Expecting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to repeat their awe-inspiring 2012 campaign during the upcoming season is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Ever since their horrid performance against Alabama during the 2013 BCS National Championship game, things just haven’t worked out in the Fighting Irish’s favor.
With an abundance of question marks lording over the team, let’s take a look at the biggest areas of concern heading into the new campaign.
What was once thought of as an area of hope and prosperity for the Fighting Irish quickly turned into a headache-inducing situation for head coach Brian Kelly.
Soon after quarterback Gunner Kiel transferred to Cincinnati, Notre Dame’s prolific starting quarterback, Everett Golson, was dismissed from the university.
Whether one wants to admit it or not, the aforementioned situations will continue to hurt the team mightily for quite some time.
Sure, Golson only racked up 2,405 yards through the air and his completion percentage of 58.8% was nothing to be in awe of. However, he was a competent, game-managing quarterback, meaning he kept the offense in a position to help the team win.
If you don’t think so, recall his performance during the team’s triple-overtime victory over Pittsburgh:
By way of USA Today’s Daniel Uthman, Kelly expects senior quarterback Tommy Rees to “take the job” as starting quarterback and lead the team next season.
Well, Rees is capable of doing so, seeing as he started 12 games at quarterback for the Irish during the 2011 season.
Nonetheless, once the season gets underway, we’ll see if he is, indeed, a leader of men.
The Irish have plenty of receivers who can produce. However, who will step up and make the big plays late in games when needed?
Recently, CSNChicago.com’s JJ Stankevitz pointed out that the last time Rees was handed the keys to the offense, he had prime-time weapons in Michael Floyd and Tyler Eifert to throw to.
Sorry Rees, they are not here anymore.
Per Stankevitz, Kelly made the claim that wide receiver T.J. Jones is “one of the best route-runners in the country.”
Yes, one should expect Jones to amass more than the 50 balls he snatched out of the air last season. However, can he prove to be “Mr. Reliable” for the Irish?
His performance will definitely be key if the Irish are to achieve big things during the 2013 season.
Who will emerge as the unquestioned leader of the Notre Dame Defense?
Before we delve any further into this subject, let it be clear that the Irish are deep at the linebacker positions. Guys like Jarrett Grace and Carlo Calabrese will valiantly lead the Irish into battle.
Nevertheless, the inevitable post-Manti Te’o effect will more than likely show at times during the season.
When a team is charging up the field and the Irish desperately need a stop, who on the defense will answer the call?
Sure, there are plenty of experienced guys on the defense who are capable of doing such. However, who will be the one to step up when needed most?
Let’s be honest, when a game is on the line, one might expect a certain player to come up big and make a game-winning stop. Yet, it might not happen.
Certainly, it will be interesting to see how the linebackers respond to various situations throughout the season.