Stanford vs. Notre Dame: Offense Must Improve for Irish to Be in BCS Discussion
Notre Dame was fortunate to escape the game against Stanford with a win. If it wants to remain undefeated, changes must be made.
The defense is obviously outstanding. The Irish entered the game with the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation, trailing only top-ranked Alabama. Stanford was able to score 13 points, but seven of those came against the offense.
With this unit playing as well as it has, Notre Dame should be able to easily run the table. Unfortunately, the offense has not been keeping up its end of the bargain.
For the fourth time in six games, the Irish were unable to top 20 points. They could not get much going offensively, and when they did, the three fumbles prevented them from scoring.
It all begins with the quarterback position. Brian Kelly has maintained that Everett Golson is the starter. Still, the sophomore continues to struggle against top defenses. He completed only half of his passes against Stanford, and his team was still losing when he was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter.
After Golson left, Tommy Rees came in and completed all four of his passes as the team was able to earn the 20-13 overtime win. This was the third time this season that Rees has come into the game in relief of Golson and led the team to victory.
There are a lot of things that Golson can do that Rees cannot, like move around in the pocket and create with his legs, but the experienced junior continues to prove he can help this squad. As long as Rees holds onto the football, he should be given a chance to start.
Without Golson, more pressure would end up on the running backs. Fortunately, they have the talent to succeed. The problem is that Theo Riddick continues to get the majority of touches out of the backfield.
Last week, Cierre Wood dominated Miami almost single-handedly. He rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns. George Atkinson also lit it up with 123 yards on only 10 carries.
However, in the game against Stanford, Riddick led the group with 15 touches. Wood only had 12 carries, while Atkinson was nearly invisible with only four touches on offense. Riddick simply does not have the explosiveness of the other two backs, and the team is wasting its best playmakers.
Next week, Notre Dame faces BYU, which also has a top-10 defense. The offense will be in trouble if they do not start getting the ball in the hands of their best players.
Expectations have been raised after a 6-0 start. Fans around the country are now looking forward to more winning and a possible appearance in the BCS title game at the end of the year. This will not happen if the offense continues to struggle.
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