With the 2014 season on the horizon already- with National Signiing Day and the completion of some position hires for the coaching staff, Notre Dame will need a few new faces on the field and the return of one player to provide the Irish with their best play to propell them forward into the bowl picture and perhaps a return trip to a national championship game.
The special teams side of things for Notre Dame was an area of major concern due to poor tackling and kick coverage overall along with a non-existing punt return unit. Punters and kickers faired well, but when Notre Dame needed to put together a return game or keep teams pinned deep- it was all but a foregone conclusion that a weakness for the Irish was defending teams in the return game.
The area of success for the Irish in 2012 that clearly took a step backword was the defensive line. An injury plagued season for 2 stars headed for the NFL and some spring and early season hits to others left the Irish defense suspect to runs all year right at the heart of the unit.
For the Irish in 2014 to move past a lackluster year in 2013, key positions will need to see vast improvement with the addition of depth through returning players from injuries and the addition of players through the lineup of incoming recruits.
None of these positions is more vitale as the quarterback position and also the defensive front. Senior Tommy Rees played well within his own skills but it was clear the 2013 version of the Irish offense was vastly underwhelming to that of the 2012 version.
Here is at look at 5 players that will paly vitale roles or will need to elevate their game in 2014: