Notre Dame Football: Keys for Fighting Irish to Secure BCS Bowl Bid This Season
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish proved that they will make a case for the BCS this season with their 50-10 dismantling of rival Navy on Saturday in Dublin, Ireland.
Head coach Brian Kelly drew up a flawless game plan that he and the Irish coaching staff must replicate all season long in order for Notre Dame to earn a coveted BCS bowl bid at year's end.
Let's take a look at the keys for the Fighting Irish to guarantee their first trip to a BCS bowl game since the 2006-2007 Sugar Bowl.
Make Everett Golson a Game Manager
Aside from a red-zone interception in the first half against Navy, sophomore quarterback Everett Golson was an efficient signal-caller in Notre Dame's opener.
Golson came out of the game in the third quarter, finishing his day 12-for-18 for 144 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
As long as he is completing safe passes and making plays off of play action, the Irish will be on their way to an extraordinary season.
With their stellar running game firing on all cylinders this fall, it's imperative that Notre Dame establish limits for its first-year starting quarterback in 2012.
Which is the biggest key for Notre Dame this season?
Create Turnovers, Don't Commit Them
The Fighting Irish struggled immensely last season when it came to turnovers. Notre Dame rarely turned over other teams, but instead gave the ball away far too many times to earn a quality bowl bid.
The Irish only intercepted eight passes in 2011, which tied them for the 21st-worst mark in FBS. On the other hand Notre Dame tossed 17 interceptions on offense.
That careless style of football must be avoided against top-notch opponents in 2012, otherwise the losses will begin to pile up for the Irish.
After its rout of Navy on Saturday, Notre Dame is currently plus-three in turnovers. They will need to keep that number well above zero as the season wears on in order to remain in the BCS race.
Run, Run and Run Again
Notre Dame rushed for nearly 300 yards in its season opener against Navy—293 yards to be exact. The Irish rushed the ball 46 times in their blowout win, averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
Last season, Notre Dame averaged 4.8 yards per carry, which isn't bad by any stretch. Still, the biggest key for the Irish to contend with college football's powerhouses this fall will be to develop a run-first mentality.
In 2011, Brian Kelly's offense threw the ball 473 times, compared to just 433 rushing attempts. In the Irish's win over Navy, they ran the ball 46 times, compared to just 23 passing attempts.
If the Irish can develop into a 60-40 run-pass team in 2012, they will be utilizing their biggest strength offensively: their talented running backs.
Senior Theo Riddick and sophomore George Atkinson III are both superb runners and will provide Notre Dame with a reliable one-two punch this season.
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