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All hands on deck

Notre Dame's secondary appears to be at full strength and ready to go against No. 16 Stanford on Saturday.

Irish coach Brian Kelly said everybody took reps during practice Thursday, though he did say he was glad Notre Dame didn't have to play a Thursday night game.

Notre Dame had been without safeties Jamoris Slaughter (ankle) and Dan McCarthy (hamstring) the last two weeks, and cornerback Darrin Walls was dealing with a groin injury this week.

"Every day they are getting better," Kelly said. "When you play that many plays, we are going to get bumps and bruises all year. I think there are going to be several players who are going to have to be answering the bell Saturday. I think this is not going to be a first time occurrence, especially where we lack some of the depth.

"The reality is we are a little thin in certain areas. Those are some of the areas we were concerned about. Unfortunately, we got hit at one time at a particular position."

If the cornerbacks are hit as hard as the safeties with injuries, Kelly said freshman Lo Wood would be the fourth guy in followed by receiver turned cornerback Barry Gallup Jr.

Notre Dame has been using a cornerback rotation of Walls, Gary Gray and Robert Blanton.

"If we have to play the fourth guy, can (Wood) line up and do the things we need him to do to be successful? Absolutely, yes," Kelly said. "He's inexperienced, and he's a young player. Generally speaking, you wouldn't want to put him in a position where he is one-on-one without any help."

Having more players in the defensive backfield will allow Notre Dame to use more nickel and dime packages.

Kelly said being able to change defensive alignments will be crucial this weekend and for the rest of the season, especially on third-down plays.

"I think third down, I think everybody calls it the money down. So third down, if you are vanilla, you are going to be losing a lot of money on third down," Kelly said. "We got to be able to give different looks on third down. If you just line up against any offense that's in the BCS, they are going to be able to find ways to keep the ball. You've got to be able to do some things on third down.

"We haven't been able to do, quite frankly, what we have to do this weekend."

Here are some more of Kelly's comments after Thursday's practice:

On the defense needing confidence to be able to stop the run: "I don't think confidence is really an issue with our guys. If I thought we were a little bit disheartened, not confident, our preparation would be different. We don't lack confidence. I think there are a number of reasons. It's one play here or there. we have to play clean football. We don't have a margin, especially in terms of run defense, we have no margin to give up big plays. It just can't happen."

On Stanford's SS playing fullback and middle linebacker: "I played a kid at both wide receiver and corner. It is really difficult to do. I will say this, we know he does it. We would like to get him tired too."

On center Braxston Cave being challenged to be more consistent: "I think he has gotten the message. He has to be more consistent. Braxston gives you great effort. He is an unbelievable kid. He is going to give you everything that he as. The problem is we don't like some of his choices relative to who he blocks. He chooses to block the wrong people some times. Not a good thing, especially when there's a guy on the nose. He just heard it from us. Listen, we are not going to tolerate inconsistencies at that position because (Mike Golic Jr.) is not bad. He can play. And (Chris Watt) can go over there, too. Just want you to know there is some competition there."

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