Notre Dame football 2019: Schedule, roster, recruiting and three questions for Fighting Irish

first_imgBrian Kelly enters his 10th season as Notre Dame’s coach looking to build on the program’s first appearance in the College Football Playoff.The Irish in 2018 finished 12-0 in the regular season for the second time under Kelly before suffering a 30-3 loss to Clemson in the CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic. Notre Dame will take the next step with quarterback Ian Book, who stayed on the fringe of the Heisman Trophy conversation throughout that banner regular season. MORE: SN’s pre-preseason rankings for 2019Kelly is just the fifth coach to last a decade or more in South Bend. The other four (Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Lou Holtz) have national championships. That will always be the expectation.Notre Dame is ranked No. 8 in Sporting News’ pre-preseason top 25 for 2019. To prove it and get back to the CFP, the Irish will have to get through another tough schedule.Here’s a closer look at the Irish heading into 2019:Notre Dame football schedule 2019DateOpponentLocationSept. 2at LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.Sept. 7ByeOffSept. 14New MexicoNotre Dame, Ind.Sept. 21at No. 3 GeorgiaAthens, Ga.Sept. 28VirginiaNotre Dame, Ind.Oct. 5Bowling GreenNotre Dame, Ind.Oct. 12USCNotre Dame, Ind.Oct. 19ByeOffOct. 26at No. 10 MichiganAnn Arbor, Mich.Nov. 2Virginia TechSouth Bend. Ind.Nov. 9at DukeDurham, N.C.Nov. 16NavyNotre Dame, Ind.Nov. 23Boston CollegeNotre Dame, Ind.Nov. 30at No. 21 StanfordStanford, Calif.MORE: Independent 2019 primerNotre Dame football recruiting 2019Notre Dame had the No. 15 class in the FBS according to 247Sports’ Composite team rankings. The Irish have become a destination for top offensive linemen, and four-star center Zeke Corell and tackle Quinn Carroll were the biggest hauls this year. Safety Kyle Hamilton will arrive in the spring and could contribute early. Cornerback Isaiah Rutherford is another player to watch. Kelly continues to add depth to a talented roster.Notre Dame football roster 2019Notre Dame’s football roster will be updated in the spring and fall here.MORE: Early predictions for 2019 seasonWhat to watch from Notre Dame in 20191. How will Book improve?Book was a difference-maker at quarterback for the Irish once he took the starting job for good from Brandon Wimbush. Book finished with 2,628 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Book’s mobility and accuracy were good, until the Clemson game. He completed just 50 percent of his passes in that loss and threw an interception. The schedule features tough road games at Georgia, Michigan and Stanford. Those are the games where Book will have to be at his best this season. Kelly is known for shuffling quarterbacks every season, and Phil Jurkovec is next in line.2. Which skill players step up? Notre Dame loses its top running back in Dexter Williams and top receiver in Miles Boykin. Those two gamebreakers combined for 21 touchdowns in 2018. Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr. will split carries early in the season, and Chase Claypool, Chris Finke and Cole Kmet are reliable targets for Book. Still, the Irish will need go-to guys in both. The good news is they will be able to develop behind the same strong offensive line that features senior All-American candidates Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg.3. Who takes on leadership on D?The Irish several key pieces from a tough defense, including All-Americans Jerry Tillery and Julian Love. Team leaders Te’Von Coney and Drue Tranquill also are gone. Those players were all key pieces on a defense that allowed 18.2 points per game. Julian Okwara is the best returning pass-rusher with 6.5 sacks in 2018. Linebackers Asmar Bilal and Khalid Kareem are candidates to fill that leadership void, and the secondary returns Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott.last_img

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