With the passing of the most recent spring game I wanted to take a dive into the YouTube archives and look at older spring games. I stumbled across the 2010 edition and thought it was a good time to look back at Brian Kelly’s first few months in charge in South Bend.
Everything about this game feels absolutely and utterly ancient now. The shaggy grass (still 4 seasons away from turf), the monstrously large Adidas numbers, plus all the old Weis recruits. The NBC Sports Network broadcasts of the spring games have really spoiled us and if I remember correctly we were still a year or two away from that luxury. Judging by what’s remaining on YouTube this was streamed from the UND.com website, complete with a call from Jack Nolan and a very excitable Reggie Brooks.
Taking a look at the first snap it featured an offensive line consisting of Taylor Dever, Trevor Robinson, Dan Wenger, Mike Golic, Jr., and Matt Romine. A solid collection of a couple blue-chip recruits but certainly nothing overwhelming. Also, just a reminder the 2010 offense only rushed for 1,646 yards. The 2017 offense passed that mark in the first half of the 6th game last fall.
I love the reverse to Michael Floyd who, with hindsight, probably didn’t get the ball enough in these types of situations. Only 4 rushing attempts over his career feels depressingly too low.
You can’t help but notice Harrison Smith coming barreling down from his safety spot to make a tackle on Floyd. Imagine telling someone on this day that in 2018 Floyd would have a meager 256 receptions in 6 seasons (with plenty of off-field issues) while Smith would be a 3-time Pro Bowler and reigning All-Pro safety. I went back and looked at Smith’s underclassman stats (actually way better than I had thought given how maligned he was) and I don’t think you could’ve found one soul who would’ve believed he would be a great NFL player.
Watching the first throw from Dayne Crist made me check out a few other videos. Did he have a really weird throwing motion that I totally forgot or is it just me? I also remember how he began the 2010 season with these hilariously short and flared sleeves with his shoulder pads exposed.
Armando Allen couldn’t do two things: stay healthy or break long runs. At 0:33 seconds I cannot tell you how Peak Armando this run turned out to be. He’s given a humongous hole but doesn’t run vertically and instead runs in rounded-off circles directly into tacklers. This is a great example of why Allen was reasonably quick and fast and quite literally never found himself in open space past the secondary defenders.
Conversely, Cierre Wood (making his first public appearance at Notre Dame) was such a breath of fresh air with his running style. To this day, he remains my favorite post-Holtz running back to watch with his running style. Also, kind of interesting to see the offense go under center at the goal line!
Nate Montana sighting at 1:19!!! The travels of Nate Montana don’t get talked about nearly enough. His college biography included: Notre Dame (2008), Pasadena City College (2009), Notre Dame (2010), University of Montana (2011), and West Virginia Wesleyn (2012). The rare 5 transfers in 5 seasons. In reality, he looked pretty competent in this spring game! Which is why I don’t recall an absolute meltdown when he was forced to take real snaps in the Michigan game 5 months later.
There’s Deion Walker with the catch at 1:32 and now I’m melancholy. He was the No. 90 overall recruit in 2008 and finished with 1 catch in 4 seasons. How he never got going is a good reminder that sometimes it just doesn’t work out and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I remember being pretty excited about the Crist touchdown pass to T.J. Jones. A completely developed Crist is perhaps the greatest what-if from the Kelly era. Re-watching this game reminded me just how developed and mature T.J. Jones was the moment he stepped on campus. He probably never got the praise he deserved, either. He just re-signed with the Detroit Lions coming off a career-high 30 receptions in 2017 and will have made about $3 million by the time he’s 26, so not a bad life.
In the middle of the video we get a couple of Jonas Gray carries. He was the very first “traits” player of the Kelly tenure it’s just we didn’t fully realize it at the time.
Finally, Tommy Rees got 3 snaps in this highlight video, all hand-offs. This was supposed to be Crist’s program and yet how little did we know that skinny freshman from Lake Forest, Illinois would be slinging the ball 1,048 times in the coming years.