SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Notre Dame offense has a lot of work to do before the fall.
A quarterback who finished high school four months ago and isn’t expected to play in the fall accounted for the only touchdown in the annual spring game and nose guard Louis Nix provided the highlight, rumbling in for a two-point conversion. But it was the defense that dominated with 10 sacks, two interceptions and linebacker Ben Councell tackling running back Cam McDaniel in the end zone for a safety in winning 54-43 under a modified scoring system.
The offense had a touchdown and Nick Tausch kicked three field goals and missed another.
Coach Brian Kelly said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of production on offense, saying coaches had seen improved play throughout the spring.
“If there’s anything that I would like to do better, is to make certain that we don’t fall back into some of the mistakes we made last year,” Kelly said. “And I thought we, at times, we fell back into some of the mistakes we made last year offensively.”
Everett Golson was 6-of-13 passing for 98 yards with one interception and was sacked three times, although there was no hitting allowed on quarterbacks. Golson, who helped the Irish get to the BCS title game last fall, said he couldn’t explain why the offense didn’t play well Saturday.
“I know for my part there were a lot of plays there I was missing,” he said.
He pointed to an interception he threw in the second quarter from the defense’s 20-yard line, when he thought a cornerback was going to blitz but didn’t. He expected George Atkinson III to cut inside, but he didn’t, and safety Matthias Farley intercepted the pass in the end zone.
“It was just a bit of miscommunication,” he said.
Atkinson rushed for 49 yards on 10 carries, including a tough 2-yard run up the middle on fourth-and-1 where he was leveled by linebacker Carlo Calabrese. The lone touchdown came when early enrollee Malik Zaire threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Prosise, who switched from safety to wide receiver this spring. Zaire was so excited that he sprinted to the end zone and leapt, knocking Prosise down.
The play the 31,652 fans who attended will remember, though, was the run by Nix. Kelly said he made a bet with Nix, saying if the 6-foot-2, 305-pound defensive lineman did well enough academically he’d let him play quarterback for one play. Nix lined up in the wildcat intending to pass, but didn’t see anyone open.
“My intentions were just to truck somebody, to be honest. I didn’t care about the touchdown too much. I just wanted to run somebody over and show coach I can do it without fumbling the ball,” he said.
The defense wanted no part in taking on Nix, with linebacker Kendall Moore spinning out of the way to make sure he didn’t collide with Nix.
Michigan State’s defense scores 2 TDs
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s defense scored two touchdowns and Andrew Maxwell hit A.J. Troup for the 46-yard winning score as the White beat the Green 24-17 in the spring game Saturday.
The Spartans, a disappointing 7-6 last season, came in with questions at quarterback, running back and receiver. Despite a few flashes, many of those battles for starting spots and backup roles are likely to continue in August.
Maxwell was 9 of 20 for 110 yards in his second spring game as the probable starter. Backup Connor Cook was 10 for 26 for 217 yards and a touchdown, with Aaron Burbridge catching five of those throws for 113 yards for the Green team.
Syracuse wraps up spring; Hunt tops the QBs
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse finished spring ball Saturday, and junior Terrel Hunt continued his bid to win the starting quarterback job.
Hunt was 19 of 29 for 209 yards and two scores in the spring game, hitting Jarrod West in stride for a 49-yard TD, and generally was the most effective, ahead of fifth-year senior Charley Loeb (3 of 8 for 9 yards) and senior John Kinder (8 of 12 for 46 yards and one touchdown).
While Hunt is the front-runner headed to summer camp, he promises to have some stiff competition. Drew Allen, a three-year backup at Oklahoma who was given the green light by the school earlier this year to seek another opportunity for his final year of college eligibility, is expected to enroll at Syracuse as a graduate student and vie for the starting job and quarterbacks Austin Wilson of Pennsylvania and Mitch Kimble of Illinois are among the new recruits who will be in camp in August.
Saban: Some Bama players “too comfortable”
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban left a turnover-filled spring game feeling some players are “too comfortable with their circumstances.”
Then again, he says he was just as dissatisfied at this point with the three Crimson Tide teams that won national titles in the past four years.
Quarterback AJ McCarron passed for 223 yards and a touchdown but was also intercepted twice in Saturday’s game. McCarron’s White team won 17-14 on Saturday over the Crimson, led by the first-team defense.
The two offenses combined for six interceptions and three lost fumbles. T.J. Yeldon had 69 yards rushing, 60 receiving and scored the winning touchdown on a 7-yard run with 1:04 left.