With a 12-1 record, the Fighting Irish had a magical run last season until they were blown out by Alabama in the BCS National Championship game, 42-14. Even though Notre Dame failed to win its first BCS bowl game in school history, the program is back where it needs to be.
But will head coach Brian Kelly be able to work the same magic again this year?
Starting quarterback Everett Golson is gone for at least a season after being suspended for academic reasons, and it’s almost a blessing that All-American linebacker Manti Te’o is in the NFL now, after the whole fake girlfriend scandal. There is still a lot of talent on the defense, but the offense could be questionable.
Will a second consecutive BCS bowl game be reachable? Let's take a look at the offense, defense/special teams and schedule.
With Golson out, the Irish will go back to quarterback Tommy Rees, who closed games out last season against Purdue, Michigan and Stanford. He also started one game against BYU when Golson was out with a concussion. It’s not a matter of talent for Rees; it’s more about him staying focused and taking care of the football.
The running game will hurt without Theo Riddick, who rushed for 917 yards and five touchdowns last season, as well as Cierre Wood. The backfield will now rely on junior George Atkinson III, sophomore USC transfer Amir Carlisle and freshman Greg Bryant.
The receiving corps will be without one of its best weapons from last season in tight end Tyler Eifert. The Irish do return many of their targets, though. Four-year starter T.J. Jones, who had 649 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season, will lead a receiving corps that consists of junior DaVaris Daniels and junior tight end Troy Niklas.
If the Irish want to get better offensively, the passing game has to be better than it was last season, especially with the loss of Eifert and two strong backs in the running game.
The offensive line will be the best part of the Notre Dame offense this season with left tackle Zack Martin returning for his final year. The line also includes left guard Chris Watt and right tackle Christian Lombard, but they will need replacements at center and right guard.
Defense and Special Teams
The Notre Dame defense was one of the best in the country last season. The Irish gave up just 12.8 points per game and held opponents to 305.5 yards per game. With eight returning players back from last season, the defense should be just as talented, if not better.
There are questions on the offensive side going into the season, meaning the defense may have a lot of the weight put on its shoulders again this season.
The defensive line will be the greatest aspect of the Irish defense. Senior nose guard Louis Nix III and junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt are two of the best players in the nation at their positions. Nix had 50 tackles last season, while Tuitt recorded 12 sacks.
The linebacking corps will be without Te’o, but look for junior Jarrett Grace to make a big impact with his speed and run-stopping ability. Grace will be surrounded by returning starters Dan Fox, Prince Shembo and Danny Spond.
The secondary will basically stay intact and have depth this season. Cornerback Bennett Jackson returns after recording 65 tackles and four interceptions last season. The secondary also consists of cornerback KeiVarae Russell and free safety Matthias Farley.
Like last season, Notre Dame will have another challenging schedule. The game at Michigan in Week 2 will be the usual nail-biter. The following three weeks will consist of two home games against Michigan State and Oklahoma, as well as a game in Arlington, Texas against Arizona State. A bye week before a home game against bitter rival USC on Oct. 19 will be much needed.
The end of the schedule cools down a bit, but the Irish will still be tested and their BCS bowl fate could be determined when they play at Stanford on Nov. 30.
Projection: 9-3Date Opponent Outcome 8/31 Temple W 9/7 @Michigan L 9/14 @Purdue W 9/21 Michigan State W 9/28 Oklahoma W 10/5 Arizona State W 10/19 USC L 10/26 @Air Force W 11/2 Navy W 11/9 @Pittsburgh W 11/23 BYU W 11/30 @Stanford L
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Behind every win, every loss, each championship and every failure, there is a head coach.
The man who guides players, leads the team and influences every aspect of the program.
The men on this list are all head coaches and they have been for a long time.
They are the 10 longest tenured FBS head coaches who are still currently at the helm of their programs heading into the 2013 season. They have been leading the same program in consecutive seasons for longer than anyone else currently in the game.
There is something to be said for stability and loyalty, and these head coaches have stuck around, through good times and bad, for their respective programs.
Nebraska football fans have been paying close attention to fall practice reports, trying to garner whatever information they can on how NU is faring and who will be starring for the scarlet and cream this season.
So let’s take a look at what we know now about practice and see whose stock is moving up and whose is moving down.
Two weeks of fall practice are now in the books, and the Hokies are just 15 days away from a showdown with No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta.
Can the Hokies pull off the upset?
If the first two weeks of fall practice are any indication, the Hokies may be in trouble. Several players expected to either start or contribute have been sidelined with injuries.
Senior quarterback Logan Thomas is using these practice sessions as a way to get familiar with a host of new receiving weapons. Fortunately for Thomas, he is going up against one of the better defensive units in the country each day in practice.
While it has been a tough week overall for the Hokies, here are some of the more newsworthy items involving the team over the past seven days.
