It's easy to focus on whether Notre Dame's defense will step up this season in the absence of Manti Te'o, Zeke Motta and Kapron Lewis-Moore, but many are ignoring an offense that has the potential to make up the difference.
To say Notre Dame's success won't be heavily predicated on its defense is silly, but there is reason to believe the Fighting Irish could put more points on the board in 2013-14.
First of all, you can't talk about Notre Dame's offense without talking about evolving quarterback Everett Golson. Golson had a breakout year last season, finishing in the top 10 in Notre Dame history in passing yards for a single season (2,405). More importantly, he took care of the ball, tossing 12 touchdowns to six interceptions (we all know what not taking care of the ball looks like in South Bend).
That's not all. Golson also rushed for 298 yards and six touchdowns on the season, displaying his dual-threat ability. Keep in mind, this was in his first year starting.
Then you look at the losses Notre Dame took on offense.
Losing tight end Tyler Eifert and running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood hurts, but, then again, the Fighting Irish have some promising breakout candidates.
There is George Atkinson III, who averaged 7.1 yards per carry last season. Atkinson not only added seven pounds this offseason to deal with a bigger workload, coaches have also been impressed with his ability to catch balls in the slot, per Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com.
You also have top recruits Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, both top-10 running backs in the 2013 class, according to 247Sports. Bryant—a compact, strong, surprisingly elusive back—could be productive right away for the Fighting Irish.
In the receiving corps, T.J. Jones and DaVaris Daniels have the potential to break out in the absence of Eifert. Jones posted 50 catches for 649 yards and four touchdowns last season. Daniels added 31 catches for 490 yards. Both have big-play ability.
It's not out of the question that the Fighting Irish offense surprises in 2013-14. Golson has a season under his belt. With an extra offseason, he should be better. The backfield should be fun to watch. And Jones and Daniels aren't slouches. Coach Brian Kelly said he thought Jones was "an elite player" ready to bust out, via NBCSports.com.
With all the attention placed on Te'o's departure, a promising group of players on the offensive side of the ball is going largely unnoticed.
It's a promising group of players that could boost the Fighting Irish back to a BCS bowl.