Aug 20, 2012

2012 Team Previews: Notre Dame with One Foot Down

We’re previewing the college football season with help from Today, One Foot Down dissects the Fighting Irish.

If Notre Dame wants to return to the BCS, it will have to weather a brutally difficult schedule. Of its five ranked opponents, three are pre-season top-ten teams, including No. 8 Michigan, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 1 USC. The Irish must also face off with No. 13 Michigan State and No. 21 Stanford.

2011 Record: 8-5

2011 Bowl: Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State

2012 Bowl Projections:

Orlando Bowl History

1994 Regular season vs. Florida State, 16-23
2011 Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State, 14-18

Q&A with One Foot Down

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Turn. Over. Notre Dame boasted an impressive -15 turnover ratio last
season with the offense giving up 29 and the defense only forcing 14.
To make matters worse some of those offensive turnovers were of the
truly spectacular variety. Notre Dame had fumbles inside the
opponent’s 5 yard line that went the other way for touchdowns in
losses against South Florida and USC. Against Michigan quarterback
Tommy Rees inexplicably dropped the ball while trying to throw what
would have been a game icing touchdown pass to a wide open Tyler
Eifert. Michigan came back to win. It wasn’t pretty and turnovers
were a definite factor in all 5 Notre Dame losses.

If you had to pin the Champs Sports Bowl loss on one factor, what
would it be?

Wait for it… turnovers! More specifically interceptions. Tommy
Rees threw his first interception of the game on the Florida State
goal line in the first quarter. On that one Rees got immediately
bailed out by his defense when Manti Te’o forced a fumble that was
returned by Zeke Motta 29 yards for a touchdown. Then early in the
4th quarter Notre Dame quarterback Andrew Hendrix was on in relief and
threw an interception deep in his own territory that set Florida State
up with a very short field for the go-ahead touchdown. Then with just
over 3 minutes to play Notre Dame drove deep into Florida State
territory. They still had a chance and Tommy Rees was back under
center. Fittingly the Notre Dame quarterback threw an interception
into the endzone.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

I would call it a toss up between road trips to Oklahoma and USC.
Both teams are preseason Top 5 and have a lot of talent on both sides
of the football.

Which of the four quarterbacks is most likely to be starting at
the end of the year in Los Angeles?

I will go with the popular vote and say redshirt freshman Everett
Golson. Golson has all of the physical tools necessary to be
extremely successful in Brian Kelly’s offense. With incumbent starter
Tommy Rees suspended for the opener against Navy I expect Golson to
emerge as the starter for that game. If he plays well on September
1st he could be very difficult to unseat as the starter.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

Best case would be a return to the BCS. That would be a major step
forward for the program in Brian Kelly’s 3rd season, especially
against what many consider to be the toughest schedule in the country.
Worst case scenario would be to not go bowling at all. That would
mean that Notre Dame had a truly terrible season and will put the
program right back into that all too familiar position of having a
coach on the hot seat.

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