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Irish Insights

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    SOUTH BEND — Jewell Loyd and Brianna Turner bounced back in a big way for No. 2 Notre Dame.Loyd scored 23 points and Turner finished with 20, leading the Fighting Irish to a 112-52 victory over Quinnipiac on Tuesday night.
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    Providence's LaDontae Henton scored a career-high 38 points and deflected a last-second shot by Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton as Providence defeated the Irish 75-74 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.
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Irish hope to stop red zone struggles

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar has a simple solution to stop the offense's red zone woes.

"We would start with getting the snap, that would be the first thing," Molnar said, drawing a chuckle from the media.

The Irish's inability to score inside the opponent's 20-yard line hasn't been a laughing matter as Notre Dame (4-3) plays host to Navy (2-5) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Notre Dame has lost the ball twice on the 1-yard line this season with running back Jonas Gray fumbling in the season-opening 23-20 loss to South Florida and backup quarterback Dayne Crist mishandling a snap in a 31-17 loss to USC last weekend. Both turnovers were returned for touchdowns.

"We've been working red zone diligently since the beginning of summer camp," Molnar said. "Some days in practice we've had some really good days. Some days during the season, we've had some really good evenings or afternoons. Most of it has just been guys not focused in on their assignment and executing as well as they can."

Notre Dame has scored only 19 times on its 27 trips inside the 20. The 70 percent success rate is 110th among the 120 FBS teams.

"It's kind of a mental thing because we've struggled with it this year," tight end and former Bishop Dwenger standout Tyler Eifert said. "As a team, we thought we were over the red zone deal and just making unforced errors in general. We still need to clean that up and stay more composed."

Notre Dame's need to get sharper in the red zone was highlighted by the Irish only coming away with three points in two red zone trips against USC.

Quarterback Tommy Rees, who was not made available for interviews this week along with leading receiver Michael Floyd, couldn't connect with Floyd and Eifert on throws from the 7 just before halftime, and the Irish settled for a 25-yard field goal from David Ruffer. The second red zone trip ended with Crist's fumble.

"We're trying to be more effective, as you know, with the connection between (Floyd) and (Rees)," coach Brian Kelly said. "That's some growing pains there. We're spending a lot of time, but a lot of it is not conceptual as much as the individuals hooking up at the right time and the right place. That's what we're working hard on."

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