Cutting down on mistakes keys turnaround for Irish

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Cutting down on mistakes keys turnaround for Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Ask any Notre Dame defensive player about Alabama's offense, and the words "mistake-free" will pop up somewhere in their answer. The Tide have one of the best turnover margins in college football at 1 per game, keyed by A.J. McCarron only throwing three interceptions all year.
Notre Dame has a painful firsthand knowledge of how turnovers can torpedo a season. The Irish coughed the ball up 10 times in losses to South Florida and Michigan to open the 2011 season, setting the tone for a sloppy 8-5 year marred by 29 turnovers, the 10th-highest total among FBS teams.
There's some part of turning the ball over that involves luck. For Notre Dame, there was plenty of it last year, and coupled with poor decisions and the so-frequently-mentioned need to improve the team's "attention to detail" it cost the Irish a season.
That's why going in to spring practice, the emphasis on Notre Dame's quarterback battle was on keeping hold of the football. Everett Golson didn't have a turnover in the team's spring game, while Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix both did. And while there was plenty about Golson's game that was frustrating for coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, his ability to hold on to the football was a big point in his favor.
Four months later, it's telling that Golson didn't field any questions about turning the ball over from the throngs of media assembled around him at Monday's media day. In 2011, that's all anyone could talk about -- how was Notre Dame going to stop turning the ball over so much?
The answer hasn't just been inserting Golson in as the team's starting quarterback. He's still turned the ball over, throwing five interceptions and losing four fumbles. But it's also telling that, after Golson quarterbacked Notre Dame to a road win over Michigan State this year, the freshman was universally praised -- by everyone outside the team, that is.
"Michigan State, (the media) applauded him -- but if you really broke down what he did against Michigan State, he ran around a little bit, he scrambled and threw an ESPN play of the day, and that kind of overshadowed the rest of the game," Martin said. "Where in his mind, he knew he didnt play great at Michigan State.
" Michigan State game, I almost pulled him away from you guys and said you stink,'" Martin added.
But consider this: the worst turnover margin among the last five national champions was Auburn's 0.36, good for 33rd nationally in 2010. Notre Dame was at -1.15 in 2011, third-worst among 120 FBS schools. In 2012, the Irish are 0.75, ranking 23rd nationally.
Couple that with a defense that's gone from good to great, and Notre Dame is going from the Champs Sports Bowl to the BCS Championship.

Fantasy Football: 2016 running back sleepers and busts

Fantasy Football: 2016 running back sleepers and busts

When was the last time you didn't see a running back projected to go in the Top 3 of a fantasy draft? Well, that's where we are in 2016.

As most NFL teams transition to two-back systems or deploy a running back-by-committee approach, fantasy owners are struggling to find true No. 1-type backs.

There are only a handful of those "bell cow"running backs, which we ranked in order in the pictures below.

If you're unable to secure one of those five players, the CSN Fantasy crew offers up some advice on who to target, which sleepers to keep an eye on and who to stay away from for the 2016 season.

If you've got specific draft questions, drop us a line on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Top Targets

C.J. Anderson, DEN: I know he got off to a terrible start last season and anybody who owned him was frustrated beyond belief after probably spending a first-round pick on him. But things got better from there. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry in the final 11 weeks and showed he can still be productive even on a Broncos team that didn't have the typical elite QB play, so owners shouldn't be scared off just because Peyton Manning is gone and Trevor Siemian is starting. Anderson, 25, is still the same guy that broke out in the second half of 2014 and is the clear lead back on a team that undoubtedly will run the ball. Considering you can get him in the third or fourth round of any draft, what's not to like? — Tony Andracki

​[RELATED: 2016 Fantasy Football wide receiver sleepers and busts]

​Jeremy Langford, CHI: If we're looking at Langford from strictly a value perspective, there aren't many better running backs to snag at his late fifth-round average draft position. Ignore Langford's 3.6 yards per carry in 2015. With a full year under his belt and a true zone blocking scheme in Chicago, he should see an increase in that number. Neither Ka'Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers nor Jordan Howard have done enough to steal carries from Langford. Look for the former Michigan State Spartan to continue to get three-down work and provide a steady diet of points for PPR owners with his ability to catch the ball (22 receptions, 279 yards in 2015) and turn upfield for extra yardage. — Scott Krinch

Sleepers

Ameer Abdullah, DET: Why is everybody so down on this guy? He still holds all the skills that made him a popular breakout candidate prior to last season and now he's in an even better situation in Detroit with Joique Bell no longer around to vulture touches or tuddies. Don't be surprised at all if Abdullah breaks out in his second year and he's falling to the ninth round and later in drafts, so you can scoop him up on the cheap. — TA

[MORE: Five Burning Questions for the 2016 Fantasy Football season]

Duke Johnson Jr., CLE: There will always be that one player you regret passing up in your drafts. Don't let Johnson be that guy this year. In limited playing time, in an awful situation under the previous coaching regime in Cleveland, Johnson still managed to haul in 61 receptions for 534 receiving yards and two touchdowns. There may not be a better pass-catching running back in the NFL, and after seeing what new Browns head coach Hue Jackson did with a similar back in Gio Bernard in Cincinnati, I'm buying major stock in Johnson. The Duke will be loose this season. — SK

Busts

Devonta Freeman, ATL: This dude had just four good games last season. I know he was the No. 1 fantasy RB last year, but being a stud in Weeks 3-6 doesn't win anybody a championship. Tevin Coleman is legit and going to steal some touches and considering you'd have to draft Freeman at the end of the first round to secure his services, there is just no way he's worth that cost. Plain and simple. — TA

Latavius Murray, OAK: The honeymoon is over. If you've followed us over the past two years, you'll know my affinity for the bulldozing Raiders running back. After seeing with Murray did in his first full year as a starter in 2015, he's entered my doghouse. Murray was given the third most carries in the league and only averaged 4.0 yards per carry with six touchdowns, while also failing to turn one of his 41 receptions in for a score. For a player his size, he should be averaging better than 1.9 yards after contact. I know he's still young at 26-years-old, but I just don't see much room for improvement. If you're looking for a Raiders running back to own this season, look no further than rookie lightning bolt DeAndre Washington. — SK

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton break down the upcoming schedule in this week's Honda Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

After a 6-2 homestand, the White Sox got swept by the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox will head to Minnesota for a four-game series and then head back to Chicago for another three-game series against the Tigers.

[SHOP: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Jose Quintana — who's searching for win No. 12 — and Carlos Rodon — who's 3-0 in his last five outings with a 1.47 ERA — are scheduled to get the first two games of the series.

With 30 games left, how many wins will Quintana finish the season with?

Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton share their thoughts.

See what they had to say in the video above.

Report: CB K'Waun Williams fails physical with Bears

Report: CB K'Waun Williams fails physical with Bears

The Bears search for cornerback depth will continue.

K'Waun Williams, who the Bears were awarded off waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, failed his physical and will now become a free agent, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The 25-year-old Williams was suspended by the Browns for two weeks after he refused to play due to an injury in the team's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers. Following the team-issued two-week suspension, the Browns waived Williams.

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Williams, who signed with the Browns as undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh in 2014, served as the Browns starting nickel cornerback over the past two seasons. In 26 career games, Williams amassed 60 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes defended.

The Bears will have to look elsewhere for cornerback depth as starters' Tracy Porter (concussion), Kyle Fuller (knee) and nickel corner Bryce Callahan (hamstring) are currently sidelined.

The Bears roster now stands at 74.