The Eye in the Sky: Redux

A look back's detailed film reviews from Notre Dame's run to the BCS Championship Game affirms that Brian Kelly lost crucial components from his best Irish squad -- but plenty of proven pieces remain in place…

Top 10 designations were awarded each Monday per detailed notes from multiple film reviews. Honorable mention status, on the other hand, was earned by players for a variety of reasons. Some fell just outside the top 10 in film reviews, others in my opinion contributed greatly to the win, and in some isolated cases (such as Cam McDaniel's inclusion as a kick returner vs. Oklahoma), simply because the player made a winning football play to aid his squad in a difficult situation.

Notre Dame 50 Navy 10

Theo Riddick earned offensive MVP honors while Stephon Tuitt was the pick for the defense. Arguments could be made for George Atkinson (offense) and a number of defenders.

Top 10: Stephon Tuitt, Theo Riddick, Manti Te'o, Ishaq Williams, George Atkinson, Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Tyler Eifert, Christian Lombard and Mike Golic, Jr.

Honorable Mention: Prince Shembo, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Louis Nix, T.J. Jones, Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack (run-blocking), Cam McDaniel, Matthias Farley, and Everett Golson

Notre Dame 20 Purdue 17

Golson was (my) Offensive MVP despite his late-game benching while Tuitt and Louis Nix shared the honor for the defense.

Top 10: Louis Nix, Prince Shembo, Stephon Tuitt, Manti Te'o, Everett Golson, Zeke Motta, Theo Riddick, Tyler Eifert, Bennett Jackson, Sheldon Day

Honorable Mention: Kyle Brindza, Tommy Rees, Tony Springmann, DaVaris Daniels, Robby Toma

Notre Dame 20 Michigan State 3

Golson again earned our MVP award for the offense for his prime time performance while Prince Shembo and Manti Te'o were game MVPs for a defense that dominated throughout the contest.

Top 10: Prince Shembo, Manti Te'o, Everett Golson, T.J. Jones, Robby Toma, Cierre Wood, Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Zeke Motta, Zack Martin and Sheldon Day

Honorable Mention: Elijah Shumate, Dan Fox, Kyle Brindza, Kapron Lewis-Moore (playing injured), Bennett Jackson, Keivarae Russell, Jalen Brown and Josh Atkinson

Notre Dame 13 Michigan 6

Riddick tied Golson with his second offensive MVP award through four games (Golson was benched early vs. the Wolverines) while Te'o was the obvious game MVP, earning the honors for the defense.

Top 10: Manti Te'o, Stephon Tuitt, Danny Spond, Zeke Motta, Bennett Jackson, Louis Nix, Prince Shembo, Theo Riddick, Kapron Lewis Moore, Matthias Farley and Elijah Shumate

Honorable Mention: Tyler Eifert, Tommy Rees, Kyle Brindza, Sheldon Day and Nicky Baratti

Notre Dame 41 Miami 3

Golson returned from a benching and minor suspension to earn MVP honors, sharing the award with the Irish offensive line. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco earned defensive MVP honors thanks to a third straight game in which his defense kept the opponent from hitting pay dirt.

Top 10: Everett Golson, Cierre Wood, George Atkinson, Manti Te'o, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christian Lombard, Mike Golic, Jr., Braxston Cave, Zack Martin and Troy Niklas

Honorable Mention: Bennett Jackson, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo, Chris Watt, T.J. Jones, Tyler Eifert, KeiVarae Russell, Dan Fox, Ishaq Williams

Notre Dame 20 Stanford 13 OT

Tyler Eifert won his first offensive MVP award while Tuitt and Te'o shared the defensive honors, Tuitt on the strength of two QB hurries, two holding calls drawn, seven tackles, and a pass break-up. He suffered a sports hernia at some point during the contest or early the following week in practice.

Top 10: Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Manti Te'o, Matthias Farley, T.J. Jones, Tyler Eifert, Theo Riddick, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta, Bennett Jackson

Honorable Mention: Zack Martin, KeiVarae Russell, Tommy Rees, Cierre Wood, Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox, Prince Shembo and Danny Spond

Notre Dame 17 BYU 14

Riddick earned his third MVP honor (tying Golson through seven games) while Nix took home the crown for the defense, his second designation.

Top 10: Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood, Zack Martin, Tyler Eifert, Chris Watt, Danny Spond, Louis Nix, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Stephon Tuitt, and Manti Te'o

Honorable Mention: Braxston Cave, Prince Shembo and Ben Turk

Notre Dame 30 Oklahoma 13

The usual suspects earned MVP honors: Golson for the offense (his fourth) and Te'o defensively (his third). Nix was just a touch behind the playmaking Te'o on the evening and could be argued as a game MVP as well.

Top 10: Everett Golson, Theo Riddick, Zack Martin, Cierre Wood, Tyler Eifert, Chris Watt, Mike Golic, Jr., Manti Te'o, Louis Nix, Zeke Motta, KeiVarae Russell, Dan Fox

Honorable Mention: Braxston Cave, Bennett Jackson, Kyle Brindza, T.J. Jones, DaVaris Daniels, Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Kona Schwenke, Daniel Smith, Chris Brown, and Cam McDaniel

Notre Dame 29 Pittsburgh 23 Triple OT

After a first-half benching that continued into the third quarter, Golson won his fifth offensive MVP honor in nine outings, saving his team's season in the process. Shembo (his second) and Tuitt (his fourth) shared the honor for Bob Diaco's defense.

