South Bend, Indiana — At Blue-Gold Game Week, I wanted to talk about the end of Spring Practice at the University of Notre Dame. But you also wanted to talk about the big picture of how Ireland is stacking up nationally and what to expect from this fall programme. Tackle all these questions, from the big picture to the small, with Cathedral Mailbag.
Note: Submitted questions have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Suppose there are six tiers in the position groups for college football.
1. Championship level
2. College Football Playoff Level
3. New Year’s Six Level
4. Above average power 5
5. Average Power 5
6. Below average power 5
What tier would you place each of Notre Dame’s 2023 position groups based on what you saw and heard in spring practice? — C.
For the sake of discussion, let’s reduce these levels to four. College Football Playoffs, New Year’s Six, Secondary Bowl and “What are you doing here?” (i.e. 7-5 or less). It’s basically a combination of the first and his second category. Similarly for the fifth and sixth categories.
Here’s what I have:
College Football Playoffs: running back, offensive line, cornerback
Not that Notre Dame has the best groups in the country at these spots. It’s hard to choose a better one. These positions are staffed by his five best players on the team. Joe Alt, Blake Fisher, Benjamin Morrison, Audric Estim and Logan Diggs. Running backs have too much talent, at least when Diggs and Jadarian Price are healthy. Plus, we have Jeremiah Love coming this summer.
The offensive line should excel around Alt/Fisher and 5th grader Zeke Correll.
Cornerbacks are more predictable with Cam Hart healthy, Clarence Lewis acting as a solid nickel, and Jaden Mickey/Christian Gray as a fourth option.USC and Ohio State are scheduled. Therefore, the rise in cornerback talent is well timed.
New Year Six: quarterback, linebacker
Ok, ask at the linebacker. At Notre Dame he has three inside his linebackers and has about 3,100 career defensive snaps of him combined. Few people diagnose formations better than JD Bertrand. The staff is now working on Jack Kaiser in the interior of the sub-package, making better use of one of the underrated athletes on the roster: Marist Liufau, who led the defense in the snap last season. He didn’t make a lot of impact his plays, but Depth The Irishman has a strong trio given he’s the third inside linebacker on the charts. If Notre Dame is a rover and he can get something from Jaylen Sneed or Nolan Ziegler (sub player in modern defense), this will be a strong unit.
Word from within the scrimmages on Saturday said Sam Hartman was outstanding. Still, neither Tyler Buchner nor Hartman won the job this weekend. It’s no surprise that the competition will continue into his August. Still, this feels like a New Year’s Six group, meaning 10-win talent in that position. of course. Let’s see in August.
Secondary bowl: receiver, tight end, defensive line
There’s room for movement, but these positions feel a little gator/cheese-it for the summer. Can receivers bubble up to New Year’s Six levels? It also relies on Deion Colzie doing massive jumps.
The defensive line could get there too, but that would require Jordan Botelho to repackage the Gatorbowl and make it a regular one. The inside of the line should be better than expected.
Tight ends haven’t shown enough to warrant a boost in spring practice, with Holden Staes and Eli Raridon (ACL) trailing solid but average by Notre Dame standards Mitchell Evans We’re lacking experience. Is going to 12 people a strategic advantage for this roster? This depth chart doesn’t tell us.
“What are we doing here?”: safety
First of all, Notre Dame is probably looking for transfer safety after this weekend. Defensive coordinator Al Golden said the Irishman “needs help” when asked about transfers/switching positions. As with last year’s receiver, the safety has a lot to prove.
All in all, let’s not turn this problem into a math equation just yet. Because if you want to see these predictions, you’ll think Notre Dame is more of a New Year’s Six contender than a playoff contender. But it’s mid-April.
Which player (offensive or defensive) gets the most attention when heading to camp? — Benten M.
There are several. And the relevance of these names this season is mixed.
Watts, Estim and Kaiser all jumped out, according to sources who have seen more spring practice than the media. Same as receiver Rico Flores, just in a different way. But after talking to sources, the player I find most intriguing is he Botelho. There was enough buzz around the Hawaiian Viper to think he might explode when Notre Dame needed it most. Don’t invest his entire 401K there.
How big a loss was James Laurinaitis’ return to Ohio State University? Peyton Pierce moved to Ohio State University after his early ND leanings. In an interview this week, his fellow LB his recruit Sammy Brown talked about how he was one of his closest ties. he lost his way Are the coaching effects the same? — Matt P.
Interesting question. I honestly don’t know how to measure the impact of graduate assistants/interns/analysts. Yes, Laurinatis was popular with players and recruits. But assessing his coaching acumen is more difficult than his recruiting impact, which was significant. It’s also worth remembering that Nick Leszinski’s influence on Notre Dame was greater.
