Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 8
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 86

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look much different than they did last year. New coaches, players and schemes have been brought in after a disappointing 6-6 season. New head coach Brian Kelly had a strong track record at Cincinnati, but now he is under extreme pressure to turn this once proud program around.

The offensive philosophy has changed, with the introduction of a shotgun based spread formation. New starting quarterback Dayne Crist will be trying to return from a torn ACL and learn a new offense. Not easy for the junior who will be starting for the first time.

His top returning wide receiver is Michael Floyd who caught 44 passes for 795 yards and nine touchdowns last year. The only other established receiving option is tight end Kyle Rudolph (33 catches). With the new offensive scheme, it is vital that other young receivers step up to give Crist some options.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Cheerleader

Running back Armando Allen returns after leading the team with 697 yards. He is a decent receiver out of the backfield, so he should be ok in this system. The offensive line has only one position that is locked down, left guard. The line is still being shuffled to find the best combination.

The defense will also be making a scheme change, moving to a 3-4 system. This unit was awful a year ago, and nine starters are returning. The linebackers are the strength of the team, hence the scheme change. Sophomore inside linebacker Manti Te’o is expected to become a premier player and a team leader.

The starting defensive line of Ian Williams, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Ethan Johnson are strong, but there is little depth behind them. The secondary has been an area of weakness, and should be again as few players have grabbed a hold of the starting jobs. Jamoris Slaughter and Harrison Smith will likely be the starting safeties this year.

The Irish are not the team they once were. While they have a manageable schedule, there are too many weak areas with unproven players to give them a legitimate shot at a national title.

Notre Dame’s odds to win the National Championship: + 4000

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