2008 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Preview
Notre Dame 2007 Record: (3-9, 0-0)
2007 Bowl: none
Notre Dame Head Coach: Charlie Weis (22-15 at Notre Dame, 22-15 overall)
Defensive Coordinator: Corwin Brown
Returning Leaders for Notre Dame:
Other Key Returnees for the Irish: RB Armando Allen, LB Maurice Crum, OT Paul Duncan, WR David Grimes, WR Duval Kamara, CB Terrail Lambert, FB Asaph Schwapp, G Michael Turkovich, CB Darrin Walls, OT Sam Young
Key Losses for the Irish: LB Joe Brockington, DE Justin Brown, TE John Carlson, DT Trevor Laws, DE Dwight Stephenson, C John Sullivan, S Tom Zbikowski
Thank goodness for recruiting. After Notre Dame’s horrible 2007 campaign, the savior for the program is the recruiting that Coach Charlie Weis has done over the last couple of years. Those youngsters are good enough to make the Irish better right away. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen, now a sophomore, has to start living up to his hype as well. Of course the poor season was not his fault, but if he wants to be the next great Notre Dame quarterback, he has to start making his teammates better.
Notre Dame's Strengths:
Clausen will have some decent receivers to work with. The passing game was horrid last year, but Robby Parris, Duval Kamara and David Grimes have enough talent to turn the position into a positive as long as Clausen learns to get rid of the ball quickly.Looking at the numbers, it might not seem like Notre Dame returns their top rusher since he only garnered 463 yards on the year, but James Aldridge is a decent back. Having Armando Allen and Robert Hughes returning as well gives the Irish a few options on the ground. The three did combine for over 1,100 yards last season and that year of experience should help the ground game.
Notre Dame's Weaknesses:
However, the offensive line needs to make some holes for the running back if the ground attack is going to be better than 115th in the nation. The line was the main cause of the struggling offense and their best player, center John Sullivan, is gone. The group is still very young, and there is the potential that a year of experience will turn things around, but if they do not improve drastically, the offense will still struggle. The line on the other side of the ball is a problem too. Without tackle Trevor Laws, who is now in the NFL, the line could be even worse than they were last season when they gave up nearly 200 yards a game on the ground. Overall the defense was not as bad as the numbers indicate thanks to being put in bad situations constantly by the offense, but there is certainly room to improve and players like linebackers John Ryan and Maurice Crum need to have big years if the defense is going to get a lot better.
The Bottom Line for the Fighting Irish:
The lone bright spot for the defense is in the secondary where three starters return. The pass defense was solid last year and corners Terrail Lambert and Darrin Walls are good enough to handle just about any receiver. Safety David Bruton had a great junior campaign and will be looked to as a leader during his senior season. However, the Irish will need some more leaders to develop if they want to skip slowly improving and go straight back to national contender.
2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 75.25 (115th in nation, 3rd among independents)
Passing Offense: 167.00 (110, 2)
Total Offense: 242.25 (119, 3)
Scoring Offense: 16.42 (116, 3)
Rushing Defense: 195.42 (96, 2)
Pass Defense: 161.58 (2, 1)
Total Defense: 357.00 (39, 1)
Scoring Defense: 28.75 (72, 1)
Turnover Margin: .00 (55, 1)
Sacks: 1.50 (96, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 4.83 (119, 3)
By Joel Welser
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