Quick hits from Notre Dame Football's Blue-Gold Game. Spoiler alert: Sam Hartman is good

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Three quick thoughts and other (brief) news and notes and anecdotes following Saturday’s Blue-Gold game, won by the Gold, 24-0, that wrapped spring practice 2023 for Notre Dame football: 

∎ Looks like that graduate transfer quarterback will be worth the (name, image and likeness) price of admission. 

Sam Hartman showed a little of everything Saturday in his quarter-plus of play, and there was a lot to see. And like, especially with such high expectations. The former Wake Forest starter led the Gold (white) team to touchdowns on their first two drives. He completed his first five passes. He completed nine of his first 10. He spread his first 11 completions around to five different receivers. He stood in the pocket and made tough throws. He made the easy ones. He made it all look pretty simple. 

Scoring summary:How the Notre Dame Football Blue-Gold Game points were scored Saturday

Hartman was 13-of-16 for 189 yards and two scores before being subbed out late in the second quarter. There’s so much to work with there. We saw only a little of it Saturday. Expect to see more this season. 

As for fellow quarterback Tyler Buchner, just keep in mind that it's the spring game.

Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman (10) greets teammates prior to the start of the second half during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

∎ The wide receiver room is deeper and more talented and probably capable than this time last year — heck, since midway through last season. It still is in need (search) of a game-breaker, somebody you can count on every single Saturday. 

Could junior Jayden Thomas be that guy? 

Notre Dame wide receiver Jayden Thomas (83) goes through drills Wednesday, April 12, 2023, during spring football practice on the Notre Dame campus.

Thomas showed good early rapport with Hartman, which allowed the gold to bolt to a 21-0 halftime lead. Thomas made four catches for 71 yards and a score in the first half. He looks like a front-line receiver. Now he needs to play/produce like one.

∎ It’s going to be difficult for anyone outside the starting trio of JD Bertrand, Marist Liufau and Jack Kiser to break through the linebacker rotation this year if those three main guys stay healthy. 

Jaylen Sneed and Nolan Ziegler might force Al Golden’s hand to play them more. 

Both showed well in Saturday’s first half, Sneed led the Gold team in tackles with four, including two solos. Ziegler tied for the Blue team lead in tackles with six, including five solos. He also tallied a sack late in the third quarter. They both looked the part of contributors. Let’s see how that translates come fall. 

Who's hot?

Guess that’s why Gi’Bran Payne was the first selection in the draft. 

Working as the main tailback for the gold, Payne carries 11 times for 51 yards in the first half. That included four carries for 37 yards the first two drives. He showed some wriggle. He showed some burst. He showed some ability to run between the tackles. 

Payne carried twice for five yards all of last year. The running back room is deeper this year, and Payne may not get that many chances if everything stays status quo in 2023. At least we saw that he’s capable if the depth chart goes that deep. 

Who's not?

Nursing a lower left leg (hamstring?) issue late in spring practice, tailback Logan Diggs promised to be good to go for the spring game. 

Uh, no. 

Diggs had no business playing Saturday and didn’t after being listed on the will-not-play injury report released Thursday. Last spring, Diggs played in the game and suffered a shoulder injury that led to labrum surgery and a slow road back to the rotation. 

Diggs still ran for 821 yards and four scores in 12 games, but what would have done in a full season? While fully healthy? We might find out this fall, which is why there was no reason for him to step off the sideline for this one. Stay there, stay healthy and stay focused on a big 2023. 

Who's out?

He’s not going to be a wide receiver. He's not going to be a cornerback. He's not going to be anything at Notre Dame except a memory of what might have been. 

More:Notre Dame junior Lorenzo Styles enters transfer portal

What a weird week for junior Lorenzo Styles. On Tuesday, he met the media and talked about his move from cornerback to wide receiver. On Wednesday, he spent an entire practice on defense. On Thursday, he was drafted to play in Saturday’s spring game. 

On Friday, Styles entered the transfer portal. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining and will be eligible to play immediately at his new school. His position? Stay tuned. 

By the numbers

10: Former Irish now in the NFL and back for the spring game recognized late in the first quarter. They included Kyle Hamilton (Baltimore), Cole Kmet (Chicago) and Liam Eichenberg (Miami). 

14: Number of scholarship players ruled out for Saturday’s game because of various injuries. They included cornerbacks Christian Gray (knee) and Cam Hart (shoulder), safety Thomas Harper (shoulder) and linebacker Prince Kollie (concussion protocol). 

45: Degrees at the start of the spring game – with signs of snow flurries – which felt more like a fall affair. It was 81 degrees some 48 hours earlier. Welcome to the Bend in April, where it also snowed earlier in the week. 

32,942: Announced attendance for Saturday’s game after the Irish drew 33,754 for Marcus Freeman’s first spring game in 2022. Really, there might have been half that 32,000-plus there Saturday. Thinking more like 12,000.

126: Days from Saturday until the season opener Aug. 26 against Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

221.7: Hartman's quarterback rating during his limited work Saturday.

Up next

In the immediate, finish the grind of classwork and final exams next month. After that, a quick trip home for the players before returning for summer school and summer conditioning. Fall camp usually starts the first week of August, but might commence earlier this season leading into the 2023 opener Aug. 26 against Navy in Dublin. 

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