The Sports Daily > College Football Zealots
2013 Pre-Season Preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2012 Record: 12-1

Head Coach: Brian Kelly (28-11 at Notre Dame, 199-68-2 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2013 BCS NCG: lost to Alabama 42-14

Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN (capacity = 80,795)

Home Field Advantage: ranked 7th out of 69 BCS teams

Schedule Glimpse:

2013 Schedule Link

Neutral Site Games: 10/5 vs Arizona State (Arlington)

Toughest Home Games: 9/21 vs Michigan St, 9/28 vs Oklahoma, 10/19 vs USC, 11/23 vs BYU

Toughest Road Games: 9/7 at Michigan, 11/30 at Stanford


Statistical Snapshot:

2012 Statistics Link

Stats to Fear: only scored TDs on 48.33% of red zone trips (112th in Nation)

Stats to Cheer: only had 15 turnovers in 2012 (14th in Nation), held opponents to 68.42% score rate in red zone (8th in Nation)

Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 10th out of 124 teams



Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 6, Defense: 8, Special Teams: 1

Key Defensive Returnees: DE Stephon Tuitt (11 sacks, 45 tackles), LB Prince Shembo (7.5 sacks, 51 tackles), DT Louis Nix (50 tackles), CB Bennett Jackson (65 tackles, 4 INT), CB KeiVarae Russell (58 tackles)

Key Offensive Returnees: QB Tommy Rees (436 yds pass, 55.7% completions, 2 TD, 2 INT), RB George Atkinson III (361 yds rush, 7.08 ypc, 5 TD), WR TJ Jones (50 rec, 4 TD), WR DaVaris Daniels (31 rec)

Inside Scoop with The Subway Domer:
CFBZ: If 2012 was a dream for the Irish, 2013 has been a nightmare so far (National Championship Game, Te'o controversy, Golson). What are some of the positives for Notre Dame coming into the 2013 season?

The Subway Domer: I wrote about this in early June. Starting with the National Championship loss and continuing for five months, it seemed like there was an endless stream of "bad news" for the program and its fans. But, in essence, there was only really one of those incidents that was truly going to affect the 2013 season, and that was the loss of Everett Golson.

Still, Notre Dame has a seasoned veteran returning at quarterback, a stout offensive line, 8 returning starters on defense, and one more year of development under Brian Kelly.
There are positives everywhere you look with this Notre Dame team, but they often get overlooked by things like recruiting de-commitments and transfers of players that weren't going to contribute.
All in all, this is a very talented and motivated team and with a schedule that is tough, but not too tough, there are still high hopes of a 10 or more wins season.
CFBZ: With Everett Golson being ineligible for the season, do you think Tommy Rees will be the QB for the majority of the games or do you see somebody else emerging?
The Subway Domer: Tommy Rees, or REESUS to his believers, will be QB1 the entire season. This is Tommy's senior year and nobody knows the offense as well as Rees. His pre snap read is as good as it gets at the college level and he has the respect of his teammates.
Nobody is going to pass Tommy as the starter unless there is a disaster. He looks much more physical this fall camp and I think he has finally learned to play within himself. A lot of his former interceptions were plays that he was trying to do too much with. 
CFBZ: What do you see as the most difficult games on the schedule for the Irish?
The Subway Domer: I think this is a fairly tough schedule and I could probably list off 5 different games, but I'll limit it to two.
USC at Home. Despite this series being split the past 4 years, ND has not won at home against the Trojans since 2001. That is a stat that must die. Always a tough game against their biggest rivals.
Stanford at Stanford. The Farm is not a bad place to play, but it sucks in a hurry when Stanford is good. This was an epic game last year and the Cardinal will have revenge on their mind. This will be another defensive struggle with the team that makes the fewest mistakes STILL possibly losing. This is the last game of the season and the stakes could be as high as they get.
CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?
The Subway Domer: Have to win a BCS bowl game. Whichever one. They have to get that monkey off of their back. That is the only way I could consider this year as a "success."
Last year, Brian Kelly had Notre Dame way ahead of schedule. After back-to-back eight win seasons, most (including us) were expecting more of the same as Kelly continued to get his guys onto the field and continued to change the recent culture of the Irish. Everything came together last year and Notre Dame did what great teams do, they won close games. They beat Purdue by 3, they beat Michigan by 7, they bested Stanford in OT with a goal line stand, they beat BYU by 3, they survived Pitt in OT and they finished the regular season by winning at USC by 9. They won half of their games by single-digits. Just like any other undefeated team, it takes skill and a bit of luck to pull out all of those games. Despite a crushing defeat at the hands of Alabama in the BCSNG, Notre Dame is back.
Everett Golson is out for the year and that means that Tommy Rees once again takes the reigns of the offense. He sat and watched for a year so hopefully for the Irish he's used his time wisely. Another big loss for the Irish is at RB where they must replace both Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. But the Irish have recruited well at this position and they have George Atkinson III returning as well as a load of 4-5 star guys behind him. It might take them a few games to get acclimated but they should be just fine at RB. At WR, both of the primary targets return in TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels but the Irish must replace TE Tyler Eifert and Riddick's production out of the backfield. Eifert's loss could be big as the Irish look to Troy Niklas or Ben Koyack to step up. The OL loses two starters but returns three that have 13 starts of more.
On the defensive line, Notre Dame has two fantastic players in Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix. Without those guys, you probably wouldn't even know who Manti Te'o was.  The LB corps loses Te'o but returns everybody else and I really think they will be just fine. The DBs were really young last year and were carried a bit by the front seven but now they have experience and lose only Zeke Motta. This defense gave up just 12.8 ppg last year. I think this years' defense will be just as good although the stats may not relay that fact.
Notre Dame plays a  tough schedule this year but it's spaced out pretty well. They play at Michigan in the second game of the year but it's sandwiched between Temple and Purdue. Then they play the toughest stretch of the year as they host Michigan State and Oklahoma in back-to-back games before taking off to Arlington to face Arizona State. Then they host USC after a bye week. None of those four teams are push overs and all could be potential top 25 teams at the time of the game. Then the Irish travel to Air Force, host Navy and travel to Pitt. After an open date they finish with BYU at home and then travel to face Stanford in the finale. It's a tough schedule but there really aren't any monsters looming except Stanford. This is a 10-11 win team but if some of the luck they had last year goes the other way they could easily be an 8 or 9 win team. I like the make-up of this team but I'm concerned about the QB switch. I think the Irish will have a great year and make a BCS bowl game but I don't see them going undefeated again.
Prediction: 10-2

Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:

Independent: ArmyBYUIdahoNavyNew Mexico StOld Dominion
The American-  Cincinnati,  HoustonLouisville,  Memphis,  Rutgers,  SMUTempleUCFUConnUSF