Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI W hat will define a successful football season at Notre Dame in 2014? This inquiry often involves a sliding scale or can elicit a vague response such as "just be competitive." In Brian Kelly's first year in 2010, an eight- or nine-win season seemed reasonable after a 16-21 mark the three prior years under Charlie Weis and having to break in a new quarterback, compete with limited depth, etc. The 8-5 result was nothing to cel- ebrate, especially with losses to Navy and Tulsa, but a 4-0 finish and bowl win at least provided future opti- mism. By year three, you want to be in the conversation as a major bowl player. At that point of your career, few care if your quarterback is new (Everett Golson), or who you lost to graduation (first-round picks Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith), to transfer (Fresh- man All-American defensive lineman Aaron Lynch) and to injury (defensive backs Lo Wood and Jamoris Slaugh- ter). It's about building a winning cul- ture. The 12-0 regular season in 2012 achieved that mission, BCS National Championship Game meltdown not- withstanding. What that did was redefine the stan- dard by the time you get to year five. At a program such as Notre Dame, it means anything less than 10 victories (including the bowl) will be looked upon with disappointment, if not dis- dain. "For us, every year it will be how do we put ourselves in a position to get into the national playoffs," Kelly said of the yearly aspiration for the rest of his regime. "That's how we'll mark our program every year." Despite the Aug. 15 news regarding the limbo status of three starters and a fifth-year senior reserve, Notre Dame has to be in a state where people say, in the words of 1986-96 head coach Lou Holtz, "don't tell me how rocky the sea is; just bring in the ship." Twenty-five years ago, fourth-year coach Holtz experienced this when three of his star players were sus- pended prior to the season — All- The Earmarks Of A Successful Season Remain Unchanged Notre Dame's rushing average has generally had to be in the 200-yard range for the team to be cham- pionship caliber, a goal sophomore Greg Bryant and company will aim for this fall. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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