6 Reasons Notre Dame Can Make Another Run in ’13

Everett Golson - 2013 BCS Championship Game

2. Zack Martin and Louis Nix Returning

Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Louis Nix III (9) fights off a block by Alabama Crimson Tide offensive linesman Anthony Steen (61) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. (Photo – Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

Notre Dame’s run to last night’s BCS Championship was made possible by the returns of both Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert for their senior seasons this year and the returns of both Zack Martin and Louis Nix for next year could do the same for the 2013 Fighting Irish.  If there is one thing that we all learned last night it was that championship football temas are built in the trenches.  Alabama controlled both lines of scrimmage and had a clear edge with both of their lines.  Notre Dame has done a great job in rebuilding both lines, but clearly there is a lot of work left to be done.

Louis Nix took a big step forward this year and became the disruptive force we all imagined he would be when he signed on to play at Notre Dame and with another off-season he has the ability to be one of the elite defensive linemen in the country.  Nix received some All American mention this year and should be on almost everyone’s pre-season All-American lists heading into 2013 as well.  His return will also help soften the blow of losing Te’o because his ability to occupy blockers makes the lives of Notre Dame’s inside backers a whole lot easier.

Martin, meanwhile, will anchor the Notre Dame offensive line for a fourth straight year and be called upon to be one of the offensive leaders again next season as a returning captain.  Notre Dame’s offensive line made some strides this year, but last night proved that there is still a lot of work for Harry Hiestand with his unit.  He and the Irish will have to replace two starters – Mike Golic Jr and Braxston Cave already.  If Martin had left for the NFL, his job would have been a heck of a lot harder.  Martin is an elite left tackle and if Notre Dame had 5 Zack Martin’s across the line of scrimmage, last night’s result wouldn’t have been as grim for the Irish.

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  1. Rich 5 years ago

    A lot of the ND success will depend on Golson. If he doesn’t work out, they have plenty of possible subs, including Zaire, the freshman and you can’t forget about Kiel. It won’t be easy but if Golson plays to his potential 2013 should be almost as successful as 2012. The schedule has a few questions marks in it, namely Stanford, USC, Oklahoma, and Michigan but with the exception of Stanford they should be able to handle it. 12-0 regular season, probably not, but 11-1 or at worst 10-2 is certainly in their reach. Go Irish!

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  2. C-Dog 5 years ago

    Philly is seriously looking elsewhere. Kelly will stay. They will retain the assistants and they will be back. Look for another overrated Michigan team next year. ND blows them out. Oklahoma will look for revenge but will come unglued in the 4th quarter. USC will not be so great next year. The Stanford game will determine if ND gets a second shot. Kelly learns and both he and diaco are ready.

    Winning them all again prior to the bowls won’t be easy but Kelly is ready to see the process through. The only acceptable conclusion for Brian Kelly is a national championship.

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  3. JohnDC 5 years ago

    I think we all need to take a deep breath and calm down. A pre-season unranked ND team made it all the way to the national championship game. As much talent as this team had, there were many teams with more talent than us. Frankly, this team over-achieved this season, and that’s a testament to BK, his asst coaches, his players and the program. They were able to get the very most out of this team on a weekly basis Did Kelly get out-coached on Monday? Absolutely. He got out coached by Nick Saban. Did i agree with his play-calling? No. But BK has shown an ability to adapt and learn from his mistakes, since the day he arrived at ND. This is a characteristic you cannot undervalue ( Charlie Weis anyone?). BK lost the first national championship game he coached in at Grand Valley State. However, the next year, he was right back there and won it all.

    BK is putting the piece in place. I can’t guarantee he will win an nc, but he clearly has the program headed in the right direction.

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  4. tommy651 5 years ago

    alabama was the better team. the only place notre dame might have had an advantage going into the game was the defense front. once alabama’s line showed it could handle notre dame’s front the game was over.

    notre dame did tackle very poorly, the defense backs looked like they were afraid to tackle the alabama backs. if they tackled better they probably would’ve only given up just 35 points. notre dame isn’t quite at the sec level yet, but nobody else seems to be either.

    if was a bad end to a great season
    , but. a few years ago they were lucky to have a winning season. remember going into this season they weren’t even supposed to be a five hundred team. i enjoyed seeing doug flutie, robert smith and mark may with egg on their face consistenly after picking notre dame to lose week after week.

    i hope the team can keep improving and continue to have winning seasons.

