Notre Dame is ninth in the country in time-of-possession, and that's one reason why Notre Dame is tied for first in the country in scoring defense. And not just because it's rather difficult for opposing offenses to score when they're stuck on the sideline for seven or eight minutes at a time.
Against Boston College on Saturday, the Irish offense had drives of 13 and 16 plays in the first half. Those lengthy marches gave the Irish defense plenty of time to stay fresh, and to get coaching on the sidelines.
"It definitely helps us physically," linebacker Manti Te'o said. "And it helps us get the corrections we need from (defensive coordinator Bob) Diaco and the rest of the defensive coaches. There's a lot of instruction (during the game). None of the defensive players are watching the game going on. We're all getting the instruction we need for the next drive."
Golson a scrambling man
Everett Golson ran for five third-down conversions against Boston College. Nearly all of his 11 rushes (for 39 yards) were the same play -- a stretch play, option-run to the right side. That added dimension to the offense is something Irish coach Brian Kelly didn't trust Golson, a redshirt freshman, to handle earlier in the season.
But after totaling minus-11 rushing yards in the first four games of the season, Golson has 269 in the last five.
"There was a hesitation for me calling those plays that obviously require a skill -- they require repetition -- and anytime you're putting the ball out there on the perimeter, there is a risk factor," Kelly said. "I wasn't comfortable with that risk factor; I am now. The way he's handling the option, he read it right every time. They wanted to play the pitch, and he put his foot in the ground and got us some tough yards. When you're executing option with a guy like that, it really makes it difficult for a defense to bring pressure.".
Late in the game, Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III and Boston College lineman Bobby Vardaro had a shoving match, earning offsetting unnecessary roughness penalties.
Kelly said Sunday that Nix felt "someone took a cheap shot" at one of his teammates, "and he didn't like that."
"The big fellas were grinding on each other all game, and it seemed to get a little personal in there," Kelly said. "Certainly, we talked to Louis and he understands that he's got to control his emotions."