I Have 78 Things to Say – 247Sports

Your stream-of-consciousness review of the 2022 Blue-Gold Game.

1 — Saturday’s color commentator and former Irish/Broncos standout Ryan Harris refers to Drew Pyne’s job for the afternoon as “All-Time Quarterback” harkening back to all of our irreplaceably fun playground days.

As I recall, usually that all-time QB was pretty good, so I have high expectations for Pyne today. Let’s go!

2 — “We really want to be a disruptive defense” — JD Bertrand in a spring interview.

They will be, of that, I’m certain.

3 — Pyne takes a sack in one-hand touch to open the game. Let’s find a positive spin: Rylie Mills would have sacked Pyne in real football, too. And he has big arms.

4 — Jordan Botelho looks pretty cool out there with his rolled up jersey and white T-shirt. A little late 80s vibe going!

5 — Rocco Spindler clears a lane for Chris Tyree to gain 10 yards.

14-16 touches. That’s my ideal Tyree wheelhouse for big games 2022.

As for Marshall and UNLV, let’s go with fewer. I can’t believe they play Marshall and UNLV in the same year.

(See what I did there?)

6 — Pyne’s third-down pass is deflected by Big E, Alexander Ehrensberger, who played both inside and outside Saturday. I think it’s worth mentioning that Al Washington offered Ehrenserger has three more seasons (Covid ruling) post-game. Pretty clear they like his future as a 22, 23-year old while he’s likely a rotational No. 3 right now on this deep front.

7 — Prince Kollie diagnoses, then blows up the screen to Logan Diggs for a Pass Stuff. Kollie’s usage in 2022 intrigues me because the starter ahead of him, Marist Liufau, is a no-doubt Top 10 pre-season player for the Irish.

8 — Blake Fisher false starts delaying, however briefly, his Hall of Fame nomination from the Football Writers Association of America

9 — How much can Marcus Freeman sleep? Think how well-versed you are in your own job…now add related, but wholesale additions to it…and then millions of people judging your for how well you adapt to it on the first Saturday of September…

10 — Pyne a touch high to Colzie who found room on the corner. (DJ Brown was there for the hit if needed.)

Ryan Harris’s term ‘underhand carriage’ explains the non-catch perfectly. The weirdest thing anyone that played football learned once you had a coach was that form of catching wasn’t proper above the waist.

Seems so natural to turn your hands the way Colzie did. He’s also not 11, but I digress…

11 — An unblocked Jordan Botelho lays the hammer on Tyree. That looked like it hurt. Backside TFL and I think Charlie Selna missed an assignment.

12 — Drew Pyne wears #10, just like Brady Quinn did at ND. I think I read they have different off-season trainers, however…

13 — End around to Lenzy who finishes with authority! He’s an X-Factor (again) in this offense. Michael Mayer—not an X-factor so much—absolutely buries his edge defender Clarence Lewis 5 yards deep on the Irish bench. Jeez Mike!

14 — Niuafe Tuihalamaka shoots the gap and Rylie Mills cleans it up for the TFL. I’m on the Tui Train already—bit of a logjam of veterans at the Mike position but let’s keep an open mind…

15 — One Salerno makes his family proud while the other brings shame to their name—the later allowing the former’s punt to hit the turf for an unfortunate roll.

Blue ball. Or maybe Gold’s, I don’t care.

16 — Estime with 5 yards after first contact. I demand 8-10 touches per game for the big man.

17 — Fisher, Lugg, Estime and my main man Davis Sherwood. Get in front of that on 3rd-and-1 !!

18 — East-West Estime is less of a threat, makes it easy for Brandon Joseph to fill and take him down for loss. Steve Angeli is in, by the way, wearing red

19 — Pyne back-shoulder 20 yards downfield to Lenzy. Low where only his receiver could get it with Chance Tucker on the coverage.

20 — Jayden Thomas looks pretty imposing collecting this tunnel screen. Stops on a dime and collects 14 more yards as Justin Walters shows up with the form ankle tackle.

I didn’t catch that play live and am now intrigued. Show me more Thomas…

21 — Caleb Johnson’s name is called for the first time at Notre Dame Stadium. False start…to erase a would-be Michael Mayer touchdown. Two plays later, Rylie Mills walks him back one-armed to pressure Pyne. I’d say Johnson has a few dates planned with Matt Balis over the next 12 months.

22 — Remove all other aspects of the position aside: Who’s not excited about the physicality of this Liufau/Tuihalamaka/Botelho trio out there for the White right now! Or the Blue, whatever.

23 — Pyne loses one high and it’s picked off by Justin Walters—negated due to an offsides penalty (I think)

That was a terrible pass to end the first quarter

0-0 lead for the Gold. Or its tied, probably.

