NG Louis Nix
8-31-13 TEMPLE
9-7-13 at Michigan
9-14-13 at Purdue
9-28-13 OKLAHOMA
10-5-13 Arizona State @Arlington, TX
10-26-13 at Air Force
11-2-13 NAVY
11-9-13 at Pittsburgh
11-30-13 at Stanford
Head Coach: Brian Kelly
28-11, 3 years

2012 Statistics

2012 RESULTS: 12-1
Navy @Dublin, Ireland WON 50-10
at Michigan State WON 20-3
Miami FL @Chicago, IL WON 41-3
at Oklahoma WON 30-13
at Boston College WON 21-6
at Southern California WON 22-13
Alabama LOST 14-42

2012 Final Rankings
AP-4, Coaches-3, BCS-1


Off. Coordinator/QB Coach: Chuck Martin (4th season)
Previous: Grand Valley State Head Coach

Def. Coordinator/LB Coach: Bob Diaco (4th season)
Previous: Cincinnati Def. Coor.

Running Backs/Slot Receivers: Tony Alford (5th season)
Previous: Louisville RB Coach

Outside Receivers: Mike Denbrock (4th season)
Previous: Indiana State LB/Sp. Teams Coach

Tight Ends/Special Teams: Scott Booker (4th season)
Previous: Western Kentucky DB Coach

Offensive Line: Harry Hiestand (2nd season)
Previous: Tennessee OL Coach

Defensive Line: Mike Elston (4th season)
Previous: Cincinnati TE/Sp. Teams Coach

Co-Def. Coodinator/CB Coach: Kerry Cooks (4th season)
Previous: Wisconsin DB Coach

Safeties Coach: Bob Elliott (2nd season)
Previous: Iowa State DB Coach


What's the difference between last year and this upcoming season in South Bend? Shouldn't the Irish be considered another Top 5 team heading into 2013? The only thing missing are two solid offensive linemen at guard and center, an NFL pass catching tight end and a Heisman runner up in the middle of the defense. Oh yea, and now Everett Golson is no longer the quarterback. The preseason polls may have this team set in the Top 10 to start the season, but many don't have them as a Top 5 caliber team.

Maybe it was the blow out in the BCS National Championship Game that left a bad taste in people's mouth. Or the fact that the Irish don't appear to have an answer for the aforementioned personnel losses. Anyone that wishes to dismiss this team as another contender for whatever reason is just fine with Coach Kelly because he knows this team has the potential to be just as good continuing to live the sleeper role.

It's no secret the defense took much of the credit for getting this team into the title game. While this side of the ball dominated the offense was hot and cold. If this 2013 version has to rely on defense problem. It's rare to find two specimens the NFL quality of defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix and the coverage from these corners are about as good as Notre Dame has fielded in a long time. Yes, Manti Te'o production won't be duplicated by one man but the jest of these returning linebackers are all seniors.

As with any year in the last century the Notre Dame quarterback demands public attention. Sophomore Everett Golson won the hearts of many Irish fans with his quickness and decision making. With his surprising departure senior Tommy Rees has to redirect his game from being a relief pitcher to the starter. The only good news in that equation is that at least Rees is a veteran senior who knows what it takes to be the top gun. The receivers are top quality outside of the tight end position but this offense will obviously only get better if Rees can deliver.

Except for the addition of Arizona State and Air Force this is the same exact schedule compared to a year ago when the Irish ran the regular season table. It's not easy. It never is under the Golden Dome. There are plenty of chances for a slip up as many of these games will again be the same type of barn-burners going down to the wire. With great defense and a blue collar offensive mentality, this Irish team isn't built to blow out the teams dotting their schedule. This upcoming campaign looks eerily similar to the one that just finished. And that too is just fine with Coach Kelly outside of an adjustment in the finale. Notre Dame can get there again with the same type of breaks and the same "Chip" on their shoulders.

Projected 2013 record: 10-2

OT Zack Martin
2012 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Tommy Rees, 34-59-2, 436 yds., 2 TD

Rushing: George Atkinson, 51 att., 361 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: TJ Jones, 50 rec., 649 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Kyle Brindza, 23-31 FG, 28-29 PAT, 97 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Kyle Brindza, 23-31 FG, 28-29 PAT, 97 pts.

