Notre Dame has a high-profile quarterback battle, but critical questions on defense will have a much bigger impact of the Fighting Irish's 2016 season.

By Zac Ellis
June 22, 2016

With just 10 starters returning from last year's 10–3 squad, Notre Dame faces a massive overhaul heading into the 2016 season. Offensive standouts like C.J. Prosise, Will Fuller and Ronnie Stanley are gone, as are defensive stars Jaylon Smith, Sheldon Day and KeiVarae Russell.

Still expectations remain high for the Fighting Irish as coach Brian Kelly prepares for his seventh season in South Bend. Perhaps at the forefront of Kelly's mind is the critical decision he must make at quarterback between Malik Zaire, who began last season as the starter, and DeShone Kizer, who shined for much of the season after Zaire got hurt.

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated joins host Zac Ellis on the SI College Football Podcast to break down the QB battle and more. They also discuss whether the defense can reload after its significant departures, how the schedule lays out for the Irish and whether the College Football Playoff could impact Notre Dame's independence down the line.

• Most impactful players, coaches on 2016 playoff race

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