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Tidbits from Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly covered a number of different topics when he met with reporters after Thursday's practice.

Here are a couple of things he said in his final media session before the Irish (4-2) play host to USC (45-2) on Saturday night:

On why Notre Dame didn't practice in the stadium on Thursday like the Irish do before most games as the team waits and hopes for the new sod to settle: "You know you're going to get me in trouble. We're hopeful. We've gotten a lot of rain. Certainly, that's the reason I'm not on it today. It's been covered. (Associate athletic director for football operations) Chad Klunder has been over there. He liked the way it looked. All reports have been positive, but we're three weeks into this. We put it down the Monday after the Oklahoma game.

"We're hopeful. We expect good results, but I haven't been on it. There is a bit of uncertainty obviously not knowing what to expect, but we're hoping for the best there."

On linebacker Joe Schmidt playing in the dime package and how he will handle in the inside linebacker roation with the loss of starter Jarrett Grace: "Joe will be in there (in the dime package). (Starter Dan) Fox won't come off the field. We're going to rely on him to play a lot of football for us. Relative to the Mike position, that's where we are. (Freshman) Michael Deeb took some reps there as well. (Senior) Kendall Moore took some reps at the Will linebacker position (behind starter Carlo Calabrese), so you might see Kendall in there a little bit too."

On handling USC's speed on offense: "We actually showed 2011 film with (receivers Robert) Woods and (Marqise) Lee and all the weapons they had. The speed of the game is going to be up there. Our guys have to be ready. Coming off a bye week, the biggest thing we concern ourselves with is the speed of the game right away. The speed that USC has especially on the offensive side of the ball is the biggest thing that we have to be prepared for right out of the gate.

"Our defensive players in particular are aware of the speed of the game. Especially right out of the gates it is going to be something they are keenly aware of. They know this weekend, they like to push the ball vertically."

On backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix being used more behind starter Tommy Rees: "I think the only thing that held him back was lack of really putting him in the game and giving him reps. I think, quite frankly, the focus was on Tommy, getting him ready. He's gotten so much more time and so much more involvement in the game plan that I'm feeling so much more confident that he can go in and run the entire offense, whereas I wasn't as confident earlier in the year. He's locked in. He's making the checks in the passing game as well as in the run game. I would say that we're at that point now where Andrew Hendrix can go in there and he's not just a change-of-pace guy anymore in my estimation."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.

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