If its not one thing, its the other. That is what the Notre Dame Fighting Irish‘s offense now lives by. Since their season-opening win against the Temple Owls, the Irish have struggled to succeed at both facets of the game, running and throwing, during the same game.
Quarterback Tommy Rees threw for over 300 yards in games against the Michigan Wolverines and Purdue Boilermakers, but struggled to get the running game going effectively in either (other than Cam McDaniel’s “closer” drive at the end of the Purdue game).
The Michigan State Spartans game saw neither the run or the pass really get going, but that game was won on defense and timely plays. Against the Oklahoma Sooners, however, it was a reversal of fortune for the Irish, who gained 220 yards on the ground, including an 80-yard scamper by George Atkinson III.
The passing game did not improve from a week ago, in fact, Rees only completed 38 percent of his passes this time around and the last seven he threw in the crucial fourth quarter hit the ground. He finished 2-for-9 in the fourth for 39 yards, with 30-coming on the Troy Niklas touchdown.
The Irish have been searching for balance all season long, but have either seen one or the other struggle in a game. After this week’s performance, expect the running game to possibly take a hit, as teams will more than likely fear Rees even less (if that’s possible) and will continue to stack the box to prevent the Irish from running the ball.
This was the closest thing to a balanced attack that the Irish offense has seen since the Temple game, and you have to wonder how things would have turned out if “Turnover Tommy” had not shown up. Notre Dame will have to find not only balance, but also some stability, as they will likely be playing keep up with the Arizona State Sun Devils.