#9 Notre Dame Football 2020 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Overall Rank: #9
#1 FBS Independent
Notre Dame Logo
Notre Dame followed up on their run to the College Football Playoff in 2018 with another 11-win season in 2019 to further solidify the resurgence of the Fighting Irish program. Head Coach Brian Kelly bounced back from a 4-8 season in 2016 by leading Notre Dame to a 33-6 record over the last three seasons. This turnaround of the program by Kelly is a great example of what is possible when an administration chooses not to panic after one bad season and make a coaching change.
2019 Record: 11-2
2019 Bowl: Camping World Bowl vs. Iowa State (33-9 W)
Coach: Brian Kelly (92-37 at Notre Dame, 145-59 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tommy Rees
Defensive Coordinator: Clark Lea
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ian Book, QB, 546 yards
Passing:  Ian Book, QB, 3,034yards
Receiving: Tommy Tremble TE, 183 yards
Tackles: Drew White, LB, 80
Sacks: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramorah, LB, 5.5
Interceptions: Kyle Hamilton, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Braden Lenzy, OL Liam Eichenberg, OL Aaron Banks, OL Jarrett Patterson, OL Tommy Kraemer, OL Robert Hainsey, P Jay Bramblett, K Jonathan Doerer, CB TaRiq Bracy, S DJ Brown, DL Daelin Hayes, DL Ade Ogundeji, DL Kurt Hinish, DL Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, WR Lawrence Keys III
Key Losses: TE Cole Kmet, WR Chase Claypool, DL Julian Okwara, CB Troy Pride Jr., DE Khalid Kareem, S Alohl Gilman, RB Tony Jones Jr., WR Chris Finke, DE Jamir Jones, LB Asmar Bilal, CB Donte Vaughn, S Jalen Elliott
Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will be under pressure right away as he takes over for Chip Long in 2020 as the playcaller. Rees has a good working relationship with quarterback Ian Book, who will be back for his senior season. The Fighting Irish averaged 36.8 points per game last season but was not able to score more than 17 points in their two losses at Georgia and Michigan last season. Having an experienced quarterback like Book will help Rees hit the ground running and allow him to tailor the scheme to his strengths. Three starters return across the offensive line that limited opposing teams to just 1.23 sacks per game, which was good enough for 12th in the nation in that category. Running back will be an interesting position battle as you will have guys like Jafar Armstrong and Jahmir Smith, amongst others, returning along with incoming freshman Chris Tyree battling it out for carries all year long. Tommy Tremble and Lawrence Keys III combined for 29 receptions and four touchdowns as they are the two top returning pass catchers that will lead a group of tight ends and wide receivers that will need to offset the lost production from Chase Claypool.
The defensive front should be strong again as Adetokunbo Ogundeji had 4.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss in 2019. Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa will control the point of attack to free up the rest of the defense to go to work and make plays. Drew White is the leading returning tackler from 2019 and he will lead the linebacker group this season. White had 80 tackles, two sacks, and eight tackles for loss last season. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramorah is coming off a 5.5 sack season in 2019 and his ability to generate additional pressure coming off the edge will a big key to success for Notre Dame in 2020. Kyle Hamilton is one of the top returning safeties in the nation and will be looking to build upon a 2019 season where he had four interceptions and six pass breakups.
The Bottom Line:
A season opening trip to Dublin, Ireland to take on Navy is still on the schedule as of now for August 29 in what will be a tough battle no matter what happens with the Ireland trip. Arkansas opens up the home schedule on September 12 followed by a visit from Western Michigan on September 19. Wisconsin is on the schedule as well on October 3 in what will be a neutral site affair up at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The signature ACC game on the schedule in 2020 will take place on November 7 as the Clemson Tigers will visit Notre Dame Stadium in what should be an electric atmosphere under the lights on NBC. Overall, look for the Fighting Irish to once again win at least ten games and find their way back to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Peach Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 179.2 (45th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 252.2 (49, 3)
Total Offense: 431.4 (43, 3)
Scoring Offense: 36.8 (13, 1)
Rushing Defense: 153.1 (60, 1)
Pass Defense: 168.5 (3 1)
Total Defense: 321.6 (18, 1)
Scoring Defense: 17.9 (12, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.31 (4, 1)
Sacks: 2.62 (32, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (12, 2)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#36 Liam Eichenberg