Notre Dame Football Bowl Capsule

Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Notre Dame got off to a slow start, but then turned around their season and started beating the teams they should beat, and occasionally teams they probably should not have beaten. The end result was a good season for the Irish and a nice potential stepping stone to bigger things to come under Coach Brian Kelly. Winning another bowl game would keep the momentum rolling into 2012.

2011 Record: 8-4
Last Bowl Appearance: 2010 Sun Bowl vs. Miami (FL) (W 33-17)

Big Wins: 9/17 Michigan State (31-13), 11/5 at Wake Forest (24-17)
Bad Losses: 9/3 South Florida (20-23), 9/10 at Michigan (31-35)

Coach: Brian Kelly (16-9 at Notre Dame, 69-31 overall)
Bowl Record: 1-0 at Notre Dame, 3-1 overall
Offensive Coordinator: Charley Molnar
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Diaco

The Irish have some great playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Manti Te’o has been a great linebacker since he signed with the school. Now a junior, the middle linebacker has again led the Irish in tackles. And Te’o is diversifying his game a little more. He can cause a lot of havoc in the backfield or drop back and play in coverage. The front three have done a great job getting consistent pressure on the quarterback but a season ending injury to end Kapron Lewis-Moore seven games into the season has not helped. Freshman Aaron Lynch has started some games and proved to be a fine pass rusher. If Lynch keeps getting better, as he did throughout the regular season, the Fighting Irish will be able to get more pressure on the quarterback. The problem is Lynch has not been very consistent so far. The secondary is led by safety Harrison Smith and corners, Gary Gray and Robert Blanton. Those three are all very experienced seniors who rarely make mistakes. Blanton has had a great year and has made some big plays off  interceptions and can come up and get into the backfield.

However, the defense does not create many turnovers and the Irish have one of the worst turnover margins in the nation. This is a team that has only picked off eight passes and recovered five fumbles all season long. The lack of big plays on defense can be overcome, but only if the offense can keep the turnovers down. They usually cannot. Quarterback Tommy Rees has been pretty accurate, but his decision making can sometimes be a problem and that is where the interceptions come into play. There are times when the offense has a lot of trouble moving the ball. With wide receivers Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick and tight end Tyler Eifert, the offense should be much more explosive than they are most of the time. Running backs Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray have had decent campaigns and Gray is emerging as a big breakaway threat, but neither has been particularly consistent.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Cierre Wood, RB, 1,042 yards
Passing: Tommy Rees, QB, 2,708 yards
Receiving: Michael Floyd, WR, 1,106 yards
Tackles: Manti Te’o, LB, 111
Sacks: Manti Te’o, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Robert Blanton, CB, 2; Gary Gray, CB, 2

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 166.00 (51st in nation, 3rd among independents)
Passing Offense: 258.08 (34, 1)
Total Offense: 424.08 (33, 1)
Scoring Offense: 30.50 (41, 1)
Rushing Defense: 147.08 (58, 2)
Pass Defense: 202.17 (36, 3)
Total Defense: 349.25 (33, 2)
Scoring Defense: 20.92 (30, 2)
Turnover Margin: -1.08 (116, 4)
Sacks: 1.67 (79, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (19, 3)


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