Saturday, June 10, 2017

Early offense leads Gold Team to Victory in Blue-Gold Game

Photo by Chantel Shetler;

By: Jon Opiela

South Bend, Ind.— Spring football practices have officially come to a close for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The Irish finished their spring practices with the annual Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium.

The most noteworthy position watch for the Fighting Irish will be the quarterback spot. Deshone Kizer will likely be a first round pick in the NFL Draft next week and Malik Zaire will be transferring schools. Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush will be battling for the starting position. 

After the game, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said that Wimbush would be the starting quarterback at this point in time.

 “No, there’s no quarterback controversy," Kelly said. On the day, Wimbush completed 22 of 32 passes for 303 yards in the air.  The Gold team defense picked off Wimbush twice and “sacked” him seven times.  (In the Blue-Gold Game, the quarterback is down as soon as he is touched.  Several of the sacks, would have been escapable in an actual game.)  

Kelly was also impressed by the play of Ian Book.  

“Consistency, throws strikes, rarely misses an open receiver, can see the field very well and runs the offense very well," Kelly said.  

Kelly then acknowledged that Wimbush has been the favorite to start at quarterback all spring. 

“But the story beneath the story for me was: Who the heck is going to be the No. 2 quarterback?  Because if you guys have followed us long enough, we’ve used out No. 2 here, quite a bit. So having that No. 2, and seeing him preform the way he has this spring, for me, has been, you know, one of the big stories and Ian has done this all spring,” Kelly said. On the day, Book was 17 for 22 for 277 yards and a touchdown.

The Blue team began the game with the ball and their initial drive was capped off by a 25-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams. The Gold team also struck on their first drive with a 38-yard touchdown run by Dexter Williams. After forcing a three and out, the Gold team tacked on a 42-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead over the blue team

The Blue team was driving before Brandon Wimbush’s tipped pass was intercepted by Jalen Elliot.  After forcing the turnover, the Gold team capped the drive off with a 46-yard field goal by Sam Kohler.  Kohler, a walk-on, has impressed head coach Brian Kelly and special teams coordinator Brian Polian.  “I think I mentioned (Sam) here the other day, and you guys kind of snickered at me.  He’s solid," Kelly said.

Ian Book found Kevin Stepherson for a 58-yard completion on the last play of the first quarter to set up first-and-goal.  On the first play of the second quarter, Deon McIntosh found the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle to give the Gold team a 20-7 lead.

The Blue team found themselves driving and approaching the red zone before Nick Watkins picked off a pass at the 16-yard line. 

Going into halftime, the Gold team held a 20-7 lead over the Blue team.  Ian Book kicked off the second half action with a 37-yard touchdown pass to a wide open C.J. Sanders to extend the Gold team lead to 20.

Photo by Chantel Shetler;

Brandon Wimbush got the Blue team back on the scoreboard with a 1-yard quarterback keeper in the fourth quarter.  Following the extra point, the Blue team made it 27-14.
The final from the Blue-Gold Game: Gold team 27, Blue team 14.

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