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New York Times pegs Notre Dame at #32

Aug 7, 2010, 1:02 PM EDT

Some rag called the New York Times has been counting down all 120 D-I football teams heading into the season’s opener. Yesterday, they profiled their 32nd best team, the University of Notre Dame.

Their bullet-point rationale:

Likes

1. Even without Tate, deep receiving corps.
2. Dayne Crist.
3. 10 returning starters on defense.
4. The running backs.
5. Brian Kelly.

Dislikes

1. Philosophy changes on both sides of the ball.
2. Lack of front-seven depth
3. Breaking in new safeties.
4. The offensive line.
5. A tough schedule.

I’m a huge fan of The Quad blog and Pre-Snap Read is mandatory reading for a college football fan, so I wasn’t surprised when I found myself agreeing with most of what they wrote. That said, I’d argue that two of the Quad’s dislikes are actually strengths (Philosophy change, Offensive line), and while the schedule is surprisingly difficult (Phil Steele ranks it the 17th hardest in the country), it isn’t the meat-grinder of past years (or future).

As most of us were, the boys at the Times were left a little underwhelmed from their 2009 prediction. From last year:

Thinking logically, I have to give the Irish a loss to U.S.C.;
another loss will come from the group of Nevada, Michigan State,
Pittsburgh and Stanford; I also can’t escape the feeling the team will
lose one game it shouldn’t. If you can say with a straight face that the
Irish are not talented enough to make at least a one-win improvement
over last season’s finish, either A) you know something I don’t; or B)
your hatred for all things Fighting Irish has blinded you against all
sense of reason. I’m thinking Notre Dame goes 9-3, a finish that could
earn the Irish a B.C.S. bowl appearance, but with this schedule more
likely a spot between Nos. 16-23 in the final regular season poll.

If I’m reading the complete preview at Pre-Snap Read, here is the thing that really like:

I had the opportunity to eat breakfast with Brian Kelly and a small
handful of colleagues in early March, when Kelly and a few university
administrators were in Manhattan to watch the Fighting Irish play in the
Big East tournament. I took three key things from this conversation.
One, Kelly is as passionate about college football — not just football,
college football, mind you — as anyone I’ve come across. Two, his
attention to detail — how he planned to run spring practice, his
day-to-day coaching philosophies, what he expected from his team — is
unparalleled. Three, and perhaps most telling, Kelly is not going to
allow his team to use this coaching change as rationale for using that
dreaded word — rebuilding. Kelly expects to win, to win now, and win
big. As the first-year coach said later in the spring:

All in all, a pretty comprehensive look at the upcoming season, especially their breakdown of the experience on defense. 9-3 if things go well, 5-7 if it’s a complete nightmare. I’m guessing most ND fans are hoping things go more than well..

  1. willmose - Aug 8, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    For the first time in long while, Notre Dame will have a top 10 team this year. Kelly is the real deal. The team will get better every week. You read it here first.

  2. TLNDMA - Aug 8, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    ND is returning starters at 6 of 7 def. front 7 positions, how many teams can say that? They are also returning to a schemme that most of those players were recruited to play. Now the latest rumpus is that excellent strength gains were made along the D-line. This unit could very well suprise.

  3. ryan - Aug 8, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    i agree that the d-line could suprise, hell even the whole defense has the potential to suprise. but frankly, i have been thinking such for the last 3 years and have been disappointed every year. i hate to sound like a senile pessimist, but i’ll believe it when i see it.

  4. TLNDMA - Aug 8, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Ryan, It’s more fun being an optimist. I’ve tried to stay away from the Kool- Aid, it’s not my first experience with a coaching change. That said, the vibe from the holy land says this time it’s real.
    One thing for sure, we won’t be calling a second time out after coming out of the first. The kids (players) know, and they are excited.

  5. terrence1957 - Aug 8, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    to TLNDMA: so they return 6 of front 7 from defense. C’mon. From last year’s defense? ND’s defense for the past 8 years has been nothing but disastrous. Until they get a real defense, it won’t matter what kind of offense they have, they will be nothing better than an 8-4, 7-5 team at best. You read THAT here first.

  6. borromini - Aug 8, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Um…terrence…you’re not the first to preduct 8-4 or 7-5…give us a break.

  7. TLNDMA - Aug 9, 2010 at 6:46 AM

    Terrence, returning starters was not my sole reason for thinking the D-front might be much better. We shall see if they improve. 8-4 after the last three years is probably the smart prediction. we really shouldn’t complain if that’s the outcome.

  8. terry - Aug 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    9-3 at the worst, 10-2 at the best. Don’t know which they will lose but they will come to L.A. either 9-2 or 8-3 and BREAK THE STREAK.
    Mark your calendars – Saturday November 27, Notre Dame V. USC. When they beat USC – IN LOS ANGELES AS IS RIGHT AND PROPER – the Irish will be officially BACK.
    Last year they lost a lot of games in the 4th quarter, this year it will be the exact opposite. They will come into games EXPECTING to win, not hoping to.
    9/4 – N.D. 38 Purdue 10
    (Now that my kool-aid has worn off) let me just state this – Charlie Weis was and is a good man and a good recruiter – look at the talent Kelly inherited. But Charlie was NOT a college football coach by any stretch of the imagination. (oh really?)
    (Anybody out there remember “Ara stop the snow”?)
    Coach Kelly on the other hand IS a college football coach and has won everywhere he has been.
    So it comes down to this – is he ready to win in the big time? It says here he is.
    Besides – how could they lose with Grace Kelly in the stands?

  9. Jim O. - Aug 9, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    8-4? 7-5? Geeze guys, even ESPN’s perennial ND hater/baiter Mark
    May has us at 10-2. I think you are overly cautious based on past let downs while Mr. May is going with the current facts: not too tough a schedule and a GREAT coach who’s won everywhere he’s been.

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