The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have gone 37-15 in Brian Kelly’s first 4 years here and did make it to the National Title game in 2012, but Irish fans are hungry for more, especially since their team hasn’t won a National Title since 1988. The Irish lost some key pieces from last year’s 9 -4 squad, but this still is a very talented team that could put up double digits in wins this year. Preview & schedule are below.
The Irish have really been an average offense since Brian Kelly has taken over, but this year it may be a bit different. Everett Golson is back at the QB slot after missing last year due to academic reasons. Golson led the Irish to the National Title games in 2012, so it is no wonder that Irish fans are happy he is back, especially since he looked even better than he was in 2012, in the spring. The WR corps loses TJ Jones, but 2nd leading receiver DaVaris Daniels is back, after grabbing 49 balls for 745 yards and 7 TDs last year. He will be joined by Chris Brown and a few highly touted receivers as well. The running game has a nice stable of backs that will be led by cam Mcdaniel, who ran for 705 yards and 3 TDs last year. McDaniel will be joined by Tarean Folston, who had 470 yards and 3 TDs last year and rFr Greg Bryan, who was the #6 back when he came out of HS in 2013. The OL is very solid and deep and is rated 16th best in the nation. Defense is when the Irish have to do some work this year as they have just 5 starters back on this side of the ball. The good news is that 25 defensive lettermen do return and they have a nice crop of freshmen coming in. The secondary is the strength of this team and is rated 13th best in the nation, with 3 starters back, led by KaVarae Russell, who had 8 PBUs and 1 INT last year. The Front 7 has been gutted, with just 2 starters back, but the talent that is waiting to take over all is very solid. The LB corps is rated 18th in the nation and the DL is rated 42nd by Phil Steele. New DC Brian Vangorder, look to use more of a pressure defense in order to create more turnovers and that should work with all the athletic defenders that the Irish have.
Notre Dame is rated 120th in the nation as far as experience goes, but still they have a ton of young talent that is ready to take this team to another level. Problem is I don’t see it this year. Notre Dame will have a more explosive offense than last year, especially will Golson back, while the defense should also improve as well, especially in the 2nd half of the year when they all gel together. The schedule is rated the toughest in the nation, but still they don’t play a true road game until October 18 vs Florida State and they get Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, northwestern and Louisville at home. Road games vs Arizona State and USC down the stretch will be tough. I still feel they are built for a title run next year, but don’t be surprised if they find a way to sneak into the playoffs this year, especially if that defense steps up. I’ll call for a 9-3 season though and a nice bowl bid, even vs this tough schedule. KEY TREND: 1-10-2 as home faves with revenge if off a DD SU win.
2014 Notre Dame Football Schedule
Sat, Aug 30th, 2014 Rice
Sat, Sep 6th, 2014 Michigan
Sat, Sep 13th, 2014 Purdue
Sat, Sep 27th, 2014 at Syracuse
Sat, Oct 4th, 2014 Stanford
Sat, Oct 11th, 2014 North Carolina
Sat, Oct 18th, 2014 at Florida State
Sat, Nov 1st, 2014 Navy
Sat, Nov 8th, 2014 at Arizona State
Sat, Nov 15th, 2014 Northwestern
Sat, Nov 22nd, 2014 Louisville
Sat, Nov 29th, 2014 at USC
Info gathered From Phil Steele's CFB Preview and Athlon Sports
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