Tackles: Bennett Jackson, 65 tot., 45 solo

Sacks: Stephon Tuitt, 12 sacks

Interceptions: Bennett Jackson, 4 for 57 yds.

Kickoff Returns: George Atkinson, 22 ret., 20.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: None


2013 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Theo Riddick-RB, Robby Toma-WR, Braxston Cave-C, Mike Golic-OG, Tyler Eifert-TE (NFL), Cierre Wood-RB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Kapron Lewis-Moore-DE, Manti Te'o-ILB, Zeke Motta-S, Jamoris Slaughter-S, Ben Turk-P


  • The off-season academic loss of third-year sophomore Everett Golson hurts. Since his breakout game in Norman last fall Everett continued to improve in every facet. Golson will do all he can to get back into a Notre Dame uniform but that can't happen in 2013.
  • The door reopens for senior Tommy Rees who already has 18 starts for the Irish to his credit including the 2011 season where he was the full-time signal caller for 12 games.
  • Shaky as a starter, Rees' best suite last fall was as a relief pitcher. When the chips were down he rose to the occasion pulling his team out of the fire with late game heroics. He was considered a third down passing option as well.
  • Rees gives the Irish a better passing game but his scrambling skills and ability to make plays with his feet were no comparison to Golson. Coach Kelly will have to adjust his offensive philosophy.
  • The second biggest news this off-season was the transfer of heralded recruit Gunner Kiel who didn't play at all last season.
  • Andrew Hendrix has taken important snaps in his ND career thus far but his role from here on out was not anticipated to be significant. With Golson gone his role as the backup now becomes crucial.
  • Offensive coordinator Chuck Martin was quoted in the spring that true freshman Malik Zaire was among the most mentally advanced frosh quarterbacks Kelly has coached in 20 years. Zaire is gunning for playing time this season.


  • The top two rushers are gone in Riddick and Wood. The Irish do have three ball carriers who have rushed for at least 50 yards versus a BCS conference foe. Atkinson and McDaniel did against Miami, Amir Carlisle did as a freshman at USC.
  • George Atkinson has put all his emphasis into football this off-season and has made significant leaps. He skipped track where he has already been successful to focus on the weight room and on football. Now bigger and much stronger he is clearly the first option to begin the new season.
  • Coach Kelly has praised Trojan transfer Amir Carlisle this spring. Carlisle is the elusive speed back who can also double in the slot, the same dual role that Theo Riddick filled last season. If he can avoid the injury bug that has held him back Carlisle will make an impact.
  • Notre Dame recruiting plucked two of the nation's premier running backs out Florida this February. Greg Bryant and Taurean Folston will each be given a chance to take handoffs when August camp arrives. By mid-season expect one of these recruits to shake up the status quo.


  • If the passing game is going to take a step forward this unit has a nice blend of experience and athleticism to make it happen.
  • TJ Jones had been Mr. Reliable amassing over 110 receptions for over 1300 yards in three years as a starter. The returning leading receiver is not a game breaker but is sure-handed in crucial situations. After completing a tremendous spring, Jones will be one of the veteran leaders of this offense.
  • DaVaris Daniels is primed to put up big time numbers. On his way last fall before a shoulder injury against Boston College, Daniels finished strong as one of the few bright spots in the BCS National Championship game where he responded with six catches for a career high 115 yards. Alabama had only allowed three hundred yard receivers all season.
  • Daniel Smith is a better blocker than a receiver. He made four starts last fall.
  • Amir Carlisle is currently at running back, but Coach Kelly could not restrain his giddiness when talking about him moving to the slot. Heralded recruit Davonte Neal transferred and now newcomer C.J. Prosise has moved from playing safety on the defense to the slot position on offense.
  • Chris Brown has the top end speed to stretch the field and played in all 13 games last season as a true frosh.


  • The tight end position at Notre Dame has grown into a recent legend. Anthony Fasano, Greg Olsen, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert create an amazing list. None of them were small and all were much more known for their pass catching ability. That won't be the case for incumbent Troy Niklas whose high school coach thought he would wind up playing offensive tackle.
  • Troy Niklas earned six starts in 2012 with the double tight-end formations. He is big with freakish strength and his best use will likely be that of a blocker.
  • Big Pennsylvania product Ben Koyack has not met expectations yet but is capable enough to be utilized in the two tight end sets. Coaches say he has moved from a question mark to an asset this spring with superb hands. Big Ohio product Alex Welch is back after missing the entire 2012 season with a knee injury suffered in the preseason.
  • Don't expect anyone on this roster to come close to filling the shoes of the departed Tyler Eifert in regards to the passing game.


