Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2016

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

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IN THE TRENCHES ANDREW OWENS T here's no doubting the talent that Notre Dame is identifying and developing on a year-to-year ba- sis. The output of seven NFL Draft picks this year only affirms the perception that head coach Brian Kelly has built one of the most t a l e n t e d p r o - grams in college football. T h e n a t u r a l question is: When w i l l t h e m a j o r wins follow? Considering the number and mag- nitude of injuries during the 2015 season, a 10-3 re- cord is no failure. L o o k i n g b a c k , however, it could have been better. The Irish fell to three top-five teams, with two of those defeats coming in heartbreaking fashion to Clemson (24-22) and Stan- ford (38-36). The wins, however, were not overly impressive. Of the 10 games not against top-five teams, six were to programs with losing records, two were to middle-of-the-pack clubs in Pittsburgh (8-5) and USC (8-6), and the final two came against over- achieving Ameri- c a n A t h l e t i c Conference foes (11-2 Navy and 10-4 Temple) that crumbled on the biggest stages. "I like where we are," Kelly said after the 16-point loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. "We're going to keep banging at the door. Keep p l a y i n g O h i o State, keep play- ing Florida State, keep playing Ala- bama, keep play- ing these teams in these kinds of venues, in these kinds of games. "We don't want to be playing di- rectional teams with no profile to them. Big names, great traditions, New Year 's Six games. Keep play- ing them, get in them. Keep building your program, keep recruiting, keep doing it the way you're doing it, and we're going to win these games. "We've made significant progress Talent Is No Longer The Concern After producing seven NFL Draft picks in 2016, the Irish could be in for a repeat effort in 2017 thanks to talented players such as defensive end Isaac Rochell. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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