Some questions as fall camp begins.

Ahh it feels just like it did as a kid running to the tree on Christmas morning! The start of fall camp can only mean one thing... it's officially football season!

While we are all more than ready for camp to start, let's think back through the last 6 months, This offseason has been adventurous to say the least, a true emotional roller coaster for the die hard fan. The highs consisted of star quarterback Sam Hartman transferring from Wake Forest for his final year of eligibility, as well as some great recruiting wins. Running back Kedron Young out of Texas as well elite linebacker prospect Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa out of California. KVA is the biggest get for the Irish in quite some time considering his final 3 schools were ND, USC, and Ohio State. The lows were certainly just that. Staff shakeups with the loss of offensive coordinator Tommy Rees (and the clown show that was the eventual promotion of Gerad Parker) as well as the recent resignation of strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis have certainly left gapping holes that remain to be seen how they effect the program. Coach Freeman must also replace legendary OL coach Harry Hiestand with Joe Rudolph. Rudolph has enormous shoes to fill. Last years starting quarterback Tyler Buckner decided to join Rees at Alabama immediately following the spring game. Backup running back Logan Diggs transferring to former coach Brian Kelly's program in Baton Rouge on paper looks big but could also provide some big opportunities for the younger backs to step into bigger roles. Losing '24 DL recruit Justin Scott out of Chicago to Ohio State was a very big blow to the staff and fan moral without a doubt. Combine all of that with the nonstop pending television and apparel deal conversations (which in itself has been a bit of roller coaster) it has been an offseason to remember...for better or worse.

But I digress, it is indeed time for actual football and I couldn't be happier about it. As "fall" camp (in July) begins today I have some burning questions that I hope get answered by the time we get to Dublin exactly one month from today to face Navy. So let's jump into some of them.

1. Which two of Andrew Krisofic, Rocco Spindler, and Billy Schrauth will win the guard spots on the offensive line?

I personally would love to see Rocco and Schrauth win the jobs because that O Line would just be nasty. However, I feel that Kristofic being the more steady player with more experience will more than likely win the job in camp for those reasons, at least for the Navy game.

2. Speaking of that offensive line, I am eager to see if Coach Rudolph can get this offensive line to respond to his coaching style compared to Hiestand.

There is no doubt that Rudolph has a proven track record of success with his offensive lines and individual player accomplishments, but this in Notre Dame where the OL standards are sky high.

3. What type of offensive will new OC Gerad Parker run?

Let's be honest, the thought of Parker implementing a new, more open style of offense with Hartman running it has me pretty pumped up. This is Notre Dame so we know that Coach Freeman wants everything to be built off the run game (and with this stable of backs headed up by Audric Estime who could blame him) but I envision a lot of play action, screen plays, and deep balls as a result of that strong run game. Hartman is the perfect fit for that. Hopefully we see more of that style of play in camp.

4. Who is going to step up and be THE DUDE at receiver?

Jayden Thomas seems to have cemented himself as the leader of the receiving corp but I'm not convinced he truly "scares" opposing defenses. What the team desperately needs is for sophomore Tobias Merriweather to be that guy. He is a guy who can truly take the top off a defense and make them respect the deep ball. Deion Colzie, Jaden Greathouse, and newly moved Chris Tyree need to have strong camps to give Hartman as many options as possible. If they can get open he will find them there's no doubt and that hasn't always been the case recently for Irish signal callers.

Let's jump to the defensive side of the ball.

1. Who will take the place of 2nd round pick defensive end Isaiah Foskey?

I hope to see somebody take the reigns during camp and answer this one quickly. The defense has the ability to be really good this season but a lot of that will hinge on getting pressure on the quarterback. Jordan Botelho appears to be the logical choice to make a big jump going into his senior year. It's time for all that talent to finally come out on game days. Javontae Jean-Baptiste, the grad transfer from Ohio State as well as Rylie Mills from the DT spot could both be game wreckers as well. Camp will be very telling for both.

2. What does the safety position look like?

Xavier Watts is a stud and leader of the secondary but after him there is a pretty significant drop-off at the safety position. Ramon Henderson, DJ Brown, and Rhode Island transfer Antonio Carter all look the part but for the former two it just hasn't transferred to the field. As far as Carter goes, we have yet to really see him in action but I'm hoping he opens some eyes because this back end of the defense is gonna need it.

3. Will Al Golden's defense in year two take a big leap?

Last years defense as a whole was actually pretty solid. To-be true sophomore corner Benjamin Morrison stole the show with his 6 interceptions and JD Bertrand once again led the team in tackles. But if this team is going to try and make a push for the college football playoff they're going to have to take an even bigger step forward this season. Too often last year we remember poor defensive play calls, players constantly out of position, or just not being able to make key stops on key drives. Those performances simply cannot be repeated or change needs to happen. This season, some players with big reputations on the defense have to jump on the scene in a big way. It's been reported that the defense Golden was brought into was far too complex and the players struggled to grasp it. Hopefully a scaled back version and year two of running it will show up on the field statistically.

I absolutely cannot wait for the kickoff in Ireland but following the developments throughout camp is fun to watch too. Here's to hoping for a healthy camp and one that really shows Freeman has this program trending as far up as we think he can take it.

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