  • The anchor is on the left side with two seniors protecting the quarterback's blindside. All-American Zack Martin and Chris Watt at tackle and guard respectively combine to make this one of the strongest aspects on the offensive side of the ball.
  • No final decisions have been made with the remainder of the group. Building depth last season was difficult with all of the close games. The first order or business was finding a starting center to replace the Rimington Trophy Finalist Braxston Cave. The battle quickly evolved into a Nick Martin (younger brother of left tackle Zack) and Matt Hegarty race with Martin taking a significant lead.
  • 13 game starter Christian Lombard is back to man the right tackle spot although no final decisions will be made until former Nevada prep basketball star Ronnie Stanley is healthy. If Stanley can work his way into a starting role Lombard could moved to right guard.
  • For this offense to dominate running with the pigskin they will have to show an ability to run the right side with confidence opposed to an overwhelming tendency to run behind Zack Martin and Chris Watt.
  • Some have called this recent recruiting class one of the tallest and beefed up offensive lines Notre Dame has ever hauled in. The results won't likely be seen until 2014 but this will help provide insurance with the depth factor.


WR TJ Jones


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Tommy Rees-Sr (6-2, 213) Andrew Hendrix-Jr (6-2, 220)
Malik Zaire-Fr (6-0, 208)
RB George Atkinson-Jr (6-1, 217) Amir Carlisle-So (5-10, 185)
WR TJ Jones-Sr (5-11, 192) James Onwualu-Fr (6-1, 215)
WR DaVaris Daniels-So (6-2, 192) Chris Brown-So (6-2, 191)
WR Daniel Smith-Sr (6-4, 213) C.J. Prosise-RFr (6-0, 220)
TE Troy Niklas-Jr (6-7, 259) Alex Welch-Jr (6-4, 245)
Ben Koyack-Jr (6-5, 253)
OT Zack Martin-Sr (6-4, 308) Ronnie Stanley-So (6-6, 318)
OG Chris Watt-Sr (6-3, 321) Bruce Heggie-Jr (6-5, 286)
C Nick Martin-So (6-4, 284) Matt Hegarty-So (6-5, 296)
OG Connor Hanratty-So (6-5, 309) Mark Harrell-RFr (6-4, 305)
OT Christian Lombard-Jr (6-5, 322) Steve Elmer-Fr (6-5, 317)
K Kyle Brindza-Jr (6-1, 225) Nick Tausch-Sr (6-0, 195)




  • It's been a very long time since South Bend has produced two talents the likes of Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix on the same defensive line. Both are considered potential future first round NFL Draft picks.
  • Production from this unit can be directly attributed to recruiting, something previous head coach Charlie Weis failed to address with adequate numbers. This unit has gone from a liability to strength.
  • Big 6'6, 322-pound defensive end Stephon Tuitt was long considered to be the run stuffer, but Tuitt looks quite comfortable too bringing pressure on quarterbacks leading the team with 12 sacks last fall.
  • Nix is the 340-plus-pound anchor in the middle and is almost impossible to block. As a space eater life for linebackers on this defense should continue to be golden.
  • The door is open for Sheldon Day, a former defensive tackle out of high school, to assume a major role at the other end position after an excellent spring. Day appeared in all 13 games as a true frosh last season and Kelly noted that no one on this line of scrimmage could shed blockers any better.
  • Kona Schwenke is a top nose guard who at one time was considered to be the starter ahead of Nix. Tony Springmann can play any position on this front.