Top 10: Everett Golson, Prince Shembo, Louis Nix, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Bennett Jackson, DaVaris Daniels, Theo Riddick, Manti Te'o, Zack Martin and Stephon Tuitt

Honorable Mention: Ishaq Williams, T.J. Jones, Tyler Eifert, Chris Watt, Dan Fox, KeiVarae Russell and Zeke Motta

Notre Dame 21 Boston College 6

Riddick won offensive MVP honors (his fourth designation) while Prince Shembo (his third) and Bennett Jackson (first) shared the honor for the defense.

Top 10: Prince Shembo, Bennett Jackson, Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Louis Nix, Theo Riddick, Everett Golson, Tyler Eifert, and Zack Martin (9)

Honorable Mention: Manti Te'o, Zeke Motta, Sheldon Day, and Ishaq Williams

Notre Dame 38 Wake Forest 0

Golson earned his sixth and final offensive MVP nod while Diaco won our award for the second time as the Irish defense pitched its sixth and final touchdown shutout of the season. Louis Nix would be the player of choice (his third designation with a fourth, Oklahoma, arguable).

Top 10: Everett Golson, Cierre Wood, Tyler Eifert, T.J. Jones, Zack Martin, Louis Nix, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Carlo Calabrese, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day

Honorable Mention: Chris Watt, Theo Riddick, Christian Lombard, Braxston Cave, Zeke Motta, Manti Te'o, George Atkinson, and Ben Councell

Notre Dame 22 USC 13

Riddick was the hands-down offensive MVP, his one touchdown, 20-carry, 146-yard effort ranking as one of the best by a running back -- considering the circumstances -- in the last two decades for the Notre Dame program. No Irish player has run harder and with more purpose than did Theo Riddick vs. the Trojans to help secure a 12-0 regular season finish.

5th-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore dominated throughout, winning the defensive game ball in his final regular season game -- likely the best of his college career.

Top 10: Theo Riddick,Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, Everett Golson, Matthias Farley, Manti Te'o, Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix, Braxston Cave and Kapron Lewis-Moore

Honorable Mention: T.J. Jones, Zeke Motta, Mike Golic, Jr., KeiVarae Russell, Prince Shembo, Bennett Jackson, and Nicky Baratti (ST)

Alabama 42 Notre Dame 14

The Irish offered nothing of note prior to a 21-0 deficit. "Top 10" would be a misnomer and MVP definitively does not apply.

Top 10: None chosen.

Honorable Mention: DaVaris Daniels, T.J. Jones, Louis Nix, Carlo Calabrese, Everett Golson, Tyler Eifert, Chris Watt, Conor Cavalaris, Bennett Jackson, and Ben Turk

Defensive Standouts 2012

The Eye in the Sky Doesn't Lie. 11 of Notre Dame's 15 top defensive players over last year's championship run return. (HM = honorable mention designation):

Manti Te'o: 10 Top 10, 2 HM, 4 MVP - Graduated
Stephon Tuitt: 10 Top 10, 2 HM, 4 MVP - Returns
Louis Nix: 10 Top 10, 2 HM, 3/4 MVP - Returns
Kapron Lewis-Moore: 7 Top 10, 3 HM, 1 MVP - Graduated
Prince Shembo: 5 Top 10, 5 HM, 2 MVP - Returns
Bennett Jackson: 5 Top 10, 5 HM, 1 MVP - Returns
Zeke Motta: 5 Top 10, 4 HM, 0 MVP - Graduated
Sheldon Day: 3 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Matthias Farley: 3 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Danny Spond: 2 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
KeVairae Russell: 1 Top 10, 5 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Dan Fox: 1 Top 10, 4 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Ishaq Williams: 1 Top 10, 3 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Carlo Calabrese: 1 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Ben Turk: 0 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP - Graduated
Elijah Shumate: 0 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP - Returns

Nicky Baratti: 0 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Tony Springmann: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Kona Schwenke: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Josh Atkinson: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Jalen Brown: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Ben Councell: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Conor Cavalaris: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Bob Diaco: 0 Top 10, 0 HM, 2 MVP - Returns

Offensive Standouts 2012

No returning skill position player earned game MVP designation (per last fall. In fairness to the offensive linemen, it's hard to earn a game MVP award on a TV tape film review. I suspect Zack Martin won his fair share of game balls from the coaches last fall.

Theo Riddick: 9 Top 10, 1 HM, 5 MVP - Graduated
Everett Golson: 8 Top 10, 2 HM, 6 MVP - Suspended
Tyler Eifert: 8 Top 10, 4 HM, 1 MVP - Graduated
Zack Martin: 9 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
T.J. Jones: 3 Top 10, 6 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Cierre Wood: 5 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Graduated
Chris Watt: 3 Top 10, 4 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Braxton Cave: 2 Top 10, 3 HM, 0 MVP - Graduated
Mike Golic, Jr.: 3 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Graduated
George Atkinson III: 2 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP- Returns
DaVaris Daniels: 1 Top 10, 3 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Christian Lombard: 2 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Kyle Brindza: 0 Top 10, 4 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Tommy Rees: 0 Top 10, 3 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Cam McDaniel: 0 Top 10, 2 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Troy Niklas: 1 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Ben Koyack: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Daniel Smith: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Chris Brown: 0 Top 10, 1 HM, 0 MVP - Returns
Irish offensive line: 1 game MVP Top Stories