- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Feels like just yesterday we were in Orlando, no? Yet just a little more than a month from now, spring practice will be underway, and at Notre Dame, there is plenty to be sorted out before the 2012 season kicks off this fall.
Spring practice start date: March 21
Spring game: April 21
What to watch:
The quarterback battle. Four candidates, one spot. Two played last year, two others were ballyhooed recruits. Oh, and there's a new QB coach, too. Former safeties coach Chuck Martin will coordinate the offense and direct the signal-callers, jobs he held as Grand Valley State's head coach from 2004-09.
Reshuffled staff: Martin wasn't the only one making a change. No one from Notre Dame's offensive staff last season holds the same title in 2012, with Harry Hiestand (offensive line/running game coordinator) and Scott Booker (tight ends/special teams coordinator) providing new faces. Bob Elliott comes from Iowa State to replace Martin as safeties coach. For some current players, 2012 will mark a third different position coach within a four-year span.
How good can this front seven be? Likely first-round draft pick Manti Te'o returns for his senior year to captain the defense, but that job may be much easier with the talent in front of him. Sophomore ends Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt exploded onto the scene in their freshman seasons, and junior noseguard Louis Nix proved to be a force in the middle. The pass rush could be devastating, making life much easier for a secondary that will likely feature three new starters.