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Bowl prep

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has sketched out how his team will prepare to play Miami in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.

The Irish, who already held one practice Saturday, will mix game preparation and using the time to evaluate under classmen for the future.

Notre Dame will practice Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week. The Irish will not practice from Sunday to Dec. 16 as the players take finals, and they will return to practice Dec. 17 and 18.

Those dates will be more about preparing for 2011.

Kelly said practice from Dec. 20 to 22 will be game-week like sessions. The players will be released on Dec. 22 to spend Christmas with their families, and they will report to El Paso on Dec. 26.

Kelly said there is not an exact formula to get a team prepared for a bowl game, but he did take the advice of one of his coaching brethren.

"I remember talking to (Virginia Tech coach) Frank Beamer, we had just finished preparing our football team for the Orange Bowl. They had lost two, maybe three bowl games in succession. One thing that stood out of what he said was that you still have to go back and tackle," Kelly said. "We all get caught up and want to make sure we're injury free, and then the game is a little too fast for you early on. We'll get back to tackling, we'll get back to scrimmaging and some live work."

Along with finding the right blend for game preparation, there is balancing letting players have fun and enjoy the bowl experience but not get distracted or into off-field issues.

"First of all, it's your seniors," Kelly said. "You have to address the fact that you're going to a bowl game and you've got 14, 15 practices. How do you deal with the seniors? Practice all of them? Because not all (of the practices) are leading toward Miami preparation. You have to handle that first of all. We've already talked to the seniors about what their involvement is in practices.

"Then you really have to make sure players are well taken care of in a bowl opportunity. This is an opportunity to get taken care of how they get to the bowl site, what happens when they get there. We want to make sure guys are having a very, very good time. But they can't be out until 3 a.m. and not come back to practice the next day. There's a maturity balance there we have to find."

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