2012 Notre Dame season preview

Discussion in 'Thread Archive' started by Noknee, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Noknee

    Noknee Walk On

    Jul 1, 2009
    2012 Notre Dame season preview

    It's time again for the Notre Dame season preview! This is the 4th year of Coach Noknee's tenure and it looks to be another season as for the 2nd straight year the Fighting Irish are the preseason #1 team in the polls. There's good reason they're ranked #1 so let's dive in and get to the meat of the preview!

    Quarterbacks - The red shirt sophomore Steve "Brady" James takes over for Dayne Crist who has moved on to the NFL. The position at ND has returned to its glory years of being a QB factory. They have pumped out 2 NFL starters and James looks at a possibility of being the 3rd. He has more speed than the previous 2 QBs and he can take off and hurt the defense. His backup will be Marcus Rodgers who may be employed in goal line situations much like Tebow was employed during the 2006 national title run for the Gators. Freshman is redshirting and hopefully will not be forced to see the field this year.

    QB grade - B+

    Running Backs - Running back Jonas Gray has returned for his senior campaign in an effort to win the elusive national title. He's 234 pounds and runs like a bowling ball down the field. He had over 1600 yards with 16 touchdowns, including a breakout performance of 5 TDs in the bowl game against Tennessee that may have cost the UT coach his job. Cierre Wood and Mark Richard will continue to backup. Both of these backs have worked on their fumbling problems that plagued both last year. True Freshman Andrew Darby will take over at FB, and he will be instrumental in lead blocking for one of the best backs in the nation.

    RB grade - A+

    Wide Receivers - With Michael Floyd graduating and going to the NFL, it's time for Deion Walker, Shaquelle Evans and Chris Swain to pick up the slack. None of these WRs have the height and jump ball skills that Floyd has, but their speed and ability to break a big play at any moment will make it easier to forget about Floyd. The speed is the best asset of these WRs, and their ability to get separation will be key in helping out the young QB.

    WR grade - A-

    Tight End - Yes, Heisman winner Kyle Rudolph has finally graduated and with him goes the most dependable receiver. He wasn't only the best playmaker but also the Team captain for the offense. It's hard to replace a player like that. Mike Ragone was also lost to graduation so there is a void that must be filled, especially considering how big the TE option is in the Notre Dame offense that typically will employ double TE sets for half the game. The slack will be picked up by Joseph Fauria and Chris Nicholson. Both of whom don't have the playmaking ability or blocking ability of the Rudolph/Ragone tandem, but they should still be a good release valve and red zone target. The TE is a young QB's best friend in the red zone.

    TE grade - B+

    Offensive line - This should again be the strength of the Notre Dame team. There are 4 of 5 returning starters to this group, and only Right tackle Sam Miller has left. The offensive line averages 6'4 307 pounds, and they love to run block as they will simply try to overpower any team they see. Red shirt freshman Joe Newton is the new face on the line and he will have plenty of help, with Trevor Robinson, Andrew Russ, Braxton Cave, and Chris Watt to be responsible for the growth of the young right tackle. Expect ND to wear down teams this year and really try to grind it out.

    OL grade - A

    Overall Offensive summary - The ability for ND to move the ball and score points will ultimately come down to whether ND can run the football and if Steve James can keep the turnovers that plague inexperienced QBs to a minimum. The Irish won't win many games if they lose the turnover battle. The Irish have 6 returning starters and will need the offensive line to play even better than last year if they hope to have a chance at playing for the BCS title at the end of the season.

    Defensive Line - The defensive line returns 2 of 3 starters in Coach Noknee's 3-3-5 look. None bigger than last year's freshman all american, Joe Williams. Williams was a force and his ability to eat space and make plays has helped the defensive tremendously. And no one has benefited more than Notre Dame Career sack holder Kapon Lewis Moore, who turned down millions to extend that sack record and lead the Irish to a title. The defensive line will have no dip as Anthony McDonald has moved over from his OLB spot to be able to get on the field and prove he belongs. Many of the Irish faithful he will be a step up from last year, and that Coach Noknee should have made the switch earlier in McDonald's career.

    Defensive Line grade - A

    Linebackers - This is where the teeth of the Irish defense will shine. It feels like every year the same thing is written. Teo and Filer both return again! They are four year starters who will lead the Irish defense and make the plays in the run game to prevent teams from simply loading up and trying to overpower the 3-3-5 scheme. With impact player middle linebacker Brian Smith graduating it will be up to David Posluzny to fill his shoes. He is no slouch, and his instincts are second to none. Coach Noknee feels he really has a nose for the football.

    LB grade - A+

    Defensive backs - Coach Noknee takes pride in the secondary of his defense, and no one was happier to see Stacy Davis win the Thorpe as a Red shirt Freshman last season. Davis returns as well as consensus preseason All American Kevin Dixon. Andrew Allen also returns as the nickel back, and these 3 safeties are most likely the best group in the nation. They will need to play like it as the Irish break in two new corners in Shawn Fitzpatrick and E.J. Banks. These players will be responsible for locking down the opponents passing game. The ability to play great in the secondary will allow the Irish to blitz more, specifically on passing downs. Many feel that the group is a year away from being their best, but they still might be good enough to be the best this year.

    DB grade - A

    Overall defensive summary - The defense returns 7 starters and should be able to lock down most offenses. They will need to in order to win games. Defense wins championships and the Irish have been lacking that these last 3 years, which has resulted in 0 national titles.

    Coach stats - Coach Noknee has compiled a 35-4 record as the Fighting Irish coach, and he has 3 consecutive top 10 finishes with the last 2 being top 5 finishes. Even more stunning, he has yet to lose a nonconference game, and only Ohio State has a winning record against him. In the four losses he has lost by a touchdown or less in 3 of them, and the 4th loss was by 14. Despite being shutout last year in not only the title game, but a BCS bowl in general has left the Irish hungry. They realize that they have to win every game to remove all doubt before being put back into the wacky computer system.

    Offensive Starters
    QB - Steve James
    HB - Jonas Gray (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    FB - Jeremiah Darby
    WR - Deion Walker (Returning Starter - 2 years)
    WR - Shaquelle Evans
    TE - Joseph Fauria
    LT - Andrew Russ (Returning Starter - 2 years
    LG - Trevor Robinson (Returning Starter - 2 years)
    C - Braxton Cave (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    RG - Chris Watt (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    RT - Joe Newton

    Offensive Ratings
    QB - 89
    HB - 96
    FB - 76
    WR - 97
    WR - 93
    TE - 92
    LT - 99
    LG - 99
    C - 97
    RG - 97
    RT - 86

    Defensive Starters
    LE - Kapon Lewis Moore (Returning Starter - 2 years)
    DT - Joe Williams (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    RE - Anthony McDonald
    LOLB - Steve Filer (Returning Starter - 3 years)
    MLB - David Posluzny
    ROLB - Manti Teo (Returning Starter - 3 years)
    CB - E.J. Banks
    CB - Shawn Fitzpatrick
    FS - Stacy Davis (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    SS - Kevin Dixon (Returning Starter - 2 years)
    NB - Andrew Allen (Returning Starter - 2 years)

    Defensive Ratings
    LE - 99
    DT - 96
    RE - 90
    LOLB - 99
    MLB - 99
    ROLB - 99
    CB - 92
    CB - 88
    FS - 92
    SS - 96
    NB - 90

    Special Teams
    K - Trevor Payne (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    P - Anthony Yates (Returning Starter - 1 year)
    KRs - Deion Walker, Mark Richard

    Special Teams Ratings
    K - 78
    P - 82
    KR - 99, 96

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