August 7, 2011 // Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Opens Season Ranked 18th

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Notre Dame finished each of the last four season unranked in the Coaches’ Poll, but they will start the the 2011 ranked 18th after last season’s strong finish and raised expectations for year two under Brian Kelly.

Notre Dame will open the season ranked 18th in the Coaches' Poll in 2011. (Photo - Icon SMI)

A year ago Notre Dame started year one of the Brian Kelly era unranked and never cracked the top 25 after stumbling out of the gates.  The late season surge that saw Notre Dame end USC’s winning streak over the Irish, beat a top 25 team on Senior Day, and end the season with a bowl win, however, has expectations raised and earned the Irish the highest ranking to start the season for a team with less than 9 wins in 2010.

Based on the questions still facing the Irish – most notably at the starting quarterback position – an 18th place ranking seems pretty fair to start the season.  Some preseason publications have Notre Dame ranked considerably higher, but with the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position, it’s hard to argue with where the coaches have the Irish placed to start the season.

If Notre Dame takes care of business on the field this season, starting 18th won’t make much of a difference either as they will move up quickly.

In looking at the rest of the top 25, only two Notre Dame opponents start the season ranked in 2011 – Michigan State (#17) and Stanford (#5).  Michigan State won’t be tested before traveling to South Bend on September 17 so their ranking should only improve before facing the Irish.

Stanford on the other hand could have a drastically different ranking before the Irish come to town over Thanksgiving weekend.  While Stanford does have Andrew Luck returning, they lost a lot of other talent from their 12-1 squad of a year ago the most important of it coming on the sidelines with the departure of Jim Harbaugh to the NFL.

Some other Irish opponents did receive some consideration without cracking the top 25 with Michigan, Pittsburgh, and South Florida all showing up in the “others receiving votes” area.

Comments to this Article

  • JC commented on August 7th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I hope there is an announcement soon on the QB position. However, there is certainly a lot to look forward to this year. I think our defense is going to make a statement right out of the box this year.

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  • Drew S commented on August 7th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    There isn’t a big advantage to announcing the starting QB right away, so long as the coaches know who it will be.

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  • spiceyirish commented on August 7th, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    80% chance that Crist is named the starter. Some might disagree, but he is a Senior and has a wealth of talent that needs to be tapped into

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  • IrishChan commented on August 8th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I recently read an article where Kelly seemed in favor of Crist (or at least that he was in the lead). However, Kelly reiterated that the job was still available & he was going to ensure a solid qb competition this summer.

    I’m foreseeing Crist being named the starter in the coming weeks. I’m not a believer that Reese is going to be able to sling the ball around if we are down by 10 and need two quick scores.He helped when us a few games, but if our D, running game & Kellys decision to focus on the run had not been there. We would have lost at least 3 more.

    Just my thoughts…

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    jack replied on August 9th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    IrishChan,

    I agree, I also think that Hendrix will surpass Reese this year as number 2.

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  • Teo commented on August 9th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Okay, Reese went 4-0 as a starter, winning in Los Angeles against a decent USC team, dominating a very good Utah squad and winning the first real bowl game in 15 years. He’s a very talented young kid who has tremendous poise. The big kid, Crist, has a lot of talent as well but he really hasn’t performed well. Look at the start of last year, when he coughed it up against some pretty decent teams — Navy and Stanford — and then a weak Michigan aquad. He did look great in the Michigan State loss.

    Reese isn’t perfect by any means but he is poised. He handles the ball pretty well. Watching him against Miami last year was really fun. He just seems very poised — much like a Montana. I don’t see that out of Crist yet. I know he has an amazing arm. I’ve seen that rifle at work. But he’s injury-prone and he seems to throw INTs at bad moments.

    I’d like to see a more balanced offense with Wood. Reese gives us that.

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    irishchan replied on August 10th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Good argument for Reese. However, the offense Kelly was calling was drastically different for Crist than it was Reese.

    If Crist had been given the same offensive calls we may have won every game but Standford. Crist was throwing the ball 70-75% of the time. The running game was horrendous!

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    teo replied on August 14th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    It may be that the offense for Crist was drastically different that the offense for Rees. I am simply saying that in the games that Rees started, he looked pretty solid. There were times against SC when he looked confused or fearful. The same is true with Miami. But, in both games, Rees pulled out wins, something a q is called upon to do.

    In the end, both qb’s are solid options, but it seems to me that the 19-year-old kid has a bit more poise than Crist. We’ll see, though, where things end up.

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    Irish Fan replied on August 10th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I have to disagree with you. Rees did not win those games solely on his ability. The defense is the only reason the USC game was not a huge loss. And Crist threw exactly the same number of INTs in 9 games that Rees threw in 3. Crist lost to scUM and MSU solely because of the defense and ST. Both the offense and defense played poorly against Navy and Stanford, though Crist had over 300 yards passing against Stanford. Rees is 4-0 because Kelly completely changed the play calling and the formation style and began running the ball more. And the defense learned how to tackle. If Crist ran the offense Rees ran, had a defense that could stop anyone, and a solid running game, he would have had at least 3 less losses. Stanford likely would have still won. They were better than us.

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    jack replied on August 10th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Teo,

    Handles the ball well, he through a pick six against Tulsa, an interception in the endzone against Army and three turnovers in one quarter against USC. He look like a deer in headlights against USC. The Utah game was 4 td’s one of which was special teams. The other two were short fields on fumbles and by Utah. Crist against Michigan played three quarters and lit them up. He played lights out against BC, MSU and Pitt. He was also playing well against Tulsa. Tommy Rees also look horrible in the Spring game. The pick he threw to Lo Wood was a horrible read and throw. Hendrix will pass on on the depth chart this year and by the end of his career Golson will be ahead of him. By the way he is a slow as molasses in January.

