Oftentimes, team cohesion and chemistry can supersede a star system.
Irish players such as Cierre Wood must mesh collectively to enhance overall team play.
The Notre Dame men’s basketball program under head coach Mike Brey stunned the masses in 2010 and 2012 after losing its top players — Luke Harangody and Tim Abromaitis — to injuries yet still prospering more on the court. Both times the Irish rallied and became a true TEAM.
The 2012 Notre Dame offense will have to take a similar cue minus all-time Irish receiving leader Michael Floyd, the team MVP two years in a row and the 13th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
There is a long history of Notre Dame thriving the year after a superstar on offense graduates. One of the best example was the 1957 team finishing No. 10 nationally after posting a 2-8 mark a year earlier with 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung.
Over the last 25 years, here are five other examples:
1. How Now Without Brown?
1987: Senior Tim Brown won the Heisman Trophy during an 8-4 season and was the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.
1988: Although no one on the 1988 team caught more than 16 passes, the Irish improved to 12-0 to win the national title.
2. Backfield In Motion
1992 : The star-studded backfield for the 10-1-1 team featured No. 2 NFL pick Rick Mirer at quarterback, 5th-place Heisman finisher Reggie Brooks at tailback, and junior fullback Jerome “The Bus” Bettis went pro early as the No. 10 pick.
1993: The unheralded trio of quarterback Kevin McDougal, tailback Lee Becton and fullback Ray Zellars emerged superbly while the Irish finished 11-1 and No. 2.
3. Action Even Without Jackson
1999: QB Jarious Jackson broke Joe Theismann’s 29-year school record for most passing yards in a season (2,753) and was the second leading rusher with 464 yards. Alas, the Irish also committed 30 turnovers and finished 5-7.
2000: When freshman QB Matt LoVecchio was thrown into the fire, Notre Dame averaged 74 yards less per game than with Jackson — but it committed an NCAA record low eight turnovers to finish 9-2 and earn a BCS bid. The efficiency, resourcefulness and team play of 2000 is a good template for the 2012 Irish to follow after the 2011 unit averaged 413 yards per game (similar to 1999) but committed 29 turnovers (similar to 1999).
4. Keeping Up Minus Jones
2001: Future second-round running back pick Julius Jones led the Irish in rushing for a second straight year, but Notre Dame finished 5-6.
2002: Jones was declared academically ineligible, yet the Irish started 8-0 and shot up to No. 4 in the nation while sophomore Ryan Grant became a 1,000-yard rusher.
5. Rees To The Rescue
Prior to the 2010 season, junior quarterback Dayne Crist was considered the player the Irish could least afford to lose.
But after an injury to Crist and a 4-5 start, unheralded freshman Tommy Rees stepped in and the Irish finished 4-0, highlighted by winning at USC and the Sun Bowl versus Miami.
“It’s just like any company,” summarized Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin. “We can all be good at what we do, but if we’re not all good together we never will get our peak efficiency.”
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