Notre Dame has its highest ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 in six years, and the Irish (4-0) are off to their best start in a decade.
Now the No. 10 Irish, who cracked the AP Top 10 for the first time since being No. 6 entering the final regular-season game in 2006, need their offense to match the defense’s production.
Notre Dame is ranked 16th in total defense, giving up 291.3 yards per game, but the offense is 96th, averaging 351.3 yards.
We need to continue to get better on offense, there’s no question, coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. But we are 4-0, and our guys are going to continue to get better. We’ll be better in November than we are now.
Notre Dame didn’t give up a touchdown in wins over Michigan, 13-6 Saturday night, or Michigan State, 20-3 Sept. 15, and the Irish are fourth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 9 point per game, and fifth in turnover margin at plus-2.3.
But the offense has averaged only 17.6 points since opening the season with a 50-10 win over Navy, and the Irish converted only four third downs in 23 chances against Michigan State and Michigan.
Kelly said improving the offense will center around quarterback Everett Golson, who was pulled for a second time this season in favor of Tommy Rees in Saturday night’s win over the Wolverines. But he also pointed out that being better on offense isn’t just about the quarterback.
If you look at us, we’ll have 10 guys do the right thing and one guy not. We’ve left a lot of points out there for the taking, Kelly said. It’s not just the quarterback, it’s the right tackle, the left guard, the wide receivers. We need to gain a sense of consistency on the offensive side of the ball.
Kelly is staying consistent on how he is dealing with his quarterbacks. Golson, who threw two interceptions in the first half against Michigan, is still the starter.
But Kelly will not hesitate to put in Rees if he feels it will help the team win.
Characterize it any way you want, that it’s two quarterbacks, Kelly said. I look at it as supporting Everett with Tommy. If we need to do that, we will continue to go that way because it has been pretty successful.
Note: Torii Hunter Jr., a 6-foot-1, 175-pound receiver from Prosper (Texas) High School and the son of Major League outfielder Torii Hunter, announced on his Twitter account Sunday that he orally committed to Notre Dame. Hunter, who is rated a four-star prospect by ESPN, is the 21st member of the Irish’s 2013 recruiting class.