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Notre Dame Football

Quick Thoughts on Joe Rudolph

February 27, 2023

Notre Dame didn’t take long to move on from Matt Luke. The struck quickly to steal offensive line coach Joe Rudolph away from Virginia Tech as first reported by Tom Loy of 247Sports and confirmed by multiple sources to ISD. The longtime O-line coach at Wisconsin had been in Blacksburg for a year after seven strong seasons coaching one of the top offensive lines in the Big Ten.

In terms of track record, I’m not sure there was a better option available for Marcus Freeman to hire. Rudolph is a former offensive lineman at Wisconsin and coached tight ends for many years at a few different stops before settling in back at his alma mater coaching the offensive line from 2015-2021. He was one of the players who helped build that great offensive line tradition with the program and he continued that as a coach.

From ‘16 to ‘21, they stayed true to being a run-heavy offense (over 60% run in five of six seasons) and his unit finished 10th, 6th, 1st, 10th, 22nd, and 3rd in PFF’s run blocking grades. (They dropped to 28th with him moving last season)

Freeman is clearly looking for physicality up front and he found a guy who has produced that. He’s also had five offensive linemen drafted since 2017 (the same number as Notre Dame) and he’s about to have another former Wisconsin O-lineman drafted in the first three rounds this season in Joe Tippman. He has developed a lot of good football players.

Rudolph also took Wisconsin’s recruiting at the position up a level landing seven blue-chip prospects (six ranked in the top-150) in his final three recruiting classes there.

There’s not much to dislike about this hire. The only questions about him would be what happened at Virginia Tech (just a bad situation or something more?) and his first unit at Wisconsin wasn’t as good as the rest of his tenure (they did have to replace three starters and their top-two running backs from the previous season), but when someone puts together multiple years where his group is consistently very good, that outweighs any misgivings.

Throw in the fact that he is inheriting a really talented group with two stud offensive tackles and I doubt he’ll have many problems acclimating to the players at Notre Dame.

I hate the term home run hire because it’s always declaring a win before someone even starts the job. There are so many factors that come into play after that can impact how things go for a coach.

But when someone comes in who has had success recruiting, put players into the NFL, and had units that were some of the better ones in college football, it can’t be considered anything other than a great hire for Freeman and Notre Dame.

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