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  5. irisheye62 5 years ago

    Add the Leprechaun Outfit worn by Mark May to all of that!
    My 7 year old dislikes Mr. May because “he doesn’t care about other people’s feelings with anybody and any team” IF a seven year old can pick up on that –maybe Mr. May should read this. That commentary by my second grader and seeing the green on Mr. May is on our DVR!

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  6. irisheye62 5 years ago


    1. Destroying Miami 41-3.
    2. Beating Michigan 13-6 and getting first down just enough with a pass to run out the clock leaving the Maize and Blue powerless!! Oh yeah!
    3. Beating Mich. St by the same score of 20-3 like we did in 88!
    4. The Stanford goal line stand!
    5. SEVERAL goal line stands!
    6. The huge 52? Yard fg against SC in Pasadena! Take that Troy!
    7. Senior Day!
    8. Teo’s hardware
    9. Kelly’s Coach of the Year ( given where we’ve been –he DESERVED THIS)
    10.Beating Oklahoma!! WOW!
    11.A season of great memories with the hope ( and knowing ) we can be competitive and being real that there is room for improvement. We CAN DO THIS NOTRE DAME!!!!!
    12. Seeing more ND t-shirts in the mall since the Lou Holtz Era!
    13. Playing for NC
    14. Pride in ND -always, now and forever. NOTRE DAME OUR MOTHER!

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  7. jason 5 years ago

    Other area we can improve in is in the nutrition and conditioning of our players. I was listening to XM and they had the Bama radio guy on talking about how a strength and conditioning coach was making a stink about how Coach Saban wanted his guys to have something like 175 calories in them before the hit the showers after practice. But yes we need to get bigger and stronger and Coach Kelly will get us there.

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  8. Brad 5 years ago

    Also, please bring in someone in the off season who has Special Teams expertise. They are atrocious .

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  9. Brad 5 years ago

    I believe Kelly is the right guy. The program is headed in the right direction. However, if you think he is without criticism for the performance Monday night, than you are just as bad as the people calling for his head. The team was not prepared and some of the decisions made were confusing. The talent gap between Alabama and Notre Dame was not 28 points. Notre Dame got out coached. ND has great recruiting classes and great athletes coming in, but if they aren’t used correctly, it really doesn’t matter.

    If Kelly can critique this performance objectively, Notre Dame will be tough to stop. However, if excuses are made, no one gets better from that. About the only person who consistently gives Saban fits is Les Miles, but even LSU got beat 21-0 last year in the NC game.

    Use this as a learning/growing experience and ND can compete yearly for National Championships with Kelly, Diaco, and Co.

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  10. Damian 5 years ago

    Wow, Kelly helps get the team to the NC game and some fans are griping he may not be the right coach. Wow. Were they embarrassed, yes, but my God, I’m not ready to fire Kelly because they lost. ND was not going to win that game this year. That should be obvious. Alabama is a football factory that breeds big football players. You can’t coach size, you can only recruit size (which Kelly is actively doing–see some of the offensive line and defensive recruits).

    Where are you going to get a better coach than BK? Stoops, BK’s team beat Stoop’s this year. Saban is not going anywhere (plus I don’t like the extra’s that come along with that–such as overrecruiting, grey shirting, etc).

    Did BK make questionable calls last night? Sure. But that is something that can be fixed. He is recruiting the right guys, looking at the right football model for success, and he knows defense wins championships.

    BK has already showed he can make adjustments. He did with his demeanor on the field this year, something not easy to do since it requires a change in attitude.

    But let’s be devil’s advocate. ND decides they can do better. They fire BK after losing the NC game. Now you lose about half your recruiting class and some players decide to transfer. The media roasts you alive (how can you fire a coach after getting to an NC game after years of being irrelevant?). Top coaches in the country see this and decide there’s no way they want to work at ND if they’re fired so easily and they stay at their elite school. Now ND has to go after some middle level school coach or division II coach who has nothing to lose. Now it’s the Davie/Willingham/Weis era all over again.

    Think about that and how ridiculous that sounds. BK is the right coach. He is recruiting the right kids. ESPN, even after the NC debacle, is talking about how ND is relevant again and poised for yearly success (ESPN, not exactly an advocate for ND). And he has shown he can adapt. He will look at this year and see what has worked and what hasn’t. There will be adjustments made this offseason. ND will be in the BCS/NC hunt for years to come (even a BCS bowl brings gobs of money to ND, which will further help the team and bring in even better recruits).

