Offense remains work in progress
Pittsburgh was the first team that aggressively tried to deny the ball to Michael Floyd. The strategy worked. Floyd was held to four catches for 27 yards. The plan also backfired because tight end Tyler Eifert had a career day, catching eight passes from quarterback Tommy Rees for 75 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion.
Coach Brian Kelly said he doesn't think other teams would use Pittsburgh's strategy of rolling coverages toward Floyd as a blueprint for how to stop Notre Dame's most prolific player.
"They played a lot more man," Kelly said. "But other than that, you know, the typical quarter, quarter half coverage to Mike, we have seen quite a bit of that, even last year --- very similar," Kelly said. "The only difference really would be for us in terms of how to get the ball to the guys that are one on one.
"We had a number of one-on-one situations that we didn't take advantage of, and that's what we'll make certain, that we coach Tommy up on."
The offense struggled for much of the game before Rees completed eight-of-eight passes for 74 yards on the game-winning drive midway through the fourth quarter.
"What we did more than anything else is we went back to some of our basics and in the last, probably ten or 15 plays, they were some of our base plays," Kelly said. "Early on, some of the looks for Tommy were first time looks for him, and again, he's a young quarterback. It takes him a little while to process a new look. We'll do a better job of giving him during the week looks that we may see.
"Part of that's coaching, doing a better job of giving him multiple looks, but just sometimes you've got to go back to your basics and I think that's what we did."
Kelly said there are some offensive wrinkles he can't use because Rees and the offense aren't ready for them yet. He plans to expand the offense as Rees gains more experience.
"Obviously, when you get a lot of man coverage, you want to be able to do some things with the quarterback that allows to you either, A, take advantage of one-on-one throws; or B, beat them with your feet," Kelly said. "Tommy is not a guy that's going to beat with you his feet right now. We have to lock him in on being able to take advantage of some other things and develop our screen game better and do some things that suit him."
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