Blue-Gold notebook: 'We got to tackle a lot of people,' Jaylen Sneed says after 24-0 win

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Two plays into the second quarter of Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game, Chris Tyree went in motion, took the handoff and sped around left end.

Just as Notre Dame’s fastest player appeared poised to turn the corner, Jaylen Sneed came swooping in with a reminder of his five-star potential.

“I had the edge on that play,” said Sneed, the redshirt freshman rover from South Carolina. “When I saw CT get the ball, I saw him running around the edge and I knew I had to play the edge and play the ‘C’ gap and give him nowhere to go. I squeezed him to the sideline and made the play.”

Noie: Saturday just a stopover on the way to regular season

Sneed’s emphatic, shoulder-high tackle, one of seven he made for the Gold team in a 24-0 win, stopped Tyree after a 3-yard gain.

With starting rover Jack Kiser out after suffering a broken left big toe in the April 15 scrimmage, according to a source, the floor was open for Sneed. Having made it back from an undisclosed spring injury, Sneed was a constant disruption as the Gold defense held Tyler Buchner to 44 yards passing and just two conversions out of 10 chances on third and fourth down.

While Jaden Mickey made a leaping interception in the opening quarter, Sneed nearly had one of his own on a downfield overthrow.

“Over the past three semesters I’ve gotten a lot better at coverage,” Sneed said. “I’ve learned how to stay disciplined and keep my eyes in the right spot. I think there’s still some growth there, but there’s always growth.”

Sneed credited his fellow linebackers with helping speed his transition to the college game while he waited his turn.

“The older guys in the linebacker room have helped me grow and develop,” Sneed said. “Last year wasn’t the year where I played a lot but I learned so much from just watching them play. It was just a great year to get experience from them.”

Sneed, the second pick among available linebackers in Thursday’s Blue-Gold draft, couldn’t resist a dig at those who passed him up.

“I love that they picked Nolan (Ziegler) before me,” Sneed said. “It gave me that little chip on my shoulder. It just made me want to work harder and play the best that I can. … Me and my linebacker crew had a great day. We got to tackle a lot of people and play a lot of football.”

Ziegler, a redshirt freshman, had a game-high 10 tackles in a losing cause.

Gator Bowl:Jaylen Sneed, pride of the Palmetto State, looks forward to 'great experience'

Freeman wishes Lorenzo Styles 'all the best'

Marcus Freeman took a global view of wide receiver Lorenzo Styles’ decision to enter the transfer portal after two seasons at Notre Dame.

“We love ‘Zo,” Freeman said. “I love ‘Zo and I wish him all the best. The only thing I told him and his father was just I hate (Styles) losing out on an opportunity to get a Notre Dame degree.”

Styles, who reportedly hopes to keep playing defense after dabbling at cornerback this spring, told on Tuesday he is about three semesters shy of completing his undergraduate work.

“All our players chase this NFL dream and chase this dream of starting and playing a lot of major college football and that could be achieved,” Freeman said. “But the degree from Notre Dame is truly something special. I want that for every one of our players because I believe an education from Notre Dame, a degree from Notre Dame will take care of you for the rest of your life. That’s what I wish for all of our kids that come through this program.”

Bryce McFerson's leg strength is a 'weapon'

After redshirting last season behind Harvard grad transfer Jon Sot, punter Bryce McFerson has made the most of his first spring practice.

“He’s got a strong leg, a really strong leg,” Freeman said. “He’s done some really good things throughout spring. It’s been impressive.”

Final scoring summary: Gold 24, Blue 0 as new Notre Dame Football QB Sam Hartman shines

McFerson, who struggled through groin and hip injuries last season, averaged 39 yards on four punts with a long of 52 yards in the spring game. After walk-on Zac Yoakam replaced the injured McFerson on kickoffs at Ohio State and held the job all year, the Charlotte-area product has concentrated on punting this spring.

“This year he’s been healthy, and he’s been booting the heck out of the ball,” Freeman said. “I really look forward to seeing the weapon that he provides our team in terms of the battle of field position.”

NFL-style scrimmages a 'very cool' idea

Colorado football coach Deion Sanders has floated the idea of spring scrimmages against other programs.

While Freeman likes the concept of the spring game as an intrasquad vehicle, he is “absolutely” open to meeting another team in a controlled environment.

“To play another opponent would be very cool,” he said. “It would still be similar to a spring game. You’re not going to show everything. You’re not going to want to get the guys you’re counting on, that have experience, injured. You’re still probably going to hold back a couple guys.”

As for the logistics, he said athletic director Jack Swarbrick and football administrator Ron Powlus could figure out that part.

“It would be different,” Freeman said, “almost like an NFL preseason game.”

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.