24 — Quick burst up the gut by Mills (past walk-on Quinn Murphy) pressures Pyne who as a result throws it right to Jordan Botelho for the pick. Happy for Botelho who’s a football player more than he is a linebacker or defensive end.

I bet Al Golden finds a role for this potential playmaker

25 — Pyne with his worst pass over a three-pass span (the other two were picked off) as he misses Styles on an awkward RPO to the left. It was at this point I got about 27 texts from disgruntled fans and friends.

“Put in Powlus” was the winner among them.

26 — The inhibitor that is the red jersey notwithstanding, Pyne has been striving for mediocrity so far through 16 game minutes.

27 — You guys think Golden had more trouble game-planning for Pyne or Stafford?

28 — Chase Ketterer is brought down on the Jet Sweep reverse for loss. He was looking for Drew Pyne on the throwback, and I’m pretty sure Pyne broke free.

And that’s the game so far in a nutshell…

29 — Pyne and Colzie can’t connect for the touchdown (and Pyne would’ve been sacked in real life).

That play mercifully leads to a field goal attempt because I can’t watch this offense right now.

Blake Grupe. 3-0 Blue.

30 — Is there anything weirder (and more off-putting) than the increased reality that Notre Dame’s ex-players were not regularly welcomed back to campus by Brian Kelly? I assume it’s being overstated because we’ve seen so many return over the last decade, but clearly it was an issue for the past players.

31 — Flair screen from Pyne to Jadarian Price who turns on the jets to cut past Tuihalamaka and then Ramon Henderson for 20 yards. Beautiful

12 touches per game for Price. My demands continue

32 — This mixture of offensive linemen vs. Al Washington’s DL doesn’t work. (I like the effort with the Draft, but it’s not a fair fight.) Next year go 1st String OL first half and 2nd String second half.

33 — Chance Tucker breaks up a Pyne pass intended for Conor Ratigan. I thought Tucker flashed a bit Saturday in coverage including on the next snap with an effective face guarding deflection as Pyne scrambled to look for Jayden Thomas.

Another year with Balis (Tucker was smaller than his fellow freshman DBs upon arrival) will help.

34 — “Even in the bad there is good when it comes to the spring game.”

Depends on who you ask, Ryan!

35 — Matt Salerno muffs the punt, but that type of fundamental error is off-set by the perpetual threat of him taking one to the house…

36 — Tuihalamaka takes on the Correll block, then bursts down the short side to take down Price for the TFL. What a half for Junior!

37 — Did you notice Joshua Burnham get smashed by pulling guard Rocco Spindler on the play-side edge? Did you also notice Burnham made the play for Tuihalamaka possible by sealing the outside unit the bitter end?

38 — Jet sweep to Jayden Thomas who absolutely freezes Ramon Henderson in space. My goodness…

22 yards for the up-and-coming perimeter player.

39 — Jack Swarbrick deftly avoids getting run over by Thomas and the cameraman. Good thing that wasn’t John Ryan.

40 — Pyne’s screen to Mayer is errant (or in keeping with the afternoon, normal) and picked off by Marist Liufau who dances in celebration, much to the chagrin of Marcus Freeman post-game.

41 — Brandon Joseph unblocked on the read option and takes down Estime for loss.

The defense was immeasurably better than the offense in the first half.

42 — Angeli misses high to Salerno into double coverage. Do with that information what you will…

43 — Watching Jadarian Price cut…it’s gotta be 40 offensive touches for the backfield quartet against Ohio State. Who’s onboard?

44 — 3:17 in the half. We can do this…

45 — Kiser crushes Logan Diggs on the read-option (that is clearly going to be handed off) and here’s problem No. 2 with the spring game. There’s no reason to worry about the QB keeper.

It’s 11 on 10. Or less.

46 — “Jack Kiser one of the great linebackers here at Notre Dame.”

We’ve entered the words-have-no-meaning territory of the broadcast.

(And I am a big fan of the solid, sure-tackling Kiser.)

47 — Salerno finds room between Kiser, Mickey, and Xavier Watts who was oddly quiet Saturday. That’s 20 yards into Gold territory

48 — Salerno was just compared to Wes Welker and I’m going to refrain from typing words…

49 — Patience is part of Diggs’ game, but I’d like to see a little more adherence to piling up yards when they’re readily available. (This was a screen, so patience was prudent.)

50 — Do you think ND needs a sixth interior linemen? (Ademilola, Lacey, Cross, Smith, Rubio…Onye?) Can it be Jason Onye? Tyson Ford? A combination of the two two allow Ford to 4-game redshirt.

Or will Mills just continue to help inside instead?

It’s a long season in ‘The Jungle’ to borrow from Kurt Hinish.

51 — Andrew Yanoshak! Detached tight end!! Get Some!!!!

