Notre Dame Football: Key Players to Improving Fighting Irish Offense

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 06:  Cierre Wood #20 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish scores a touchdown past Eddie Johnson #44 of the Miami Hurricanes at Soldier Field on October 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Notre Dame defeated Miami 41-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame boasts the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation, making up for its below-average offense.

It's hard to argue with an undefeated record, but the Fighting Irish will have to put up points at some stage this season. For that to happen, a few key players must step up.

Brian Kelly's offense allows a lot of players to slot into various spots, sometimes sacrificing consistency in the process.

If Notre Dame wants to find itself BCS bowling, these three players must either play more consistently, or find themselves a larger role.


Everett Golson

An offense is only as good as its quarterback, and Notre Dame is no different. For the Fighting Irish to improve on the attack, Golson must continue his maturation behind center.

He has 968 yards and four touchdowns this season to go with three interceptions. Granted, he's often lifted for Tommy Rees in the fourth quarter, and he's battled injuries, but he also plays extremely young at times.

Golson has all the ability. Running the spread offense requires athleticism, and he possesses all the requisite skills to make that happen.

For Notre Dame to take the next step, Golson must get better at the little things. He tucks and runs too often, failing to see open receivers down the field.

He's going to get better, ideally, as each game passes. Notre Dame better hope so, if it wants to take its game to the next level.


Cierre Wood

When Wood touches the ball, good things happen. He has less than 300 yards and two rushing touchdowns this year, but his ability is evident.

Two weeks ago, Wood carried the ball 18 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns versus Miami (FL). Averaging over six yards per carry is something that helps Notre Dame's rushing offense and allows Golson to play with less pressure.

Theo Riddick is a welcome presence in the Irish backfield, but he's averaging less than four yards per carry. He doesn't have Wood's open-field agility, negating Notre Dame's chance at more big plays.

Notre Dame lacks home-run threats in its offense, and Wood provides one of the biggest chances at breaking a big one. He needs more touches, regardless of Riddick's toughness as a ball-carrier.


DaVaris Daniels

Going with T.J. Jones or Tyler Eifert here would have made sense, but Daniels provides something that no other Notre Dame receiver does—unless you count freshman Davonte Neal, and it doesn't look like he's going to play much this season.

Daniels is a strong vertical threat. Jones, Riddick (when he's split out) and Eifert are all very good at working the seams or underneath.

Brian Kelly must use the 6'2'' sophomore more often. He only has 14 catches this season, but he averages nearly 17 yards per catch.

Notre Dame only does what Golson allows them to do, but opening things up down the field will make everyone better. Pulling the defense off the line of scrimmage will allow Golson to find running room, along with Wood and Riddick out of the backfield.

Blowing the top off the defense will also give Eifert and Jones more room to work underneath.

Daniels is still a bit raw, but he's shown a lot of big-play potential this season.


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