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Preview: 2010 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Season

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Notre Dame Football 2010
Notre Dame Football 2010

As the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team embarks on its first season with new head coach Brian Kelly, there is a certain understandable angst among fans of the Golden Dome, having to do with the unsurfeited hunger for their team to once again climb back into national prominence. Quarterback Dayne Crist takes the reins let go of by early NFL draft enter-ee , Jimmy Clausen. He’ll have some nice offensive complements to work with, most glaringly the 6′-3″, 227 pound, Michael Floyd, who has the potential to be the Irish’s best non-baseball-playing wideout since Derrick Mayes, and beast tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Kelly will employ a spread offensive system similar to the one that Crist ran in high school, which should suit the quarterback’s athleticism (and will hopefully obscure the fact that ND’s running game has recently been featured in an updated version of Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” music video - which they actually re-titled “Running In Place”). Senior halfback Armando Allen should have something to say about this, however, especially given the fact that he will be running behind a veteran offensive line anchored by Junior, Outland Trophy candidate, Trevor Robinson.

The Fighting Irish’s defense should be a bigger question mark, although it does feature its own fair share of returning talent, including one of the nation’s fiercest young linebackers, Manti Te’o. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco will try to implement the gritty, smashmouth style of play he employed at Cincinnati last season, looking to veterans such as Ian Williams, Darrin Walls, and the aptly named Jamoris Slaughter, to pick up the slack. God knows we haven’t seen such nastiness at ND since the days of Chris Zorich and Demetrius Dubose. 

Despite an always brutal season-opening schedule, Coach Kelly will have a bit of history on his side, given the fact that even Tyrone Willingham came out of the gates 8-0 in his first season, ditto for Frank Leahy, and Charlie Weis came out 4-1 before losing a nail-biter to USC.  For Irish eyes to be smiling this fall, however, it will likely take more than the lucky guidance of the University’s first Irish football coach since Leahy.

*Hopefully the Pat Haden broadcasting curse has been lifted now that he’s been hired away by his alma mater, USC. Q: What kind of a genius broadcasting network hires a former USC quarterback  (and a former Rhodes Scholar, at that) to do color commentary for Notre Dame football?  A: The same one that continues to nationally broadcast every home game of a team that has gone a combined 16-21 the past three seasons. (And Pat Haden apparently is some kind of masochist!)

**A fun fact about this year’s Irish: ESPN commentator and ND alum Mike Golic has not one, but two sons on the team, including center Mike, Jr., who may just wind up snapping the football to Joe Montana’s son, Nate, during mop-up duty.

***For a complete 2010 schedule and link to purchase tickets (good luck getting them cheap), click here.