. Entrance to Notre Dame Fan Fest is free.
Ÿ Look for former Notre Dame defensive end Justin Tuck, who is coming off his second Super Bowl win with the New York Giants. He'll be speaking to the football team before the game and tossing the coin before the game. He'll also be doing a book signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Notre Dame Hammes Bookstore.
Ÿ The alumni flag football game is slated to start at 11 a.m. Fans may use their Blue-Gold game ticket to watch the game. Former Notre Dame football player Sergio Brown and Golden Tate are honorary coaches for the alumni flag football game.
IF YOu Can't Go
Ÿ The scrimmage will be broadcast on WSBT 960 AM and 96.1 FM beginning at 12:30p.
Ÿ For television, the action can be found on NBCSports Network on cable.