- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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The build-up toward last year's undefeated regular season, coach Brian Kelly's track record and multiple strong recruiting classes all suggest that Notre Dame's 2012 renaissance was far from a one-year wonder.
Kelly has the Irish built to last, it would seem, and having eight starters return to a defense that finished second nationally in scoring in 2012 should only validate that.
But what about the other side of the ball? The Irish averaged just 25.8 points per game last season, tied for 78th nationally. But Insider's KC Joyner thinks the unit has the potential to develop into one of the best offenses in the country in 2013.
Notre Dame returns upward of six starters on offense, most notably quarterback Everett Golson. Joyner cites Golson's 1.6 percent mark last year in the bad decision rate (BDR) metric — which measures mental errors that lead to turnover opportunities for the defense — as a sign that he has a very bright future ahead of him. Granted, the Irish did not unleash the entire playbook with Golson at the helm last season, but he threw downfield better and better down the stretch, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And the 1.6 BDR mark is considered tremendous for a senior signal caller, let alone a redshirt freshman.
Of course, none of this will mean as much if the Irish do not up their productivity in the red zone, where their 48.3 percent touchdown conversion rate was good for just 112th nationally. They also ranked tied for 95th nationally in starting field position.
Joyner, nicknamed "The Football Scientist," argues that if the Irish had been merely average in both categories, they would have been far more productive offensively. And they are certainly expecting more than average from Golson this season as he takes the next step as the leader of the offense.
The post, which is on Insider , makes a number of valid points about why the Irish offense may finally be catching up to its defense, which could lead to more big things in 2013.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information