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Notre Dame

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Notre Dame notebook

Freshman defenders set to play

Kelly says team has confidence in newcomers

– Notre Dame isn’t going to wait to find out what freshmen defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt or linebackers Ishaq Willliams and Troy Niklas can do in a game.

The newcomers will play in the season opener against South Florida at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and any combination of the four could be on the field at the same time.

“In the meetings that I’ve had with our defensive staff, I don’t think it’s been such that you can’t have these two guys in at the same time,” coach Brian Kelly said after practice Wednesday.

“We’re hopeful that we don’t have to play them a lot. That we can ease them into playing a game. They’re certainly going to have to play. I don’t think we’ve said they can’t play at the same time. Once we have confidence in a player, we’re going to put them in a game.”

Ready to go

Senior tight end Mike Ragone has battled a quad injury at practice.

Kelly said Ragone has progressed well and is expected to play Saturday.

“He’s upped his reps,” Kelly said. “He’s looked pretty good the last couple of days. We really pushed him to the point where we wanted to know (Tuesday if he could play), and the reports were great. We are moving forward like he’s ready to go at full strength.”

Tough day

As the season inches closer, coaches and players have gotten more excited about finally playing a game.

Kelly said the team had to remain focused, especially mentally, during Wednesday’s practice. It is a message the players received loud and clear.

“Everybody has got some jitters. Everybody wants to start the season,” receiver Michael Floyd said. “You’ve got to stay composed and focused and get the job done in practice before Saturday.”

On the air

Kelly will be on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning show at 9:15 a.m. today.