College Football is back! And thankfully so. After an adventurous and uncertain at times winter off the field, the Notre Dame football put the pads back on and have recently begun their spring campaign that will culminate with the Blue and Gold Game on April 22nd.
There are plenty of firsts in this second year for Marcus Freeman. There are many new faces on the roster and coaching staff that must gel quickly this spring. It’s a tough ask and not a lot of time to accomplish said task. Let’s take a look at a few notable observations from the first couple of days of camp.
QB Competition In Name Only?
Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks on before the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
I agree that the starting Quarterback job should be an open competition this Spring and Fall. It’s the right thing to both be fair to Tyler Buchner and breed fierce competition that makes everyone better.
That being said, I’m already getting the feeling from all I’ve read, heard, seen, and have thought myself, that barring injury Sam Hartman will be Notre Dame’s starting signal caller next fall. For a lot of reasons. Body of work, arm talent, poise that comes with experience, etc.
The more interesting question to me becomes what role does Buchner play if Hartman starts? These outcomes range wildly from transferring after Spring ball to staying and contributing by running nifty “option-like” packages to keep defenses off balance. If he stays, which is by far the most likely outcome, the QB dynamic next year will be very interesting. A Buchner vs Minchey vs Carr battle is one I’m all in on!
Chris Tyree Position Move Makes Total Sense
Notre Dame running back Chris Tyree (25) runs the ball during the Notre Dame vs. Stanford NCAA football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
One of the first notable observations from camp was that Chris Tyree was taking reps in the Slot and not with the Running Backs. This move has been talked about for some time amongst fans and makes complete logical sense.
The RB room may be Notre Dame’s deepest position group to start 2023. Logan Diggs, Jerome, excuse me, Audric Estime, and a healthy JD Price can all contribute with their overlapping yet diversified individual skill sets. Are there enough carries for all of these players AND Tyree to be maximally effective?
Moving Tyree to WR spreads the carries around to the remaining RBs in a way that will benefit them and also adds depth and reliability to a quickly rebuilding WR room and this allows Tyree himself to be used maximally. This is a great move across the board.
Nov 19, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) acknowledges the crowd after a sack in the second quarter against the Boston College Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Entering the 2023 season, Notre Dame will need to replace 4/6 top tacklers from last years defense and over half of the sacks. The player with the most returning production is Howard Cross with a not quite robust 33 tackles.
This is an area that will be under the microscope all year. Howard Cross and Rylie Mills must hold their own along with Ohio State transfer Jean-Baptiste. Players like Jordan Bothelo and Gabe Rubio have chances to emerge into game wreckers.
Aside from pure experience concerns, I have literal body concerns. Notre Dame is light up front and I’m concerned that in the biggest games the Irish may get pushed around. This is a group that will be under the microscope all year and they must rise to the challenge.