NCAA Football

Notre Dame Football Season Preview 

With August and Notre Dame Football’s report day right around the corner, I think it’s fair to start the preview for this upcoming season for the Fighting Irish.

There’s no doubt that this off-season has put Notre Dame in a tough situation at some positions, especially quarterback. With Kizer going to the NFL and Malik Zaire transferring to Florida, Notre Dame has seemingly been left with a third string quarterback to take over the reigns of the offense in Brandon Wimbush.

Wimbush did see action in two games in the 2015 campaign for Notre Dame where you could see flashes of this kid’s athleticism. Against Umass, he busted free for a 58 yard touchdown rush, breaking tackles and showing his speed. He also completed 3 passes on 5 attempts but for only 17 yards with a long of 9. That is such a small sample size to go off of and it was also the last time he saw any real action since Kizer played in every game in 2016.

I think Wimbush is capable of being a solid quarterback, but this is his first season where he could be the starter and first time he has really dealt with the pressure that comes with being a Notre Dame quarterback.

Notre Dame also returns a decent amount of key players from their team last year, many of whom are on preseason award watch lists.

Nyles Morgan returns for his senior season at linebacker for the Fighting Irish. In 2016, Morgan recorded 94 tackles and four sacks. There were also five different games where he recorded 10 or more tackles for the Irish. The senior is also one of Notre Dame’s 2017 captains. Morgan is on early award watch lists, deservedly so, including the Chuck Bednarik Award which is handed to the Defensive Player of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club and the Bronko Nagurski award, which is also an award handed out to the most outstanding defensive player in college football by the Football Writers Association of America.

Another Notre Dame key return, and captain, for this upcoming season is offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey. An early watch list member for the 2017 Outland Trophy, which is given to the most outstanding interior offensive lineman, returns to Notre Dame for his final season as a graduate. He started all 12 games last year for the Fighting Irish, while being a team captain and earned the Associated Press second team All-America honors. He also has a stretch of 26 consecutive games where he has started for Notre Dame.

Tight End U also boasts an arsenal of great tight ends including graduate Durham Smythe and Alize Mack, both of which add their names to the preseason John Mackey award watch list for 2017.

Smythe hasn’t exactly played in a lot of games but has the potential to be a key asset to the Notre Dame offense in 2017. Smythe recorded 9 catches for 112 yards with four touchdowns in 2016. Hopefully staying injury free, Smythe will improve those numbers drastically this year.

Alize Mack, the highly raved about tight end for Notre Dame also adds his name to the preseason John Mackey award watch list for 2017 after taking a year off of football. Mack could play a major role in the success for the Notre Dame offense.

A big question coming into the season for Notre Dame is, how will the defense play compared to last season? The defense struggled last season giving up 20 or more points in 6 of the 12 games during the season, including 50 to Texas in a loss and 45 to USC in a loss. Notre Dame brought in Mike Elko to be the defensive coordinator. Elko is considered to have one of the best defensive minds in college football and his Wake Forest defense provided stats to back that claim up.

Notre Dame’s offense wasn’t as much of a problem last year because for the most part they could put points on the board besides a couple games. But with the departure of Kizer and Zaire, the Fighting Irish are vulnerable at the most important position on offense. Equanimeous St. Brown returns to the Irish offense looking for another solid year as a receiver.

As if Notre Dame didn’t have enough to worry about, tack on their strength of schedule to everything and it got a whole lot tougher. Their schedule feature key and tough match-ups against Georgia, Michigan State, USC, Miami & Stanford with more games against solid programs in North Carolina, NC State & Wake Forest. Here is the complete Fighting Irish schedule for 2017:

Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result Media
Sat., Sep. 2 vs.Temple Temple Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC
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Sat., Sep. 9 vs.Georgia Georgia Notre Dame, Ind. 7:30 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC
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Sat., Sep. 16 atBoston College Boston College Chestnut Hill, Mass. 12:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
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Sat., Sep. 23 atMichigan State Michigan State East Lansing, Mich. 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox
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Sat., Sep. 30 vs.Miami (Ohio) Miami (Ohio) Notre Dame, Ind. 5:00 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC Sports Network
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Sat., Oct. 7 atNorth Carolina North Carolina Chapel Hill, N.C. TBA
TV: TBA
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Sat., Oct. 21 vs.USC USC Notre Dame, Ind. 7:30 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC
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Sat., Oct. 28 vs.North Carolina State North Carolina State Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC
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Sat., Nov. 4 vs.Wake Forest Wake Forest Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC
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Sat., Nov. 11 atMiami (Fla.) Miami (Fla.) Miami Gardens, Fla. TBA
TV: TBA
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Sat., Nov. 18 vs.Navy Navy Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET GT

TV: NBC
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Sat., Nov. 25 atStanford Stanford Stanford, Calif.

Notre Dame definitely has a lot of concerns coming into the 2017 campaign but if nothing else, they look to improve that 4-8 record of last season into a winning record. I think we can expect an improvement record wise from Notre Dame, but don’t expect anything to drastic.

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Categories: NCAA Football, Sports

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