FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wants his offense to look more like it did in the season opener than it has the last three games when the No. 9 Irish (4-0) play Miami (4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
The Irish opened the season by blowing out Navy 50-10. Quarterback Everett Golson completed 12 of 18 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown, and running backs Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III combined for 207 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
In the past three games, Notre Dame has averaged 17.7 points, 215.7 passing yards and 89.3 rushing yards.
We need to score more points, no question about that, Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference. We’re not scoring enough points.
The Irish could have plenty of chances to score against the Hurricanes.
Miami is giving up 33.4 points per game, and the Hurricanes only held Bethune-Cookman, a FCS program, to less than 30 points this season.
The Hurricanes, who have won their last three games, gave up a combined 73 points and 1,083 total yards in their last two victories. Miami defeated North Carolina State 44-37 on Saturday and Georgia Tech 42-36 in overtime Sept. 22.
Even though Miami’s defense has struggled, Kelly will not push his offense to do too much and will instead continue to focus on limiting turnovers. Notre Dame has turned the ball over only four times (three interceptions, one fumble).
We’re going to be careful with the football, Kelly said.
We’re not going to be careless with it. Until we’re ready to amp it up, so to speak, we’ll be careful with the football.
Notre Dame will also have to be careful not to give up big plays against Miami.
The Hurricanes are averaging 472.6 yards and 35.6 points, and they are the No. 15 passing team in the nation, averaging 328.4 passing yards.
Quarterback Stephen Morris has thrown for 1,635 yards with nine touchdowns, and Miami has completed 19 passes for 20 or more yards, including 10 that have gone for more than 40 yards.
They have proven to be a team that can make big plays, Kelly said. They’re a tempo team. They like to go fast. They’ve caught their last couple of opponents not prepared for that.
Notre Dame will be playing Miami for the second time in three years. The Irish defeated the Hurricanes 33-17 in the 2010 Sun Bowl when the rivalry resumed with the programs’ first game since 1990.
While the bowl match brought back a lot of talk about the classic games the two programs had played, Kelly said his team will not focus on history.
They’re focused on this (year’s Miami) team more than the tradition and the history, Kelly said, because if they’re not, they’re going to get beat.
Note: Kelly said defensive end Chase Hounshell will have shoulder surgery and will not play this season.