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Spring Game Revelations

According to unofficial counts, beers drunk at Mike Frank's tailgate outnumbered scoring in the Blue-Gold game by a 50-1 ratio... and beers drunk at said tailgate outnumbered total offensive yards by a 4-1 margin.

That's about as much insight as anyone gets out of the spring game (though it sounded like a grand ole time.)

You can't tell much because the game is a scrimmage with non-real life rules. In the real world, quarterbacks don't go down by touch, you don't know the other side's play calls (okay, that was true under Ty,) second teamers don't get to play second teamers and offenses aren't restricted to vanilla with a swirl, but all that doesn't mean you can't enjoy Lou in action.

Love Charlie; still miss Lou.

It also doesn't mean everyone won't try to make something out of not so much -- here's ESPN on Clausen. The kid's been in campus for less than four months and hasn't even gone to his prom yet, so if he's anywhere on the same plane as the guys who've been there for awhile, that's encouraging.

Junior Jabbie by all accounts looked very good. Not to detract from an excellent performance, but he was going against the second team defense -- you really can't tell much on a relative basis in a spring game. Remember, Travis Thomas was also a Spring Game MVP -- as was Joe Thomas.

Exactly.

Without further BS about a game I only saw highlights from, here are observations from NDNation:

Who looked good? Jabbie did. It was a defensive day. But I was pretty drunk do I don't know...

MLibert

Two years ago, there were a couple of things I observed about Brady Quinn that made me feel that he's improve a lot.

The first was his stance behind center. He no longer was in the take-a-dump stance behind center, indicating that the days of high school caliber quarterback coaching were over.

The second was correction of his mechanics on short passes. Quinn had showed toughness and a good arm during his first two seasons, but he consistently missed receivers on swing passes because he didn't set his feet and square his shoulders properly before throwing short touch passes. You'd think his prior coaches would have corrected that problem because short passes are so important to that alleged west coast offense (alleged offense of any kind) they were running. Weis fixed it in less than 20 practices.

After that spring game, I thought Quinn would have a much improved season.

Other than that, I've never been able to tell a damned thing from the spring game. Has an offensive line improved, or is the defensive front bad? Is the secondary better, or are the receivers unable to get open? Are the coached keeping their intentions in check, or is ND going to be a running team? Is the team sloppy, or are guys shuttling into and out of the line-up so much that continuity is impossible?

Kayo


I'll never likely be sitting in those seats--for real games, but my thoughts--from behind the Home Bench are these:

1. Ara is a treasure. I think he simply enjoyed being amidst it all--and chatting with the visitors. He still moves fairly well for a guy who's 80-ish...and has the new hip(from back in the 80's).
2. Joe Yonto--God Bless him, looked very thin and frail. He's not the "piss-n-vinegar" Yonto I remember from 1976-1980...but then, who is. I'm glad he was there.
3. I sat with Joe Restic--P/FS from '75-'79(...an old player/manager student relationship from the '70's)--for a while. Joe is 50. He is one damn chiseled guy. I doubt he's gained a pound of fat or lost a pound of muscle in 30-years(unlike me).
4. Chris Zorich...still looks like he could kick some O-Lineman's ass.
5. Ross Browner...despite the cane and the cast on the foot--at about 52, looks great! He was constantly coaching/talking with all the D-Linemen. His Son--who was by his Dad's side all afternoon...with the old #89 Green Machine jersey(...I hear is only 14)is as big(or slightly bigger)than his Dad!
6. Charlie's brief appearance on this "home" sideline...he chewed-ass when the players were lazy, and standing too close to the sidelines. He kept the language "civil," but he was 100% into the game.
7. Finally...two of the Student Managers(and I was a former one) have good throwing arms, but the rest of them are really, really weak. Now, they have girls out there. Jesus, Mary, & Joseph...what have we come to!?!?

IrishFarmBoy3

For me, I was encouraged by the D. Obviously, it's hard to make any truly objective claims, since we don't actually know how good the offense is, but it seemed like they were in position most of the time and were looking to make plays on the ball. Also, they seemed really excited just to be out there (i.e. Justin Brown was getting amped after he made a few good plays) which could be a reflection of Corwin Brown's effects. It seems to me that defense is heavily emotional, and if our defense can get up like that for a scrimmage, I see good things when they are staring down sparty or whoever else.

Discouraging- Special teams. It was good to see Burkhart make his attempts, but it's frustrating to see an extra point blocked and then missed on the ensuing mulligan. I hope we can remedy that by the fall.

LondonDomer

I just got back from ND, and the day couldn't have been more beautiful. It was my 9 year old son's first trip to SB, and I think it is safe to say he will be an ND fan for life. On to the game:

