Sam Hartman celebrates with Rocco Spindler after one of his first half TDs in the 2023 Blue-Gold game. (Photo: Chad Ryan)

The 2024 Blue-Gold game will be played in Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday, April 20 at 1:00 PM.

Last year the storyline was easy: Sam Hartman! Sam Hartman! Sam Hartman! In fact , in last year’s spring game Hartman lit it up. He notched 13-16 passing for 189 yards and 3 TDs, two passing, one via the run and with five minutes left in the first half his day was done. Hartman established himself as the clear starter, and a week later, QB Tyler Buchner entered the transfer portal.

This year the story is likely to revolve around all or some of the following: four quarterbacks, a rebuilt offensive line, depth at wide receiver, a veteran defense with some new linebackers and a “new” offensive coordinator, back for his third stint coaching at ND.

All will be on display at this Saturday’s 93rd annual game.

At quarterback, Duke transfer Riley Leonard is the odds on favorite starter for the regular season, but due to a minor surgical procedure on his ankle he is unlikely to see action. RS- junior Steve Angeli who starred in the Sun Bowl last season when he hit on 15-19 good for 232 yards and three TDs, is next up on the QB depth chart. Angeli is closely followed by RS-sophomore Kenny Minchey and early entry freshman CJ Carr. Carr flashed big time in a scrimmage last week that was open to the media. Carr, rated a high 4-star, hails from Saline, Michigan and was one one of the most sought after prospects in the nation.

Despite the loss of Rico Flores, Braylon James and Tobias Merriweather to the transfer portal and Chris Tyree and Matt Salerno to graduation after last season, the Irish have restocked their reciever room. Joining the returning Jayden Thomas, Jaden Greathouse, Deion Colzie, KK Smith and Jordan Faison are promising freshman Micah Gilbert and Cam Williams along with transfers Beaux Collins (Clemson), Jayden Harrison (Marshall) and Kris Mitchell (Florida International). Greathouse, Gilbert and Williams all flashed in last Saturday’s scrimmage in the Stadium. Three of the recievers will not participate in the spring game. Faison is playing Lacrosse, and Thomas and Collins are recovering from injury.

Along the offensive line the Irish must replace both tackles, including All-American Joe Alt and Blake Fisher. Both of whom will find a home in the NFL this coming season. Alt is favored to be a top 10 overall pick in next week’s draft. RS-Sophomore Charles Jagusah and 5th year Tosh Baker got the starts at tackle in the Sun Bowl after Alt and Fisher had already declared for the NFL.

All-Americans Xavier Watts at safety and Ben Morrison at cornerback return to lead a defense that ranked 5th nationally in yards allowed and 7th in points allowed. Morrison is out for the spring game after undergoing a shoulder procedure last month. Watts, the defending national defensive player of the year picked off a Kenny Minchey pass in last Saturday’s scrimmage and returned to the endzone 60 yards.

Key losses that the Irish are looking to fill on defense include corner Cam Hart, linebacker JD Bertrand and defensive end Jevonte Jean Baptiste who all have sights set on the NFL. The linebacking corp looks to restock with RS- sophomore Drayk Bowen, RS-junior Jaylen Sneed and five star freshman Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa as well as returning 6th year graduate Jack Kiser. Kiser was extremely productive last season. In a part time role, he still managed to rank 3rd on the team in tackles.

Fans will also get their first public display, this time around, of ND’s new offensive coordinator. MIke Denbrock whose offense at LSU last season led the nation in yards gained and scoring is back for his third go around in South Bend. In 2002-2004 he coached tight ends and tackles under Ty Willingham. From 2010-2016 he served several roles for Brian Kelly on the offensive side of the ball.

The 93rd edition of the Blue-Gold Game presented by Meijer will kickoff Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 1 p.m. ET in Notre Dame Stadium and will be broadcast live on Peacock. 

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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