Publish date:

12 NOTRE DAME

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

"I'm curious about their starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer obviously led them to the Fiesta Bowl last year after Malik Zaire's early season-ending broken [right] ankle, but I think Zaire's the better runner and can really hurt you. They're really going to feel the losses of [left tackle] Ronnie Stanley and [receiver] Will Fuller, both first-round picks. I'm not sure who their game-breaking receiver is now.

Let's not kid ourselves: They're still Notre Dame. [Senior left tackle] Mike McGlinchey is good, but they're transitioning on the offensive line. Who's the running back going to be? They've got a lot of questions to answer. The influence of offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. is apparent in the passing concepts they use, with the high crosses and shots down the field, as well as in the formations and motions. Yet there are still the staples of coach Brian Kelly's running game and quick passing game.

Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is like everybody else on first and second down, but he's more exotic than almost anybody on third down. He's got different fronts, and they blitz from everywhere. You have to get out in space and make them miss or max-protect and beat them one-on-one down the field.

Could they have a 10--2 record this season? Sure, but they could just as easily be 8--4."

FAST FACTS

18

Total catches in '15 for the 12 receivers on the roster other than Torii Hunter Jr., who had 28 grabs for 363 yards as a junior.

835

Rushing yards gained by running back Josh Adams, a school record for a freshman.

106

Starts by three offensive lineman who are no longer on the team. Four of the top five receivers are gone too.

18

Combined starts for quarterbacks Malik Zaire (senior) and DeShone Kizer (junior). Zaire is 5--2 as a starter, while Kizer is 8--3.

56.7

Percentage of tackles made last season by players no longer on the roster. And 64.0% of the sacks left South Bend as well.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

5 YEAR TREND

WINS

15

12

9

6

3

8--5

12--1

9--4

8--5

10--3

YEAR

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

X-FACTOR

A preseason right MCL tear limited defensive tackle JARRON JONES to 13 snaps last season, all in the Fiesta Bowl. A stress fracture in his left foot idled him for spring practice. Now Notre Dame needs the 6'5½", 315-pound senior to regain the form he flashed in 2014, when he had 7½ tackles for loss. Jones's length not only makes him difficult to contend with in interior spaces but also makes him a special teams weapon: He has blocked four field goal attempts in his career.

2016 SCHEDULE

SUNDAY 9/4

AT TEXAS

SATURDAY 9/10

NEVADA

SATURDAY 9/17

MICHIGAN STATE [KEY MATCHUP]

SATURDAY 9/24

DUKE

SATURDAY 10/1

SYRACUSE

(IN EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.)

SATURDAY 10/8

AT N.C. STATE

SATURDAY 10/15

STANFORD [BIGGEST GAME]

BYE

SATURDAY 10/29

MIAMI

SATURDAY 11/5

NAVY

(IN JACKSONVILLE)

SATURDAY 11/12

ARMY

(IN SAN ANTONIO)

SATURDAY 11/19

VIRGINIA TECH

SATURDAY 11/26

AT USC [KEY MATCHUP]

KEY MATCHUP

BIGGEST GAME