Notre Dame was nothing special last year going 3-9 and Charlie Weiss is hoping that the lumps the team took last year will help this team this season. The schedule is eased up this year from last year which should help this team improve. This is the home opener for Notre Dame, but the Aztecs will have a game under their belt the week prior. The Irish need improvement at every aspect of the team, especially offensively, and will this be the year that Charlie Weiss is going to prove is amazing coach gloss and able to win with his own players. With top 10 recruiting classes for the past few years the Irish must be better, but a side note about those classes is that in my opinion recruiting services sometimes over value players if they are being recruited by big name programs.
Offense: Where to begin here? The offense last year was just plain awful, they played multiple different quarterbacks with very little success if you want to even call it that. The Irish return nine offensive starters and with hopes that number recruit Jimmy Clausen will live up to that hype after struggling to adjust to the college game last year. The difference from last year to this year for Clausen is that he took all the reps with the number one offense and he added 18 pounds of muscle.
The running back trio of Junior James Aldridge, sophomores Armando Allen, and Robert Hughes are neck-and-neck-and-neck in the race to be the Fighting Irish's starting tailback, not because they all shined during the spring, but rather none emerged from the pack. This is the same scenario as last year where a few showed signs of greatness, but then looked clueless at times. The running game does not actually need a true starter or superstar, but good play and consistency. However for the Irish to be really successful they need at least one back to emerge somewhat from the pack. Hughes could be the darkhorse to gain the most of the reps, because he was the first Notre Dame true Freshman to rush for 100 yards in back to back games since 1982.
Wide outs are another of promise for Notre Dame starting with sophomores Duval Kamara lived up to the hype as a Freshman by setting school freshman records for receptions with 32 and touchdowns in four. Kamara looks to improve off of those numbers last year and will look to be the go to guy for Clausen. David Grimes and Robby Parris will round out the starting wide outs and could be a potential good set of triplets.
Defense: The Irish were negative 12 in points allowed, and gave up 29 points per game, and needs to improve by light years to get to 6 wins. They return six starters on defense in an effort to shore up that area in order to compete. The schedule helps out this year and the stats should improve over last years nightmare season. The best player on defense is Senior cornerback David Bruton a Nagurski National Defensive Player-of-the-Year Award candidate, who really turned it on from last year to this years spring game by winning defensive MVP honors. The defensive line is another area that needs to improve and be able to get pressure to the quarterback and create turnovers which is something the Irish struggled with last year.
Early Prediction: 99.99% will pick the Irish to win this game, which is where I stand, but Irish fans should not be too confident. With what happened last year Irish fans should be a more humble group, but the Irish should win but this game will be competitive.