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Offense vs. Defense in the 83rd annual Blue-Gold game

Cierre Wood Pitt

Brian Kelly met with the media after the penultimate practice of spring, and one of his first orders of business was breaking down the rules for the 83rd annual Blue-Gold Game. With the depth chart a bit thin at positions like cornerback and wide receiver, after two seasons of a traditionally formatted game, scoring will be broken down between offense and defense.

“Because we’re short of numbers at the cornerback position, and in particular at the wide receiver position, we do want to protect some guys,” Kelly explained. “If we were to go strictly blue versus gold, you’d have guys like Zack Martin who would have to play four quarters. I’m not interested in that. I know what he can do. Tyler Eifert would have to play a lot. I’m not interested in having him out there the whole game. Manti would have to play quite a bit.”

Still, for those feeling a little cheated with a non-traditional format, this year’s game will actually be the first time in the Kelly era where there’s actually a chance to take stock of what the Irish have. For the first time, all four quarterbacks will be live. The defense is free to send pressure and mix coverages. And while no special teams will be played fully live, the deck will be stacked evenly between both units.

“We’re going to go offense versus defense, and in that system, we’ll try to have it ones versus ones,” Kelly said. So A goes against A, B goes against B, and it’s not ones versus twos. We’re trying to balance it the best that we can. So if it’s A versus A, offense versus defense, it’s not strictly ones versus ones. Then the second offense comes out, it’s not all twos. We’re mixing and matching players.”

After twenty-plus years of spring games, Kelly has decided that simplicity in scoring is the best way to go. The offense will earn points the good old fashioned way -- with touchdowns and field goals. The defense will earn theirs through turnovers and stops. For those worried about a complicated formula that necessitates a calculator, there’s no bonus points for sacks or tackles-for-loss, but a simple equation for the defense.

“I’ve really looked at all the scoring systems I’ve used, and we’re going to make this a team scoring system,” Kelly explained. “There will not be individual points for sacks or tackles for loss or pass breakups or any of that stuff. We’re going to talk about stops and turnovers for the defense. Their points are earned by stops and turnovers.”

Special teams will be limited in the game, with punts being fair caught and all drives starting on the 35 yard line. There will be no block attempts on field goals or extra points. The first half will be standard timing, while the second half will feature a running clock. The teams will break 15 minutes for halftime.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the scoring system for the 83rd Blue-Gold game.

6 points for a touchdown (1 point for PAT kicks, no rush allowed).
3 points for a field goal.

4 points for a defensive stop before offense crosses the 50.
2 points for a defensive stop after offense crosses the 50.
7 points for a turnover before the offense crosses the 50.
3 points for a turnover after the offense crosses the 50.
1 point for holding the offense to a field goal.