FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will pump up the volume at practice this week.
The Irish coach said Tuesday that crowd noise will be piped in at practice to get No. 20 Notre Dame (2-0) ready to play at No. 10 Michigan State (2-0) at 8 p.m. Saturday.
This weekend’s game is the first of three road games against opponents ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press Top 25. Notre Dame also plays at No. 5 Oklahoma (Oct. 27) and No. 2 USC (Nov. 24).
Notre Dame is 2-11 on the road against top-10 teams since Lou Holtz left in 1996.
Kelly said he believes his team is prepared.
I think you build toughness in so many ways before you get to the season, and then when you get to the season, you look to see it come together, Kelly said. Obviously coming back after really squandering a lead at home and winning the ball game (against Purdue 20-17 last Saturday), you know, was a great indicator of that mental toughness.
Saturday’s game will also be a great indicator on the progress quarterback Everett Golson is making as a starter. The sophomore will be playing in his first true road game in his third start.
Kelly said Golson, who has thrown for 433 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and ran for a touchdown, has proved he can physically handle the position.
But Kelly wants to the 6-foot, 185-pounder to improve on the nuances of playing quarterback.
Physically we are pleased with where he’s at at this point, and it’s living up to what we thought he could do, Kelly said. But we have a lot to do with the mental part of the game, the quarterbacking and the fundamentals and all of the things that go along with that.
Golson isn’t the only player who lacks experience in road games for Notre Dame. The Irish had 21 first-time players in their season-opening win over Navy.
Kelly said the key to getting ready for a road game is to make sure everyone understands that it is a business trip.
The only thing I’ve ever really talked about on the road is maturity, and maturity in a sense that it’s not a trip to the water park, Kelly said. I don’t want a bunch of giggly guys, and, Hey, we are in a hotel.’
I just want a mature group that goes on the road with a focus on what the job is at hand, and that is to play their very best. Toughness, mental and physical, that’s universal, home and away. But just a good, mature group when you take them on the road.
Note: Linebacker Danny Spond, who missed the first two games because of migraines, will be available this weekend, Kelly said.