SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame’s offense started the Blue-Gold game the way it wanted to, no matter who the quarterback was Saturday.
The Irish scored legitimate points on their first five series as the team finished spring practice with the offense outscoring the defense 63-58 in the last football game to be played on grass at Notre Dame Stadium. The university announced during the game it will switch to FieldTurf for the 2014 season.
Notre Dame had four touchdowns and a field goal on the first five series as the offense and defense also gained points for accomplishments in front of 27,986 fans.
We caught fire early, and we did a lot of great things early, quarterback Malik Zaire said. We just got to have a stronger back end of it.
Zaire, who didn’t play as a freshman, will be competing for the starting job with Everett Golson, who returned this semester after missing last season because of an academic violation.
Zaire started the scrimmage by leading a nine-play, 65-yard drive that featured 22- and 29-yard completions and ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Cam McDaniel.
Golson led the game’s second series as the Irish settled for a 50-yard field goal from Kyle Brindza, then Zaire engineered a two-play, 65-yard touchdown drive as he hit Chris Brown for a 26-yard completion then C.J. Prosise for a 39-yard touchdown.
Golson ended the next series by running for a 5-yard touchdown, and receiver Amir Carlisle completed the traditional scoring for the day when he caught 6-yard touchdown pass from Zaire just less than 2 minutes into the second half.
I thought there was some development there in terms of where they were at times during the spring, coach Brian Kelly said. There was a little bit better attention to some of the details that they have to have at that position.
Golson, who is the only one of the quarterbacks with actual game experience, completed 13 of 24 passes for 154 yards without a touchdown or interception. He was ruled down for a sack three times as the quarterbacks couldn’t be hit in the game.
Zaire completed 18 of 25 passes for 292 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked five times.
We don’t know man, Golson said when asked if he would be the starting quarterback when the season starts. I’m just trying to worry about taking care of what I’ve got to take care of, footwork and pocket presence. I’m just trying to worry about myself and everything will take care of itself.
Running back Greg Bryant, who only played three games before a knee injury ended his freshman season last year, ran for 101 yards. He got 51 of those yards on one run in the fourth quarter as the Irish finished with 126 rushing yards.
The offense finished with 576 yards with 436 coming in the first half when there were 12-minute quarters with regular clock stoppages. The second half was played with two 15-minute quarters and a running clock.
It was a really good teaching time for (the quarterbacks), Kelly said. They did some really good things. There was some good action out there. In some small degree, we were able to accomplish some of those things that they need to carry over going into the fall.