Red zone struggles continue for Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Maybe Notre Dame should just go for the deep ball every time. Thus far, the Fighting Irish have had more success that route as opposed to operating inside the opponents' 20-yard-line.

Tommy Rees and Michael Floyd broke the scoreless drought for the Notre Dame offense, hooking up on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter to cut the South Florida lead to 16-7. But the red zone struggles have continued, keeping this a two-possession game.

Rees's pass pass to T.J. Jones on the quarter's opening drive bounced off the receiver's shoulder before dropping into the hands of Bulls linebacker Michael Lanaris. Two possessions later, David Ruffer missed a 30-yard field goal attempt that would have cut the Bulls' lead to six.

The Irish offense has certainly shown more of a hop in its step under Rees, who is 10 of 14 passing for 140 yards. But at what point does the unit -- along with the special teams, responsible for a turnover -- run out of chances?

Rees completed his first four passes on his opening drive before tossing a pick on a first-and-goal from the 5.

The defense has continued to do its job, forcing consecutive three-and-outs before holding USF to a single first down on its third possession of the second half.