    ND is finally on the right set of tracks.

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    1. storespook 5 years ago

      How will Brian look in Philadelphia Green? To interview for a NFL team the day after a drubbing and new enrollees coming in doesn’t say a lot about BK being “the right” guy. As I have said in posts elsewhere, BK may be a proper coach but whether he is the “right” one has not been conclusively answered.

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      1. Beau 5 years ago

        From hero to goat in a week.

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  11. JTRAIN 5 years ago

    I believe it’s more than possible to reach that “bar” without sacrificing standards. The needs to evaluate time management for the players. Take it for sour grapes if you want but I can supply examples if you like, but while the ND kids are in class SEC kids are in the gym. Yes there are exceptions like Barrett Jones but overall that is the case. The coaches need to find a way to get more time for strength training. Alabama wasn’t that much bigger to the man but they were a heck of a lot stronger. Eddie Lacy for example, his legs looked like tree trunks. Not one of our backs looks like that. Please do not give the whole “he’s a different athlete” garbage. Richardson and Ingram before him looked the same way. It didn’t matter who was doing the tackling for Alabama, they brought ND ball carriers to the ground with relative ease. While ND tacklers simply bounced off or the Alabama ball carrier (regardless of who) simply stepped out of the tackle. ND needs to get physically stronger if they are going to compete with UF, LSU, and Alabama. I mention those 3 exclusively and not SEC as a whole because those the teams ND needs to strive for physically and they are the class of the SEC. I believe ND can compete with and beat the rest, though A&M appears to be close to the other 3.

    This was a learning experience (brutal one) for all parties involved. The coaches got to see up close what it looks like and now need a gameplan to get there. Kelly proven this year that he can make a necessary change in regards to how he handles the team. He will do it again. Too bad it always seems like he has to learn the hard way! I have faith in him that he will. The players saw that while they outmuscled most the teams they played there is always someone bigger and badder than you out there. Expect to hear the words time management a lot next year because it’s going to be crucial going forward. How they balance school, workouts, practice, and film study is going to be paramount.

    This was an amazing season and nothing can take that away. Not even the trolls. If you’re team didn’t play in THE game shut your yapper. Congrats to Alabama players, coaches, and fans. You kicked our butt soundly and you earned it. Don’t think this the last you see of us though! This team is going to be here for awhile. As for the trolls, this is the last thing I am going to say to you: I know it burns your ass that ND is back. You can’t stand it. I got news for you, to quote Brian Kelly “get used to it”. Respond if you like but I assure you I won’t read it. I have spent enough time beating your brains in on here and you have nothing of substance to say other than repeat the same tired BS. I come to discuss ND football with people who can make intelligent and valid points. You have been unable to do so all season so I believe all hope is lost. I encourage everyone else to do the same and ignore the idiots and stick to more productive conversation.

    Already lookin forward to next season!!

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    1. jeff 5 years ago

      Well said JTRAIN. I like your assessment of how the Alabama RBs simply stepped out of the tackles. Shocking to watch how easy they made it look. This team will be much better next year. Kelly has the team heading in the right direction. Go Irish

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      1. Beau 5 years ago

        Alabama returns 8 starters on offense and 8 on defense. Our QB, AJ McCarron will have a better group of receivers to throw to than he did Mon. nite. Also, Eddie Lacy may leave for the NFL. However, Ala has several talented backs ready to step up. In summation, I like our chances in a rematch.

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    2. RUSSELL 5 years ago

      While I agree with your comments about the online bama/sec fans, I have nothing but great things to say about those at the game. Being from Southeast Texas I am not your quite polite no matter what fan, but was there with bells on. Face painted, wearing ND colors and hollering ND #1 and Go IRISH to everyone. When they said ‘roll tide’ I ask them if they meant low tide or did that mean #2? Great reply and ND will be back and again con grats to the fans at the game they seem to have all the class that their online trolls lack.!

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  12. Mike D. 5 years ago

    ND should be in the mix for a BCS bowl game next year but are 2 years away from getting back to the championship game. Look at Alabama recruiting classes from the last 4 years, consistently top 3, ND was 23, 9, and 9, before breaking into the top 3 this year. I think we are headed in the right direction but need to get more depth of talent before we can compete with the big boys…. GO IRISH!!!!

