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Summer Stock: Notre Dame

If history holds true, the Irish could be in for a big jump in Brian Kelly's second season

Originally Published: June 1, 2011
By Ian Gordon | ESPN Insider

This article is part of our Summer Stock series, a three-week look at the programs generating the most buzz coming out of spring practice.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

When Brian Kelly took the Notre Dame job in December 2009, fans were primed for the high-powered spread offense he'd featured in his four years at Cincinnati, when his teams combined for a 41-12 record. After all, the year before Kelly arrived in South Bend, his Bearcats were fourth in the country in scoring offense (38.6 points per game) and second in passing efficiency (161.21). They'd even averaged 138.7 yards rushing, more than all but one of Charlie Weis' teams in his five years as Fighting Irish head coach.

But while the Notre Dame defense improved over its 2009 output, making huge jumps in categories like scoring defense (from 63rd in the nation to 23rd), interceptions (50th to 19th) and sacks (89th to 54th), the new offense needed more time to take root. Now, a year later, is it ready to produce?

With the quarterback situation and the status of star wideout Michael Floyd still up in the air, it's hard to say with complete certainty. But if the numbers are any indication, the offense has a chance to show improvement -- and a run to a BCS bowl game could follow.

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