NOTRE DAME — Expect another offense vs. defense showdown on Saturday, April 20.
Similar to last year, Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold scrimmage will pit the offense against the defense rather than a true “Blue vs. White” scrimmage.
Major changes between this year and last include the defense wearing blue jerseys and the offense wearing white. Head coach Brian Kelly also said that there will be no live special teams this year, including no field goals or extra points. Punting will be included in the scrimmage.
Kelly hopes to set a true pre-game atmosphere for the younger players.
“I want them to go through pre-game,” he said. “I want them to go through the tunnel. I want them to get into a game-like atmosphere. The game will probably be stopped clock in the first half, probably run in the second.”
Kelly hopes to see a cleaner performance from the offense and more exposure to younger players on the defense. “If you remember last year, the offense was sloppy,” Kelly said. “The ball was on the ground and there was some mistiming on handoffs. I really want to see a clean game from an offensive perspective, and there will be guys who will get a chance to compete for the first time in a longer format defensively.”
WHO IS OUT, WHO IS BACK
Linebacker Dan Fox, safety Nicky Baratti, cornerback Bennett Jackson and defensive end Chase Hounshell are still recovering from shoulder surgeries and will not play in the Blue-Gold game. Kelly said running back Amir Carlisle (broken collarbone) and receiver Corey Robinson (hyper-extended elbow) will also be out Saturday.
Kelly said receivers DaVaris Daniels and Chris Brown and cornerback Lo Wood, all of whom were out at various points of spring drills, are cleared to play.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Kelly made special note of safeties Eliar Hardy and Elijah Shumate and linebackers Ben Councell and Jarrett Grace as young players to watch in the scrimmage.
“I think there’s a lot to look at individually defensively,” he said. “The structure will be the same. Offensively, I want to get out of it feeling that we’ve really made that next step from an offensive standpoint in terms of continuity and execution.”
Kelly also noted that Hardy, defensive end Tyler Stockton, defensive end/nose guard Tony Springmann, center Conor Hanratty and tight end Alex Welch are reserve players who have caught the eye of coaches during the spring.
“Those guys stand out to me in the sense that they can go in there and take some reps for us,” Kelly said.
MARTIN CALLING SHOTS
Expect a more active role from offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, who Kelly said would be calling plays more this year. With Martin at the helm of the offense, Kelly said he’s more free to take in the “big picture” of each game. “It will keep me involved in the offense in a sense of how I want the game to unfold,” Kelly said. “So I’ll still manage the game in a similar fashion. That won’t change. That helps us in that I can focus on winning the game and not being caught up in play calling. Sometimes the emotions of play calling take you away from the bigger picture, which is how we’re going to win the football game.”
“DEVASTATED” BY MARATHON BOMBING
Kelly, a Boston area native, said he was “devastated” to hear of the Boston Marathon bombings on Tuesday, which left three dead and nearly 200 injured.
Kelly said he had no friends of families personally affected by the attacks, but his thoughts are with the victims and his home city.
“Terrible day, especially being from Boston and growing up with Patriots Day being kind of our holiday if you will as a Bostonian,” he said. “So not only the tragedy of the loss of life and the injured, but it shakes you when that kind of private holiday that is so much Boston is shattered. It’s going to be hard. A lot of people are going to need some time to get over this.”