In 2009 I published 30 detailed predictions for the upcoming season. I fared, shall we say, "poorly." (13 correct.)
Then again, none of these predictions are supposed to be slam dunks, otherwise they wouldn't make our pages. They're story lines to follow more so than simply stating that Michael Floyd will lead the team in yards, touchdowns, receptions, etc. That's obvious if you follow the team…or sports.
Last summer, I trimmed my prediction list to 20. I was less confident, given the new coaching staff, but each prediction listed was researched and given serious thought. So in the ongoing spirit of full disclosure, let's take a look at the final carnage, excuse me, final count, for 2010.
1 – Notre Dame will score between 46 and 51 total touchdowns
FALSE (41 total) – I blame the lack of a 14th game…though since that probably won't fly with the readers, I'll just blame execution. And Navy and Stanford. The Irish did, however, make exactly 46 trips to the red zone in 2010, but were held to 26 touchdowns on those forays.
2 – Manti Te'o will lead the defense in "Big Plays"
FALSE – Te'o finished tied for 4th (14.5) with Harrison Smith, but behind Darius Fleming (22), Robert Blanton (18), and Gary Gray (15). Ethan Johnson had 14 to round out the top of the list. For a look at the detailed Irish Eyes statistic and the initial prediction, click here.
3 – Darius Fleming will lead the team in tackles-for-loss
TRUE – Fleming's 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage topped Te'o's total of 9.5 and Blanton's 7 over 13 games.
4 – Notre Dame will run more than it passes this fall
FALSE (481 passes vs. 414 rushes) – In my defense, Notre Dame was 4-5 when the Pass/Rush ratio reached an obscene 378 vs. 263…they finished 4-0 with 147 rushes vs. 103 passes.
In other words, I'd rather be smart than right…
5 – BC will hold ND to its lowest point total of the season
FALSE – Likely the most off-base prediction of the 2010 season as the Irish offense ran roughshod over BC for the better part of the first half. Notre Dame scored 31 in Chestnut Hill but just 14 at home vs. Stanford – its lowest scoring contest of 2010.
6 – Notre Dame will not escape September unscathed
TRUE – And sad to say, this one was a slam dunk. It was the 19th time in the last 21 seasons that the program dropped at least one of its first four contests.
7 – Kyle Rudolph will break Ken MacAfee's single season receptions record for tight ends
FALSE – Rudolph finished with 28 grabs in six games before season-ending hamstring surgery. MacAfee's record stands at 54 set in 1977. And in case you did the math and are wondering, yes, I'm bitter about this one.
8 – The Irish will post their highest single game rushing total since 2003 FALSE – ND never rushed for more than 196 yards in a game this season. They did, however, post the highest team rushing average (4.0 per carry) since 2004.
9 - Notre Dame will not lose a game by more than one score (8 points)
FALSE – Yeesh. Two of the five losses were by 23 and 18, respectively. The Stanford game had the makings of a competitive contest (the Irish D allowed just two TD, one in garbage time, but the offense offered no help for the better part of 58 minutes). Navy was, of course, a debacle. (Note: The 2009 Irish proved the same prediction true).
10 – Notre Dame will record its highest interception total since 2002
TRUE – For eight games, the 2002 Irish defense took no prisoners, but plenty of footballs, picking off a decade-best 21 opposing passes. The 2010 Irish easily outdistanced the highest number in a single season since (14 by the '08 squad led by David Bruton) with 17 thefts in 13 games. Both the '02 D and this year's crew enjoyed a 7-interception season from the category's leader (Shane Walton and Harrison Smith).
11 – Chris Stewart will win the team's coveted Nick Pietrosante Award
To be determined – The Awards Banquet was pushed back to January 22. I'd consider Robert Hughes, Brian Smith, and Armando Allen the post-season front-runners.
12 – Four Irish players will tally 50 or more rushing attempts this season
TRUE – It hadn't happened since the balanced ground attack and BCS season of 2000. Cierre Wood led the way with 119 followed by Armando Allen's 107, then Robert Hughes at 68 and finally Dayne Crist with 52 rushes in just eight full games. 47 of Hughes' 68 carries occurred in the final three contests, 27 in the final game.
