Notre Dame Football Predictions

Written by Vegas Top Cappers | July 31, 2013

Notre Dame Football Predictions

Following last season’s unexpected 12-1 record, optimism and anticipation for the 2013 season was over-the-top for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Despite some key personnel losses, head coach Brian Kelly had appeared to more than solidify his imprint on the program, recruiting had returned to top-tier, and with the mercurial Everett Golson returning at QB, all indicators pointed to another potential Top Ten squad. But in late May, Golson was summarily kicked off the team and withdrew from school due to “poor academic judgment.” Needless to say, the incident has caused much consternation among the immense Irish fan base and changes the outlook for this fall, although not drastically.

Golson’s numbers (2,405 yards passing, 12 TDs, 298 yards rushing, 6 TDs) weren’t dazzling, but his maturity and leadership was a primary factor in Notre Dame’s success. Former starter Tommy Rees would appear to have the inside track to be the starter, but Kelly has options, although Rees’ experience should give him an edge.

George Atkinson III has the early advantage as starting RB, with Amir Carlisle and highly-touted freshman Greg Bryant also in the mix. At receiver, Rees (or whomever) will have plenty of experienced targets, led by T.J. Jones and Davaris Daniels. TE Tyler Eifert will be difficult to replace, but in keeping with Kelly’s patented “next man in,” converted LB Troy Niklas will need to step up his presence.

Three starters return along the O-line, adept at both pass-and-run blocking, making the unit the probable strength of the offense.

With defensive and inspirational leader Manti Te’o off to the NFL, the defense has a glaring hole to try and fill. There’s still oodles of talent in South Bend, and look for both DE Stephen Tuitt and nose tackle Louis Nix III to challenge for All-American honors. Sheldon Day is another highly-sought after player who showed a lot of potential in his sophomore season.

The task of replacing Te’o will probably fall to junior Jarrett Grace, an instinctive and punishing hitter. Surrounding him are plenty of experienced athletes, including Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox, Prince Shembo and Danny Spond. These returnees, despite the absence of Te’o, make the LB corps one of the deepest and talented in the country. The secondary is also loaded, with CBs Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell potential future stars. Already drawing raves from the coaching staff at free safety is Matthias Farley, while Elijah Shumate, a talented sophomore, expects to take over the graduated Zeke Motta’s role at strong safety.

Losing your starting QB so late in the spring would bring about panic at most schools, but Notre Dame is anything but “most schools.” Rees has had a few shining moments as signal-caller, but his propensity for costly turnovers will have to be addressed in fall practice for the Irish to reach double digits in wins. The remainder of the team is in good shape, and as long as injuries or any further unexpected snafus crop up, look for the Irish to win a minimum of ten games and earn a top-tier bowl invitation in Kelly’s fourth season.

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