Notre Dame hopes to get offense going



SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham chuckled when asked whether Notre Dame was striking a good balance between passing and running.
"That's an unfair question because of the numbers," he said Tuesday. "We're out of balance. We have not been very effective."
The Irish (1-1) have actually been fairly balanced when it comes to passing and running. They have run the ball 70 times and passed it 58.
Trouble is, they haven't been good at either. They are rated 88th out of 117 Division I-A teams in rushing at 108 yards a game, and 112th in passing at 120 yards a game.
That adds up to 228 yards a game total offense, giving the Irish the second-worst offense in the nation. Only UCLA, at 223.5 yards a game, is worse.
"We have to have better execution," Willingham said.
Holiday still will start
Willingham hinted after the 38-0 loss to Michigan on Saturday that his patience with quarterback Carlyle Holiday was wearing thin. But Willingham said Tuesday that Holiday would remain the starter despite some dismal numbers.
Holiday is rated 97th in pass efficiency with a rating of 88.4. Holiday's yards-per-attempt of 4.25 yards is the lowest among the top 100 rated quarterbacks. He has completed 26 of 48 passes for 204 yards with two interceptions.
Despite that, Willingham believes Holiday is continuing to grow in the West Coast offense.
"He is getting better. There are points where that may not be visible," Willingham said. "I've said all along, I thought his command of our system has grown. It started last spring and it continues. Sometimes we take steps forward, sometimes we take a step back. But it's all influenced by the things that go on about you."
Sacked eight times
Chaos has been what has been going on around Holiday. He has been sacked eight times so far this season, and has had little time to get off passes as the young offensive line has struggled. Willingham said Holiday is receiving too much of the blame for Notre Dame's sputtering offense.
"It's never just the quarterback," Willingham said.
The Irish hope to solve the problem Saturday against Michigan State (2-1) by trying to get their running game going.
The Irish need to become effective at something fast or risk losing at home to Michigan State for a fourth straight time.

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