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    Hawk replied on August 16th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Reply to Teo – don’t forget when Crist was in the game against UM he dominated them. No doubt had he played that whole game the Irish would have won…and won big! Also don’t forget that the Irish won the USC game despite Rees looking liking a deer in the headlights – and tossing many INT’s!!!

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  • JC commented on August 9th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Well, pick of the litter is not a bad position to be in with all this talent and potential talent at QB. I’m sure we will see more than one QB if our starter…who ever that is stumbles right out of the blocks. Hope not!

    After the bail out of last years season, I have full confidence in the coaching staff to install the best QB to start the season. We don’t get to see day to day practice improvements since the Blue and Gold Game. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to predict a winner just based on past performance. Who knows? Maybe Hendrix is having a Kodak moment all the way through fall practice and starts?

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  • Brandon commented on August 9th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Teo, I understand your argument for Rees, but he did not play any better than Crist. The defense was the problem when Crist was in. Rees was an average quarterback and was benefited by our stellar defense the 2nd half of the season. If Crist was in when our defense was playing like that, I think we would have been a better team. If you don’t remember, Rees was actually the reason we lost one of the games last season in the last 30 seconds. We could have kicked a field goal, but Rees threw an interception. Rees does not have great arm strength like Crist and his accuracy is not all that great. I’d like to see what the team looks like with a healthy Crist and a defense like the one that played in the last 5 games of last season. If I am wrong then I will be the first one to admit it.

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    irishchan replied on August 10th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I agree with you all the way Brandon. The running game and offensive calls were drastically different for Reese as well!

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  • joey d commented on August 9th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Can you imagine what the Irish would look like in two years if they sign players like Keith Marshall and DGB and Jarron Jones!! Marshall sets official visit. DGB’s father is friends with Zeke Motta’s father. Jones is leaning towards South Bend.

    Keep loading up and coaching up your talent Coach Kelly!

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  • irisheye62 commented on August 9th, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I like the insight of the coaches poll.
    However, I don’t like pre-season “polls” as it seems to favor those on the top more so than those who could rise from the low 20′s or “other” It appears that for the most part, if one is not ranked in the top 25 or the 10-12 “others” attempting to crack the top 25 code, that ones team does not have a chance at a major bowl or post season hope. Correct me y’ll if I’m wrong. Does anyone here know the biggest jump any team has ever made from seasons beginning to end? National Champion or not, I’d be curious.
    As for the Irish, I believe that three opponets have first year coaches and ND is ripe to do some good work! Beat Mich. St and that can make a statement–I’m glad that one is at home! ND now -ND forever! ( a neighbor told me that the Irish were “not relevant” anymore. I didn’t respond to his arrogance) We Are–ND!!!!!

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    Ping7Fe replied on August 10th, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Auburn was ranked 23rd and 22nd in the 2010 USA Today and AP Poll respectively. Stanford wasn’t ranked in either poll. I don’t like preseason polls either, but I’m excited about the 18th spot. It should give our team confidence, but keep them motivated.

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  • cousinnap commented on August 19th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    All we can do is wait and see – not a clear choice here – I just didn’t think Crist looked comfortable in that offense last year – great arm yes – Reese didn’t really look that great either – yes he won – but mainly due to things other than him winning the game. Hendrix may emerge as the real talent here. The defense should be the key to this year, and if the running game can do anything the reat will fall in to place – growing is a step by step process – let’s be realistic about the end result

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  • jack commented on August 19th, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    BK is playing games, he is using this competition to push Crist. He made a comment the other day about Dayne not regressing but being even better than last year. He has all the tools but I trust BK’s decision.

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  • doug commented on August 20th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    The one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned was the fact Crist came in under Weiss and was coached his way… His first year as a starter was under Kelly with a whole different coaching style and game plan.. He never really had a chance to get into a groove, he didn’t have the Quinn/Samardzija, Clausen/Tate chemistry, Although he had Floyd, they never really had that connection.. I think his time off was a chance to get things together for a “Breakout” season.. Yes Rees did a great job with what he had, but I think Crist will start..Just my opinion

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  • jack commented on August 23rd, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    BK named Crist the starter, now full speed ahead.

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  • DeltaIrish commented on August 23rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Sure is nice to see a major announcemnt in college football that doesnt include the words “scandal,” “arrest,” “investigation” or any of the other reent buzzwords.

    Two great kids competed hard hard for the right to lead their team. both are real scholar athletes and high character young men. That’s what college football is about. In all honesty, college football needs ND to return to glory. A program that does it right, with the right kind of kids, proving it can be done without free tats, booster provided hookers on private yachts and coaches selling players to the highest paying agent.

    Will be a real jolt to the system to see Stanford and ND ranked in the top 5 playing each other the last week of the year.

    GO IRISH!

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  • cav commented on August 23rd, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I’ve seen on a few other boards comments as to whether or not Crist is right to lead this team. Kelly implied in his press conference that he tried to make Dayne fit his offense last year instead of having his offense fit Dayne. He made the offense fit Rees and look what happened.

    Kelly said the offense that Crist is going to run is not the high octane Oregon offense. It is an offense that is suited to Dayne’s skill set. Because of that, I think Crist is going to have an incredible year. I also watched the Crist press conference and he said he was overwhelmed last year learning a new offense and being a first time starter. He said this year is a lot different.

    I posted at the end of the season that Crist getting hurt might have been the best thing to happen to ND. Kelly had to adapt his offense and he found that the players he had were more designed for power football. It gave Rees an opportunity to gain experience, which in turn created major competition that made Crist and Rees better.

    I agree with Kelly, having both of these QB’s is a great problem to have and I can’t wait for the 1st game.

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