With the USC Trojans now a mere two weeks away from the start of the 2013 season, their status as a football team remains murky.
Starting assignments still require clarification, as do rotations. Both of these determinations by the coaching staff are being compromised by a variety of issues, including a spate of injuries that have seen several perceived starters relegated to bench duty.
This slideshow will assess where the Trojans are two weeks into the fall practice session and where they may go from here.
Can USC get to where it needs to be before it travels to Hawaii on August 29?
Here is where the Trojans are at the halfway point of their final practice sessions leading up to the beginning of their 2013 football campaign.
Week 2 of fall camp is almost in the books for the Texas Longhorns, and this week's stock report highlights some of the ups and downs.
Wide receiver Marcus Johnson suffered a knee injury, quarterback David Ash continues to have a strong camp and offensive lineman Desmond Harrison is still working through an academic issue that has kept him from working out.
Last week, Kendall Sanders, Harrison, Ash, Daje Johnson and Jackson Jeffcoat all appeared on the stock report. Who gets the looks this week?
The second week of fall camp for the Georgia Bulldogs is in the books and it was a crucial week in terms of getting ready for the season opener against Clemson.
Wednesday was the most important day for the Bulldogs because they held their second preseason scrimmage at Sanford Stadium. It was the scrimmage where coaches would evaluate afterwards and determine which players will see action in the game against Clemson.
There were a few players that stood out in the scrimmage. Those players needed to play well in order to gain the confidence of the coaches. There were also a few players that did not perform as well as they would have liked, and they will have some work to do moving forward.
Here’s the Week 2 fall practice stock report for the Bulldogs.
Did you know that five of the past six quarterbacks to win the Heisman were dual-threat guys?
Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in 2008 is the only pro-style quarterback to have taken home the bronze statuette since USC’s Matt Leinart won in 2004.
Since then it’s been Troy Smith of Ohio State (2006), Tim Tebow of Florida (2007), Cam Newton of Auburn (2010), Robert Griffin III of Baylor (2011) and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M (2012), all dual-threat players.
The rising trend of superstar dual-treat quarterbacks continues into this season with a deluge of talented guys who can get it done both ways.
Those with the most potential for productivity are ranked here, with the starting criteria being at least 3,000 total yards in their last active season.
Extra credit is given to dualists who have earned a higher percentage of their total yards by running the ball. This gives an advantage in the rankings to guys who aren’t just great passers who manage to earn a few extra yards rushing on the side.
We're in the middle of the second week of Oregon's fall camp, and it's time to take another look at how the Ducks have progressed thus far.
This time, it'll be in the form of a stock report. Who has exceeded expectations and made positive impressions during the first week-and-a-half? Conversely, who hasn't quite performed at the level that the coaches had hoped?
It's important to note that this update is simply a look at some general trends over the first couple of weeks. Someone's "stock" today has little bearing on what the entire 2013 season will look like, and with only a few tidbits to go off each day, the sky isn't necessarily falling for the members of the "stock down" list. Meanwhile, a Heisman may not necessarily be in the near future of those whose stock is rising.
Still, it's always fun to gauge where things stand and get excited about who's potentially gearing up for a breakout season.
As a final note, many of your usual suspects have rising stock—De'Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Unless you hear otherwise, it's safe to assume those three, along with several other big-name players, are doing just fine.
Take a look at the Oregon Ducks' Week 2 practice stock report.
All information courtesy of Rob Moseley's blog at GoDucks.com, unless otherwise noted. This piece was published before any reports from Thursday's practice.
The Miami Hurricanes football season-opener against Florida Atlantic is quickly approaching and 'Canes head coach Al Golden has two more weeks to prepare for the Owls.
Star players are expected to step up and hold their starting spot while some returning backups and incoming freshmen are beginning to demand the attention of Miami's coaches.
Last week, Golden told reporters (h/t Matt Porter, Palm Beach Post) his players have "six days left to establish whether or not (they) are gonna be coming out of the smoke. The first game is a big deal."
With the second scrimmage taking place on Friday, August 16, and the depth chart for season opener subsequently being set, starting positions will soon be locked in.
But before that happens, which players shined in practice, and who suffered a setback over the past week?
Ermon Lane is a 5-star receiver who is regarded as one of the best recruits in the country. He is committed to Florida and is a high school version of Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, because he has a great skill set.
Although he has limited production, Malachi Dupre is a 5-star wide-out in his own right. The Louisiana prospect has a surprisingly polished game and No. 1 receiver potential.
Both receivers have great talent, but it is time to decide which is the better prospect.
Heading toward the midway point of fall practice, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are still in the development and experimentation phase of camp.
Establishing quality depth at key positions and finding out which newcomers are ready to contribute are areas that Saban is monitoring closely.
So which players have stepped up to the challenge early, and which parts of the roster are still of concern to Saban and his staff?