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  13. NDfaninmonterey 5 years ago

    If Kelly is going to run a hybrid spread offense, then he needs to use Hendrix as his qb. Golson is made for a pure spread offense, not the hybrid spread offense that Kelly runs.

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  14. C-Dog 5 years ago

    The loss of Teo in terms of leadership will be tough to replace. Hopefully someone steps up. Overall the linebackers need to improve and perhaps as a unit they can. The secondary has the pieces in place if the coaches trust them and quit calling for soft coverage.

    The offense will. Improve simply because the coaches have done well at player development.

    From a player perspective the guys graduating did an incredible job this year. But player development is such that the “next man in” concept is in play.

    My only concern is game prep. The Irish simply were not prepared to play Monday night. The loss looked worse than it might have been had the team been ready to play. The coaches also did not seem to understand how to attack Alabama. Getting held constantly in the 1st quarter doesn’t help nor do other bad calls but they never recovered from that. No one seemed take the defense aside and get them in since or remind them about tackling technique. Diaco backed off his cornerbacks instead of taking a chance and trying aggressive coverage. Offensively there were no real adjustments

    I feel like Kelly is so much of a control freak that he tends to react poorly when the game plan gets blown up. A coach and his staff need to be prepared for chaos and need to calmly adjust. I feel like Kelly gets pissed when his plan isn’t working and then thinks only of one or two things to try. I also think he gets impatient when the first thing doesn’t work. The. Coaches need to change that tendency.

    With a weak big ten and other lackluster conferences, Notre dame needs to know that the yard stick is the team they just played. How do the Irish take the next step, especially without compromising academics?

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    1. Patrick 5 years ago

      The next step is very easy to take – and I think this recruiting class addresses it. Two feature backs and more SPEED. I’m as passionate as anyone about ND football, and I do not feel the sky is falling.

      Take a step back, remove the emotion, and look at the landscape of college football. Besides Alabama, who has a better program, with a brighter future? Honestly, answer that. LSU has talent, but mentally is a mixed bag. They could be 13-0 and 11-2. A&M will be a contender, but I put much of that on Manziel, as opposed to an entire system. Ohio State will be a competitor, simply because of Urban Meyer. USC? Stanford? Oregon?

      I wouldn’t rate ND, its talent or coaching any less than those schools. ND will be in the mix moving forward. But as I’ve said, if they want to WIN the national title, they need to assume they’ll play a team like Alabama (great running game, speed and strength on ND, stellar QB play) in the years moving forward.

      They are close, but this next recruiting class will tell how quickly they get there.

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      1. irisheye62 5 years ago


        BRAVO. Well said. You should write for the Tribune! Bravo!
        I noticed for the first time this season the bama def. was as fast as our QB–and that was tough. Furthermore, LSU is a mental mixed bag. Les Miles does not do their school a great justice when he speaks at the mic at post game shows. ( I know some may think I’m “judging” -but whatever–he swears and is agitated and he is anything but a southern gentlemen at the mic–and I feel badly for the purple and gold when I see that-what a powder keg)

        ND-needs one more game next year. To my knowledge ( I could be wrong) we have 11 games scheduled.–we need a 12th and I would LOVE to see a classic kick off with somebody like Oregon. Think of that!!! Why not??
        We ARE close Patrick, and the recruits and BK will adjust and we will be there.
        Advising us all to take a step back is wise. We lost but we were THERE! We could have been 10-2 -Stanford, Thanks Pitt for the missed FG and Thanks Def. for shutting down BYU when they brought their A game in the first half. What a season!
        Thanks Patrick. You are wise with insight!!!

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  15. bj 5 years ago

    kelly just doesnt understand offense, no creative thinking, no surprises, etc. no outside the box. he is just a football ceo, cant motivate. give me lou any day. ara beat alabama, kelly always leaves me cold, how can the fighting irish be unmotivated????? this was a huge national embarassment.

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    1. NDfaninmonterey 5 years ago


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    2. Shazamrock 5 years ago

      Where do great college football coaches come from?

      Do they fall from the sky or spring up from holes in the ground?

      Do they just step off a bus and say “Here I am” ?

      Lets look at Nick Saban.

      Assistant coaching jobs:
      Kent St, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio St, Navy & Mich. St. (NFL) Houston Oliers, & Cleveland Browns.
      Head Coaching Jobs: Toledo, MSU, LSU,& Alabama. (NFL) Miami Dolphins.

      Brian Kelly Started coaching as an assistant coach with Grand Valley State, before taking over as their Head Coach.
      He was also a head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinati, and now at Notre Dame.

