New year, same red zone scoring issues for Notre Dame

New year, same red zone scoring issues for Notre Dame
November 14, 2013, 9:30 pm
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The players are different, the play caller is different, the opponents are different. But for the second straight year, Notre Dame has been sub-par in turning red zone chances into touchdowns.

In 2012, with Brian Kelly calling the plays and Everett Golson, Theo Riddick and Tyler Eifert heading offensive efforts, Notre Dame scored a touchdown on 48 percent of its red zone opportunities -- 13th-worst among FBS teams. 

Leaving so many points on the board didn't hurt Notre Dame last year thanks to an elite defense, one that allowed just 12.8 points per game -- second-best nationally. 

Opponents are averaging 23.5 points per game against Notre Dame this year. While Notre Dame's converted 59 percent of its red zone chances for touchdowns this year, it's a pedestrian rate ranking 79th among FBS teams. 

Obviously, this is just one of many factors as to why Notre Dame is 7-3 instead of 10-0 at this point. But Notre Dame's loss to Pitt turned on Tommy Rees' end zone interception. Instead of a go-ahead touchdown Notre Dame got nothing, and eventually another Rees interception led to Pitt's game-winning score. 

[MORE: Kiper projects Nix, Tuitt as top-10 picks]

Again, it's just one factor as to why Notre Dame lost to Pitt and has three defeats to its name this year. But without an elite defense, leaving points on the board hasn't been something Notre Dame can afford this year.

"Our mantra is you can't start winning until you stop losing," Kelly said after the Pitt loss, "and we did things tonight that caused losing." 

The players are different, the play caller is different, the opponents are different. But for the second straight year, Notre Dame has been sub-par in turning red zone chances into touchdowns.

In 2012, with Brian Kelly calling the plays and Everett Golson, Theo Riddick and Tyler Eifert heading offensive efforts, Notre Dame scored a touchdown on 48 percent of its red zone opportunities -- 13th-worst among FBS teams. 

Leaving so many points on the board didn't hurt Notre Dame last year thanks to an elite defense, one that allowed just 12.8 points per game -- second-best nationally. 

Opponents are averaging 23.5 points per game against Notre Dame this year. While Notre Dame's converted 59 percent of its red zone chances for touchdowns this year, it's a pedestrian rate ranking 79th among FBS teams. 

[MORE: Nix keeping everyone guessing about draft status]

Obviously, this is just one of many factors as to why Notre Dame is 7-3 instead of 10-0 at this point. But Notre Dame's loss to Pitt turned on Tommy Rees' end zone interception. Instead of a go-ahead touchdown Notre Dame got nothing, and eventually another Rees interception led to Pitt's game-winning score. 

Again, it's just one factor as to why Notre Dame lost to Pitt and has three defeats to its name this year. But without an elite defense, leaving points on the board hasn't been something Notre Dame can afford this year.

"Our mantra is you can't start winning until you stop losing," Kelly said after the Pitt loss, "and we did things tonight that caused losing."