Irish seek red zone answers, other notes

A 76 percent red zone efficiency has not helped Notre Dame score points on the field and, likely consequently, with voters.

The Irish rank 89th nationally in the red zone, and three touchdowns in eight trips Saturday against Pitt — with two turnovers as well — made a victory much more difficult.

"It's harder to stretch vertically, so obviously you have tighter throws; you have to be more accurate; you have to have precision," coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday. "It's not a word that's thrown around very easily in our room right now. Precision is not what we have yet. You have to be so precise.

"I've had quarterbacks that were precise, could read things quickly, and then it was easy down there. It was just, you know, shooting fish in a barrel. We're not there yet. Getting to that precision in that area is the progress that we have to make."

Against all opponents not named Navy or Miami this season, Notre Dame has settled for field goals or turned the ball over more often than it has reached the end zone.

A Boston College defense that ranks 109th nationally could provide the perfect reprieve for an Irish offense that has struggled to punch it in this season.

Why the double numbers? In light of Saturday's uncalled penalty on Pitt's missed game-winning field goal, Kelly jokingly blamed the media and increased recruiting coverage for duplicate jersey numbers before rationalizing that incoming recruits have been more attached to certain digits than in years past: "I'd like the NCAA to come in and say only one guy can have this number. That would make my life a whole lot easier, believe me. If you guys could all get together and have a write-in campaign, that would help me a lot, seeing as you're the root of the whole problem, right?"

Speaking of bad calls: Notre Dame had bad calls go against it Saturday, too, particularly a delay of game penalty called in the first overtime when officials said the Irish defense called signals to confuse Pitt's offense. Kelly said Big East coordinator of officials Terry McCauley said the penalty should not have been called

Nix better: Turns out Louis Nix (flu) didn't practice until Thursday and was an emergency-only option Saturday before Kona Schwenke hurt his shoulder. He is fine now. "It was just a gutsy performance from a kid that was sick all week," Kelly said.