Thursday, April 20, 2006

Game prep | by Pat

The rosters for this Saturday's Blue and Gold game are out. HTML version here, more organized PDF version here.

Some thoughts on the game...

• After beating up on the freshman and walk-on's last year, it will be nice to see the first units face off against each other. Good chance to see Quinn try and bait the secondary with play action or if the trio of new linebackers on the first team defense can keep Walker under wraps.

• According to the release, Bettis (running backs) and Mike Golic (defensive line) will coach on the staff of the Blue Team while Bob Golic (linebackers) and Ismail (wide receivers) will be on the staff of the Gold team. I'm giving the nod to the Blue team because Bettis can just sub himself in on short yardage situations.

• Noticed this quip about the quarterbacks.

"Starting quarterback Brady Quinn will be the only player wearing a red jersey during the game. The other quarterbacks will be fully "live" for contact."
Time to see if Dwight Stephenson and Justin Brown will be able to generate a pass rush with no red jersey to slow them down. Time for either Sharpley or Wolke to get a better grasp on that backup spot with a good showing under a live rush.

• Weis said that teams are required to run one trick play per half and that the honorary coaches have to design one of them. Will we see Bettis call the same trick play the Steelers used in the Super Bowl? I'll call it now. McKnight to Samardzija. Touchdown. What's your trick play prediction? Winner gets an internet high five.

• I suspect one of the players that fans are most looking forward to watching is early enrollee James Aldridge. It will also be the first chance for fans to see George West and Chris Stewart as well as the three freshman who didn't see game action last season; Evan Sharpley, Darrell Hand, and Kevin Washington.

• Green jerseys for the lineman, huh? That means that on a few plays a red jersey will look to throw to a blue jersey while the green jerseys tries to keep the white jerseys at bay. They should have made the kickers wear gold jerseys just to complete the rainbow of Irish uniforms.

• With Joe Brockington and Maurice Crum, Jr. still among the walking wounded, the first team defense looks to be Anthony Vernaglia at Apache, Mitchell Thomas at middle linebacker, and Steve Quinn at the other outside linebacker spot. One of these three guys will likely be a starter in the fall. This game won't decide who, but a great performance on Saturday certainly won't hurt.

• As a fan I'm a bit disappointed that there won't be any live kickoffs or punts -- Weis said all punts will be fair catches -- but I suppose I understand the desire to keep the already thin depth chart healthy as well as not show the opposing scouts in the stands everything the team has been working on.

• Brady Quinn has a chance to pick up his third straight Blue-Gold Game Offensive MVP award. Has that ever been done? Will that be added to his inevitable "Quinn for Heisman" media handout?

• As tries to offer more football related material to a rabid fanbase, I humbly suggest that plenty of pictures of the game would be a great place to start. After running pictures of the game a few years ago, the past two seasons haven't had a post-game photo gallery. I realize a lot is going on that weekend, but with the game not being televised, I'm sure fans that can't make it to the game would appreciate it.

• While we're on that topic, if any fan who attends the game this weekend wants to email BGS with pictures (or video) from the game and surrounding festivities we'll try to whip up some sort of photo gallery.

• Checking some of the recruiting sites, the visting recruits for the game is a really impressive list. Over 10% of the initial Rivals Top 100 list will be at the game. That's the kind of group usually reserved for the banquet or biggest home game weekend. I should note though, don't freak out if no one commits during the weekend (yes, that includes all-everything Jimmy Clausen). Remember that last year James Aldridge didn't commit during the Blue-Gold weekend. He waited a few more days until Weis visited his school during the May evaluation road trip.

• Finally, while too much should never be read into the performance of certain players in what is a glorified scrimmage, it's still fun for fans to watch the game looking for the next great Irish star. Who are you most looking forward to seeing?