Spring practices begin for Notre Dame football

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 2:21 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The countdown is on to the start of the 2023 season for Notre Dame football.

The Irish were up bright and early Wednesday morning for the first practice of spring ball, as the annual Blue-Gold Game is only a month away.

Things look a lot different this year than they did at this time last year. There’s a new man leading the offense, a new man coaching the offensive line, and a new man coaching the quarterbacks. Oh, and the ACC’s all-time passing touchdown leader is now in the QB room.

Head Coach Marcus Freeman said at the post-practice press conference that he’s still learning what he’s got around him since it’s only day one. But overall, he said it was a good day one.

“It’s a process to getting to where we want to go,” Freeman said. “That’s what our guys have to understand. It’s not going to be perfect on practice one, but we have to continue to find ways to watch the film, evaluate it, and as we put more schematic stuff in, we’ve got to be able to perform it at a high level.

“So, day one, it was good,” he continued. “Looking forward to moving, obviously improving as we go through the spring and these next 14 practices. But it was a really good first day. (We) got a lot of good work in. I look forward to getting back and watching the film.”

As for Freeman’s new-look coaching staff, new names are now heading up the quarterbacks (Gino Guidugli), the offensive line (Joe Rudolph), and the special teams (Marty Biagi).

And while all of them are new to Notre Dame, none of those coaches are new to Freeman. He explained on Wednesday why he brought in the leaders he did and the value of the experience they provide.

“I think there’s nothing more important than experience with somebody,” Freeman said. “I don’t have to wonder what this person is like when I’m not around. That is why if they are great coaches and you had the opportunity to work with them, you try to hire them because you know exactly what you are getting.”

The first practice of spring on Wednesday was also a first look at new quarterback Sam Hartman, who transferred from Wake Forest after throwing 110 touchdowns for the Demon Deacons over five seasons.

Freeman did remind us that it was only Hartman’s first official practice at Notre Dame, so there’s a lot we have yet to see from him. But it was enough to get excited for what this offense can be with him under center.

Freeman touched on his first impressions of Hartman after practice.

“I think today being day one, he’s like a freshman. It’s new,” Freeman said. “I think this is his sixth spring ball, but you’re at a new place with a new system and still figuring out where to go and what a drill is called. You can see him saying, ‘Where we going? What’s the drill? How many plays?’ But he has a ton of natural ability when throwing the ball and he plays the game of football, so you’ll see the leadership traits he possesses grow because I know he has them.”

The 2023 edition of the Blue-Gold Game will take place on April 22 at Notre Dame Stadium.

Stay with 16 Sports for the latest from spring football at Notre Dame.

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