2014 College Football Preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

By Dean Pantazi - 21Alive

August 27, 2014 Updated Aug 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM EDT

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (21Alive) - The Notre Dame football team will look to grow a lot in the 2014 season.

The Fighting Irish are comprised of several true freshman, very few seniors and the suspension of four players (three starters) amid an academic fraud probe.

Everett Golson returns as the quarterback after a being reinstated into the university over his own academic problems. Golson led the Irish to the BCS National Championship game two seasons ago. He is chomping at the big to get back.

"I think it's been 600 days or something ridiculous like that," Golson says of his hiatus. "I'm definitely eager to get back out there."

Tight end Ben Koyak will be a passing target for Golson; and Cam McDaniel is a veteran running back to balance the offense.

The defense has adjusted to a new coordinator, Brian VanGorder, and a 4-3 defense.

"We had a whole spring to install the defense," linebacker Jaylon Smith, a Fort Wayne native, says. "The point now: it's just about doing everything fast."

Head coach Brian Kelly says the Irish will be fast all over the field.

The independent Irish have sights set on one of four slots in the new College Football Playoff at season's end. Getting there begins Saturday in a home game against Rice at 3:30 p.m. on NBC33.

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