It is clear to me that most people are inappropriately focused on the QB postion battle when the real issue is with the OL. Pass protection sucked in a big way. I wish I could say that this was due to some spring game rule or player mix, but it is the same problem that we have seen for the past few years. This year, we will not have BQ to bail us out from paying the price for this deficiency. The BG program sold at the game clearly highlights the reason for the problem. The lack of seniors on offense is astounding, and the thin numbers of juniors as well. The OL is the spot where a team is most likely to feel an impact from this, and it showed today. True, we have some very promising young OL's, but they are simply not ready at this point. No matter who is QB, it is going to be a long year offensively.
With that said, I had the following observations:
1) Clausen is the best QB, hands down. The others all looked to have nice potential, but it really didn't look very close. Clausen is amazingly polished for just being a HS senior.
2) We are loaded at RB, and I did think our run blocking was better than it has been for a long time. While Jabbie had the big day, I thought Aldridge looked the best, and both were ahead of TT who might want to think about that LB postion again. Armando Allen is going to be special, and provides the break away threat we have been missing. Schwaap was a beast, and looks fully recovered from his injury- any defense that tries to bring him down high will be giving us 5 yards extra.
3) Receivers were absolutely horrible. Dropped passes from multiple players, sloppy routes, and no breakaway potential that I could see. This may have been affected by the limited play calling schemes, but I think we are going to miss the Shark & Mcknight (& I am still missing MoStovall) almost as much as Quinn. The saving grace is that Carlson still looks like the best TE we have had since Bavarro and that is saying something.
4) Our secondary is VASTLY improved across the board. Every reciever had a shadow all day long. Receivers were being jammed up at the line of scrimmage, and the talent at both cb and safety was impressive and deep.
5) Very nice DL pressure on the QB, but I really can't evaluate this since so much of it had to do with our weak OL protection in passing situations. A little too much overpursuit IMO, but a good improvement from last fall.

In summary, I think next year is going to a long one, but with a whole lot of promise. I expect a year like 1987, where we lost a lot of close games against great teams, but you could see the talent simmering. Obviously, we will be running a lot more this year, and we will not be scoring nearly as many points. Our D will definitely not be giving up as much either, so I expect closer and lower scoring games for the most part. Unfortunately, looking at the schedule along with the recruiting screwjob Willingham did to us, we will likely have to bide out ime this fall for 2008.

TMurph

Announced attendance = 51,000+ It was the biggest Spring game ever. The weather was beautiful.

Quarterbacks: Its hard to really evaluate, but I liked Sharpley the best. He seemed poised and ran the team well. He has a decent arm too. I would bet on him being one of the top two going into the fall.

Jones is a guy who seems like will make big plays for both us and the opponent. His interception was a horrible decision. His touchdown was very underthrown and Parris came back for it. That might have been intentional, but it might have been lucky. He had one long run where he showed his speed. He runs like a running back and is generally a live wire. While there is lots of exciting potential there, I'm thinking that he would be too volatile a player to lead such a young team.

Clausen was good but not head-and-shoulders above anyone. He was pretty much what you would expect. I thought he looked skinny and noticed him staring down his primary receiver.

Frazer was okay too. I didn't happen to see him as much. Nothing jumps out at me.

Jabbie was clearly the best running back today. After today, I would be very excited for him to be the starter. Schwapp also looked good. He was running very hard and was falling forward for that extra yard. All the other guys seemed good, but Jabbie was really shining.

Tight end will be a strength.

John Sullivan was injured.

Receiver competition is still probably pretty open.

The defense won today as usual, but it might have been closer had the quarterbacks not been wearing red jerseys. They were getting some pressure on the QB. Many plays were called down when it did not seem the QB would have been tackled, just touched.

Overall, guys were clowning around with excessive celebration when they scored - it was all in good fun.

Sorry I've got nothing more profound, just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

Br. Andre

and I'd agree with your assessment that Clausen looked good. Demetrius Jones showed some promise too, although he did throw the interception (from where I was sitting, it looked like it was off of the receiver's hands). My father-in-law, who(m?) I went to the game with, likened the Blue-Gold game to "kissing your sister", because "it doesn't go anywhere". Fair enough--it's hard to tell much from the limited set of plays they ran, but I'd say Jones and Clausen looked the best to me.
OL didn't play great (seemed like Justin Brown made an awful lot of plays), but they did set Junior Jabbie up for some big runs. It's hard to assess them because they essentially played the entire game. Don't know anything about Sullivan--looking forward to hearing more, and hoping it's just a bad cramp.
Also, as this is my first post, hello to all. I've lurked for several years, so I thought it was time to say hi and express my appreciation for the level of conversation on this board (most of the time).
Cheers!

irish sycamore

DD looked to me like he was ready to break out some runs from the pocket, but the 40 yarder was the only one he could get because of the quarterback rules. His delivery looks a little bit awkward and he underthrew his TD pass, but regardless, he'd be my pick to start against Georgia Tech.

Clausen looked decent. His ball placement may be the best amongst all the QB's.

To me, all of the RB's looked good. Jabbie was by far the best as he put together a lot of great runs.

Our defense will be a 180-degree turnaround next season. Its not that our DB's will get beat, its that we blitz so much that the quarterbacks have no time to throw.

NDTerp

RB's were the biggest positive today i think. Junior J ran very well. He looks like the best back by quite a bit. Aldridge ran very hard and hit some people pretty hard. However, Schwapp was really a hammer today. He knocked the wind out of Brockington on one play. ASchwapp looks like he's back and healthy and will be the perfect FB. AA is amazingly quick. When he was on the far side of the field i always though he got less yards then he did b/c it was so quick. He slips through the hole and gains six yards where others might have gained 3 or 4. TT was solid and looked like the most experienced back, but he didn't really wow me. I was kind of disappointed b/c he is one of my favorite players. Overall, JJ looked fantastic today. He reminded me a lot of the last JJ, J Jones. In the openfield he'd make some nifty moves to get five yards or so more. Right now you'd have to say he'd be the number one back with aldridge and allen stepping in periodically.

edit: i'm not trying to predict the starting line up, i'm just saying that JJ was amazing today and he has all the physical gifts to be a great back. 4.4 and much stronger than allen. knows the system and runs well in the open field.

frosh

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