By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SOUTH BEND —
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and his staff have a general rule: Only savor a win or digest a loss for 24 hours. Then it’s time to move on to the next game.
That rule is in effect this week as the Irish prepare for this season’s Shamrock Series game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas this Saturday.
Saturday night’s 35-21 loss to Oklahoma is in the rear-view mirror.
The Irish (3-2) take on No. 22 Arizona State (3-1) this week. The Sun Devils are coming off a 62-41 win over USC – a victory that led to the firing of USC coach Lane Kiffin.
On Tuesday at his regular press conference, Kelly said his team needs to find the offensive consistency that has been eluding it all season.
“Where we’re really pulling our hair out is trying to find that balance from an offensive standpoint. We’re going to play, I believe, well enough defensively to win the rest of our games. We’ve got to get ourselves where we have enough balance offensively to run the ball and throw the ball effectively. And as you know, our margin isn’t great,” he said.
But according to Kelly, consistency in any area of the game for the Irish comes back to the coaches.
“At the end of the day, if your team is not consistent for four quarters, that falls back on not only the players but the coaches,” Kelly said “So we have to examine how we’re communicating, what we’re asking from our players at practice, and so we’re examining all of those things.”
Offensively, Saturday’s game was much better for the Irish on the ground.
Notre Dame is coming off its best rushing game of the season, with 220 yards against Oklahoma.
But on the other hand, the Irish are coming off their worst passing game in five seasons. Notre Dame had just 104 yards through the air against the Sooners.
The previous week, in a win over Michigan State, the Irish had just 224 yards in total offense — their lowest total offensive output in five years.
Before that, the Irish had three straight games of passing for 300 yards, but had trouble moving the ball on the ground.
It’s a source of frustration for Kelly.
“We were talking about how well we were throwing the football and how poorly we were running it. Now we’re talking about how well we’re running the ball and how poorly we’re throwing the ball,” Kelly said. “We have to find our balance there offensively.”
With uncertainty relating to the government shutdown and its effect on athletics at the service academies – and with Navy and Air Force on the upcoming schedule – Kelly said Notre Dame officials will be monitoring the situation closely. “It was brought to my attention just before I came to the press conference that there was a question about that game being played and that the impact as to whether it would have something to do with our game. We will find out more information and then get back with you folks.,” Kelly said ... The trip to Texas could help the Irish recruit in that large, football-man state, Kelly said. “Certainly getting some recruits locally to come to the game, you know, we certainly can’t see them but we can provide tickets, that helps in that respect.,” Kelly said.
“A bump would probably be a good word. Is it going to seal the deal for us in a lot of these instances? Probably not, but it certainly helps to have the kind of exposure there. “