Notre Dame 2023 Spring Football: The Pressure Is On

College football spring practice sessions will start in earnest very soon on campuses all over the country. Normally, these weeks of practice sessions provide a low-pressure taste of football in a period where there isn’t any. This offers a terrific opportunity for fans to enjoy some low-stress play before the extended impending summer break.

With the aforementioned statements being true most of the time, there are always exceptions to any generality. I believe Notre Dame Football will be under an unusual amount of scrutiny and pressure this Spring due to some of the happenings of the recent off-season, most notably the public outcry over whatever occurred with the offensive coordinator hire.


Notre Dame offensive coordinator candidate: Gerad Parker

Let’s examine why this spring session is so unique and pressure-packed.

Change The Topic

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The last few weeks, arguably some of the slowest historically for college football content, have been anything but for the Irish, and not in a good way. Much of this media, including plenty from yours truly has been centered on Notre Dame’s PR nightmare that ensued after the sloppiness of the offensive coordinator search.

The absolute best thing that can happen for the Irish is to hit the field and provide some actual football content to be reported on rather than off the field issues. That being said, especially offensively, Notre Dame fans would love to be reassured of the hiring of [autotag]Gerad Parker[/autotag] as OC by a Spring full of competent offense culminating with a Blue & Gold game that excites. Fairly or unfairly, the pressure is on Parker and the team to deliver in this regard.

Gerad Parker Intrigue

What to expect out of Notre Dame’s offense with Gerad Parker as coordinator
What to expect out of Notre Dame’s offense with Gerad Parker as coordinator

New Notre Dame offensive coordinator Gerad Parker speaks with the meeting after being formally introduced as Tommy Rees replacement Monday, Feb. 20, 2023 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Ndi Ndfb Gerard Parker Press Conference 1 02202023

Speaking of Parker, congratulations to him on his promotion. It’s just a shame that due to mistakes in the process somewhere along the way to him being hired, his tenure starts on a negative tone perceptually in many circles which is not his fault in any way.

Notre Dame fans will be paying extra close attention this Spring to everything the offense does. Good, bad or in the middle. If things go great, the tone will lighten up and become more encouraging entering the Summer off period. If spring looks rough, questioning of the hiring process and negativity will linger. Notre Dame must avoid this. Again, the pressure is on.

Multiple Exciting Quarterbacks to Watch

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in a long time, Notre Dame is poised to have multiple QBs on the team that genuinely excite the fanbase. Grad transfer [autotag]Sam Hartman[/autotag]’s body of collegiate work is very impressive as is the potential in homegrown [autotag]Tyler Buchner[/autotag].

It’d be ideal if both quarterbacks who feature differing skill sets had great spring sessions. A program can never have enough competent signal callers and if they both look effective this spring, and I suspect they will, it will indicate that the players are all in on Parker and the offense is set to take off.

Year 2 For Freeman

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Most reasonable folks understood that Marcus’ first year at the helm would come with many challenges and there was some level of understanding of that and a “grace period” of sorts for him to settle in.

Year 2 is going to be much different. In the course of the past calendar year, this team has become much more Freeman’s regarding the staff and players. High-level results will be expected both in terms of big game performances and not having letdowns against inferior opponents like last year. The “grace period” is quickly coming to a close and Marcus knows it.

Stabilization Entering Summer

[Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

This winter has been rocky perceptually for Notre Dame. Bad headlines galore. Questions about the administration and support for Freeman. Concerns about the hiring processes of key assistants. A very solid spring would go a long way to putting some of these concerns to sleep.

These spring sessions are the last opportunities the Irish have to reassure everyone that the program is indeed stable and ready to compete next year at a high level. There is always pressure on Notre Dame, but this kind is unique. Unfortunately, the team, coaches, and players have the tough task of outplaying the concerns fans have that are largely none of their creation but are at the administrative level. I feel they will rise to the challenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Always Irish show here as I discuss the uniqueness of this spring season from a warm and sunny Florida!

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Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire