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2021 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: There are Holes to Fill
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: There are Holes to Fill

In the last four seasons Coach Brian Kelly has put to rest all the talk about firing him as he has accumulated a record of 43-8 during that time. They have a 24 game winning streak in Notre Dame stadium and have beat the teams they are supposed winning 32 straight against unranked opponents. Have they won a national title? No, but they have been in the running and that’s more than a whole bunch of schools can say. They have to find a QB and rebuild one of the best offensive lines in college football the last couple of years. It is Notre Dame so they have players and they will be competitive so feel sorry for them at your own risk.

Offense: Replacing QB Ian Book and his nearly 9000 passing yards and another 1500 on the ground will not be easy. Book led the Irish to a 33-5 record during his time as a starter. The task will fall to Wisconsin-transfer Jack Coan who was productive for the Badgers but they were a run-oriented team. Can he develop as a go-to guy? Another tall task will be replacing four offensive linemen who had 140 starts between them. Tackle Jarrett Patterson is the lone returning starter. The running back position is solid with 1,125 yard rusher Kyren Williams returning along with his running mate Chris Tyree. The receiving corps is led by TE and future pro Michael Mayer who had 42 receptions as a freshman. For him to be the most effective, senior wideouts Avery Davis and Kevin Austin Jr. need to take a step forward.

Defense: Marcus Freeman comes in from Cincinnati as the defensive coordinator replacing the successful Clark Lea who took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. Freeman was highly sought after and there won’t be any drop-off. Two starters return upfront led by Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Isaiah Foskey. Linebackers Drew White and Bo Bauer should be very good. In the secondary All-American safety Kyle Hamilton is a guy that can do anything he is asked to do. He is a cornerstone you can build around. The corners have been torched by good quarterbacks so improvement has to be made there.


9/5 at Florida State

9/11 Toledo

9/18 Purdue

9/25 Wisconsin at Chicago

10/2 Cincinnati

10/9 at Virginia Tech

10/23 USC

10/30 North Carolina

11/6 Navy

11/13 at Virginia

11/20 Georgia Tech

11/27 at Stanford

The schedule features seven home games, four road games, and a neutral site game in Chicago which is in their backyard. They play five ACC schools none of which are Clemson and Miami. But, it still is a challenge. The opener at Florida State won’t be easy for a new quarterback to break-in against. Road games at Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Stanford could be trouble. The neutral site game is against Big-10 power Wisconsin and that is a toss-up. Home games against Toledo, Purdue, Navy, and Georgia Tech are must wins. USC is always a tough game and North Carolina is coming in with high expectations for 2021. Finally, Cincinnati invades South Bend and they might be the best team in the Group of 5 conferences.

Summary: It won’t be a surprise if the Irish drop off a tad in 2021. The schedule is tough and they are breaking a new QB who is a transfer and he is working behind an inexperienced offensive line. That spells trouble most of the time. Still, Brian Kelly is one of the best coaches around, and there is no reason that he won’t mold this group together and have another very good team by the end of the year.

Predicted Overall Record: 9-3

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