Tim O'Malley -- PublisherDetails are forthcoming in my full prediction column Friday afternoon, but suffice it to say the 2012 opener will more closely resemble Brian Kelly's debut as the program's head coach, a workmanlike season opening win over Purdue in 2010. Remnants of the 2011 surreal weather-delayed debacle against South Florida will be few and far between as the Irish defense handles Navy en route to a 34-16 victory, with the contest rarely in doubt.
Brian Dohn -- Recruiting ReporterWhen Navy was at its best a few seasons ago, the Midshipmen couldn't stop Notre Dame's offense. Now that Notre Dame's defense is improved, about the only thing the Irish need to worry about it making sure they are awake for kickoff, which will be 9 a.m. in South Bend. Notre Dame 38, Navy 13
Dave Berk -- Recruiting AnalystOpening against a team running the triple-option always raises concerns. However, getting it out of the way in week one is a major help for Notre Dame. The Irish have learned not to take the Midshipmen lightly and made sure to make a statement in last season's 56-14 win. The Irish open with a rookie quarterback and missing a few other key members. Nevertheless, Navy has many questions outside of their offensive line that has me feeling the Irish will be able to turn in a gem of a performance for a 45-17 victory on the Emerald Isle.
GaviND -- ModeratorThis season, the Notre Dame football team is riddled with question marks. Because of injuries, suspensions and transfers, there are a lot of holes that need to be filled and unfortunately, there is lack of experience filling in at some key positions.
These issues are only compounded by a recent history that displays sluggish starts in the season opener.
Fortunately, the Navy team the Irish play this Saturday is a particularly weak squad compared to others Notre Dame has faced over the last five years.
The loss of Cierre Wood is notable. No team wants to go into the season without their returning 1,000 yard rusher, however I am expecting that both Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III will seize the opportunity at hand and lead the Irish offense to victory.
Look for Everett Golson to use his legs to keep the Navy defense at bay and allow him to make plays both with his arm and feet.
Defensively, the Irish stack up well against the Midshipmen's option attack. While we are almost certain to see some variation of the option out of Navy, ND has the horses to shut them down.
Keep an eye on Keivarae Russell. It would be huge for the young man to play a head-smart game and stick to his assignments throughout the game. While the Midshipmen don't throw the ball a whole lot, you can bet that they will pick their spots and find a way to make him earn his money this weekend.
Transfers, suspensions injuries? They just won't matter this weekend.
ND 38 Navy 13
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorA new season starts this upcoming weekend and typically most fans can't wait for the season to start. This off-season, however, has been a little more stressful for ND fans with the injuries, the transfers, and the suspensions.
There is a new era beginning with Everett Golson at QB though, and for me that's the most exciting part. He possesses all the traits Kelly wants in his QB and I'm quite hopeful we'll see an entirely different offense (scheme, play-calling tendencies, diversity, etc).
Giving Diaco and the defense an entire off-season to prepare for the Navy triple-option scheme has me pretty confident we'll be able to handle them with ease.
Notre Dame 31 Navy14
KurzND-- ModeratorIt's year three for Kelly and his crew. With a rash of injuries, transfers, suspensions and a beast of a schedule will certainly make for interesting story lines. However thankfully the ND team starts out with could be the weakest opponent on the schedule. The ND offensive line is looking to take their play to another level under the direction of new coach Harry Hiestand.
Even without suspended 1,0000yard rusher Cierre Wood Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III should have little trouble running the ball behind ND's OL. Look for Golson to not throw that much and for ND to gain most of the yardage on the ground.
With Te'o and the rest of the Front 7 they should be stout in holding down the Navy offense. ND does have to be careful of Gee Gee Greene and Brandon Turner for Navy as the speedster and the 6'4 target could pose some threats. In the end the ND trenches will over power to the sink the Midshipmen.
Notre Dame 34 Navy 10
SeattleNDfan -- ModeratorThe most important debut of the Brian Kelly era is at hand, and of course I am talking about Harry Hiestand's offensive line. More than any quarterback or running back, this unit will determine not only this season but Coach Kelly's future at Notre Dame, since if this line is dominant, it sets everything up for a no holds barred run in 2013, while if this unit is stagnant or has regressed, it will be at least another two years before that can be corrected by developing current and incoming freshmen.
If this line can run against Navy, it does not necessarily mean it can run against any other team on the schedule. But if it can NOT run on Navy, it won't be able to run on anyone else either, and we will be in the same boat as in 2006, when ND's most productive running play was the ever-loving 12 yard draw play on 3rd and 20.
Navy's triple option, whether veer or not, is not multiple enough to create another scheme mismatch like in 2010 now that ND's defensive staff has done their homework, and Navy QB Trey Miller is the same player ND saw in 2011's decisive victory at ND Stadium when he filled in for the injured Kriss Proctor, who incidentally never graduated and resigned from the academy for an honor code violation. If the weather is wet, that's even more of a problem for an option offense which will expect to pitch the ball at the last second 20-30 times a game.
I expect Hiestand's boys to come out with attitude and energy and for Notre Dame to run the ball far more than pass it in Everett Golson's Fighting Irish debut, counting short swing passes and look passes as basically extended running plays, with fewer than 10 pass attempts over 15 yards and all of those off play action, both to ease the young QB in successfully and to save a little something for the Michigan schools lurking at the end of the month. As a result, I don't see a 50 point performance like last year, but I do see a decisive Notre Dame victory.
Notre Dame 35 Navy 13
BNolan -- ModeratorIf Notre Dame can't beat Navy on the Emerald Isle, well...
But they will. In theory, without any real challenge, but...
Even with memories of last years forgettable season, big question marks, significant early injuries and penalized players, ND should win by two scores and ideally more.
Golson shouldn't be asked to be a hero, just solid. Hang on to the ball, EG. As others have stated, our OL should dominate, giving RB's a chance to get their proverbial legs under them. Hang on to the ball, boys.
Thankfully we start the season against a team that won't try to scorch our secondary. The big boys up front on D should do their jobs and make Navy earn territory. They will likely still pick on youth/inexperience. But we simply have more and bigger/better horses.
Kelly has to start game one convincing me that he has a handle on this staff, on this team, on this level.
One game at a time.
ND 27 Navy 13
Weisass -- ModeratorMissing from action is Tommy Rees so enter Everett Golson the Hot Shot QB that most of us have been dying to see play since his commitment. Missing from the offense is a major weapon in Michael Floyd and from the defense is Aaron Lynch. Those two players are game changers but hopefully the guys filling those voids are ready to step up. Navy will be a challenge for us as they continue to pound the ball play after play. Look for the Irish to start off a little sluggish but end up getting on track in the 2nd quarter.
Irish 36 Navy 17