Irish Still Fighting to Re-Build National Power Image
Last season, following a championship game appearance the year before, Nôtre Dame finished 9-4 and beat Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Everett Golson returns at quarterback for Nôtre Dame after serving a suspension last year and replaces Tommy Rees as the starter. Golson will get strong competition from Malik Zarie, but the job should be Golson's to lose in the fall.
Cam McDaniel and Amir Carlisle will lead he running attack for Nôtre Dame, while Corey Robinson and DaVaris Daniels are returning at the wide receiver spot. The Irish lost a great tight end, Tony Niklas, to the NFL and are hoping that Ben Kayack can fill in for him at a position where Nôtre Dame always excels. The offensive line, led by Nick Martin and Christian Lombard, will be strong again, as the Irish offense should put up many points each week.
The defense returns five starters and will have to round into shape quickly against the 2014 schedule. The Irish are looking for big things from defensive end Sheldon Day, linebacker Jaylon Smith, and safety Austin Collinsworth. The kicking game is in good hands. Senior Kyle Brindza will handle the punting and kicking, as the Irish look to sparkle on special teams.
Coach Brian Kelly will have to maneuver his Irish team through five ACC schools along with traditional rivals. Kelly, in his fifth season at Nôtre Dame, gets Michigan at home early, Stanford at home, and Florida State on the road in October. A tough game at Arizona State and a home game against Louisville highlight the November schedule, along with the season-ending trip to USC.
The schedule looks daunting, but Nôtre Dame is starting to get the athletes again to compete every year for a championship. With a few early season wins, the Irish could be back on track again this season.