Notre Dame spring wrap

Notre Dame

2009 overall record: 6-6

Returning starters: Offense: 6. Defense: 8. Punter/kicker: 2

Top returners: WR Michael Floyd, RB Armando Allen, TE Kyle Rudolph, OL Chris Stewart, OL Trevor Robinson, LB Brian Smith, LB Manti Te'o, DE Ethan Johnson, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, S Harrison Smith, LB Darius Fleming

Key losses: QB Jimmy Clausen, WR Golden Tate, C Eric Olsen, OT Sam Young, OT Paul Duncan, S Kyle McCarthy

2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Purdue

Sept. 11 Michigan

Sept. 18 at Michigan State

Sept. 25 Stanford

Oct. 2 at Boston College

Oct. 9 Pittsburgh

Oct. 16 Western Michigan

Oct. 23 at Navy (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Oct. 30 Tulsa

Nov. 13 Utah

Nov. 20 Army (Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.)

Nov. 27 at USC2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Armando Allen* (697 yards)

Passing: Jimmy Clausen (3,722 yards)

Receiving: Golden Tate (1,496 yards)

Tackles: Kyle McCarthy (101)

Sacks: Ethan Johnson* (4)

Interceptions: McCarthy (5)

Spring answers

1. Picking up the pace: When spring practice began, first-year Irish coach Brian Kelly lambasted his team's inability to work at the break-neck speed his system requires. It was a culture shock for players groomed in the more NFL-style practices of Charlie Weis. By late spring, though, both Kelly and his team seemed comfortable in the new tempo, which should help both sides of the ball be in shape this fall.

2. There is a backup quarterback on campus: Dayne Crist entered the spring after ACL surgery, and there was precious little depth behind him at quarterback. Nate Montana stepped forward in the spring game, though, completing 18-of-30 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. You shouldn't read too much into a spring game performance -- Montana himself said it was his best practice of the year -- and Joe Montana's son could easily get usurped by one of three freshmen this fall. But at least the cupboard isn't completely bare behind Crist.

3. Defensive fits: The Notre Dame defense will remain a concern until it actually stops people on a consistent basis. Still, Kelly sounded pleased with where the defense was at the end of spring. Guys like Ian Williams, Ethan Johnson, Darius Fleming and Manti Te'o just look like they fit in their spots in a 3-4 defense more than they did in last year's 4-3. That and added experience could make the Irish a little stronger on that side of the ball in 2010.

Fall questions

1. The offensive line: Kelly mixed and matched players on the O-line this spring, trying Trevor Robinson at tackle at one point. There's no depth chart, so it's hard to say what mix the Irish are looking at right now. But tackle and center appear to be question marks, which is no surprise following the graduations of Sam Young, Paul Duncan and Eric Olsen.

2. For Crist's sake: The public didn't get a chance to see Crist in many competitive situations this spring, and let's remember that he was limited in his mobility because of that ACL surgery six months earlier. Still, he threw two interceptions in the spring game without a defensive pass rush to worry about, and Kelly is notoriously hard on his quarterbacks. The Irish offense should be loaded in 2010, but Crist will have to continue to develop and improve this summer.

3. Inside linebacker depth: Te'o has a chance to emerge as a superstar at middle linebacker, but the true sophomore might be the most experienced player at his position right now. Carlo Calabrese, Anthony McDonald, David Posluszny and Steve Paskorz -- who moved over from fullback -- have to establish themselves in the middle to make the 3-4 defense really work.