SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore #89 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tackles wide receiver Damian Williams #18 of the USC Trojans in the second quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
2013 Notre Dame Returning Starters
What you see above will be a featured section in nearly every 2013 College Football Preview magazine in America. This information is standard protocol and usually serves as a jumping off point for analysts to start their annual projections. The second stat line should pop out to even the most casual fans - Notre Dame returns 8 starters from the defense that finished the regular season as the country's top scoring unit. From goal-line stands to savory memories of sending away offseason Heisman "contenders" from the State of Michigan - the Fighting Irish defense earned every regular season accolade and compliment that came their way. Surely with 8 of the 2012's first teamers back in South Bend, another banner year of shutouts and touchdown-less streaks lies ahead, right? Irish fans know it's not that simple and a recent chat with Kapron Lewis-Moore revealed similar sentiments from the former captain. A starting line-up consists of 11 members, but to say Notre Dame "only lost 3" is to aggressively understate the team's own reality in favor of basic math. Those three, each just days away from NFL paychecks, were Manti Te'o, Zeke Motta & Lewis-Moore - a trio who formed the unquestioned leadership council of the 2012 defense and individually guided the three separate levels on their side of the ball. Who is stepping up in their absence on and off the field is not just the storyline of the 2013 Blue & Gold Game - it's the story of the 2013 Notre Dame Football offseason. Here's Kapron's take on these developments and other notes on who and what to look for on Saturday:
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You can listen to the brief 3 minute clip from Lewis-Moore's appearance on TNNDN's Down the Line last week below or catch the full interview on iTunes or BlogTalkRadio.
Q: What are you looking for in this Saturday's Spring Game?
Kapron Lewis-Moore: I'm excited to see how hungry the guys are to get back to the National Championship ... I wanna see who has matured and who is evolving into next year's leaders. That's the stuff I'm really excited about.
Q: With you on the defensive line, Manti with the linebackers, and Zeke with the defensive backs were who everyone went to in times of crisis and rallied everyone. What is that dynamic going to be like this spring and what do you think is going on behind the scenes?
KLM: I really don't know ... That's one of the things we're going to find out in the spring game. Who is going to be the vocal leader? Who's gonna lead by example? Who's gonna grow up and kind of emerge. Sometimes you just never know. We'll see how it goes at the Spring Game.
Q: You've practiced with some of these young guys. Anybody we should be keeping our eye for being a bigger contributor next year on the defensive line that you practiced with every day?
KLM: We did have a lot of young guys. We have Jarron (Jones), he was coming in and he's a guy that redshirted that has a tremendous upside. He's physical and athletic and you know he's big. I'm excited to see how he responds coming up this year. You know Sheldon (Day), he played as a freshman and I'm excited to see his growth and maturity and how he's evolved in the spring with offseason conditioning. Also - Tony Springmann now that Chase (Hounshell) is out with a shoulder but I'm excited to see those young guys get in and compete.
If you tune into the full interview, Kap updated fans on his knee injury and prognosis as well as the plans for him during the NFL Draft Weekend. Like most prospects - the former Irish captain is concerned about friends & family calling him while he's awaiting THAT call.
Up next - Mike Golic Junior comments on the battle to replace him and Braxton Cave on the Irish offensive line.