After getting off the mat, wiping off the blood, and dragging itself back to the locker room to lick some deep wounds Notre Dame Football has to do what every Title loser does: Get back to business. Here, I want to take a look at what Notre Dame is losing to graduation and the NFL and how their post title game loss season might look.
QB: Everett Golson is set to return at QB and should show poise and confidence not seen early in 2012.
RB: Both leading rushers Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood will be gone. Returning are Junior backs Atkinson and McDaniel.
WR: Two of the starting receivers in John Goodman and Robby Toma are gone. #7 TJ Jones returns as a senior.
TE: ND's all time receptions leader in Tyler Eifert will be playing on Sundays next year. His backup, returning junior Tyler Niklas is actually one inch taller than Eifert at 6'7".
OL: Here's where it gets interesting on offense for the Irish: 4 of the 5 starting offense linemen are gone. In their place are 1 Sophomore, 3 Juniors, and 1 Senior. The good news is that the new starters will be every bit the Mooses that this line was and more. There are 5 incoming recruits at O Line. They go 6'5", 6'5", 6'6", 6'7", and 6'9"and the lightest is a skinny 280 lbs.
If you're doing the math that is 8 out of 11 starters gone on offense.
LB: The biggest gaping hole in 2013 will be left by Manti Te'o. No one can replace someone who has been the heart and soul of this team on this magical run. Senior Dan Fox is the other outgoing senior LB lost to graduation. Because ND runs a 3-4 scheme it does return 2 starting LBs in Danny Spond and Prince Shembo.
DL: Another devastating loss to the Irish defense is Captain K. Lewis-Moore at DE. As with Te'o, the team will miss his play just as much as his character and leadership.
Returning to anchor the DL are nose tackle Louis Nix, who seemed to be OK after an odd jumping knee injury, and DE Stephon Tuitt.
DB: Here's where the Irish can only be better. Only Safety Zeke Motta is graduating away. That leaves a backfield that proved a little slow and under size compared to Obama last night.
That makes 4 out of 11 starters lost on defense. Because of Te'o and Lewis-Moore only the defense suffers a downgrade.
Senior punter, Ben Turk is the key player to replace in this area. Also of concern is that Turk is the holder on field goals and XPs and long snapper Jordan Cowart graduates this year as well.
Special Teams is a wash.
Based on the numbers alone, Notre Dame will be hard pressed to qualify for a BCS game, let alone the National Championship.
Early 2013 Prediction:
Temple, at home: W
at Michigan, L
at Purdue, W
Michigan State, W
at Arizona State, W
at Air Force, W
at Pitt, L
at Stanford, L
I hope I'm wrong. I hope next year's team shows the heart of this year's team.