Five Questions: Navy

Brian Kelly enters his third season at the helm and starts 2012 with the ultimate road trip: to the Emerald Isle and a game with Navy. Will the Irish be ready, or will a new quarterback give Kelly early cause for concern in 2012? Dave Berk is back with his weekly Five Questions for the first game of the season.

The longest continuous series in college football will see its 86th straight edition leave played overseas as Notre Dame takes on Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

While the Irish got back to their winning ways against the Midshipmen in 2011 with a blowout win, several questions need to be asked prior to this year's opener:

QUESTION ONE

Is Everett Golson ready to run Brian Kelly's offense?

Golson becomes the 21st quarterback to make his Irish starting debut since 1985 and the first since Ron Powlus in 1994 to make his collegiate and starting debut away from Notre Dame Stadium. Irish fans have argued throughout the off-season with endless banter regarding Golson and since with Kelly's choice to start the sophomore. They'll soon see if their summer wishes turn to September gold on the Emerald Isle.

QUESTION TWO

Does Kelly continue his streak of winning games with a first-time starter at quarterback?

Kelly has already won five straight games when playing a first-time starter at quarterback including two in South Bend. A win over Navy would help settle the position at Notre Dame for at least another week and get the Irish off to a fast start.

QUESTION THREE

Will a 9 a.m. est. (2 p.m. Dublin time) kickoff play a factor in how the Irish perform in the season opener?

Dublin is five hours ahead of South Bend. The Irish not only have to adjust after a long plane ride, they also need to adjust to playing a game three hours earlier than normal. Over the years Brian Kelly has found ways to make time adjustments with the clocks falling backward, as he took a Cincinnati team to Hawaii in 2008. This will be the first time he's had to make an adjustment going forward.

Said Kelly of his plan, "(Wednesday) is going to be a long day for our players. It's purposeful in the sense that we want to get them up early. We want to keep them moving through the entire day so that they sleep on the flight over to Ireland.

"We'll get up Thursday, go to the hotel breakfast and get into a routine relative to practice and get them early in bed Thursday, Friday, and now we can be adjusted to the time difference. Go through our normal walk-through on Friday and play the game on Saturday. (Wednesday) is a pretty important day for us relative to getting acclimated to the change."

QUESTION FOUR

What impact will the suspension of 1,000-yard rusher Cierre Wood have on the offense?

Many expected the Irish to look towards their running attack early with a new quarterback at the helm and Wood was expected to provide leadership to keep the Irish ground game moving forward against the Midshipmen. His loss could weaken the offense if Everett Golson struggles early.

QUESTION FIVE

Can the Irish defense keep the Midshipmen offense in check?

After the 2010 disaster against the Midshipmen, Irish fans know what can happen if the defense comes out unprepared. Last season the Irish defense gave up only 229 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. A repeat performance would play a huge role in an Irish victory with questions surrounding the firepower of the offense.


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