Notre Dame Football: Players Who Must Step Up After Loss of Everett Golson

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Notre Dame Football: Players Who Must Step Up After Loss of Everett Golson

After the loss of Everett Golson this season, Notre Dame is faced with picking up the pieces on offense following a run to the national championship game in 2012-13.

One former starting quarterback with a history of being careless with the ball is now back under center. Meanwhile, a couple of receivers are going to have to step up, especially with star tight end Tyler Eifert now with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here's a look at the players who must step up on offense in 2013-14 for Notre Dame to be successful.

Tommy Rees

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All eyes are focused on new starting quarterback Tommy Rees, who was overtaken by Golson last season only to become starter again.

In 2011-12, Rees was a turnover machine, tossing 14 interceptions and losing five fumbles. That can't happen again if the Fighting Irish expect to be successful again this season.

Rees is a slow quarterback, which means he doesn't ideally fit in coach Brian Kelly's spread offense like Golson did last season. He also doesn't offer an additional threat running the ball, which makes his decision-making in the pocket all the more important.

It should be said that Rees tossed 20 touchdowns in 2011-12, if you want to look at the glass half full. If he can cut out his mistakes, he has the experience to help the Fighting Irish succeed.

DaVaris Daniels

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This is DaVaris Daniels' time to shine. At least, he better shine for the Fighting Irish.

Daniels was handed the starting job over the experienced John Goodman last summer, but he was incredibly inconsistent, posting four games in which he caught two balls. 

That being said, after sustaining a broken collarbone against Boston College in November, he came back to rack up six catches for 115 yards against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game. He was one of the few bright spots for Notre Dame in the 42-14 defeat.

Daniels was ranked 13th among all receivers in the 2011 recruiting class by Obviously, the junior has talent. But he needs to show that talent each and every game, or it won't matter.

T.J. Jones 

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It's not like T.J. Jones hasn't produced for the Fighting Irish. He was the second-leading receiver on the squad last season behind Tyler Eifert. His catch and yardage numbers have also gone up each and every season.

That being said, he's never had a true breakout year. Last season, he had 50 catches for 649 yards and four touchdowns—that's decent, but it's not exactly exploding out on the field.

Jones' chemistry with Rees is going to be key. He averaged 13.3 yards per catch as a freshman, but he only averaged 9.6 yards per reception when Rees took over as starter in 2011. Jones averaged 13.0 yards per catch with Golson as the starter last season.

Rees got the most reps against Michigan and BYU last season—Jones averaged 37.5 yards in those two games. That's more reason to be skeptical about the connection between the two or lack thereof.

Last but not least, it's going to be interesting to see if Notre Dame uses Jones on some sweeps this season as a runner. He showed last season in screens and short routes that he can do damage in space. Perhaps Kelly and Co. open up the playbook with Jones this season.

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