Notre Dame is expected to hire LSU's Mike Denbrock as its new offensive coordinator, according to 247Sports. Denbrock, who has been the Tigers' offensive coordinator and tight ends coach the last two seasons, replaces former Irish play caller Gerad Parker, who was hired earlier in December as Troy's head coach. 

LSU confirmed Denbrock's departure via statement and announced that quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan and wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton will serve as co-offensive coordinators for the Tigers' ReliaQuest Bowl shodown against Wisconsin. 

Denbrock previously coached with the Irish first from 2002-04 and again from 2010-16, serving under former Notre Dame and current LSU coach Brian Kelly during his second stint.    

Pulling Denbrock from the Tigers is quite the coup for Notre Dame and coach Marcus Freeman. The 59-year old Denbrock is fresh off engineering college football's top offense, as LSU finished the regular season leading the nation in both total offense with 547.8 yards per game and scoring with 46.4 points per game. 

LSU star Jayden Daniels became the second Tigers quarterback since 2019 to win the Heisman Trophy, wide receiver Malik Nabers was named a Biletnikoff Award finalist and LSU's offensive line made the list of finalists for the Joe Moore Award. 

Now, as Notre Dame's third offensive coordinator in three years, Denbrock will be tasked with reviving a unit that hasn't had much success in Freeman's tenure. The Irish failed to score more than 23 points in four games against power conference teams this season and highly touted transfer quarterback Sam Hartman, who joined the roster from Wake Forest, passed for under 3,000 yards total for the first time in a full season since 2019.  

Excellent quarterback development 

Notre Dame sorely needs an offensive coordinator that can get the most out of a quarterback. Hartman was supposed to be the first standout Irish signal caller since at least Ian Book, but he failed to meet expectations. That's been a consistent theme around Notre Dame, dating back to well before Freeman took the job in 2022. 

LSU's Daniels is an excellent case study in Denbrock's ability to develop quarterbacks. Denbrock followed Kelly to Louisiana from Cincinnati in 2022, and the Tigers landed Daniels from Arizona State via the transfer portal. With the Sun Devils, he never had more than 3,000 yards passing in a single season, and he was fresh off a 2021 campaign in which he threw 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 

Daniels had a solid, if unspectacular first season with LSU, finishing the year just short of his career high in yards passing with 2,913 and matching his career high in touchdowns with 17. He came on strong near the end of the year, though and improved with each passing week. 

Daniels parlayed that progress under Denbrock into an elite 2023 season capped by college football's most illustrious individual award. He led the nation in total offense, passing for 3,812 yards and rushing for 1,134 while tallying 50 total touchdowns and becoming just one of two quarterbacks to throw for 40 touchdowns. His 11.7 yards per pass attempt also led all quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts on the year. 

Rebuild underway at Notre Dame 

Getting Notre Dame's offense -- which will look almost completely different in 2024 from both a personnel and schematic perspective -- up to speed could be quite the challenge for Denbrock. The Irish are losing Hartman, but they did well to replace him with Duke transfer quarterback Riley Leonard. Leonard was once thought of as a prospective first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he elected to return to college and test new waters after an injury plagued 2023 campaign. 

Having a veteran like Leonard is great, especially since he can make plays with his legs -- a skill that Denbrock clearly covets. But it's the pieces around him, or lack thereof, that create some concern. The Irish are going to have to replace leading running back Audric Estime, who had 18 touchdowns in 2023. Notre Dame also lost four wide receivers to the transfer portal, including three of its top four options in Chris Tyree, Rico Flores Jr. and Tobias Merriweather. Tight end Holden Staes, who finished second on the team with four receiving touchdowns, also took his talent elsewhere. 

On top of that, starting offensive tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher are both off to the NFL. Suffice to say, there are plenty of question marks. Notre Dame has already been hard at work rebuilding its receiver room, nabbing transfer portal commitments from a pair of three stars in Beaux Collins (Clemson) and Kris Mitchell (Florida International). The Irish already have some solid in-house options along the offensive line, as they always do, and true freshman running back Jeremiyah Love got plenty of opportunity as a No. 2 option behind Estime. 

The pieces are there to step up, but Denbrock is going to have to put work in for the young talent and transfer additions to come along before the season begins.