Notre Dame Football: Improvements Irish Must Show Against Boston College

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 03:  Everett Golson #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Notre Dame Stadium on November 3, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Pittsburgh 29-26 in triple overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are having one of the program's best seasons in recent memory, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. 

Football teams, at their best, are constantly evolving. The best teams are the ones that find a way to improve from week to week and peak at the right time of the season. If you aren't getting better, that means you're getting worse.

After surviving the scare of the season against the Pittsburgh Panthers last week, the Irish must now turn their focus to Boston College.

If Notre Dame plays up to its ability, this contest will be nothing more than a tuneup game. With only a home game against Wake Forest and a colossal matchup with USC on the horizon, improving every week is more important than ever. 

With a shot at a national championship in sight, these are the improvements we need to see from Notre Dame in Chestnut Hill this weekend.


Clean Up Turnovers

The Irish have the makeup of a team that looks like it plays in the SEC. They have a physical running game with a stable of backs capable of running the ball between the tackles. They have a dominating defense that can take control of the game and force turnovers.

The only thing that can kill a team like that is turning the ball over.

When the Irish don't turn the ball over, they are just about unbeatable. Against Pittsburgh they racked up an incredible 231 yards on the ground and controlled the ball throughout the game. With a defense led by Manti Te'o, that should be enough to earn a blowout.

Instead, the Irish offense turned the ball over three times and needed triple overtime to secure the win. This team will only go as far as their ability to not turn over the ball will take them.


Run Defense

It's odd to say that a team giving up only 3.3 yards per rush right now needs to improve in stopping the run, but they need to get back on track.

Whether it was a fluke or not, the Irish allowed Pitt to stay in the game and nearly beat them because they couldn't contain running back Ray Graham. The talented back went for 172 yards and was a big reason the Panthers moved the ball successfully.

Obviously the Golden Domers have shown they can stop the run against some pretty good teams. Michigan State and Oklahoma both have powerful ground games that weren't effective against the Notre Dame defense.

Did Pitt expose something schematically? Or did they simply take advantage of a defense having an off game?

At this point it would appear to be the latter. The defense will need to confirm that against Boston College, though.


Everett Golson's Play

In many ways, Golson has been the personification of this Notre Dame team.

He's shown a lot of resolve and has come through when it has mattered most, but it hasn't always been pretty. The sophomore signal caller has definitely shown flashes of brilliance, but he has a lot of room for improvement.

The stat line wasn't eye-popping by any means, but Golson was a huge reason the Irish registered their signature win against Oklahoma two weeks ago. He definitely matured in front of the eyes of Notre Dame fans with his ability to make plays in that one.

The most impressive thing about Golson has been that he has played in five games where he didn't throw a single interception. If you're a Notre Dame fan, that's a great sign.

Golson has been a great game-manager up to this point. Against a team like BC, he should be able to show off his ability to make plays. A huge performance for Golson would be a nice step in his maturation as a big-time quarterback for Notre Dame.