Notre Dame football finds new role for talented running back

  • Notre Dame football is going to have a very different looking offense in 2024.
  • The Mike Denbrock effect might finally be taking hold.
  • Jeremiyah Love might have a revamped role.

Notre Dame's Jeremiyah Love (12) stiff arms Oregon State players at the 90th Sun Bowl game in El
Notre Dame's Jeremiyah Love (12) stiff arms Oregon State players at the 90th Sun Bowl game in El / Gaby Velasquez / El Paso Times / USA

Now that the Notre Dame football team is officially engaged in spring practice, we’re getting a better idea on just what the Mike Denbrock offense in South Bend is going to look like. While this is actually the second go-round for Denbrock with the Fighting Irish, things could look quite different from his first.

Right at the top of the list in how the offense could look different is the expanded use of 11 personnel. Though head coach Marcus Freeman has been careful to caution fans to get too attached to that alignment.

One thing that looks like it’s changing this spring that could hold steady all the way to the fall is the way the Notre Dame football team uses running back Jeremiyah Love. According to On3’s Jack Soble, the Irish are eying a more “slash” role for Love who could be moved out in the slot more than he ever would have been under the previous offensive game plan.

For his part, Love is on board with the move. He made that clear after practice on Wednesday.

"Putting me at receiver and trying to get me the ball in space fits my play style.”

Notre Dame football looking for new ways to take advantage of its offensive roster

“[It’s] an opportunity to get Jeremiyah some specific training at receiver, like some of the nuanced things,” running backs coach Deland McCullough said after practice. “And not just say, ‘Hey, go line up there in the four spot and run a sluggo. Or just take off and run a go.’ So he gets some specific training there.”

Love carried the ball 71 times for 385 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown as a freshman. But there may not  be a real work horse the way that Audric Estime was last season. That’s one of the reasons Love seems totally on board with the plan to move him out wide more often.

Interestingly enough, this approach isn’t necessarily a direct carry over from Denbrock’s time at LSU. This year, running backs didn’t factor much into the passing game. Leading rusher from that position, Logan Diggs had only 14 catches in 2023.

The year before though, Josh Williams did lead the running backs in carries and yards, and hauled down 21 passes. It’s possible that Love could be the hybrid back that LSU has used. Or he could turn into someone who catches more passes that he amasses carries.

The Notre Dame version of Mike Denbrock’s offense is still a pretty big mystery. Even to those putting it into action.