Notre Dame Notebook: Chris Tyree, Offensive Balance, Defense Just Getting Started

News and notes about Notre Dame in advance of its huge matchup against Wisconsin
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News and notes about Notre Dame in advance of its huge matchup against Wisconsin.

TYREE IS A GREAT COMPLEMENT TO WILLIAMS

In a pass heavy offense, it’s good to have running backs like Chris Tyree.

Tyree, a 5-10, 190-pound sophomore, has caught 10 passes this season, which is third on the team in receptions to sophomore tight end Michael Mayer (17) and fellow running back Kyren Williams (11).

Tyree’s biggest catch was a 55-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Buchner in Notre Dame’s 32-29 victory over Toledo. Williams and Tyree have caught nearly a third (21 of 65) of the total receptions.

The Notre Dame offense is only averaging 2.9 yards per run and 105.7 rushing yards per game, but the offense averages 302 passing yards.

Tyree, a consensus Top 100 recruit, has always been a pass catcher.

At Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia, Tyree said he started his first few games as a slot receiver, and he's certainly comfortable catching passes.

“It’s part of my game,” Tyree said. “I’m pretty versatile. I’m an asset as a receiver.”

STRIVING FOR BALANCE

The Irish would like to flip the offense from pass heavy to balanced. Or at least, more balanced.

Williams scored on a 51-yard touchdown last week in Notre Dame’s 27-13 victory over Purdue and a 43-yard scamper the week prior against Toledo. Those two runs account for 44.5% of his total yards through the team's first three games.

Notre Dame wants to be good on the ground in the fourth quarter if it's ahead so it can chew clock. The offense is striving to be more effective from a snap-to-snap basis.

“We always understand that there is going to be one run that is going to break," Tyree said. "We are just trying to stay consistent on our reads right now. That’s what we are working on.”

GROUND AND POUND IS COMING

Linebacker Drew White and the Notre Dame defense know what is coming against Purdue, the question is can they stop it. Wisconsin is going to run the ball, run the ball some more and then run the ball more.

The Badgers are averaging 266 yards per game and 4.7 yards per rush. A driving force to that run game is a massive offensive line that averages 312.2 pounds.

Conversely, Notre Dame is giving up 4.2 yards per rush. Those statistics are somewhat skewed because of an 89-yard touchdown run by Florida State’s Jashaun Corbin and a 67-yard run by Toledo’s Bryant Koback. Take away those two runs, and the Irish are giving up a little over 2.7 yards per game. The Irish had their best defensive game of the year against Purdue, allowing just 57 rushing yards. They racked up four sacks and forced two turnovers.

It hasn't looked that way yet, but the Irish captain believes the defense can be elite.

“We have the ability to be the best defense and the best linebacking corps in the country,” White stated. “We’re not there. You saw in the first two games the mistakes and the details that we are getting ironed out. I think we saw a step forward in the right direction against Purdue. I think it’s going to excel as we go through the season. I’m excited about what we will showcase on Saturday in Chicago."

LUGG READY TO DO WHAT IS ASKED

Wonder why fifth-year senior Josh Lugg doesn’t move to left tackle? The 6-7, 305-pound veteran would seem to be a good candidate for the position with injuries to starter Blake Fisher and his backup Michael Carmody. Fisher is out with torn meniscus in his knee and Carmody has a sprained ankle. Lugg has played right tackle this year.

Lugg said he was never asked.

“I’ve always been the person that wherever the coaches tell me to play, I say, ‘Yes sir,’ ” he said. “Throughout my career here, I’ve played everything. I think the coaches have a better idea of where my strengths and weaknesses are.”

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