Saturday, April 21, 2018

The annual Blue-Gold game delivered for Notre Dame as the spring season concludes

Photo Credit: Chantel Shetler

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

NOTRE DAME, IN – The 89th annual Blue-Gold Game marked the conclusion of spring practices for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The Blue team pulled off the win by a score of 47-44 in front of a crowd of over 37,000 at Notre Dame Stadium. 

The format of the spring game featured the offense in blue against the defense in gold. The defense got six points for a touchdown, three points for a turnover forced, three for a 3-and-out, two points for a stop, and 1 point for each sack and tackle for a loss.

By far, the most anticipated and notable position battle was between quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book.  Wimbush was the starter for all but one game last year, but also struggled with his accuracy. Book impressed in his time off the bench for the Irish, including leading a come from behind victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl.  Both QB’s connected for deep touchdown passes in the first half. Wimbush found Miles Boykin for a 65 yard score, while Book found Chase Claypool for an 85 yard strike.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Brandon went out and got a chance to go with the first group and Ian played with the second group,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “You know, that’s not etched in stone but that’s the way they’ve been trending.”

Wimbush finished the contest 19-of-33 passing for 341 yards, two touchdowns, and had one interception.  Book finished 17-of-30 for 292 yards and a touchdown. 

Avery Davis is listed as a quarterback on the roster, but has moved into a more flexible role within the offense this offseason. Davis picked up 30 yards on 11 carries and picking up 24 receiving yards as well. Towards the end of the contest, Davis replaced Wimbush at quarterback and went 2-of-2 for 26 yards.

Following the contest, Kelly announced that Dexter Williams and Tony Jones Jr. would essentially be listed as 1 and 1A on the depth chart.  Williams finished with 117 yards and a touchdown, including a 72 yard dash where he was chased down by Notre Dame track star Troy Pride Jr. Jones Jr. finished the afternoon with 20 yards on eight carries.

Claypool and Boykin had huge days at the receiver position. Claypool finished with 151 yards on six receptions, including two touchdowns. Boykin hauled in three passes for 132 yards and a score. Michael Young and Chris Finke finished with 82 and 81 yards, respectively. 

Brian Kelly was impressed and confident with how his defense has preformed to this point.  “They are a very confident group.  I think depth at the safety and cornerback position.  I like our rotation on the defensive line,” Kelly said.  “I think if there’s one concern, it’s finding the depth at the linebacker position.  That would be probably my only concern.”

Drue Tranquill led all players defensively with nine tackles and a sack on the day.  Adetokunbo Ogundeji added six tackles including two sacks.  Jalen Elliot had the lone interception on the afternoon for the Gold team.

Notre Dame will take on the Michigan Wolverines under the lights in South Bend on Sept. 1, 2018 to kick off the regular season.   This will be the first game in the series since 2014 between the Irish and the Wolverines.