Notre Dame 2014 Football Preview
Fresh off a 29–16 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 squad is feeling pretty good about themselves. They have finished the season at 9 – 4, and although they didn’t come close to repeating last season’s run to the National Championship, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the team will be very formidable in 2014.
The entire scope of the 2013 Notre Dame football season changed when the news came in late spring that young star quarterback Everett Golson would be suspended indefinitely. Senior quarterback Tommy Rees stepped in and did an admirable job given the fact that he was not exactly groomed to fulfill the role of signal caller for one of the most esteemed programs in the nation.
If Golson is indeed reinstated to the school and the team as many reports have suggested he will be, everybody involved with the program will be counting the days until spring practice. The electric Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-native will be 21-years-old next season, and Fighting Irish fans are hoping that the brief glimpses they got of his explosiveness are an indication of his potential.
Whoever plays QB in 2014 will have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal. George Atkinson III proved himself to be a solid and reliable running back by gaining exactly 6.0 yards per carry throughout the season. He and leading rusher Cam McDaniel will both be seniors next season, a clear sign that the stars may be aligning for a team that has long been propelled by their defensive unit.
Wide receiver TJ Jones will graduate and test his value in the NFL Draft. This opens up the door for 6’2” Illinois native DaVaris Daniels to have a monster junior season that just might be tempt him to leave the program early and test his value in the NFL Draft. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Daniels’ 46 grabs for 720 yards and seven touchdowns are impressive numbers for a sophomore, and with a healthy offensive line, he and Golson could do a lot of damage to opposing secondaries in 2014. Troy Niklas will hit the weight room in the off-season and study his playbook hoping to come out and impress NFL scouts with a monster 2014 season out of the tight end position.
Notre Dame has never had a problem recruiting stud defensive players. Coach Brian Kelly has become much more defensive minded since he arrived in South Bend, and a defense that will lose a few key players to graduation will likely be able to replace them quickly with a fleet of sophomores that are ready for their opportunity. Savvy Fighting Irish fans may want to keep an eye on 6’5” defensive lineman Jarron Jones, a sophomore with quick feet and huge arms.
One can make a convincing case for Notre Dame having the single toughest schedule in all of college football in 2014. The Stanford Cardinal, Florida State Seminoles, Arizona State Sun Devils and the Louisville Cardinals will all trade punches with the Fighting Irish throughout the course of their schedule, along with the annual matchups against the Michigan Wolverines and USC Trojans.