The Notre Dame Fighting Irish open the season September 1 in Ireland against a disciplined Navy team. Navy doesn't possess the type of athletes most other teams on Notre Dame's schedule do, so it could be a great opportunity for the Fighting Irish's offense to get comfortable.
Notre Dame's offense has been in a funk ever since Brady Quinn was lost to the NFL. Head coach Brian Kelly has failed to develop a quarterback, and the hope is this year that will end.
Here are three new Irish starters worth watching in the opener.
The highly recruited phenom who threw 151 high school touchdown passes won the starting quarterback job for the opener. The sophomore has more upside than any other Notre Dame quarterback, and Brian Kelly is willing to take the risk with the unproven player.
Kelly knows Golson will make mistakes. It will be a matter of how he responds to those mistakes. Kelly spoke about this to Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com:
"He will make mistakes," Kelly said of Golson. "Let's make it clear: He will make mistakes. I think if we really look carefully at the mistakes that we made, they were turnovers in the red zone. They were turnovers in the end zone. They were heightened within the game. He's going to make some mistakes, and we know that and we're going to have to obviously try to overcome those. But it's those poor decisions that we have to eradicate."
Those poor decisions were the theme to another disappointing Notre Dame season last year. Golson can build his confidence going forward with a big game against Navy.
The fifth-year senior has very little production to speak of at Notre Dame. However, John Goodman now finds himself entrenched as one of the top three wide receivers, according to the official Notre Dame depth chart.
Kelly called Goodman Notre Dame's "go-to guy" in the spring, as Matt Fortuna pointed out in his Notre Dame blog with ESPN.com. Goodman possesses good size at 6'3" and 215 pounds. With Michael Floyd gone and tight end Tyler Eifert demanding attention in the middle of the field, Goodman could find himself as a focal point in this offense.
Any time a freshman cornerback wins a starting job, it's a pretty big deal. Cornerback is the toughest position to make an impact at right away, yet KeiVarae Russell has already found a way to impress the coaching staff enough to lock down a starting job. The 5'11", 182-pound cornerback doesn't have great size, but his competitiveness and toughness is unmatched.
Russell is being converted from running back, so he'll likely have some growing pains at the position. Navy isn't going to air it out against anyone this year, so this game could serve as an easy first test for the freshman.