With their 2012 season ending in a run to the BCS National Championship Game, Notre Dame fans look forward to coach Brian Kelly's second act with eager anticipation. It begins Saturday, with the annual Blue-Gold spring game at Notre Dame Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET, highlighting a full weekend of events. A full schedule of activities is available on Notre Dame's official web site. Tickets to the Blue-Gold Game are $12 in advance, $15 at the gate.
For those who cannot make the trip to South Bend on Saturday, television coverage of the Blue-Gold Game begins at 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
It has been an eventful offseason for the Irish, centered almost exclusively around graduating linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend controversy and Brian Kelly's NFL flirtations. But with Kelly firmly entrenched in South Bend and Te'o pursuing the NFL, any drama left in South Bend is hard to find. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson, who effectively dispatched upperclassman Tommy Rees during last season's undefeated regular season run, has little remaining competition after freshman Gunner Kiel announced his intention to transfer. The Irish offense did lose its top two rushers, Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, but junior George Atkinson III (51 rushes, 361 yards, five touchdowns in 2012) is expected to inherit the top spot in the backfield.
While Notre Dame will struggle to replace Te'o's production and leadership, the core of last season's stellar defensive unit remains largely intact. Eight starters return from last year's defense, led by defensive tackle Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. There is a scramble for two available spots at inside linebacker, with three graduating seniors making way for junior Jarrett Grace and sophomore Kendall Moore. Three of four starters return in the secondary.
Safety Nicky Baratti, running back Amir Carlisle, linebacker Dan Fox, defensive lineman Chase Hounshell, cornerback Bennett Jackson, running back Tyler Plantz, and wide receiver Corey Robinson will not play Saturday due to injury. Only Hounshell, who again suffered a significant shoulder injury, is not expected to be healthy when the season begins.