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DeFranks: ND needs to convert yards to points (Sept. 2)

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, September 2, 2013

Something did not add up.

No. 14 Notre Dame’s offense rolled up 543 yards of offense and only put up four touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Temple on Saturday. 

To put that in perspective, 543 yards per game would have been good for the fifth-best offense in 2012 (one spot ahead of Oregon, by the way). But how about 28 points?  That would have put the Irish at 70th in the nation in scoring offense a season ago, behind the likes of Troy and Western Kentucky.

Senior quarterback Tommy Rees and the Irish offense had no problem moving the ball, clearly. Notre Dame gained at least 40 yards and dipped into Temple territory on every drive until the fourth quarter. But four of those drives ended without points.

Special teams is partly to blame for that, though, as graduate student Nick Tausch and junior Kyle Brindza both missed makeable field goals, but the Irish offense has to take some of the blame. On both drives that ended in punts in the first half, the Irish threw the ball three times in a row right before they were forced to punt.

Notre Dame was not able to finish drives the way they should have against an inferior opponent. The score should not have been close, and the Irish should have at least broken the 30-point mark after exploding for more than 500 yards on offense.

Rees had a career day with 346 passing yards. Senior receiver TJ Jones had a career day with 138 receiving yards. Junior receiver DaVaris Daniels scored his first two career touchdowns. Junior running back Amir Carlisle impressed in his debut, averaging just fewer than 10 yards per carry.

But the result was just a mediocre one against a team from a conference with one ranked team. When the Irish get into the meat of their schedule against Oklahoma, USC and Stanford, this type of performance will not fly.

The drives stalled a bit in the second quarter when the Irish could have pulled away. And the drives never really started in the fourth quarter when the Irish needed to put the game away (Notre Dame started the quarter with two three-and-outs).

The offense was not bad, it just could have been so much better.

It was kind of like watching Wolfgang Puck cook hot dogs – yeah, it was probably delicious, but it could have been so much more. This Saturday against rival Michigan, the Irish will need Rees to cook up something closer to filet mignon to come out of Ann Arbor with a victory.

All he needs is a little firepower.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily of The Observer.