Notre Dame put together a magical season in 2012 that finished with a BCS National Championship berth. The game ended with a loss for the Fighting Irish, but the appearance in the game returned Notre Dame to the national discussion.
As college football turns to spring practice there will be a number of developments that need to be watched closely in South Bend.
The Irish have a returning starter at quarterback, but there is a lot of talent on the roster that will challenge for snaps this spring. There is also the loss of key linebackers and questions for the backfield that will be addressed.
This is a look at the top three things to follow heading into Notre Dame’s spring football session.
Despite starting the back half of the season at quarterback, Everett Golson is anything but firmly entrenched as the starter.
The Irish return Gunner Kiel, Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Golson to the lineup this spring. They also bring in early enrollee Malik Zaire who is a talented dual-threat that will be a real challenge for the starting job.
This is a stacked backfield that is full of experienced talent. Brian Kelly has a stable that is overflowing, so picking a starter won’t be easy.
It is safe to assume that Golson will have a fast track to starting because of his experience and growth throughout the 2012 season, but it doesn’t mean he will be handed the keys from day one.
This will be a fun battle to watch this spring.
Replacing Manti Te’o & Co.
How do you replace a talent like Manti Te’o?
That is what Brian Kelly and his staff are desperately trying to figure out. This team is built around strong linebacker play, and this spring the Irish will be replacing an anchot at the position.
This squad is loaded with talent waiting in the wings to perform, but there is a severe drop off in experience heading into the new year.
With big losses also landing upfront defensively, the battle to replace the trio of playmakers at linebacker is a position battle to watch closely this spring.
Development in the Backfield
The Fighting Irish lost two players after this season when Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood departed the Irish program. .
Left in the wake is George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel. McDaniel is also a cornerback for the Irish.
Notre Dame is bringing in two all-stars in the 2013 class this summer when Tarean Foster and Greg Bryant make their way to campus. While they will help the depth and play immediately, finding a starter out of Atkinson, Carlisle and McDaniel is a must.
Obviously Atkinson is the most obvious choice for the starting position, but there will be a challenge that will come this spring.
This is a vital position battle as the Irish rely on the ground game to support and to create a lot of their offense both on the ground and through the passing game.
If the Irish find solid answers to these three questions, they will head into summer with a head of steam that could lead to another title run.