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Football: Three storylines for Notre Dame spring practice

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Gols(5) works against Alabamduring first half BCS National Championship college football game Monday Jan. 7 2013

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) works against Alabama during the first half of the BCS National Championship college football game Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Updated: April 4, 2014 6:24AM



SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame’s offense had a dismal day, producing just one touchdown in last year’s Blue-Gold game.

Quarterback Everett Golson was a little off, going 6 of 13 for 98 yards and one interception.

“We came out flat and didn’t play to the best of our ability,” Golson said afterwards.

He wouldn’t get a chance to showcase his abilities in the fall. Sacked because of an academic suspension, all Golson could do was watch as the Irish went 9-4.

He was readmitted to the school in December and will be back taking snaps today when Notre Dame begins spring practice.

“In our dialogues relative to football, he has definitely a higher IQ as it relates to what we are talking about from a football standpoint,” coach Brian Kelly said Friday. “I can talk to him about things that I didn’t believe I could talk to him about relative to protections, hot routes, just the nuances of the passing game.

“Clearly he has evolved there.”

Golson’s return is one of the storylines this spring for the Irish. So will the development of fellow quarterback Malik Zaire.

“Huge, huge spring for Malik Zaire,” Kelly said. “Huge. He’s got to step up. He’s got to show a maturity level in terms of leadership, taking over the offense, and he’s got to practice as if he’s the starter.”

Here are three more spring storylines for Notre Dame.

New face, same goal: The Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia Bulldogs ranked in the top 10 in several defensive categories while under Brian VanGorder’s guidance as coordinator.

He now has that role with the Irish.

“We have a great base, and we have now developed what we consider a demeanor on our defense and on expectation, and now we’re going to take it to the next level defensively and Brian is going to be able to take our defense to that next level,” Kelly said.

“… Third-down packages, we’ll be able to use personnel uniquely different in certain areas, but at the end of the day, this is still about keeping the points down and taking the football away and eliminating the big plays.”

Replacing a rock: No player started more games at Notre Dame than Zack Martin. Who will take over at left tackle? It’s a question the program hasn’t face in some time.

“Most experienced, most athletic, you would say, oh, it’s (Ronnie) Stanley immediately,” Kelly said. “But for most comfort and who has been on the left side, you go with the guys that have already been over there, (Steve) Elmer.

“We’ll probably go through the spring and look at both of those before we make the final decision.”

Inside jobs: Inside linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese were the team’s top two tacklers in 2013. Both are gone. Jarrett Grace continues to recover from a leg injury, meaning more reps for Kendall Moore, Doug Randolph, Joe Schmidt and Michael Deeb.

“The inexperience at that position will allow me to answer the question as to what that depth looks like as we move through the spring,” Kelly said. “That will probably be the one question that I’ll get asked and probably have to answer the most in the spring.”



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