We all know that Notre Dame is not the most popular team in college football. I don't want to get into the details why.
Over the past few years, we have been by and large a poor team, for several reasons.
However, this year there is a feeling of hope amongst Notre Dame fans, old and young alike.
Here I would just like to offer five reasons why I believe Notre Dame will be a good football team in 2009.
Now if you have read my previous Notre Dame article, you will know that I believe that Clausen is ready for his breakout season.
Over the past year, we have seen the development of a strong QB. His decision making has improved, and although there is still some way to go, it's a lot better than it was his freshman season.
He has learned to throw the ball away if the pass is not there. He has finally learned to check down and, if there is nothing upfield, to dump it off to his running backs in the flat.
He has improved in moving out of the pocket when the pressure is coming and taking off to gain valuable yards if the pocket breaks down.
The emergence of Jimmy Clausen is reason No. 1.
I cannot speak highly enough of Michael Floyd and Golden Tate.
These two represent one of the biggest threats in college football.
Floyd came into Notre Dame last season and performed to a extent not expected by many people. He showed that he could run just about every route there is and that he could come down with the ball in traffic.
He showed speed and strength to the tune of seven touchdowns and over 700 yards receiving in his freshman year.
Tate is most definitely the star of the receivers. Possessing 4.4 speed, he is one of the biggest deep threats in college football.
With 10 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards receiving in 2008, he has been and will be Jimmy Clausen's go-to guy. With the ability to get behind the defense, he will be very valuable.
However, there are several other receivers who could make a contribution. Junior Duval Kamara, freshman Shaq Evans, and improving Rob Parris will all contribute in some way.
Then you have the TEs to think about. At 6'6", 258, Kyle Rudolph is a matchup nightmare for defenses to have to worry about.
Reason No. 2 is the receiving corps.
Blitz, blitz, and how about some more blitz?
Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is ready to bring the pressure, and guess what? He finally has the pieces to be able to do just that.
Tenuta brought years of experience when he was signed prior to the 2008 season, having coached at six different schools: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ohio State, SMU, Kansas State, and Marshall.
Between 2004-2007, Tenuta's defense consistently ranked within the top 30 in college football.
Jon Tenuta is reason No. 3
There are so many things to like about the defense this year that it would be impossible to list them all here.
However, in a very brief summary, the defensive line will attack more due to the progression of Ian Williams, coupled with the expected development of players like Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore.
Notre Dame received a big lift when Manti Te'o announced that he was going to be joining the Irish.
Add that recruit to Zeke Motta. Then add that to the linebackers that are already here, Brian Smith and Toryan Smith, and this team just got more athletic on defense.
The secondary, although having to cope with the loss of safety David Bruton, will be a strength of this team.
It will also enable Tenuta to send more people on the blitz. Kyle McCarthy, Harrison Smith, Darrin Walls, and Robert Blanton will prowl the field looking for interceptions and big hits.
The defense is reason No. 4.
Okay, maybe this shouldn't be used as a reason to silence the critics, as the critics will use this as a counterargument. But it can be used as a argument as to why we might be going to the BCS.
Our first four games, although not easy, are more than manageable: Nevada, Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue. All the games are winnable.
Then we face Washington and USC. Although obviously not easy, we could finish that portion with a 5-1 record. It's very possible.
The back end of the schedule is not stacked with difficult games.
Boston College, after losing some serious talent on defense, will take a step back. Navy, Connecticut, and Stanford are all winnable games, with the toughest game away being at Pitt.
The schedule is reason No. 5.