Notre Dame entered Saturday's 56-14 home win over Navy wounded.
The Irish (5-3) had their BCS hopes dashed in last weekend's embarrassing home loss to USC.
Then the week got worse as coach Brian Kelly sharply pointed out the difference between players he recruited and players he inherited when he took over for fired coach Charlie Weis after the 2009 season.
Kelly said he had to "retrain" the players from the Weis regime, and the distinction between his players and Weis players so frustrated some veterans – including linebacker Manti Te'o – that they took to Twitter to show their displeasure.
The result was a team meeting Friday in which Kelly reportedly apologized for his comments as Notre Dame tried to keep this season from getting worse.
"Basically, my thought process was to just move forward from it," running back Jonas Gray said of Friday's meeting. "We all make mistakes. We as players make mistakes. We don't expect Coach Kelly to be perfect by any means. The fact that he addressed and made us aware of how he felt was the best thing he could do."
Notre Dame responded the way Kelly needed it to against Navy (2-6).
The Irish scored seven rushing touchdowns, the most since getting the same total against Purdue in 1992, amassed 442 yards and scored on all seven trips it had in the red zone.
Notre Dame also held Navy, which ran for a series record 367 yards last season, to 196 rushing yards and 229 total yards.
"As a family, we all have good days and bad days. And you work through that as a family," Kelly said of the difficult week. "We communicated with each other as a team and as a family, and you saw it today. You saw a team that played together. I told our team, that's the best collection of plays relative to all 11 players playing together."
Safety and captain Harrison Smith said he acted as a go-between for the players and coaches after Kelly's comments Thursday created a problem. The fifth-year senior also addressed the team Friday.
"As captain, I felt I needed to step up and kind of let the players and the coaches know what I felt," Smith said. "I tried to talk to a lot of guys to see how everyone else felt on the team and also with the coaches."
Smith said while the clearing the air meeting didn't have anything to do strategically with Saturday's dominating win, he believed the meeting helped Notre Dame.
"I honestly think it had a big impact on it," Smith said. "Not that it went into the game plan or scheme or anything. It kind of showed that we are all in this together, and we all play for each other and Notre Dame. It's not about individuals."
Saturday's victory made Notre Dame 13-8 under Kelly.
While it's the same record that Lou Holtz had through 21 games with the Irish, it is not enough for a fan base desperate to return to national prominence and championship games.
But by ending a two-game losing streak to Navy with a dominating win, Kelly sees the team heading into the right direction.
"We want a consistency about how we play each and every game," Kelly said. "We've got to play together, play a brand of football that I'm starting to see. Today was a great example. Everybody was playing together, everybody was playing hard for each other, and that's what we expect.
"We don't want to just do it for four weeks; we want to do it for eight, 10, 12."
Monster in the middle
Te'o played like a beast Saturday.
The junior linebacker destroyed Navy's offensive line as he collected a game-high 13 tackles, including 2 ½ for loss.
Te'o, who wasn't available for interviews after the game, was so impressive that Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo heaped praise on him after the game.
"The difference for us offensively against their defense was Manti," Niumatalolo said. "We could not block Manti. We tried a lot of different schemes and tried a lot things to block him but the kid played phenomenal.
"We just could not block that guy. He just played a phenomenal game. We tried misdirection, tried to get him lost and tried to do some different things with eyes, and that kid was dialed in. Like I said we tried a lot of different blocking schemes and we could not get him blocked."
Irish receiver Michael Floyd was held to a mere four catches for 28 yards in last weekend's loss to USC.
Against Navy, the senior hauled in six receptions for 121 yards, scored on a 56-yard passing play and added a 10-yard rushing touchdown.
"He was great," Kelly said of Floyd. "He couldn't wait to play. You could tell that he was ready to play. He had talked about it all week, you know, coming out this week and having a great game, and you know, he was not going to be denied today."
On the run
Gray made his second career start Saturday against Navy and didn't disappoint.
The senior ran for 30 of the Irish's 70 yards on their first offensive drive, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown.
Gray went on to score on runs of 2 and 5 yards as he finished with 69 yards.
"It was a huge deal," Gray said of starting. "I talked to Coach Kelly before the game and after my first touchdown (about), 'Set the tempo.' That was the biggest things. Show everybody what I could do and rally around the rest of the guys."
Gray's example didn't go to waste on Cierre Wood, who had started the first seven games.
The junior scored on a pair of 1-yard runs in the first half, and he finished with 66 rushing yards.
"We both can do a little bit of everything," Wood said. "For any opposing team trying to guard us, it makes things very difficult."
Red zone efficiency
Notre Dame came into the win against Navy struggling in the red zone.
The Irish were 110th out of 120 FBS programs in red zone efficiency, scoring on 19 of its 27 trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line.
Against the Midshipmen, Notre Dame was a 7 for 7 in the red zone, scoring on runs of 4, 1, 2, 1, 10, 5 and 1 yard.
"Scoring down in the red zone is a little bit of an issue, but today things were clicking and being able to run the ball down there really helped," quarterback Tommy Rees said. "Jonas and Cierre ran really hard to get in the end zone and things were clicking."