(Photo: Joe Weiser)

It was a tale of 4 quarterbacks, and a playmaking defense Saturday in Notre Dame stadium Saturday. ND ran 80 or so plays in a display that might just be a better gage of what’s coming in the Fall than this coming week’s 93rd Blue Gold game which typically mixes up it’s rosters and runs things a little bit vanilla.

No photos or video was allowed but roughly 25 journalists were invited to observe the action from the pressbox. Afterwards, Marcus Freeman conducted a 20 minute press conference.

Riley Leonard, who is recovering from foot surgery last month, only threw during warm-ups, but mentally and physically repped every play from his station 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He also participated in all huddles.

The other three quarterbacks, clad in red jerseys, made plays, displayed mobility , mostly solid accuracy, and scrambling skills, but CJ Carr was the only one who didn’t throw an interception, and he threw the only TD pass of the day. On the day, Angeli threw two interceptions and Minchey one. Angeli’s first interception was returned 75 yards by Jaden Mickey for a touchdown. Minchey’s errant toss ended up in the hands of Xavier Wats who returned it 60 yards, also for a score. The third interception of the scrimmage came on the last play of the day, this one by safety Adon Shuler.

The two pick sixes, keyed the defense’s “win” on the day by a “score” of 50-32, with points awarded for various occurrences like stops, first downs and sacks and of course scores.

Besides the big plays by Mickey and defending national defensive player of the year, Watts, several players “flashed” on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore rush end Boubacar Traore , who was redshirted last season, applied pass rush pressure repeatedly and freshman linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa also showed an ability to get to passer.

Two of three three offensive TDs both came on quarterback runs. One score was from a yard out by Carr, just after a nifty 40 yard completion to senior wideout Jack Polian. The other score by Minchey came from 6 yards out on well run RPO. That score came after a Jeremiyah Love converted a powerful run of 20 yards. Besides running back, Love lined up at several receiver positions as well, which allowed new offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock to get both Love and RB Jadarian Price on the field at the same time.

Jaden Greathouse and grad transfer Kris Mitchell flashed several times each at the receiver position. Freshman Cam Williams had two consecutive catches on the first drive of the day which was led by Angeli. Williams also caught a 22 yard TD pass from Carr late in the day for the third offensive touchdown on the day.

While Carr seemed to have the upperhand among the QBs, at least statistically, he was competing primarily against the 2nd and third unit defenses. It cannot be denied however that he is a poised young man with a smooth passing motion.

In his post scrimmage press conference Freeman seemed pleased with what was accomplished on the day. He also admitted that the defense, now in its third year under Al Golden is a bit “ahead”. “Year three of the same scheme, its a an NFL pro style defense….it’s going to be one of the best in the nation. We talk about it every day, going against it, it’s going to make you better.

Spring practice will conclude this Saturday with the Blue Gold game which will kickoff at 1 PM. TV coverage wil stream live on Peacock.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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