Notre Dame Football: Quarterbacks, Brutal Schedule Will Make It a Long Season

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIAugust 10, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly run on to the field for their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Notre Dame's football team has a lot of questions to answer this season, with the quarterback job still up for grabs and a brutal schedule awaiting the Fighting Irish. It's shaping up to be a long season in South Bend.

As things currently stand, the quarterback spot is still shaping up to be a battle between Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and true freshman Gunner Kiel. I don't believe that Kiel will actually be in the mix. After covering him as a high schooler, he still has a long way to go before he's ready to take over for a major college program.

Rees has the most experience but hasn't been terribly consistent during the past two seasons. He completed 65.5 percent of his passes in 2011 for 2,871 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Rees has been suspended for the opening game of the 2012 season, but he could be the guy when he comes back.

Meanwhile, Hendrix has the combination of arm strength and running ability to run head coach Brian Kelly's system, and while Golson didn't didn't play last season, he has impressive dual-threat abilities. In fact, ESPN's Matt Fortuna believes Golson has pulled ahead in the quarterback race.

What will make this season even more complicated for whoever is under center is the team's brutal schedule. The Irish will face Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC. That's a ridiculous slate of teams.

After opening with Navy and Purdue, the Irish travel to East Lansing to take on No.13 Michigan State. Then they welcome No. 8 Michigan, Miami and No. 18 Stanford to South Bend in a four-week stretch before hosting BYU on October 20. That will be followed by a trip to Norman to take on No. 4 Oklahoma.

Starting with the trip North to face the Spartans, that might be the toughest six-game stretch any team faces this season. And that's not even counting Notre Dame's end of the season trip to Los Angeles where they could face a USC team on the verge of a berth in the BCS Championship game.

While eight wins isn't usually considered a success in South Bend, that would likely be a big-time success for the Irish this year. There are just so many questions that need to be answered, and that schedule won't leave time for this team to struggle at all.