The 2012 season like every season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish has begun with lofty expectations. Fans and players alike expect nothing less than perfection and a national championship. And there’s also the added pressure of appearing on international stage in their season opener in Dublin against Navy on September 1st. Notre Dame will need its stars on offense and defense to shine gold to ensure a great season.
Here is a look at those key players on offense and defense for Notre Dame in 2012:
Tommy Reese, Quarterback
Last year’s starting QB finished the season with very solid numbers having passed for 2.871 yards for 20 touchdowns at a 65.5 completion rate. He unfortunately ended on a low note having failed to win its final two important contests against rival Standford 28-14 and Florida State, 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl. On an even lower note Reese lost his staring job over the summer as result of being jailed for an altercation with police. Will he get redemption from Coach Kelly? It remains to be seen.
Everett Golson, Quarterback
The phenom sophomore was regulated to the bench last season not seeing any action behind starter Tommy Reese. His combination of speed and strength were put on display in Blue and Gold Spring Game completing 11-15 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. His skill set is well-suited for coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense.
Tyler Eifert, Tight End
Eifert is expected to fill the sizeable void left by all All-American wide receiver Michael Floyd. His impressive 63-catch, 103-yard 2011 season landed the Tight End on the Sporting News First Team All-American Team and on the list of prospective Mackey and Maxwell award-winners for 2012. Though, with an inexperienced quarterback even more will be expected from Eifert this season.
TJ Jones, Wide Reciever
The inconsistent receiver will be expected play a greater role this season in the offense hopefully with more consistency. Jones will be counted upon as a top target in improving his underwhelming numbers last season, 38 catches for 366 yards.
Cierre Wood, Running Back
With no competition at this spot Wood will be the man in the backfield. Rushing for 1,102 yards with nine touchdowns last season he has proven himself to be a star. His success will be key to prospective starting quarterback Golson’s comfort and success in the passing game.
Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End
With the defection of star lineman and key component of the 3-4 defense, Aaron Lynch, Tuitt will be called upon to step up his game. The second-year standout is quite flexible and can be used in both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions. He is quite good having registered 29 tackles and two sacks.
Manti Te’o, Linebacker
What’s to say that hasn’t already been said about one of the world’s elite linebackers and indisputably the heart and soul of the Fighting Irish. He leads by example, registering an otherworldly 120 tackles and 5 sacks last season, and his leadership will be more crucial than ever. The Irishman will miss the DE Aaron Lynch, especially Te’o who was freed up to make plays with his presence.
Louis Nix, Nose Guard
6’3”, 326 pounds. 45 tackles and ½ sack. The mountain of a man in the middle, Nix is no stranger to double teams. He is expected to be the anchor of the vital Fighting Irish run defense and to free up Te’o to dominate.
Lets hope with some luck of the Irish, hopefully starting with a win over Navy in Ireland, Notre Dame and its players will enjoy a successful season.