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The Five Necessities For a Successful 2023 Campaign

By Liam Farrell|Writer|Twitter @LiamFarrell_IT

Via Dayton Daily News (David Jablonski)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have all the tools for a championship run in the 2023 season. With a highly touted transfer quarterback, an experienced offensive line, and an extremely athletic defense, Notre Dame is poised for more success in the second year of the Marcus Freeman Era. The goal at Notre Dame is always to win a national championship, plain and simple. The talent on-campus in South Bend is the best in recent memory; however, these are the five key essentials that the Irish must do in order to achieve their first College Football Playoff Championship.

Sam Hartman Must Protect the Ball

Via USA Today

Amongst all things for the Fighting Irish this year, no single player has brought as much buzz into the program than Sam Hartman. The ACC touchdown record holder shocked waves across the college football landscape when he pledged his commitment to Marcus Freeman and co. The only knock-on Hartman through his 5 years at Wake Forest was his interceptions and decision making. Over the last two full seasons, Hartman has totaled 26 interceptions. This must be an area to which he improves upon for this 2023 season. Notre Dame hasn't had a quarterback as naturally gifted as Hartman in a long time. However, the facet of Hartman's game that I am most excited for is his poise. This isn't an 18 year-old freshman straight out of high school who is afraid of the big game. Yes, the lights aren't as bright in Winston-Salem as they are in South Bend, but Hartman has had the experience of playing in big games. We saw in the Ohio State game last year that the offense was severely limited because we were too afraid to have our inexperienced quarterback make a big mistake. There is absolutely no fear in Hartman doing so, and rather he is a coach on the field that all the other players could look to in a time of need. If Hartman can make the correct reads, stay poised, and limit his turnovers, the Irish will be in a golden position.

The Emergence of a Big-Bodied Wide Receiver

Via Mark J. Rebilas- USA TODAY Sports

This is no offense to the slot wide receivers or speed threats, but the Irish need a wide out who can turn 50/50 balls into 80/20 balls. Quarterback Sam Hartman had his most success last year throwing these one-on-one balls to AT Perry, who was selected in the 6th round of this year's NFL draft. Hartman loves throwing these jump balls and the Irish have had success in this facet of their game every year the team has be winning. In 2017, the Irish relied on Equanimeous St. Brown, who is listed at 6'5", to open the offense. In 2018, whenever Ian Book needed a big play, he looked to 6'4" Miles Boykin. Same thing goes for 6'4" Chase Claypool in 2019, and Benny Skow and Javon McKinley in 2020. The Notre Dame receiving core has the answers for this question in two possible ways. One of which is Jayden Thomas, who shined in the spring game as Hartman's number one option. The other is Tobias Merriweather who is waiting to spring onto the scene in the 2023 season. Notre Dame's offense will need to stretch the ball vertically next season if they want to compete with the best of what college football has to offer. Big seasons on the end from Thomas or Merriweather could put the Irish in a great position to do so.

Utilizing Chris Tyree's Speed

Via Matt Cashore- USA TODAY Sports

The speed element has always been something Notre Dame has lacked as a program, and when the Irish had it, these facets were underutilized. Braden Lenzy and Kevin Stepherson are the two names that pop up in my head. The Irish simply didn't integrate them into the offensive scheme enough. This year, the Irish have already converted Chris Tyree into the slot, which is a genius decision by new offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. The takeaway from Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees last year after the Ohio State game was that they didn't incorporate Tyree into the game enough. However, when they tried to incorporate Tyree last year out of the backfield, most defenses assumed that it would be a run to the outside. By moving Tyree to the slot, his entire game diversifies and so does this Notre Dame offense. He has shown the ability to catch the ball with a receiving touchdown in their Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma State two years ago, along with catching many screen passes in their CFP game against Alabama. Tyree's hands aren't the problem, and with the ability to incorporate him in many new ways this year, Tyree's speed could help the Notre Dame offense exponentially.

Pressuring Opposing Quarterbacks

Via 247Sports

If we look at the most winningest Notre Dame teams of recent memory, every single one had a stud on the defensive line that caused pressure. In 2018, the three headed dragon of Jerry Tillery, Khalid Kareem, and Julian Okwara caused havoc for quarterbacks, by totaling 20.5 sacks between those three players. In 2020, Ade Ogundeji, Isaiah Foskey, and Daelin Hayes put considerable pressure on the QB's as well. This pressure is essential for the Irish in the 2023 season, and it starts with Jordan Botelho. Botelho is primed for a breakout season, in which he is finally getting his shot to start at the VYPER position for the Fighting Irish. On the other side of the line is Ohio State transfer Javontae Jean Baptiste and Nana Osafo-Mensah who are sure to cause pressure as well. Pair the outside with the playmakers in Rylie Mills, Howard Cross and Jayson Onye up the middle, and the Irish have great defensive line depth across the board.

Ball-Hawking Secondary Play

Via Matt Cashore- USA TODAY Sports

This Notre Dame cornerback group is the best in recent memory. Benjamin Morrison is destined to be the best Notre Dame corner in the 21st century, and if you pair him up with the likes of Cam Hart and Jaden Mickey, this Notre Dame cornerback room is one of the best in the country. With the addition of Thomas Harper into the mix, along with Xavier Watts finally getting an entire year settling into the safety position, Notre Dame must be able to take the ball away from opposing quarterbacks. With another year under Al Golden who is fully back into being accustomed in college football play, this Notre Dame defense could see a massive jump from 2022 to 2023. If the Irish defense can create takeaways and give Sam Hartman and co. more opportunities to score the ball, Notre Dame is in a great position for a year to remember.


This 2023 Notre Dame team has the highest expectations the program has had in a long time, but rightfully so. If the Irish can click on these five cylinders, they will be a hard team to stop. With a rigorous schedule, Notre Dame will be ready and battle tested as the year rolls on. It will be an exciting ride and will be fun to follow as we work our way into summer camp.

1 Comment

Jun 06, 2023

Fantastic article! Great work

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