For the record, former Michigan star linebacker Max Barrow is the new Laurinaitis who was the new Leszinski. Barrow was in Alabama last year.
When it comes to the “loss” of Laurinatis, the biggest impact may be the departure of one of Coach Marcus Freeman’s best friends. It’s good to have someone you can totally trust as a head coach, especially a first year head coach. Not that Freeman can’t get that feedback elsewhere. Laurinaitis was perfect in providing that.
Notre Dame has no problem recruiting linebackers with or without Laurinaitis. Losing the piercing doesn’t change that. But Laurinaitis definitely added value to the Notre Dame program. Irish losses are Buckeyes gains.
With the fanbase feeling very uneasy about whether Notre Dame will ever be able to compete with the top teams again, do you think Notre Dame is close to winning a national championship or not? Do you think you’re getting close to? — Ryan C.
Ryan, big question for April.
“Never” is too long a timeline, but it’s true that college football is moving away from Notre Dame in terms of what it takes to win a national title. The NIL, the transfer portal, and the college football program are basically licensed by the college next door school his color. This sport is nothing like 1998 or his 2012, 2020. Notre Dame is committed to winning in its own way. The head coach uses “Choose Hard” as the hiring pitch.
With the college football playoffs expanding, Notre Dame will need a four-game winning streak, three of which could be against top 10 teams. Can the Irish win back-to-back Clemson, Alabama and Georgia? Because that’s what it takes a year from now.
All the improvements Notre Dame has made to its program over the past five years is like climbing a mountain, only to notice that the top has gotten higher as you’re climbing. Notre Dame is closer to winning the national title than it was a decade ago, and even further away if that makes sense.
The Irish can compete with the elite on the day. Clemson may have been off the brand last year, but they were blown off the field by Notre Dame.The home-and-home series against Georgia featured a competitive game. But winning the title means doing all three in three games after winning a home playoff game to start that march. Notre Dame’s recent history in the postseason is undeniable.
How likely are the offensive lines to get off to a slow start with a new coach coming in? I remember when Notre Dame was expected to dominate out the gates with former coach Harry Heastant. But it took a few games to gain a foothold. As Jeff Quinn’s replacement, was he a one-off for High Stand?—Pat C.
It doesn’t turn every offensive question into a quarterback answer, but whether Notre Dame starts Hartman or the more experienced Buchner this fall, the offensive line would be better. . Opponents did not respect the Irish his pass his game last season which put too much pressure on the attacking line. To pick up Blitz early, the line should have been better? Absolutely. However, the quarterback’s play invited an extra blitzer into the box and Notre Dame was unable to punish the offensive act.
Beyond the quarterback upgrade and the return of three starters, the Irish should benefit from soft openings in Navy, Tennessee, North Carolina and Central Michigan. A big difference from opening at Ohio State, in his first year starting quarterback, Marshall finished his fourth in the nation in yards per carry allowed. When Ohio State visits, they should know how good their offensive line is. And the line has time to wrap things up before its primetime exams.
What are the “expectations” at Notre Dame? Fanbases in Alabama, Georgia and Ohio expect to play for the title every year. It’s clear that that’s the goal, but it would be disingenuous to suggest that it’s an annual forecast. So what is it? Tokachi? New Year’s Six appears? Journey to the College Football Playoffs, Win or Lose? — Joe B.
This is the offseason fan poll question that always fascinates me. athletic) seems quite reasonable.
Last summer, I asked what the minimum requirements were for a successful season.
Notre Dame Fan Survey: Your Thoughts on Freeman, 2022 & More
In other words, if Notre Dame clears a certain threshold, would you accept it as a “successful season”? .) make a CFP, (4.) win the New Year’s Six Bowl, (5.) win 10 games. A minor bowl game while signing the top 5 recruiting classes.
Ultimately, Notre Dame did none of those things.
However, 76.2% of respondents considered winning a New Year’s Six game or winning 10 games and a Minor Bowl to be a “successful season.”
Think about it. This means that her three-fourths of respondents could live with Notre Dame without attending the CFP. It may be healthy, but it was also amazing. Cheers to reason, everyone!
If you’re asking me what my definition of a successful season is making the playoffs or winning the New Year’s Six Bowl game, that outlook will change after this year. With the playoffs expanding, Notre Dame will have to view the season as his CFP-or-bust, with winning an opening-round game being the minimum requirement to be considered successful that year. Strange as it may sound, an expanded CFP could raise, rather than lower, expectations of a successful season.
(Photo by Joe Alt: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty)