Notre Dame Football: Offense Will Be Key in Avoiding Upset Against BYU

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 06: Everett Golson #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish passes against the Miami Hurricanes at Soldier Field on October 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame is off to an incredible start in the college football season. However, the offense will need to perform better in order to get past BYU.

Despite having one of the best defenses in the nation, the Fighting Irish are only 69th in points scored and 77th in total offense (387.7 yards per game). Against the seventh-best scoring defense, things will not get easier.

Fortunately, starting quarterback Everett Golson was cleared to play by doctors following a concussion he suffered in last week's game. The question that remains, though, is how effective will he be?

The sophomore has started all but one game this season, and that was due to a rules violation where he came in after just three offensive plays. However, teammate Tommy Rees has been needed to finish half of the six games.

While the two-quarterback situation has worked to this point, it will be difficult to keep it going.

Golson has had poor performances in big games so far. He threw two interceptions in limited playing time against Michigan, completed less than half of his passes against Michigan State and fumbled in the end zone as Stanford scored its only touchdown of the game on defense.

Rees is not perfect, but he has played well this year when his team needs him the most. Notre Dame has a good enough group of running backs that it does not need Golson's legs to win games. 

Still, either player will need to make sure he holds on to the football and not give the opponent extra chances.

Even with the quarterback issues, the unit under the most pressure on Saturday is the offensive line. BYU is sixth in the nation with 22 sacks this season, led by Kyle Van Noy. The entire defense knows how to get to the passer and keep him out of his rhythm.

The Irish have been near the middle of the pack this year, allowing two sacks per game, but the line has to make sure it is at its best in the upcoming game.

Additionally, holes need to be cleared up for the running back trio of Cierre Wood, George Atkinson III and Theo Riddick. Wood is arguably the most dynamic talent on the offense, but he cannot go far without open space.

This game should be a tough battle, but it will also be important to prepare for next week (when Notre Dame travels to Oklahoma to take on the No. 9 Sooners). If the offense does not improve by then, it will result in the first loss of the season. 

The expectations have been raised for the Irish this season. With an elite defense and a 6-0 record, fans around the country are now waiting for an undefeated record and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game. 

For this to happen, everyone on the offensive side of the football will need to play to the best of their ability.