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Instant Analysis: Freshmen Steal the Show in Blue-Gold Game

Written by Liam Farrell|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @LiamFarrell_IT

Photo by Langston Johnson - The Irish Tribune

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- On a sunny spring day in South Bend, the Blue team edged out the Gold team 28-21, in a game that highlighted Notre Dame's depth.

Freshmen CJ Carr, Aneyas Williams, Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, and Micah Gilbert were players who especially stood out. Carr had great command of the Irish offense, as he was making quick reads and making throws both in and out of the pocket. Carr finished 15/23 with 165 yards, and a touchdown.

Standing next to Carr on the Blue team was running back Aneyas Williams. Williams displayed great vision and balance, as he has the ability to shed multiple tackles and bounce runs outside the box. Williams showed a great burst and physicality in short-yardage situations that could entice running backs coach Deland McCullough to get him some playing time during his freshman year.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa does not look like a true freshman. Viliamu-Asa is built like a fifth-year senior, who displayed the ability to run sideline-to-sideline and make big hits.

Outside of Viliamu-Asa, the linebacker room appeared to be a real strength of this team. Kahanu Kia may have been the unofficial leading tackler in this game, as he was simply everywhere on the field. Jaiden Ausberry's open-field speed is remarkable, as the coaches want to integrate him into some nickel defensive packages. Jaylen Sneed is another linebacker who is finally ready to make the next step, as his mix of speed and strength will make him an impact player for the Irish this year. Drayk Bowen and Preston Zinter also made good tackles in space.

On the defensive line, RJ Oben and Jason Onye were causing the most havoc. Oben kept getting the better of Charles Jagusah, as he had a strip-sack to end the first half. Oben also jarred another ball loose on a Justin Fisher run. Onye made his impact felt through two bull-rushes that ended in two sacks of Steve Angeli. Freshman Bryce Young also stripped a ball loose from sure-handed Gi'Bran Payne.

Besides Payne's fumble, his speed and strength have improved drastically. Primarily used as the third-down back last year, Payne showed the ability to get more touches outside of that role. Jeremiyah Love also had a good showing in limited reps. Love's speed is still the biggest tool in the running back room arsenal for the Fighting Irish. He also showed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, as well.

In terms of wide receivers, Deion Colzie and Micah Gilbert stole the show. Colzie, the big-bodied wide receiver who has struggled to stay healthy during his Irish career, was making contested catches all day. He also had a high IQ play as he broke up a Christian Gray interception. Gilbert, after an early drop in the first quarter, had two touchdowns in this one. One was a rope by CJ Carr, and the other was a great over-the-shoulder touchdown catch as he created great separation and Kenny Minchey threw an absolute dime. Kris Mitchell had the game-winning touchdown, as he burned Isaiah Dunn with a double move. Mitchell, who was quiet before his late fourth-quarter touchdown, is projected to be the downfield threat for the Irish this year.

Minchey, who finished 12/19 with 123 yards, with a touchdown, and an interception plus a fumble, showed great resilience throughout this spring game. Minchey displayed his athleticism through a couple scrambles, and RPOs. At the beginning of the game, the game seemed to be extremely fast for Minchey as he was rushing his progressions, and trying to be Superman, making off-platform throws. As the game progressed, he was slowing the game down, going through his reads, and as a result, was making big plays for his Gold team.

The projected backup quarterback next year, Steve Angeli, looked good in this one, too. Angeli got the start for the Blue team and was in a good rhythm with his wide receivers. While not as athletic as other quarterbacks in the room, Angeli is great staying poised in the face of pressure and taking what the defense is giving him. Angeli is more than a dependable backup quarterback, yet it should be interesting to see if he sticks around in that role while the younger quarterbacks, Carr and Minchey, have shone extremely bright futures.

As a whole, the Blue-Gold game was a great sight for Notre Dame fans as the future appears to be extremely promising for the Fighting Irish. The next step in the college football calendar is to see how many players enter the transfer portal.


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