Notre Dame Fighting Irish: CFN College Football Preview 2021

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: CFN College Football Preview 2021

2021 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: CFN College Football Preview 2021

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College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Notre Dame football season with what you need to know.


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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Notre Dame Football Schedule Analysis
– Notre Dame Fighting Irish Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 10-2 overall, 9-1 in ACC
Head Coach: Brian Kelly, 12th year, 102-39 (145-61 overall)
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 5
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 15
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 12

Notre Dame Fighting Irish College Football Preview 2021: Offense

The offense wasn’t all that explosive under first year offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, but that wasn’t really the idea. It was efficient, effective, and it did a great job of controlling games and the clock.

The Irish were among the best in the nation on third downs, in time of possession, and at being consistent enough to find ways to keep things moving. They didn’t turn the ball over a ton, relying on another great offensive line and the steady play of QB Ian Book to win.

It might not have been the most explosive of attacks, but that was totally fine – the Irish were able to grind their way to wins, again, by maintaining control. There might be a ton of new parts to the mix this year, but the concepts and plans still hold. It all starts with getting the quarterback situation right.

– Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan is almost certainly the main man for the starting quarterback gig. The veteran stepped in for the Badgers when then-starter Alex Hornibrook went down in 2018, and there were a few nice moments when the job was his in 2019 – he hit close to 70% of his passes for over 2,700 yards with 18 touchdowns and just five picks.

Banged up to start the 2020 season, Graham Mertz showed he was ready, and now Coan is in South Bend. Drew Pyne is a smallish bomber with a little more mobility – he’ll at least provide a bit of a push in fall camp.

The receiving corps loses top wideouts Javon McKinley and Ben Skowronek, but Michael Mayer is one of the nation’s top returning tight ends coming off a 42-catch, 450-yard, two-score season.

Avery Davis is a good talent who should rise up into a bigger role after catching 24 passes for 322 yards and two scores. He’s the one certainty in the wide receiver mix, but everything else is going to be a work in progress with Lawrence Keys and Braden Lenzy two decent veterans in the rotation.

The offensive front keeps on producing year after year, but it’s going to be a grind for a little bit. Even the Irish won’t be able to quickly replace Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey at tackle and Aaron Banks and Tommy Kraemer at guard.

Jarrett Patterson is one of the team’s best players for somewhere in the interior – he returns after missing time late in the year hurt – Cain Madden comes in from Marshall to be at least a stopgap option at one tackle, and then it’s up to the underclassmen.

Star recruit Blake Fisher should be thrown to the wolves right away at one tackle job, and fellow freshman Rocco Spindler might be too good to keep out of a starting job inside.

Ultra-quick back Kyren Williams led the team with 1,125 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, No. 2 back Chris Tyree brings even more speed and flash – he averaged 6.8 yards per carry – and a few new recruits will see time early on. The backs have to do even more without an Ian Book-like runner at quarterback.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Notre Dame Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Notre Dame Fighting Irish College Football Preview 2021: Defense

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