      Considering his limited experience compared to that of Nick Saban, I consider BK a rather remarkable coach.

      He hasn’t had a losing season.
      He currently has ND ranked #1 in recruiting this year.
      He took an Unranked ND team, to number #1 in the country during the regular season with a 12-0 record.
      He has taken his team to Ireland, to Boston, to Chicago, to Norman Oklahoma, to Los Angeles, and Miami, and done pretty well.

      There are a lot worst teams and coaches to lose to in a national Championship game than Alabama and Nick Saban.

      Alabama played with class and dignaty. There was no gloating, no trash talking, no baiting, or disrespect. No cheap shots, and no acting like a bunch asses on the sidelines by the Tide.

      Kelly and his assistants are quick studies.
      They will learn and grow from this experience and be better for it.
      And that’s a good thing for ND.

      It’s also worth remembering that when ND offers a scholarship to a high school player it’s priorities are acedemics first. It is a full four year commitment by the University to that student with the goal of graduation at it’s core.
      Some schools will give a scholarship to a player for one year, after which they will “pull” it to give to a better incoming athlete.
      Many of these same schools will use Junior College Transfers to fill holes left by recruiting short comings.

      ND stands behind the players they sign and the hand that they are dealt.

      Realizing how well Kelly has handled that situation makes the job he has done this year even more remarkable.

      To assume that Brian Kelly doesn’t understand, doesn’t care, isn’t a hard worker, or isn’t the right guy for the job, just goes to show how truely ignorant and down right pin-headed some so called fans really are.

      Now that’s embarressing!

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      1. Patrick 5 years ago


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      2. ND Southy 5 years ago

        I agree. Bj, I won’t call you an idiot as that would be rude but your comments are consistently idiotic.

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      3. irisheye62 5 years ago


        I agree. This ENTIRE season was a journey the true blue and gold ( and green) will never forget. I would say this to all of my fellow Irish fans: The sky is NOT falling, we have come so far and Kelly will build and recruit. We almost had it all but we were in the NC! Who would have THOUGHT that we would be there in the first place? A good bowl on New Years Day or a BCS bowl at best but to play for all the marbles? We got there, we lost to a huge, strong team
        ( who should be kissing the feet of Kansas State and the Ducks of Oregon and Georgia’s 5 yards out with clock expired )Bama won, better plan, points, points, points and offense and they read us like a cat does a mouse. Good for them. It is only the second time in History ( I think I’m right on that) that Bama has beaten Notre Dame. WE GOT THERE-AND WE WILL BE BACK.
        Kelly is building, has had to overcome the culture of Weiss, Willingham and Davie – a huge 13 year gap in mediocre coaching. Look at where we have been and where we are now. Teo is still inspirational, the Blue and Gold Nation is proud -or at least should be-and Notre Dame is back on track. He stands behind players, has a vision, works hard and takes responsibility for things when they don’t go right. OFfense and special teams will get it done. Hey if you can’t beat them-join them. Watch Bama and Texas A and M -and emulate that with a superb running game. We will be alright. WE ARE ND! ( BTW, I’m predicting the Aggies for all of it next year–just because) Go Irish!

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      4. RUSSELL 5 years ago

        Hope not the Aggies or Tide, GO IRISH

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    3. HURLS 5 years ago

      Gosh, I hope that was a typo; especially with the subject matter. ND’s priorities are “acEdemics”? Yeesh….

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  16. Brad 5 years ago

    It just all depends on if the pieces get used correctly next year. I believe Alabama was a better team, but I also believe Kelly got outcoached.

    Where was Robby Toma? Why was Eifert being used on the outside instead of the middle of the field? He creates mismatches against linebackers and safeties. Why so many low percentage pass plays? Where were the designed runs? Golson couldn’t have gotten 8-10 carries for 50 yards? I just don’t understand the gameplan.

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    1. narmer 5 years ago

      I dont think that Golson is the man. He has a gun but lacks touch. He can only throw bullets. He cant hit that conrner of the end zone pass as he cant arc the ball. I hope Kiel beats him out in the spring

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      1. Beau 5 years ago

        The kid played a decent game but he showed me nothing special. In his defense, he got no help from his running game. And had little time to set up.

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      2. BruceB 5 years ago

        I agree. Kiel is bigger, stronger, more accurate and, according to rumors, faster. I think the spring game will be an eye-opener.

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