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Takeaways from Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold Game rosters, otherwise known as Hartman-Buchner Game rosters

Chris Simms explains to Mike Florio why he’d be shocked if Dalton Kincaid doesn’t go in the top 15 of the 2023 NFL Draft, why Sam LaPorta was slotted No. 2 in his rankings and more.

The “Buchner-Hartman Game” would not have the same ring or Notre Dame-implied branding as the Blue-Gold Game does, but it would save some Irish confusion on Saturday when Notre Dame concludes its spring practices with the annual intrasquad scrimmage (2 ET, available exclusively on Peacock).

Fortunately, someone in the football program made it easy to remember which quarterback is on which team by placing rising junior Tyler Buchner on the Blue team and thus Wake Forest graduate transfer Sam Hartman on the Gold. Looking at what each quarterback will have to work with, the deck may be stacked in Buchner’s favor. The Blue team has five of the nine Irish scholarship receivers, and it could be argued it has five of the 8.5. Furthermore, it has the only scholarship tight end who is available to play, rising sophomore Holden Staes.

Furthermore, Blue’s secondary features sixth-year safety DJ Brown, senior cornerback Clarence Lewis and preseason All-American cornerback Benjamin Morrison.

If Hartman outscores Buchner — which is different than saying if Gold beats Blue, given early-enrolled freshman Kenny Minchey (Blue) or rising sophomore and reigning Blue-Gold Game MVP Steve Angeli (Gold) is more likely to lead the final few scores — then Hartman should put to rest any summer speculation about a prolonged quarterback competition in South Bend.

The connection Hartman will almost certainly most lean on is rising junior Jayden Thomas. The big-bodied target emerged as a vital chain-mover in 2022, establishing himself as a frontrunner to be Notre Dame’s No. 1 receiver in 2023. A proven connection with Hartman would embolden that thinking.

The most revealing aspect of the Blue-Gold Game rosters is along the offensive lines. If the Irish coaching staff viewed this game as a crucial piece of information before the summer, it would make sure the starting five (or six or seven) offensive linemen worked together to further develop the chemistry that makes or breaks many Septembers. Instead, the six offensive linemen with starting experience are split evenly between the two teams. Perhaps some toggle back-and-forth — green jerseys for players who will play for both the Blue and Gold teams — but the unit-wide cohesion will hardly be tested or developed.

Consider that the final piece of evidence that this spring game is an event geared for the fans and not one for many evaluations. It serves less a football function than the previous 14 practices did. This weekend allows the Alumni Association to bring Club administrators from across the country to campus, it sells merchandise, and it provides Peacock programming. However, it reveals less about the football program than those festivities may suggest.

The Blue-Gold Draft itself went along quickly and as expected, position by position, hardly any conceivable rhyme or reason. Frankly, it may be the most entertaining draft in sports, partly because of its 30-minute brevity. The two most notable moments came to start and near the finish.

To start, rising sophomore running back Gi’Bran Payne was the first overall pick. In a position-by-position draft, what stands out about that is he was the first running back drafted, a la classmate Jadarian Price’s honor last year. Price then exploded in the Blue-Gold Game, something somewhat forgotten after he tore his Achilles in the summer and was never able to turn that spring performance into a fall reality. Neither Price nor rising junior running back Logan Diggs will play Saturday, so Payne was really selected in front of only rising junior Audric Estimé, but still, Gi’Bran Payne was selected in front of Audric Estimé.

Toward the end of the draft, Freeman introduced one position group by player name alone, referring to rising junior Lorenzo Styles as “the only athlete” on the team. On the Gold team, Styles is expected to play both receiver and defensive back. To the point, Freeman’s tone was either quite a sales job or genuine program excitement around Styles, an encouraging thought as a position change at this point in a career can often bode otherwise.

Speaking of position changes and “the only athlete” on the team, rising senior Chris Tyree is listed as a receiver on the depth chart, not as an athlete or as a RB/WR. In the above count of scholarship receivers, Tyree is thus considered one of the 8.5. Styles is the half-count.

— Tight ends Mitchell Evans, Kevin Bauman and Eli Raridon— Running backs Logan Diggs and Jadarian Price— Offensive lineman Ty Chan— Defensive backs Christian Gray, Thomas Harper, Cam Hart, Ben Minich and Adon Shuler— Defensive lineman Devan Houstan— Linebackers Jack Kiser and Prince Kollie

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