After an unimpressive season, Notre Dame is looking to get back to some of the glory of previous years. For a team that is continually in the top ranks of college football, Notre Dame’s last season was nothing short of a disappointment.
Though Notre Dame is technically an independent in football, it still plays five games against Atlantic Coast Conference competition and obviously plays a big role in how the ACC looks from a national standpoint each year. It’s also an ACC member in every sport, but football.
After finishing with an abysmal 4-8 record, head coach Brian Kelly needs to rope together a better season for the fans. But will he be able to motivate his guys to play at a higher level? After his clear lack of support for former starting quarterback DeShone Kizer in the NFL draft, who’s to say he can continue to be the leader that is expected of him as the head coach of a prestigious college football program.
The Fighting Irish aren’t losing much, with only two players having been selected in the draft this year. One of which is Kizer, who was very hyped throughout the season, so much that at one point many thought he would be the best available quarterback in the draft. He has since lost some steam and dropped to the second round, but many believe the Cleveland Browns got a steal drafting him 52nd overall. Last season he threw for a total of 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns while also rushing for 472 yards and eight touchdowns. He will be sorely missed in the starting position. The only other player drafted was defensive tackle Isaac Rochell, who was selected in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 225. He had 55 total tackles and seven tackles for loss.
While the Fighting Irish lost their starting quarterback, they have players who can help the team bounce back to a higher level of play. Returners include players such as Equanimeous St. Brown and Nyles Morgan. St. Brown led the team in receiving with just under 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, while Nyles led the team in tackles with 94. These aren’t the only players Notre Dame returns, as a large portion of their starters will be returning.
Along with the returning players, the Fighting Irish also have the 10th-ranked recruiting class coming in this season. The class is led by players such as early enrollees TE Brock Wright, OG Robert Hainsey and RB CJ Holmes. They also have top recruits TE Cole Kmet and OT Joshua Lugg to go with many other solid freshmen coming in this year. They have a lot of talent and could possibly turn the team around.
Following spring practice, there is a lot for Fighting Irish fans to look forward to. With spring practice having been successful, there were a lot of positives to take away, especially from their spring game. Sophomore QB Brandon Wimbush is considered to be the quarterback with the best chance of being the starter going into the season, but to the surprise of many, freshman quarterback Ian Book put together a very solid performance.
This can give fans a little bit of reassurance when it comes to the quarterback position. In the spring game, the wide receiver position was perhaps the strongest point for the team. St. Brown played at an incredibly high level, as is expected, and other receivers such as Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool showed flashes of excitement.
Another big takeaway from the game defensively is that Morgan was dominant at inside linebacker. He led a strong linebacking corps that could anchor the defense. Along with solid secondary play, the defense looked good.
With the way the team performed last season, there is much to improve this season. With the talent they have I expect this to not be a typical dominant Notre Dame team, but a solid team.