Football: This one was about as spring as spring games go for the Irish

Tom Noie
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND – Observations, opinions and other offerings from NDI columnist Tom Noie during Saturday’s Blue-Gold game, won 13-10 by the Gold in front of 33,754 at Notre Dame Stadium.

► It's freshman Steve Angeli diving for the near pylon and a touchdown as time expires and we have drama in the spring game! 

► Darn that last step of a staircase somewhere over at the Guglielmino Center. We really hoped/needed/wanted to see Tyler Buchner under center in this one. It wasn’t going to provide any answers as to whether he was ready to start the 2022 season opener, but any peek at all is better than no peek. 

►Eighty degrees – 78 at kickoff, but let’s round up – and partly sunny skies in April are way better than 80 degrees in mid-September. We’re looking at you humidity, which was a manageable 44 percent Saturday. 

Notre Dame quarterback Steve Angeli (18) hands off to running back Audric Estime (24) during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

More:Notre Dame football: TE Michael Mayer not thinking NFL, even if everyone else is

►It took 55 plays and nearly the entire first half before someone crossed the goal line with the ball in his hands. Raise one of yours if you had backup tight end Andrew Yanoshak, a sophomore walk-on from Bedford, Pa., as the guy who was going to score the day’s first touchdown. 

Notre Dame tight end Andrew Yanoshak (39) celebrates scoring during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

►No matter how well he played for how long he played, that quarterback Drew Pyne had his No. 10 red jersey tucked up into his pads to show off a bare midsection was a serious flex. Love the look. 

►Pyne was the only quarterback to play in the first half. Working for the Blue and Gold teams, Pyne completed 22-of-33 for 185 yards and one score. He was intercepted twice.

►The first touch for wide receiver Braden Lenzy on Saturday went for 11 yards – on a carry. Rather see No. 0 running down the sideline – or the seam – that out of the backfield. Like later in the first half when his first catch went for 24 yards. That’s more like it. 

► Senior walk-on wide receiver Conor Ratigan can do more than host a popular podcast. He had the longest catch and runs of the day (58 yards).

►The wind blowing the opening kickoff off the tee before Blake Grupe could put in the air? Then Rylie Mills sacking Pyne on the game’s first play? Figures, too. 

►If the first two series are any indication, Mills is going to be a handful this season. He already looks the part. 

►Three and out on the opening series of spring? Hopefully not a preview of what’s to come when it really matters. 

►Freshman status aside, Jadarian Price will find a spot in the running back rotation this season, especially if he can catch and run the way he did Saturday. He took an Angeli screen 51 yards for an early score in the second half, Looked like a veteran doing so.

►Looking to find sort of a home on defense, now-linebacker Jordan Botelho impressed with an interception and 42-yard return early in the second quarter. But a white hoodie under his blue uniform? On a day like Saturday? Man, that’s got to go, JB. 

Of course, if he finishes any first half this fall with four tackles as he did Saturday, Botelho can wear pretty much whatever. 

►Most important play of the first half might have been a Pyne carry for four yards on third-and-two. Why? Both teams, each quarterbacked by Pyne, had combined to go 1-for-10 on third down before he finally moved the chains. 

►Sophomore Chris Salerno punting to his graduate student/brother Matt four plays in, that was pretty cool. 

►Grupe from 36 yards out for the first score of the spring game? Good to see. Special teams has to be close to automatic this season. It just does.

►Even in the spring game and with a new special teams coach in Brian Mason, punt returns were but a rumor. As in, non-existent. Maybe in the fall. Maybe. 

►Junior tight end Michael Mayer didn’t play much Saturday (three catches, 35 yards), which is OK because come fall, he’ll rarely leave it. Mayer was tapped at the end of the first half to help the Gold team navigate a two-minute drill. When in doubt, find No. 87. Early. Often.  

►First quarter stats – first downs (five), punts (four), interceptions nullified by penalty (one), scores (none). Not much better in the second. That’s spring for you. 

►Wanted: Play-making wide receivers. Please contact Stuckey, Chansi, for more details. 

►More from freshman linebacker Junior Tuihalamaka, please. He just looks like someone who can do damage in space.

► Same goes for freshman cornerback Jaden Mickey.

► Sophomore running back Audric Estime can be a problem late in games when the defense gets tired. He broke a 25-yard run late in the fourth quarter where he busted out of at least four tackles.

►Among the hundreds of former players back on campus for the game were 14 current Irish in the NFL, recognized during an early timeout. That group included Ian Book (New Orleans), Chase Claypool (Pittsburgh) and Tommy Kraemer (Detroit). 

► Notre Dame revealed the obvious at halftime - home games against Stanford (Oct. 15) and Clemson (Nov. 5) and the Shamrock Series game against Brigham Young (Oct. 8) all will start at 7:30 p.m. EST. All other Irish home games will kick at 2:30 p.m.

► Word is that Notre Dame ordered 300 hot dogs to serve the media in the press box. Reporters may like to eat, but not that much.

►Saturday marked the first Irish football game played inside Notre Dame Stadium since Nov. 21, 2009 – a double overtime loss to Connecticut - that Brian Kelly was not the head coach. That was 4,536 days ago. 

Sorry, low-hanging fruit. 

► On the subject of days, Saturday was 133 days until Notre Dame plays an actual football game that matters – Sept. 3 at Ohio State. 

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.