Notre Dame spring game: Time, TV coverage and what to watch with new coach Marcus Freeman
First-year coach Marcus Freeman is one of the main attractions at this year’s Notre Dame spring game.
The Fighting Irish are starting a new chapter in the program after Brian Kelly, the all-time winningest coach in program history, left to take the job from LSU this offseason. Notre Dame’s spring game is at 1 p.m. ET Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be televised and broadcast on Peacock.
Freeman, who was the defensive coordinator in 2021, has a quarterback battle, several new playmakers and a revamped defense that will be in the spotlight Saturday.
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When is Notre Dame’s spring game?
- Weather: 1 p.m. ET
- Date: Saturday April 23
- Place: Notre Dame Stadium
How to watch the Notre Dame spring game
Three things to watch out for
Is there a QB controversy?
Jack Coan is gone, and that leaves a quarterback battle between Tyler Buchner (21 of 35, 298 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs for 21) and Drew Pyne (15 of 30, 224 yards, 2 TDs). Buchner added running dimension after rushing for 336 yards and three touchdowns last season, but that won’t be a factor in the spring game.
Notre Dame retained offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, and the Irish quarterbacks have completed 64.2% of their passes over the past two seasons. Which quarterback is the most accurate and punctual with football in the spring game? It is worth watching. Which one has to do with star tight end Michael Mayer?
“It’s a great competition,” Freeman said after a scrimmage on April 9. “I’m going to sit down with Tommy and say, ‘Give me your grades’. The process is going to evolve further until you name a starter. . I wouldn’t hesitate to put either one in the game at this stage because they are both very good football players and can help us win.”
Mayer is the focal point of the passing game. He finished with 71 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. This is another factor to watch out for.
“That’s what the spring ball is for,” Mayer said via ND Insider. “We’re in the process of finding our quarterback right now. We’re seeing who can play, and they’ve both played so far.”
Who are the new talented players?
Second-team All-American running back Kyren Williams and top receiver Kevin Austin are also gone, but the Irish have some interesting point guards returning.
The Irish had 551 total yards on Freeman’s debut in the 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. That included just 42 rushing yards. Chris Tyree and Logan Diggs are the top running backs, and both averaged over 4.0 yards per carry last season. Which stands out? Tyree’s ability to get out of the backfield is a big plus in this offense, but we may not see that. It is listed as doubtful for Saturday.
Second-year wide receiver Lorenzo Styles, a five-star rookie, had an outstanding performance in that loss to the Cowboys. He had eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown and looks more than ready for an expanded role in the Irish offense. Braden Lenzy can be a solid No. 2, and Deion Colzie and Joe Wilkins will fight for targets.
Will the offense be a hit on a huge recruiting weekend? Braylon James, a four-star receiver from Stony Point High School in Round Rock, Texas, signed up this spring. Will others follow?
Al Golden’s Defense
Freeman hired former Miami coach Al Golden as the new defensive coordinator. Golden has spent the past six seasons in the NFL with Detroit and Cincinnati, and it will be interesting to see how that affects the Irish plan. The spring game plan will likely be vanilla, but the Irish have four senior linebackers to build around Isaiah Foskey, Marist Liafau, JD Bertrand and Jack Kiser. Notre Dame also added Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph through the transfer portal. He’s a stallion who can help replace All-American Kyle Hamilton. It’s about building confidence on that side of the ball knowing the opener at Ohio State on Sept. 3 is against one of the FBS’ best offenses.
Freshman to Watch
Jaylen Sneed, LB
Freeman played linebacker at Ohio State, and he agrees the top rookie is a five-star linebacker from Hilton Head High School in Hilton Head, SC Sneed will be on the gold team.
Josh Burnham, LB
Burnham, a more homegrown four-star recruit from Central High School in Traverse City, Michigan, could challenge for early game time. Burnham will be in the blue team. Four-star linebacker Nolan Ziegler, a four-star from Grand Rapids, Michigan, will also be in attendance.
Jadarian Price, RB
We mentioned Tyree’s injury, and it could open the door to more races for Price, a four-star freshman from Denison, Texas. Price is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound runner who elected to leave the state.