SOUTH BEND, Ind. —
Even with the disastrous showing against Alabama, giving up 529 yards and 42 points, the Irish defense still finished seventh in the nation, giving up an average of 305 yards a game — the best Notre Dame has finished since finishing fourth in 1980. The Irish finished second in scoring defense at 12.77 points a game, their best ranking since finishing second while winning the national championship in 1966 (3.8 ppg).
Most of the defense will be back next season. The Irish lose the top two tacklers in linebacker Manti Te’o and safety Zeke Motta, as well as defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, who was hurt during Monday’s loss. Safety Jamoris Slaughter is seeking a sixth-year of eligibility from the NCAA after tearing his left Achilles tendon in the third game against Michigan State and cornerback Lo Wood also is expected back after missing the entire season with a similar injury.
On offense, the Irish lose tight end Tyler Eifert, center Braxston Cave, right guard Mike Golic Jr., receiver Robby Toma, running back Theo Riddick and possibly running back Cierre Wood. Wood has a year of eligibility left, but is considering declaring for the NFL draft.