Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn’t changing his message to his football team.
After ending a three-game losing streak with a 31-13 road victory over Boston College (2-2) on Saturday night, Kelly said he will continue to preach consistency and the development of physical and mental toughness, something he has found missing in the Irish (2-3).
And that message will continue to come across in the animated fashion that was captured numerous times by TV cameras Saturday.
In every situation when I am talking to a player, I am clearly articulating what I’m talking to him about a particular situation in demanding that intensity and that mental and physical toughness that our team has, quite frankly, lacked, Kelly said during Sunday’s teleconference. Job 1 is physical and mental toughness with this football team.
With Kelly’s focus on developing his team, the coach will not get caught looking ahead at a schedule that lightens up.
Notre Dame’s next two games are at home against Pittsburgh (2-2) on Saturday and Western Michigan (1-3) on Oct. 16. Then the team travels to play Navy (2-2) on Oct. 23 in New Meadowlands Stadium.
The Irish, whose three losses were to ranked teams, don’t play a game against an opponent with a winning record until Conference USA’s Tulsa (3-2) comes to Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 30.
We have coined the phrase, Work in progress,’ Kelly said. This is really so much about a smaller picture that we really won’t have time to think about our opponents. We will be so focused on the things that we need to do to get better, and that’s the honest truth. We are so far from being a complete team that we can’t even look at it any further than having a good day on Tuesday.
Notre Dame will likely have all of its offensive linemen at practice Tuesday.
Irish left guard Chris Stewart (contusion), center Braxston Cave (ankle) and right tackle Taylor Dever (hamstring) were injured Saturday, but Kelly said only Dever, who had an ultrasound, is day to day.
Backups Chris Watt at left guard, Mike Golic Jr. at center and Andrew Nuss at right tackle stepped in for the starters.
We are not at a bad situation even having to use three quote, unquote, backups in the game, Kelly said. We can still run our offense.
What Kelly wants is for the offense to run with more consistency.
After scoring on three of its first four possessions to build a 21-0 lead, Notre Dame’s offense sputtered, and a pair of fumbles led to six Boston College points.
We will have a great run for a dozen to 15 plays, and then we will have a couple of three-and-outs, Kelly said of the offense. Either because we are in the wrong formation, the wrong check or the wrong identification of a particular pressure. That is the evolution.