Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2016 Issue

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

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Page 45 of 133

BY LOU SOMOGYI B y the end of Notre Dame's sec- ond game in 2015, its offense from that spring lost its top two quarterbacks, its top two rush- ers from 2014 and its starting tight end — yet still averaged 34.2 points per game, the highest figure in head coach Brian Kelly's six seasons. Those three position groups — quar- terback, running back and tight end — are projected to be even better this season, but the Fighting Irish receiving corps and line are in transition after losing three starters apiece. The 2015 line collectively was the best at Notre Dame in more than two decades, while replacing the game-breaking skills of Will Fuller and the leadership of Chris Brown at wide receiver will be a sig- nificant challenge. How quickly they can develop in the first half of the year, especially with the opener at Texas plus Michigan State and Stanford at home, will be a crucial factor in determining if Notre Dame can once again be legitimately in the College Football Playoff conversa- tion when it travels to California on Thanksgiving weekend. Top rising individuals will be fea- tured this summer and in the 2016 Football Preview to be mailed in July, but for now this is a thumbnail sketch of the major developments this spring. QUARTERBACK Top Story: The race between junior incumbent DeShone Kizer and senior Malik Zaire, the 2015 starter before a season-ending injury, was not going to be determined this spring. Other News: Kelly admitted he wished he could have given more reps to sophomore Brandon Wimbush, who SPRING SUMMARY & OVERVIEW: OFFENSE The emergence of the receivers and the line is pivotal for overall growth

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