Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

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

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MEDIA DAY BY ANDREW OWENS N otre Dame enters the 2014 season with only four of its projected 22 starters on of- fense and defense out of eli- gibility in 2015. Plus, 10 or so true freshmen could be among the two deep. That, however, does not mean Notre Dame is deficient in leader- ship. Calling the juniors — which head coach Brian Kelly also includes as fourth-year players who have a fifth year in 2015 — and sophomores the "core" of the team, Kelly expressed ex- citement on media day, Aug. 19, about seeing a slew of inexperienced players get acquainted to college football with what he calls "the toughest schedule in the country." "We'll play faster on offense, we'll play faster on defense, and we'll al- together be excited to watch this foot- ball team play and grow as the season progresses," he said. "Key positions will be manned by familiar names as well as names that will be stepping out of that tunnel for the first time. It's a unique blend for a football team that I've coached here at Notre Dame." Heading into the season, Kelly con- siders junior defensive end Sheldon Day, sophomore weakside linebacker Jaylon Smith and the offensive line to be the team's strengths. He also praised Smith's leadership efforts. "I think he's feeling more comfort- able that he can get out in front [of the team]," Kelly said. "Certainly [Smith] being here only a year, I think he wanted to make sure that he wasn't stepping out in front of upperclass- men, but he's running the group now. He runs the linebacker group. He's very influential on the defensive side of the ball, and people follow him. He's definitely one of our leaders on defense." Kelly — who was not yet ready to MEETING THE MEDIA Ten days before the start of the season, head coach Brian Kelly discussed his fifth team at Notre Dame with those covering the Irish

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