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Staff Predictions: 2012 Season

Football Beat Writers | Friday, April 20, 2012

Allan Joseph, Editor-in-Chief

I suppose it goes without saying that this is a pretty tough slate to predict. If the quarterbacks struggle, the secondary fulfills fans’ worst fears and the running game suffers an early injury, this squad could struggle to be bowl-eligible, especially considering the schedule, which is one of the toughest in recent memory.

I think this team is better than that, though. Cierre Wood will have a breakout year, and the defense will outperform expectations. Whoever ends up starting at quarterback will have tight end Tyler Eifert as a safety blanket, and DaVaris Daniels has the capability to become a dynamic playmaker. Considering the difficult schedule, 9-3 is a little too optimistic. But look for at least one signature victory this year, if not more.

REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 8-4

Andrew Owens, Assistant Managing Editor

Jimmy Clausen has been gone for two seasons, and in those two seasons, Notre Dame could not find a worthy successor.

In 2012, Irish fans will finally see a ray of hope from their signal caller, as Andrew Hendrix or Everett Golson will provide stability in the present and high expectations for the future.

The most intriguing positions outside of the quarterback derby happen to face each other: wide receivers and cornerbacks. The problem is we can’t learn much in the Blue-Gold Game. If one unit performs well against the other, is it due to its own talent or because of a lack of development by its counterpart? Only the regular season can tell us for sure.

Fans need to be patient while the groundwork is built in 2012.

REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 7-5

Chris Allen, Sports Editor

It may be a new year, but the rhetoric this spring has been very similar to the rhetoric last spring: it’s about the guy under center. This year, another four-person competition will produce the starter. Though the quarterback is obviously an important component, the 2012 Irish will be a team remembered for what it does on the ground. Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, USC transfer Amir Carlisle and big back George Atkinson give Notre Dame a legitimate stable of backs with which to facilitate the running game. If Hendrix or Golson win the quarterback job, the ground game will improve even further. Against dynamic passers like USC’s Matt Barkley and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, the running game will have to put points on the board. The daunting schedule will make it a tough year, but I foresee a similar record to 2011.

REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 8-4

Andrew Gastelum, Associate Sports Editor

Two years in, this season will truly determine which direction Brian Kelly’s program will head. And he knows the pressure is on because these are mostly his recruits now.

With this team, fans are quick to point out its weaknesses, while not focusing on the obvious strengths – such as a veteran, close-knit offensive line and a running back duo that will surprise everyone this season. On the defensive side, the front seven is downright scary, even with the loss of Aaron Lynch. Meanwhile, the secondary is anchored by a leader in Jamoris Slaughter and group of athletic corners locked in a fierce competition, which is where I will keep my eyes fixed this weekend.

The Irish will find a way to finally squeeze into the BCS, and it will start with far fewer turnovers.

REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 9-3

Matthew DeFranks, Associate Sports Editor

When the daunting 2012 schedule was released in 2010, many pegged it as a lost season. Since then, well, not much has changed.

With a slate featuring road games against two probable preseson top-five teams (Oklahoma and USC), Notre Dame will struggle to match it’s eight-win regular season from a year ago. I think those are the only two losses penciled in for the Irish next season while games against Michigan State, Michigan, Miami and Stanford seem like toss-ups – which the Irish have tended to lose recently.

Cierre Wood. Theo Riddick (look for him in the Blue-Gold game) and the Manti Te’o-led but Aaron Lynch-less defense will do their best job to help Andrew Hendrix’s offense but it just won’t be enough for the Irish.

REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 7-5