#5 Notre Dame Football 2013 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Overall Rank: #5
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It may be a while before Notre Dame has another season like they did in 2012. The Fighting Irish knocked off the likes of Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC en route to an undefeated season. The result was a trip to the BCS National Championship game, but the Irish finally ran into an opponent with a defense that could match theirs. Alabama crushed Notre Dame 42-14. This year’s schedule includes the same five regular season opponents and the Irish are going to falter at some point along the way, but the defense will keep this group in every game.

2012 Record: 12-1
2012 Bowl: BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama (L 14-42)
Coach: Brian Kelly (28-11 at Notre Dame, 199-68-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chuck Martin
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Diaco

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: George Atkinson, RB, 361 yards
Passing: Tommy Rees, QB, 436 yards
Receiving: TJ Jones, WR, 649 yards
Tackles: Bennett Jackson, CB, 65
Sacks: Stephen Tuitt, DE, 12.0
Interceptions: Bennett Jackson, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR DaVaris Daniels, LB Dan Fox, CB KeiVarae Russell, LB Prince Shembo, DL Louis Nix, S Matthias Farley

Key Losses: QB Everett Golson, RB Theo Riddick, RB Cierre Wood, TE Tyler Efiert, LB Manti Te’o, S Zeke Motta, DL Kapron Lewis-Moore

Notre Dame allowed just 12.77 points per game in 2012, ranking second in the country. That is an amazing number considering the competition they played. Pittsburgh was the only team to surpass 17 points prior to the national title game and it took them three overtimes. The line has two superstars in end Stephone Tuitt and nose guard Louis Nix. Tuitt led the Irish with 12.0 sacks and Sheldon Day will be a fine replacement for departed end Kapron Lewis-Moore. Replacing Manti Te’o at linebacker is obviously going to be a concern. He was the heart and soul of a great defense and totaled 113 tackles and seven interceptions. The good news is that the other three starters are back. Jarrett Grace is the likely candidate to fill Te’o’s old spot beside Dan Fox in the middle. Outside linebacker Prince Shembo is the pass rushing linebacker and Danny Spond will man the other outside spot. Cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and DeiVarae Russell are coming off of great seasons. Russell is just a sophomore and has his best days ahead of him and Jackson picked off four passes in his first year as a starter. Safety Matthias Farley is back to step into more of a leadership role in the secondary, while sophomore Elijah Shumate is a great talent who should be ready to fill in for the departed Zeke Motta.  

With the suspension of quarterback Everett Golson, the Notre Dame offense will go as far as Tommy Rees can take them. The senior signal caller started two games in 2012, throwing just 59 passes. Two years ago Rees was the regular starter and threw for 2,871 yards and 20 touchdowns. His interceptions were high at 14, but he is a senior now and should be more accurate. And this offense needs Rees to be consistent while they replace some key skill players. Running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood are gone after combining to rush for 1,659 yards and nine scores. Quick George Atkinson has experience and punched the ball into the end zone five times in 2012. He is a capable back and should be able to get some help from Amir Carlisle and freshman Greg Bryant. TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels are quality targets for Rees, but the absence of tight end Tyler Eifert means Rees needs to find a new safety outlet.

The Bottom Line:
The offensive line is experienced and the ground game should be strong. The Irish are going to have to move the ball on the ground with consistency if this team is going to have any hope of squeezing out another undefeated season. Rees will not have to heave the ball around for Notre Dame to win, but that only works if the running backs can move the chains. Otherwise, Rees will feel a lot more pressure and will be asked to do more than just avoid turnovers. In the end, this version of the Irish is just about as talented as they were last year. Everything may not go right again in 2013, but Notre Dame is not going to fall off of the national radar.

Projected Bowl: Orange Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 189.38 (38th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 222.77 (71, 2)
Total Offense: 412.15 (54, 2)
Scoring Offense: 25.77 (78, 2)
Rushing Defense: 105.69 (11, 2)
Pass Defense: 199.77 (25, 3)
Total Defense: 305.46 (7, 2)
Scoring Defense: 12.77 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.62 (27, 1)
Sacks: 2.624 (22, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.38 (28, 2)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#2 Louis Nix
#5 Stephon Tuitt
#69 Zach Martin
#70 Bennett Jackson

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#4 Eddie Vanderdoes
#5 Jaylon Smith
#16 Max Redfield
#43 Greg Bryant
#49 Hunter Bivin
#94 Cole Luke
#104 Steven Elmer
#122 John Montelus
#124 Mike McGlinchey
#138 Isaac Rochell
#172 Tarean Folston
#177 Colin McGovern
#249 Malik Zaire


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