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Staff predictions: 2015 football season

| Friday, April 17, 2015

Greg Hadley, Editor-in-Chief

There can be little doubt Notre Dame is in prime position for a successful 2015, at least when compared to last year’s late-season collapse. Brian Kelly returns too many battle-tested starters to reasonably expect otherwise.

But what should worry Irish fans are the players on the opposing sidelines; Notre Dame’s opponents next year are underwhelming, and that could hurt the Irish in the long run. Unlike last year, there is no potential statement game, no Florida State-on-the-road opportunity. The margin for error is razor thin. Lose once, to Clemson on the road or USC at home, and the Irish will be out of the College Football Playoff hunt. And as improved as the team may be, I don’t see Notre Dame running the table.


Mary Green, Assistant Managing Editor

For the Irish, the knocks taken in 2014 will translate into a strengthened defense in 2015, which is led by a key group of upperclassmen. However, they are backed by a sophomore corps that has game experience under their belts. That experience will be invaluable — last year’s struggles proved that.

The big questions for the Irish are on offense, beginning with the starting quarterback, where there’s still no clear front-runner. Up front, the offensive line returns just two starters from last season, which will spell some early-season difficulties.

Once the line and the eventual quarterback find their groove, a tough three-game stretch in October against Clemson, Navy and USC could strike at the wrong time to ruin Notre Dame’s plans for the College Football Playoff.


Zach Klonsinski, Sports Editor

While all eyes are on the quarterback, the biggest key for Notre Dame is its defensive health.

Linebacker is the deepest position on the defensive side of the ball, and the defensive line is experienced at the top of the depth chart, but a loss or two here will spell trouble. A question mark remains over the secondary as well.

Notre Dame is too deep offensively to struggle regardless of who is in the gun.

Between Texas and Clemson, I foresee the Irish letting one slip away, but circle the Oct. 17 revenge date with the Trojans as the season-definer. A win and the Irish are in at least a New Year’s Day bowl, but if they lose, there’s no strength of schedule to fall back on.


Alex Carson, Associate Sports Editor

Notre Dame’s success will be defined by a five-game stretch.

In a game that seemingly everyone forgets about, Georgia Tech visits Sep. 19. The Irish have struggled in the past with Navy’s triple-option offense; Tech’s is better. Then after a chance to rest up against lowly UMass, Notre Dame will head to Death Valley on Oct. 3 for its toughest road test, Clemson. From there, perennial rivals Navy and USC — the best team on the schedule — come to town.

Remember that Brian Kelly’s teams have won just once the week after playing Navy.

If they make it through that stretch, the Irish will have Pittsburgh and Boston College salivating at the thought of ruining a perfect campaign.

This is Brian Kelly’s most talented team yet. But I’m not convinced they can avoid last year’s fatal mistakes.


Brian Plamondon, Sports Writer

Redemption will be the mantra this season.

Notre Dame returns every important piece from last year’s disappointing finish but has the 31-28 bowl win to build on.

In order to have success, Brian Kelly must settle on either Everett Golson or Malik Zaire as the starter rather quickly in fall camp; nevertheless, expect both to see time. Whoever is running the show will have a talented offensive line in front of him and one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation.

The defense will be much improved, although the secondary is still a question mark.

The Irish are lucky they first face Texas, which should find its groove later in the season. If they can squeeze by, they should be undefeated until the gauntlet in October that includes Clemson and USC. This team is better than 2012’s, but the Irish will get tripped up at least once along the way.



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