Notre Dame seeks to improve in the red zone
BY LaMOND POPE Sun-Times Media September 9, 2013 8:58PM
Notre Dame v Michigan
Updated: September 9, 2013 9:47PM
Notre Dame made five trips to the red zone Saturday against Michigan.
The Irish scored two touchdowns and made one field goal. Notre Dame also turned the ball over on downs once and threw an interception.
The team is focusing on finishing drives with six points instead of three or none at all. Notre Dame has scored touchdowns in three of its seven red-zone opportunities (43 percent).
“Offensively, we needed to be better, and we needed to execute,” quarterback Tommy Rees said Saturday. “We missed some opportunities to put more points on the board.”
Notre Dame is tied for 67th nationally in scoring offense (29 points per game).
Eight players had at least one catch for Notre Dame against the Wolverines. Wide receiver TJ Jones finished with nine catches for 94 yards. Tight end Troy Niklas and wide receiver DaVaris Daniels had six catches.
“We missed some that we’d like to have back,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Sunday. “We’ve got to catch the ball better coming out of the backfield, obviously. But I think the strength of our receiving corps will be in the balance of what we have there.
“Again, we’ve got to be more effective. We did some really good things. There is more out there for us. We can’t leave points on the board that we did, again, [Saturday] night. We’re close. We’re really close, but I do like the balance that’s beginning to emerge.”
Kyle Brindza handled the kicking and punting duties against the Wolverines.
He went 3-for-3 on field goals, making kicks from 44, 24 and 40 yards. Brindza averaged 40 yards on his two punts.
“He did a really good job,” Kelly said. “I’ve kept all those guys alive. That is kind of going to be a feel situation for me with [punter] Alex [Wulfeck]. I talked to him before the game and told Alex to be ready, and the same thing with [kicker] Nick [Tausch], you know, if Kyle feels tired or we’ve got to be careful that he doesn’t get a dead leg.
“I’ve talked to a number of kickers who have done this in college, and that’s my biggest concern. He obviously kicked very well [Saturday] for us, but I think this is something that I’ve got to be careful with from week to week.”