Monday, April 21, 2008

Irish O top Irish D | by Pat

Another successful Blue and Gold game weekend is in the books. The big news from the weekend was the public commitment of 5-star running back Cierre Wood and 4-star defensive tackle Tyler Stockton. We'll have more on the latest talented duo to join the Irish shortly, but for now let's recap the latest installment of ND's final spring scrimmage.

As far as spring games go, this one actually had a bit of suspense as the offense needed a 4th down TD pass and subsequent extra point to pull out a 47-46 "win" over the defense. With the winner getting a steak and shrimp dinner while the loser gets franks and beans, no doubt that final pass from Clausen to Kamara made their fellow offensive teammates happy.

If you weren't one of the announced 30,286 people at the game, the next best thing is the video recap on They have highlights up on the main page as well as every play from the scrimmage and the post-game presser with the coaches and the players. The South Bend Tribune is also getting into the video act with a bit of a video journal that includes fan opinion and game highlights. Picture-wise, we're getting some very good shots from fans who attended that will be up in a day or so. In the meantime, the SBT has an excellent photo album from the weekend with some great action shots, including the banner pic at the top of this post.

The MVP awards went to Robert Hughes for the offense and Harrison Smith for the defense. (I wonder when the last time two freshmen won the MVP awards.) Hughes was the pick for the offense after picking up 100 yards and a TD on 22 carries while Smith's interception return for a TD was the high point for the defense. Jimmy Clausen put up a so-so 183 yards on 10 of 27 passing with a TD and an interception, but wasn't helped out by a handful of drops from the receiving corp. The leading tackler was Morrice Richardson with seven. Here's the official box score for the game if you want to see how other players did and figure out exactly how the defense scored 46 points. John Walters has a comprehensive review of the game while scrolling through Michael Rothstein's live blog of the game adds a bit more detail.

As with any glorified scrimmage, it's not the best idea to read too much into what happened. Individual effort, as in the case of Hughes, Smith, and others is pretty easy to gauge, but we really didn't learn much about what we're going to see in the fall. Was the OL solid in run blocking due to renewed emphasis on technique and fundamentals or because our defensive line will be a trouble spot. Or both? Are our receivers going to have trouble getting separation all year or will we have a tough secondary? Or both? A more detailed spring practice recap is probably in order, but for now the big takeaways from the spring are that Clausen is looking like the real deal at QB, Hughes just might be the best of a talented trio of running backs, the OL seem to play with more passion at the very least, the defense seems to be responding to the Corwin Brown-Jon Tenuta coaching, and we're likely to see a lot more blitzing from them in the fall.

If you were at the game, feel free to add your own scouting report in the comment section.