The next step is fall camp, but before the Irish get back to real football, we get our preview, the Blue vs. Gold game. Although most starters were held back and only played a bit, they are the known commodities. There were still plenty of take aways from the glorified scrimmage and here are some things that we learned after the spring practices.
The defensive line is deep and talented
We already knew what Isaiah Foskey could do (there were times he could have taken down the quarterback but didn’t), but for him to get favorable match-ups during the regular season, others had to step and that’s exactly what is happening. Rylie Mills is coming into his own, on the first series recording a sack and batting down a pass. Alex Ehrensberger was also disruptive as he continues to get better and better. Howard Cross isn’t going to fill up the stat sheet but really does a great job clogging up the middle of the offensive line. Having all these players along the line is certainly a positive for new defensive coordinator Al Golden.
Brandon Joseph is as advertised
Jul 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Northwestern Wildcats safety Brandon Joseph speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
When you get into the transfer portal and find a former All-American you expect him to come in and show why. That’s exactly what Joseph did in limited time. It was a glimpse of what is to come in the fall and as long as he stays healthy, it looks like Joseph will become the next first round selection out of the defensive backfield for Notre Dame.
This defense won’t miss a beat
The question was if the defense would miss Marcus Freeman going from defensive coordinator to head coach. As we saw, that is not going to be the case. The defense was disruptive, causing multiple turnovers, swarming to the ball to make tackles and was downright impressive. Each level had several different players make impacts, which bodes very well for the upcoming season.
Drew Pyne and the offense were not very impressive
Apr 23, 2022; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne (10) throws a pass in the first quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
With Tyler Buchner on the sidelines, it looked like Drew Pyne would be able to show everyone he could command the offense and put points on the board. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as Pyne threw multiple questionable balls, looked like he was not on the same page with his receivers a few times and just flat out struggled. False starts and illegal formations added on, it wasn’t pretty by any means. Does some of it have to do with the impressive defense? Yes, but for the Irish to be legit College Football Playoff contenders, the offense needs to be on par with the defense.
Freshman linebacker Junior Tuihalamaka is going to play a lot in the fall
Many expected 5-Star linebacker Jaylen Sneed to be the freshman linebacker to make an impact this fall but after this afternoon, it looks like it’s going to be Junior Tuihalamaka. The Californian was all over the field making plays, tackles-for-loss, great in coverage and playing early with the first-team. We are going to see a lot of #44 when the season starts.
The running back room is deep and talented
Apr 23, 2022; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (24) carries the ball during the first quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Gone is Kyren Williams but we knew the depth was there. Chris Tyree looks healthy, which is a key for his success. We didn’t see much of Logan Diggs, but he’s a known commodity. Unfortunately, it looked like he hurt his shoulder in the third quarter. Audric Estime will be the short yardage pounder, he’s an absolute load and can grind out tough yardage late in games. Early enrollee Jadarian Price got a lot of work and looks like he belongs. His long touchdown catch and run was impressive, a sign of things to come. This group is loaded with talent and will once again be a focal point of the offense in the fall.
The freshman class might have been underrated
The group was ranked just inside the Top-10 by most recruiting services but after seeing multiple freshman make positive impacts during the game was extremely impressive. A few of them were highlighted earlier, with cornerback Jaden Bellamy and quarterback Steve Angeli showing their future promise as well. Angeli finding Price began the comeback, then the quarterback running it in himself for the game winning score capped off his very good performance. Confidence is huge for quarterbacks and it seems like Angeli gained a ton today. There are still multiple players who have yet to even arrive on campus, so seeing this group get some early run was impressive.