As the Fighting Irish set out to return to the promise land of college football in 2014, the most crucial piece of that puzzle returned in his practice red #5 sparking hints and rumors of what could be.

When Golson was out for the season- the Irish clearly became one dimensional.

And without a backup for Rees is 2013, the Irish were a bad offense.

It was very clear in 2013 the Irish lacked in leadership and ability last year and suffered in alot of games.

Saying as much, Coach Brian Kelly established early on that this season hinges on the play of the quarterback:

"Absolutely," Kelly said, "Your offensive line has to play well; it has to protect the quarterback. We've got to run the ball effectively, take care of it. But I think we all know college football and where it is: The quarterback is really going to be the centerpiece of this offense and the way we run it. It's going to fall on him."

"We all live in the same world when it comes to the Notre Dame quarterback. We're going to heap a lot on this kid's shoulders. And he knows that. That's why he came back to Notre Dame, because he wants that. Clearly, he's going to be the one that drives this for us."

Most supporters of the former Irish quarterback Tommy Rees would point out numbers compared equally when Golson was on the field.

Failure to look deeper into those very numbers-along with the actual results-bare out that Golson, whether through improve or plain ability- kept the Irish in better scoring positions more often.

Red Zone Drives 2012: 60

Red Zone Drives 2013: 45

Quarterback Rushing Yards 2012: 285

Quarterback Rushing Yards 2013: -30

And to add to the glaring differences is the fact Golson led the team in 2012 to an undefeated season and the national championship game.

It remains a mystery what will transpire with Golson in 2014 and how much he has changed since his dismissal.

A few things have changed:

His frame has changed.

His progression and reads have changed.

And his offense has changed.

There are plenty of weapons for Kelly and Golson.

2014 starts with a ton of promise.

Field Turf

The ongoing debate remains on whether or not the New Era crowd of Irish faithful will see the trendy style of a playing surface or if the tradition based fans and alum will prevail.

According to AD Jack Swarbrick, the determining factor for such a move will not hinge on 'opinion' but rather what's best for the Notre Dame football program.

What will happen is a new surface of sorts will be put down as soon as May graduation ceremonies are complete.

At that time, the entire surface will be replaced with one or the other.

The current field will no longer withstand another season and will need a total makeover. During the OU game in 2013, attendants had to replace divots throughout the game as players repeatedly uplifted and shredded the existing grass. On the season-the grass was replaced 3 times.

Look for Notre Dame Stadium to bare field turf in 2014.


Davaris Daniels

Along with a great crop of runningbacks, wide receiver looks to be a key area for the Irish this season.

Golson will be reunited with Davaris Daniels and Chris Brown who played roles for the Irish in 2012.

Daniels has some academic issues to clear up prior to his return this summer and is missing out on spring ball.

When he does return, the Irish and Golson will have a premier weapon.

But it's a process that will take some time, as Coach Kelly points out:

 "As long as he takes care of the admissions process and getting back and he's readmitted, he'll be back here this summer," Kelly said. "Now, he's got to take summer school when he gets back here and he's got to get his classes taken care of, and as long as he takes care of his classes this summer, he'll be eligible for all the games next year."

During the national championship game, Daniels and Golson connected at ease- which was about the only thing positive that happened that night fo the Irish.

Clearly in 2014, the offense will be the driving force behind whatever level of success the Irish will have.