Safer decisions pay dividends for offense

Notre Dame's offense did not make a whole lot of plays Saturday. Against the nation's top defense, it misfired on 20 passes and rushed for just 82 yards. The Irish were outgained, but they did not turn the ball over. The Spartans did once, and that might have been the difference.

While coach Brian Kelly said after the game that Tommy Rees misfired on a few throws, he reiterated Sunday that that still remains better than the alternative, which is completing throws to the other team.

Rees turned it over 19 times in 2011, when he played in every game. But the senior has just two turnovers so far this season, two interceptions he threw in the Week 2 loss at Michigan.

For a program that is 12-0 under Kelly when it does not give the ball away, that is more than good enough.

"That's what we're asking him to do, against Michigan State in particular, if it's not there, let's make sure that we don't give Michigan State an opportunity to have a short field, and they had ben so opportunistic defensively," Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. "That was so much a part of the game plan, him making good decisions and making sure he put the ball where we get to it is job from that standpoint. We would've liked to have hit a couple of receivers, but again, taking care of the football is crucial in the way we play on offense."

Notes: Kelly said that Malik Zaire (mono) will be a part of the team's game plan moving forward. … Sheldon Day (ankle sprain) should be ready to play Saturday against Oklahoma. … Kelly could not recall giving a game-ball to a punter, as he did Saturday with kicker/punter Kyle Brindza in a game that Brindza missed a field goal and had a punt blocked. … Notre Dame remained at No. 22 in the AP poll and fell one spot to No. 22 in the coaches' poll.