After a 4-0 start that includes wins over then-No. 10 Michigan State and then-No. 18 Michigan, Notre Dame is flying high. The Fighting Irish are ranked 10th in the AP poll, their highest ranking since the 2006 season. And while the defense is as stingy as it has been in years -- 291 yards, nine points allowed per game -- the offense has been sputtering. Notre Dame's offensive struggles fall on the run game, or lack thereof.
With talent coming back along the offensive line and in the backfield, the running game was thought to be one of Notre Dame's strengths entering the 2012 season. That hasn't been the case so far, as the Irish have averaged a pedestrian 140 yards per game and 3.82 yards per carry. Against the Wolverines, who allow a Big Ten-worst 182 rushing yards per game, the Irish could only manage 94 yards on the ground.
Burger23 of One Foot Down blames a couple of things for Notre Dame's ground struggles against Michigan: The Irish were playing with a lead and content to run into the brick wall that was Michigan's eight-man front, and a lack of execution held the Irish back.
If Notre Dame can fix the execution, the offense should improve:
The bye week couldn't have come at a better time. (Head coach Brian) Kelly and (offensive coordinator) Chuck Martin can sit down together and evaluate the offense. The offensive line can spend some quality time with Harry Hiestand and go over the finer points of his zone blocking scheme. And Everett Golson can spend a little more time in the film room going over his mistakes.
There's still a lot of potential in this offense and things will hopefully start to click soon.