Notre Dame Garnering Hype, But Still Untested


The 2014 Notre Dame football season has gotten off to as clean a start as could have been imagined. Well, aside from the five suspended players awaiting the Honor Code process thing. But besides that, the Irish are turning out positive results.

Unfortunately, the ‘pedestal’ of achievement on which they stand thus far (Rice, Purdue, Michigan) isn’t made of stone. More of a soft mud. They are a combined 4-7. Rice has yet to win a game at all. And Michigan has beat Miami (OH) and App. State. Not exactly resume builders.

The Irish will get their chance to prove themselves before this season is said and done. The Irish currently have four ranked opponents, including No. 1 Florida State. And there are a couple more that could break in before those games come about. But over the last couple of weeks, more talk begins to spread that the Irish are legitimate contenders for the playoffs, as our own Andrew Hall has pointed out. 

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I want to be excited. Two years ago I about went through the roof when the Irish played Alabama in the BCS title game. I’m old enough to have been a part of when the Irish were ALWAYS good. And over the last decade I’ve had to endure some lumps with the state of the program. But I’m going to temper expectation, and recommend you do the same..for now.

The Irish have rolled through these first three game playing near turnover free football. Everett Golson has been as good as advertised, even better actually. Amir Carlisle has blossomed in the slot receiver role. And the defense after a very shaky first week has been much improved. The injury report is long, but several of the list are expected to play.

What does all this mean? Well, the Irish are good. The offense actually is beginning to look like what Brian Kelly had imagined. He has two quarterbacks of similar skill set to run it (No offense to Tommy Rees, the system wasn’t designed for him and he made it work), and the skill position players are as good as anyone else in the nation.

Brian VanGorder has implemented a new, pro-style defense that is more aggressive than anything I’ve seen at Notre Dame in quite a while. It’s a learning process, but they’re getting better each outing. I’m not judging what the Irish have based on the suspended players because it could go either way. They may never play another down, or be back in a week. I can only go off of the kids who are there now.

Coming into this season, I had three games circled that I thought could go either way. Michigan (based on the history of the two teams, Florida State (because they’re FSU, obviously), and Stanford. These were my measuring stick games. Michigan was dispatched of rather easily. The other two, where I wasn’t sure when the season started, now seem very winnable. And these aren’t the only tough contests. Arizona State, Southern Cal too. I’m not trying to overlook any of them.

The Irish deserve the praise they’ve been given because they’ve executed and done what they needed to do. Like in 2012, people questioned HOW they were winning games. Didn’t matter. At the end they won them all and got a BCS title chance. This season it’s been WHO they’ve beat. Again, doesn’t matter. The jobs been completed each week.

This will be another week for the Irish to go out, get a win (a road win at that), and solidify just a little bit more that theyare throwing their hat in for the College Football Playoff.