  • It's not every year a team has to replace a Heisman Trophy runner-up on defense. Irish eyes will be glued on the quest to replace Manti Te'o. The good news is that the other three spots in this 3-4 alignment are all senior returning starters.
  • Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese have shared starting duties at Will over the past three seasons. Both return for their final season and will be expected to share the leadership role.
  • Jarrett Grace has been groomed as the successor to Te'o. Coaches love Grace but it remains to be seen what he can do in an actual game. If he can secure the Mike position look for Fox and Calabrese to share duties again at Will. If not one will have to slide over to provide support.
  • On the outside Prince Shembo is back for his final season and has been a difference maker since his freshman campaign. With his quickness Shembo has excelled behind this talented line and has the potential to be one of the stars of this entire defense.
  • On the opposite side Danny Spond had a slow start last fall but eventually became a key member on this side of the ball. He represents the best linebacker in coverage.
  • The New York Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2010 Ishaq Williams has yet to reach his expectations. This could be a make-or-break season for the junior.
  • Both Ben Councell and Anthony Rabasa were highly touted defensive ends in high school that have found difficulty stepping up to the college level while trying to play linebacker. One of these backups could play a vital role in this rotation that keeps everyone fresh.


  • Last year at this time Notre Dame faced the task of replacing both cornerbacks with inexperienced players. Presumed starter Lo Wood went down with an Achilles injury and the worrying began. What became a nightmare turned out to be one of the team's biggest surprises.
  • This year both starters are back beginning with rising senior Bennett Jackson who is both the team's returning leading tackler and interception king. The former receiver made the transition after his freshman campaign and has never looked back.
  • KeiVarae Russell came in last year as a running back but was moved to corner out of necessity due to the season-ending injury to Wood. As expected the season started out a little rough but Russell eventually turned into one of the team's biggest surprises and has plenty of room to grow.
  • Lo Wood is healthy and will return to the lineup. He may be the only true cover corner on the team and will be a part of the rotation with Jackson and Russell.
  • Injuries wreaked havoc at safety a year ago. Matthias Farly was an emergency replacement who was superb in run support. He has locked down one of the starting safety spots.
  • Thus far there are limitations at safety with many of the answers shaking out come August. Solid depth exists to turn this into an asset otherwise coaches never would have moved C.J. Prosise to receiver.


DE Stephon Tuitt


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Sheldon Day-So (6-2, 286) Tony Springmann-So (6-6, 284)
NG Louis Nix-Jr (6-3, 347) Kona Schwenke-Sr (6-4, 297)
DE Stephon Tuitt-Jr (6-6, 322) Justin Utupo-Jr (6-1, 281)
OLB Prince Shembo-Sr (6-2, 258) Ishaq Williams-Jr (6-5, 261)
ILB Dan Fox-Sr (6-3, 240) Carlo Calabrese-Sr (6-1, 244)
ILB Jarrett Grace-So (6-3, 248) Kendall Moore-Jr (6-1, 244)
OLB Danny Spond-Sr (6-2, 248) Ben Councell-So (6-5, 248)
CB KeiVarae Russell-So (5-11, 190) Josh Atkinson-Jr (5-11, 197)
CB Bennett Jackson-Sr (6-1, 185) Lo Wood-Jr (5-11, 194)
S Nicky Baratti-So (6-0, 201) Elijah Shumate-So (6-0, 213)
S Matthias Farley-So (5-11, 204) Austin Collinsworth-Jr (6-1, 194)
P Kyle Brindza-Jr (6-1, 225) Alex Wulfeck-Sr (5-9, 175)
Jude Rhodes-Jr (5-9, 180)



  • Kyle Brindza returns after a fairly descent campaign. Brindza began 2012 as the backup but an injury forced him into action and he immediately responded by kicking the game winner versus Purdue. His consistency came into question as the season wore on but he has to be considered a positive with the expected improvement a year brings.
  • The surprising return of fifth-year senior Nick Tausch could make things very interesting. Tausch was the starting kicker in 2009 when he recorded a school record 14 straight field goals before an injury ended his campaign. Last year he was the projected starter before another injury cost him the year. If Brindza struggles coaches won't be hesitant to call on Tausch, making this a unique kicking musical chair.
  • Four year starter Ben Turk is gone at punter. Kyle Brindza will take over pulling double duties as he did in high school. Brindza has yet to record a punt at the college level. Wake Forest transfer Alex Wulfeck will be available in the fall if Brindza falters.
  • George Atkinson should once again be the main kickoff returner for the third straight season. The only issue is risking injury to the starting running back where experience is slim.
  • Look for either Amir Carlisle or receiver C.J. Prosise to be the answer returning punts. The statistical department has been horrible here (2.2 yards per return in 2012).