* Bob Davie’s 3rd season with the Irish: 5-7 (coming off a bowl year)
* Tyrone Willingham’s 3rd season with the Irish: 6-6 (he was fired afterward)
* Charlie Weis’s 3rd season with the Irish: 3-9 (coming off a bowl year)
I’ll be stunned if the third year jinx doesn’t hit Brian Kelly and Notre Dame hard this season.
1) Brutal schedule. Let’s start with losses at Oklahoma and USC and at home to Michigan. Notre Dame isn’t winning those games. Also, the Irish have to go to Ireland to play Navy, which it has lost three of five against. The season probably hinges on games against rebuilding Michigan State (road), rebuilding Stanford (home), and potentially-solid BYU (home). After two 8-5 seasons, I’m not sure Kelly can get there next year. Smells like a 6-6 regular season.
2) No QB solution yet. The Blue-Gold game is Saturday, and there still seems to be four guys – Hendrix, Gholson, highly-touted freshman Kiel and the incumbent, Rees – in the mix to win the starting job. If you’ve got two QBs, you don’t have one … if you have four, you definitely don’t have one. Guess: Kiel gets redshirted, Gholson transfers (I hope he doesn’t, but he seems like the odd man out), Hendrix wins the starting job, and Rees is the backup. Then, Hendrix and/or Rees gets hurt, and Kiel ends up playing.
3) Defense lost its best player to transfer. The Aaron Lynch transfer was devastating. He led them in sacks. His relentless pressure off the end was going to help a shaky secondary. There’s still talent on the defense – middle linebacker Manti Te’o is among the nation’s best at his position and a future 1st round/2nd round NFL pick – but there’s no replacing Lynch.