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Notre Dame prepares for Air Force

Notre Dame (3-2) has to prepare for a little bit of everything as it gets ready to play host to Air Force at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Falcons (3-1) appear to have an offense that relies overly on the run with its 364.5 rushing yard per game, which ranks third nationally, and a passing game that averages 129 yards, 112th nationally.

But those numbers can be misleading.

When Air Force does pass, it hits quickly. Quarterback Tim Jefferson has completed 33 of 47 passes with five touchdowns.

"Their pass efficiency is off the charts," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference. "The balance that they have offensively creates headaches for everyone in the country.

"This is a team that requires a great deal of not only understanding the principles of option, but throwing the football. It's not cupcake throws. We are talking about shot passes. We are talking about pushing the ball down the field vertically."

Because of the challenge the Falcons present to defenses, the Irish quickly put last weekend's victory at Purdue behind them as they look to finish the first half of the season with a four-game winning streak.

"That's whey we were quick to get our attention to Air Force," Kelly said. "We're going to have to play very well to beat Air Force."

The Irish will be without one of their starting defensive ends for the first half of the week.

Defensive end Ethan Johnson, who sprained his right ankle against the Boilermakers, will remain in a protective boot until Thursday, Kelly said.

The senior has nine tackles this season and will try to play in the final game before next week's bye.

"We're just hopeful he'll be able to answer the bell," Kelly said.

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