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Notre Dame 11th in Coaches Poll

Updated: September 3, 2013 7:57AM



Notre Dame defensive linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt racked up the preseason watch list accolades.

Nix appeared on six lists, Tuitt was named to five.

It’s an indication of what others think of two of the leaders of the Irish defense.

Another indication of Notre Dame’s potential defensive prowess came Thursday with the release of the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Notre Dame is ranked No. 11 and received 872 points in the poll.

Notre Dame just missed the top 10 despite losing its top two rushers (Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood), top passing option in terms of receiving yards (Tyler Eifert) and, most recently because of a suspension, starting quarterback Everett Golson.

The ranking is a testament to a defense that could be just as strong as last year. And that’s even when taking into consideration the absence of 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o. The defense features eight players who started at least nine games last season.

Notre Dame opens fall training camp Monday at Shiloh Park and Convention Center in Marion. Coach Brian Kelly will provide a pre-camp update on the Irish on Friday in South Bend.

A lot has happened since the spring game. A contest, by the way, that was dominated by the defense.

The most surprising twist came near the end of May with the loss of Golson. The quarterback said in a statement released by Notre Dame that he was suspended for the fall term because of “poor academic judgment.”

Tommy Rees steps back into the starter’s role.

Rees, a senior, has appeared in 33 games and has 18 starts for the Irish. He has thrown for 4,413 yards, 34 touchdowns and 24 interceptions while completing 63.6 percent of his of passes.

“Tommy knows exactly what the expectations are for him,” Kelly said in May before officially naming Rees the starter. “He was a huge part of our undefeated season and he’s going to be a part of this season as well. He knows what we expect of him on a day-to-day basis.”

The Irish will prepare for a schedule that includes four opponents ranked in the top 25.

Notre Dame has a road game at No. 17 Michigan on Sept. 7 and a home game against No. 16 Oklahoma on Sept. 28. No. 24 USC visits Notre Dame on Oct. 19. Notre Dame closes the regular season at No. 4 Stanford on Nov. 30.

Three opponents — Michigan State, Arizona State and BYU — are in the “others receiving votes” category.



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