Jan 10, 2013, 9:27 AM EDT
And we are back … back to reality, woops there went gravity. As I stood on the field at the end of the game trying to absorb the moment, I couldn’t help but ask myself, why? Why did this season, in which everything else went right, have to end like this? My thoughts lingered as I stood in the locker room trying to get quotes from players. But when I was in the car driving back to the condo with a group of my close friends, I thought back to the celebrations at Stonehenge, in front of the Main Building, in the dorm hallways, the dorm rooms and most of all in the stadium. Yes, this one hurt, but I wouldn’t give up the 12 previous celebrations in order to avoid feeling this pain. Those moments in which we celebrated are memories that I will remember for the rest of my life and those are memories that other colleges would have loved to experience.
All in all, this season was an incredible building block and demonstrates that Notre Dame is back. Yes, we did not peak at the right time, but Notre Dame is back. The Irish can win despite what others may believe.
We learned a lot over the course of this season and in the title game and here are three things that stood out to me:
1) Notre Dame’s passing game should be even better next season: While Notre Dame will lose some very important offensive players due to graduation, the Irish have a young stable of wide receivers and a solid quarterback on which they can rely. Everett Golson played a good game against Alabama and didn’t make many mistakes. His one interception was simply a great play by the Alabama safety. Golson seemed to have great chemistry with sophomore receiver DaVaris Daniels, which is a great sign for next season. The 2013 campaign will feature both Daniels and junior TJ Jones, who also had a great title game for the Irish. Additionally, the Irish have several talented young wide receivers, including Davonte’ Neal, who are waiting in the wings.
2) The defense could be even better next year: While the defense didn’t play a great game against Alabama, they were dominant during the entire regular season. I know it may be ridiculous to say that a defense losing a key player at each level could actually be better next year, but I am willing to make that claim. I am willing to go out on that limb because the Irish have so much talent returning, all of whom have another year of experience under their belts. When you add in freshmen like Jarron Jones and Nicky Baratti, along with sophomore Jarrett Grace, the Irish should be back next year and could be even better.
3) The Notre Dame football team is a brotherhood: As I was getting quotes from Mike Golic Jr., a reporter asked for his emotions on the game and the season. He said he couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to spend his last year with at Notre Dame. Throughout the entire locker room you could see the brotherhood and chemistry that pervaded. Coaches and players were all there for one another as one family. It is easy to be a good teammate when everything goes right, but the way the team conducted themselves during and after the game displayed its character. More than other teams that I have seen throughout the variety of sports teams that I have covered, this team was a family and that relationship will not be dissolved by one game, a perfect example for the rest of the Irish fan base.
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