13 – 16 players will score touchdowns
FALSE – Midway through the summer, I predicted the following players would score at least one TD in 2010: Dayne Crist, Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, Armando Allen, Cierre Wood, Robert Hughes, Jonas Gray, TJ Jones, Duval Kamara, Shaquelle Evans, Theo Riddick, John Goodman, Mike Ragone, Brian Smith, Darrin Walls and Harrison Smith.
The final tally showed Crist, Floyd, Rudolph, Allen, Wood, Hughes, Jones, Kamara, Riddick, and Walls, as well as unlisted Robert Blanton and Tyler Eifert for a total of 12. Evans transferred, Ragone caught just three passes and neither Brian Smith nor Harrison Smith found pay dirt on their combined eight takeaways. John Goodman threw a touchdown pass if you're looking to award half-credit…
14 – Dayne Crist will throw for at least five more touchdowns than did Brady Quinn (9) and Jimmy Clausen (7) combined in their respective first seasons at the helm
FALSE – Crist tossed 15 TD passes in 7.5 games…it was there for the taking. Tommy Rees also threw more TD than either Quinn or Clausen in their first seasons under center, firing 12 in the final five games.
15 – For the 12th consecutive season, Notre Dame will not finish undefeated at home
TRUE – Though I'm not sure I'll dial up this prediction again in 2011.
16 – Cierre Wood will lead the team in rushing during October
TRUE – I factored in an injury Armando Allen, I just didn't think it would end his season.
17 – Notre Dame will play seven "Close and Late" in 2010
FALSE – Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2010 season: Notre Dame won, or lost, by a wide margin in eight of 13 games. Last year's squad played "Close and Late" in 10 of 12 contests, finishing 4-6 in those outings. Kelly's first Irish squad won two and lost three games decided by a touchdown or less.
18 – 7 Freshmen will earn monograms for Brian Kelly's first squad
Unclear – I've asked for official word but the final game's playing time has yet to be broken down by the staff. I'm certain that seven did: T.J. Jones, Tommy Rees, Prince Shembo, Lo Wood, Austin Collinsworth, Bennett Jackson, and Danny Spond, though it's possibly Kona Schwenke and Daniel Smith (unlikely) did as well with November appearances.
Six of the seven "sure things" were included in my pre-season prediction with the seventh – Derek Roback – transferring prior to the season.
19 – Notre Dame will beat USC
TRUE – Heh, heh, heh…That's a nice call in August, my friends.
20 – The Irish seniors will finish their collective careers at or above .500
FALSE – One win short…24-26
Bonus Prediction – The 2010 Receptions Chart
A bonus, because it's obviously impossible to hit with 100 percent accuracy. Aside from Michael Floyd, injuries ravaged this prediction.
Of note: I predicted 286 receptions. Notre Dame finished with 285. That has to be worth extra points somewhere in your final grade!
- Michael Floyd: Predicted 76; Actual 79
- Kyle Rudolph: Predicted 60; Actual 28
- T.J. Jones: Predicted 27; Actual 23
- Duval Kamara: Predicted 24; Actual 11 (Yeesh)
- Armando Allen: Predicted 20; Actual 17
- Theo Riddick: Predicted 18; Actual 40 (He'd have destroyed my prediction if healthy)
- Mike Ragone: Predicted 12; Actual 3 (Come on!)
- John Goodman: Predicted 11; Actual 15
- Jonas Gray: Predicted 9; Actual 1 (Its 2011 or never for the talented tailback)
- Robert Hughes: Predicted 8; Actual 7 (Not bad... )
- Cierre Wood: Predicted 6; Actual 20 (I guess he took Gray's receptions…)
- Robby Toma: Predicted 5; Actual 14 (Nice job by the true sophomore)
- Tyler Eifert: Predicted 5; Actual 27 (The predicted number was of course a function of Rudolph playing 13 games – regardless, Eifert would have caught at least 15 balls even with a healthy Rudolph in the fold).
- Deion Walker: Predicted 3; Actual 0 – I don't believe he played, either.
- Bobby Burger: Predicted 1 (TD); Actual 0 – Burger's role was reduced by the spread attack.
- Barry Gallup: Predicted 1; Actual 0 – I thought they'd throw the 5th year senior a ball in a blowout, but he moved to cornerback following this summer prediction.