Tremendous blue team celebration (position-mate Cane Berrong out there smacking him on the head) and it’s 10-0 Blue I’m pretty sure.

52 — Jacob Lacey chooses not to sack Pyne (you do have to tap him, to be fair) and the result is a 10-yard gain to Thomas.

53 — Pyne moving the ball now as the halftime gun draws near and WHY IS MAYER IN GET HIM OUT ! Don’t touch him Clarence Lewis!!

54 — Josh Bryan’s 48-yard field goal is wide right and the score remains 10-0 at the break.

55 — Powlus is in (wearing blue not red—Angeli will do the same this half. Well, Gold, err…White.)

56 — NaNa Osafo-mensah stays home for the screen pass TFL on third-and-long.

FYI: Osafo-Mensah had a run stuff on five of the final seven regular season games last fall.

57 — Rylie Mills and Ryan Barnes are ALL OVER Price on this backfield handoff. Barnes is a physical dude.

58 — Josh Burnham with pressure on Angeli who makes a calm, athletic dump-off on the screen to Price and it’s GO TIME for Price! 51-yard score with Zeke Correll sprinting downfield to take out Houston Griffith in space as Price does the rest. Griffith made a business decision on that encounter with Correll, I might add.

10-7 Blue over Gold

59 — Diggs injures his shoulder stiff-arming Riley on the way out of bounds. That was a weird

60 — Good to see Will Schweitzer fully recovered from a knee injury that ruined his EE spring of 2021. He chases down Price after Ehrensberger penetration. Schweitzer played strong side linebacker (Rover/Sniper) Saturday.

61 — Chance Tucker falls down on punt return (at corner) with no contact. Seemed to grab his calf when falling. Cramp?

62 — Osita Ekwonu with the backside TFL and Jaylen Sneed gets into it with Tosh Baker. I have high hopes for that defensive pair on special teams in 2022.

63 — Mickey can’t reel in a potential interception (touchdown) on the out-route throw by Powlus. Oooh boy that would’ve put a punctuation mark on his Early Enrollment Spring.

End of the Third Quarter, 10-7 Blue

64 — Conor Ratigan with the shallow cross and up from the slot and Angeli finds him uncovered for a 58-yard gain, the longest for either team on the day. That was a beautiful design…and a coverage bust by Schweitzer, I believe.

65 — Joshua Burnham already uses his hands well to seal that edge. That’s also the speed you like for a versatile Vyper in the future.

66 — Lacey and Botelho still in there as starters. Schweitzer is crashing the run with authority. (I believe that’s what happened on the bust for Ratigan’s 58-yarder)

67 — Angeli misses an open Griffin Eifert for a would-be touchdown. Eifert beat fellow walk-on Jaden Simonson and it was at this point I dropped the pen in the press box.

68 — Josh Bryan misses a 36-yard field goal. Too high.

“What do you mean too high?”

“The trajectory of the ball…”

Keep that clock moving, fellas…

69 — Estime bundles Watts and walk-on Marty Auer. Holy Smokes I cannot wait to watch him after the initial crease this year.

Two snaps later he leaves four tacklers in his wake including Jaylen Sneed and Watts.

70 — My man Davis Sherwood doesn’t mind a little contact, either!

Bring back Fullback U!

71 — Leaping catch by Colzie from Powlus on the fade but out of bounds. Philip Riley ensures he can’t land inbounds

72 — Cross and Osafo-Mensah (again) sack Powlus. Why is Cross still in? What were the hidden stakes of this game?

73 — Grupe misses badly. Wide right. Gold ball with four minutes left but I’m not sure that’s the relevant story…

74 — Sloppy throw-down tackle attempt by Barnes nets about 10 extra yards for Thomas on the tunnel screen. He’s a downhill problem when he catches the ball in stride…

Botelho goes for the 80 percent speed tackle, too, which signifies this drive is probably one too many in what was an otherwise physical Blue-Gold game.

75 — There’s Barnes bringing the heat again, dropping Yanoshek on the sideline

Barnes again, buries Selna…might’ve been targeting. And by might, I mean it was targeting but everyone wants this game to end so let’s ignore it.

76 — Selna back in; Barnes pops him again after the catch and is called for targeting. (This one was less targeting than the first time.)

77 — I don’t think that was targeting. It also wasn’t necessary but it’s a hard sport to play if you’re not going all out.

78 — Irish have 18 seconds from the 10-yard line and Angeli wastes nine of them, but the rest will live in Blue-Gold Game lore…all summer.

Pumping, pumping, sprinting — and diving for the pylon! for the winning score.

One team 13 other team 10, and thus ends the only Blue-Gold game in history in which I had to re-write the game story at the last minute up in the press box.

Fun celebration as Angeli saves the Blue-Gold Game.

SEE YOU IN COLUMBUS, IRISH FANS…
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