Notre Dame's defense has shown steady improvement since a rough final three years under Charlie Weis. The Irish allowed 26 points per game in Weis' final season in 2009, but have trimmed that number to just over 20 in Brian Kelly's first two seasons.
Despite the statistical improvement, the team wasn't immune to significant lapses last season, including allowing 28 points in the fourth quarter in a loss to Michigan. The Irish defense held its own against USC's Matt Barkley and Stanford's Andrew Luck, but was unable to get critical stops to keep the team in the game.
The talent level is inching closer and closer to that of the nation's elite teams, but with five starters gone plus Freshman All-American Aaron Lynch, Notre Dame finds itself with a number of concerns on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Those concerns, however, aren't limited to just within its own locker room. They also come from the opposing offenses, most notably the five we are about to dissect.