After making a trip to the BCS national championship game in 2012, it is safe to say a 9-4 season was a disappointment for Notre Dame football fans in 2013. If the Irish want to make a run to the college football playoffs this season, they are going to need to make some improvements.
Last season turnovers crippled the Irish offense. In their four losses the Irish had 10 turnovers, while their opponents only had three. This is something that was not typical of the 2012 Irish team that went 12-1 and made an appearance in the national championship game. That Irish team only committed 15 turnovers all season. A big reason for this increase in turnovers was the loss of starting quarterback Everett Golson for academic reasons. Without Golson under center, his replacement Tommy Rees threw 13 interceptions.
This is more than twice as many as the six Golson threw in 2012. The good news for the Irish is that Golson is back practicing with the team and will be under center in 2014. If he can play with the efficiency that he did in 2012, the Irish will be a much more successful football team this season.
Another major weakness for the Irish last season was their rush defense. The Irish gave up an average of 168 yards per game on the ground. This ranked them 70th in the country among rush defenses. In 2012 the Irish defense only gave up an average of 105.7 rush yards per game. This drastic difference was one of the reasons the Irish couldn’t live up to their 2012 success. If new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder can bring the success he had at UGA to Notre Dame look for this rush defense to improve this season.
The Irish scoring defense was a weak point for the team last season. They gave up an average of 22.4 points a game compared to the 12.8 average they gave up in 2012. This was one the main reasons they lost four games last season as they gave up an average of 32.8 points a game in their losses. If VanGorder can establish his previous defensive success, the Irish will be much stronger on the defensive side of the football this season.
The Irish have the talent to make a run to the college football playoffs in 2014, but for them to make that a reality they will need to improve on being efficient with the ball, rush defense and their scoring defense. With Everett Golson coming back, Brian VanGorder being named defensive coordinator and a top 10 recruiting class coming in they can make these improvements in 2014.