A lot of people say that the key for Notre Dame to win games this year will be the offensive line, or Jimmy Clausen, or the Irish running game.
Some of this is true but I believe the success for Notre Dame in the 2009 season will be the Irish depth.
This will be Notre Dame's first year in a long time to where the Irish will have a lot of players with experience along with experience depth behind those experienced starting players.
Even in the Brady Quinn era Notre Dame lack depth.
Yeah you knew who the running back was for the '05 and '06 season for Notre Dame (D. Walker).
You knew that Brady Quinn was going to be the QB for the '05 and '06 season with the 2nd string QB or RB maybe wasn't the most talented 2nd string guy. Of course, Notre Dame had 2nd string guys but the talent from the 1st string to 2nd string was separated by a long shot.
I could probably go on at every position on the Irish offense/defense since 2005 season or even before that with ND having little to no depth at all at every position but it'll take too much time.
Unlike the 05-08 year, I see the Irish off season this year as being very, very competitive at "every position".
Is that a good thing?
Let go back to the 06 season when Brady Quinn was QB. Do you think he had much competition against him for the spot in the off season?
I would say no but I'm sure if Dayne Crist was behind Quinn (like he is behind Clausen) that would make Quinn want to try harder and make him that much better.
I also believe that D. Crist (who would probably start on any D1-A team) will be part of the reason on why Clausen will have a big breakout year in 09.
I would be willing to bet that if running back A. Allen or R. Hughes struggle in the off season or during the season, either Jonas Gray or Cerrie Wood is going to take over.
Most of the 2009 Irish 2nd and 3rd string players could start at most D1-A team.
My point is that I believe this year is where every position is up for grabs for anyone.
There's no guaranteed spot going into the off season for anyone to "think" that their position is theirs and that the Irish starters think that they can just show up knowing that no one will take their position away from them.
Every 1st string guy on this Notre Dame team isn't that far ahead from the 2nd string guy.
With experience, talent, and depth that the Irish will have this year, it will make every Irish player compete and will make every player want to push themselves to the limit.
Now that the Irish are loaded with talented depth, I can see Coach Weis rotating his players more often without struggling with the talent on the field.
That will also help out from the players getting worn out easily.
Notre Dame blew 3 games last year.
In those 3 loses (Syracuse, North Carolina, and Pitt), Notre Dame was up by double digit scores at halftime and then blew their lead by the 4th quarter.
You could make an argument that the Irish lack maturity and leadership was the reason why Notre Dame struggled finishing games last year.
But you also could argue that the Irish did looked worn out by the 2nd half in just about every game but Hawaii due to not having depth behind the Irish starters.
Even in games that the Irish won, such as the Stanford or Navy game, Notre Dame was struggling to finish the game with their both starters and depth due to being a young, inexperienced team.
Notre Dame now has the experience, talent, and depth at every position with the 2nd and 3rd string guys right on the starters tail.
I see Notre Dame finishing games off much better this year than last year.