Goshen News, Goshen, IN

April 13, 2014

NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL: Kelly: Quarterback candidates made progress in spring

By DAVID VANTRESS david.vantress@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — SOUTH BEND — The Notre Dame football team has many questions to answer before the 2014 season begins.

Spring practice has been about addressing some of those questions, and on Saturday, the annual Blue-Gold Game climaxed spring drills with a chance for the Fighting Irish offensive and defensive units to give fans a little preview of what to expect at Notre Dame Stadium this fall.

One of the chief questions to be resolved this summer is who will lead the Irish offense at quarterback: Redshirt freshman Malik Zaire, or junior Everett Golson, who is returning from a yearlong suspension for academic reasons.

On Saturday, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said both signalcallers have made progress in spring drills.

“I thought there was some development there in terms of where they were at times during the spring. There was a little bit better attention to some of the details that they have to have at that position,” Kelly said.

The Irish coach was pleased with some of what he saw from Zaire, who completed 18-of-27 passes for 292 yards and a pair of TDs with no interceptions.

Golson, meanwhile, completed 13-of-23 passes for 160 yards with no TDs or picks.

“I thought that there was one series where Malik kind of got off got away from some of the things that we needed to do, but by and large, I thought he was fairly consistent,” Kelly said. “His problem has been consistency of staying with progressions and are we letting anybody in at any time?”

Zaire had the first shot to lead the offense, and led the first unit to a TD on its opening drive, completing a couple of passes before senior running back Cam McDaniel punched it in from the 1.

Golson, in his first live action since returning from suspension, had the second series and struggled to move the offense, with the Irish offense settling for a 50-yard Kyle Brindza field goal.

Greg Bryant led an Irish rushing attack that amassed 120 net yards with 12 carries for 95 yards and a TD.

Defensively, the Irish did got get any takeaways and gave up 576 yards in total offense.

Defensive back Austin Collinsworth, linebacker Kendall Moore and linebacker John Turner led the Irish defense with seven tackles each.

IRISH ITEMS: Announced attendance for the game was 27, 986 ... Before the game, Notre Dame officialsl announced that artificial turf will be installed at Notre Dame Stadium in time for the 2014 season opener.

“Synthetic turf will assist our game preparation, because our team will be able to play and practice on the same surface,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said.

Of 47 college football stadiums in the Midwest and Northeast, 37 feature some form of artificial turf, Notre Dame officials said. That includes all 13 Mid-American Conference schools and 10 of 14 Big Ten schools, including Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin ... Former Irish players Louis Nix III, Manti Te’o, Braxton Cave, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Michael Floyd, Theo Riddick and Tommy Rees were reportedly in attendance.

Contact sports editor David Vantress at 533-2151, ext. 325 or by email at david.vantress@goshennews.com. Follow him on Twitter at dvantress_tgn.