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College Football Preview: 24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Returning Starters: 14 Returning Star: LB Manti Te'o Key Loss: WR Michael Floyd Player to Watch: DE Stephon Tuitt Brian Kelly's last two teams here in South Bend have been average. Not too good but not too bad. This 2012-2013 team has the talent to turn Notre Dame into an above average 10 win team. If, they can get through this tough schedule that includes a Dublin battle with Navy, a road matchup against Michigan State and a good-looking Oklahoma team. Back is junior Tommy Rees who Kelly gave the starting job in 2011. But this quarterback position is far then settled. Junior Andrew Hendrix has a big arm and freshman Gunner Kiel could give Rees a run for his money. Rees has an okay arm and okay accuracy. He isn't too flashy but he did look good in a number of games last season and is the less risky option for Kelly. Though this team shouldn't pass too much with the talent they have in the backfield. Senior Cierre Wood ran for over 1,000 yards last season and should once more. Theo Riddick should also get carries as he should switch between a big and slot receiver. Riddick has the speed and agility to be lethal and since he was a receiver he can obviously catch. Gone is Michael Floyd greatly depleting Rees' options in the air attack. But back is tight end Tyler Eifert, an All-American. Eifert has size and stamina and brings toughness that not a lot of players have. Junior T.J. Jones could have a breakout '12 as he is the top returning true receiver. Also back is senior John Goodman who has the size to be a dominant force for Rees. Protecting Rees is this okay offensive line. Braxston Cave is fully healthy and should have a strong year at center. Guard Chris Watt is experienced and smart. This defense got a huge boost when tackling machine Manti Te'o decided to stay one more year with these Fighting Irish. Te'o has the athleticism that is truly dangerous and his numbers don't lie. This defensive line could end up being very good after returning two starters in Kapron Lewis-Moore and tackle Louis Nix. Nix is a force up the middle that can also provide a decent pass rush. The most talented player on this line, though, is end Stephon Tuitt. The versatile Tuitt can play just about every position you need him to. Other than Te'o these linebackers have senior Dan Fox back who can also make plays. The secondary is unproven and is the weakest unit on this team. Heisman Hopeful: Cierre Wood Independent Rank: 1st

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