The Brawling Hibernian has crawled out from under his summertime rock to the joyous sound of college football in the air, and most importantly; Notre Dame Football.
BH decided to take the IBG questions that Keith Arnold sent over to The Subway Domer and give his own special blend of kickass to it. Enjoy:
This is the time of year where everyone tries to call their shot. Instead of picking a win total, name three things that Notre Dame has to do this season for it to be considered a success.
With a few new faces and a daunting schedule, there are a number of areas which could be chosen as defining success, but I’d say the keys are:
Beat Top 25 teams: Notre Dame’s schedule has five teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25 (USC #1, Oklahoma #4, Michigan #8, Michigan State #13 and Stanford #21), so having success against ranked teams is an absolute must. Given that this is an area in which the Irish have floundered in recent years, it is also an area of needed improvement.
Stay Healthy: While the Weis and (so far) Kelly eras have not seen the type of on-field success Irish fans want, there’s no denying they have done well in recruiting. Over the last five years, Notre Dame has steadily built a talented team with depth at key positions. Unfortunately, the ravages of injuries, graduations and transfers have left areas on the roster vulnerable, particularly the offensive line and secondary. In order for ND to have any chance of a successful season, these players are going to have to remain healthy and active.
Finish in the Top 25: Hard as it may be to believe, it’s been five years since the Irish have finished in the Top 25. While it’s nice to talk about BCS bowls and national championship runs, the more proximate focus for this season should be a return to the Top 25. Going half a decade without such a finish is unacceptable.
If you had to put money on it, who would you bet is the team’s starting quarterback on the following dates:
* Sept 22 vs. Michigan
* Oct 27 vs. Oklahoma
* Nov 24 vs. USC
* Opening Day 2013
Barring injury, I fully expect Golson to start the rest of the way. As has been discussed at length, he’s an ideal fit for a Brian Kelly offense, and from all we’ve seen and heard of him, appears to be ready to take the stage as a college starter. Additionally, in his statements on Golson, Kelly has indicated he knows there’ll be mistakes, but he’s confident the upside will outweigh that. I feel the same.
Name one offensive player and one defensive player that people aren’t talking much about that you think will break loose in 2012? Any other shots you feel like calling before the year begins?
Offense (Theo Riddick): As a skill position player who’s likely to log a bunch of time, it’s not that Riddick hasn’t gotten any press, but I think people should be expecting a huge year from him. After having played both running back and receiver in college, Riddick returns to the backfield, where he seems more comfortable. With a talented line in front of him, and his natural abilities, he’ll definitely break some runs for the Irish. Perhaps more importantly, though, will be his ability to snag passes. Golson seemed to favor him in the Blue-Gold game, and he represents a great check-down option for the young QB. Riddick will be helpful in getting Golson acclimated and being a spur to the Irish offense all season.
Defense (Kona Schwenke): After having only played in eight games his first two years (tallying just two tackles and a fumble recovery), Schwenke will now become an integral part of the Irish defensive line rotation. This offseason, Schwenke pushed incumbent nose tackle Louis Nix very hard and nearly usurped him, showing surprising development and improvement. With the amount of playing time he’ll receive this season, I expect Schwenke to be a vital cog on the defensive line and a fan favorite by season’s end.
- Notre Dame will upset at least one team this season
- Both Lane Kiffin and Brady Hoke will lose some of the coaching luster they acquired in 2011
- Troy Niklas will quickly become a match-up nightmare in the red zone