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Irish Insights

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More thoughts from Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly covered a number of issues Tuesday as the Irish (5-2) prepare to play Air Force (1-6) on Saturday.

Here are some non-Tommy Rees topics Kelly covered:

On safety Elijah Shumate, who missed Saturday's 14-10 win over USC with a hamstring injury: "He's ahead of schedule. Generally speaking, the PRP for us has been a 10 to 14day procedure. Now, he's had a hamstring in the past, where he's dealt with this before. We ran him on the treadmill yesterday without pain. Painfree. He's ahead of schedule. I'm not ready to declare him ready to play Saturday. He will go through drill work today and I'll have more to say on him later in the week."

On nose guard Louis Nix III, who hurt his shoulder in the game against USC: "He's sore. He's sore. We're going to be careful with him. We need Big Lou. Option football is not his cup of tea. And he's a great player, and he was battling every play, and we showed some clips to the officials where we thought he was targeted on some plays that we weren't happy with. But he's a little sore right now. We're going to be careful with him this week."

On the Irish's improved defensive play in the last two games: "Well, I think you have to take the schedule as the evolution of our defense, because I think we're all in agreement that the evolution of college football for defense is winning football games. We want to win against two option teams (Air Force on Saturday and Navy next week). So the next evolution of this defense is to play assignment football, disciplined football. 11 players fitting a play.

"If one guy breaks down in the 11 here, it doesn't matter how well Stephon Tuitt plays. It doesn't really matter how well Danny Fox plays. If we don't have our corner playing football, we're going to give up a lot of points. So this is about 11 players playing together. So that's the next step for this group and playing that for the next couple of weeks is really the most important thing."

On keeping the team's routine with school out this week: "You know, we've had this before and we've handled it. We bring them in, like, for example, right now they're in having brunch. So they're in early, getting some treatments. They'll have lunch here. We practice a little bit earlier, which gives them a little bit more free time.

"I don't think it disrupts the routine too much. I think it's a welcome relief for the guys that they get a little bit more free time. But I think we still stayed with the same kind of they know the midafternoon it's go time for them."

On defensive end Sheldon Day, who missed two games and was limited in a third because of a sprained ankle before returning in a fulltime role against USC: "I think we crossed that bridge with him. He moved well. He made some nice plays, had a nice play in the fourth quarter (against USC) where he ran down a back on the play. We feel pretty good about him this week in terms of that not being in the back of his mind. I think it was a little bit in this game. But I think now we're past that where he can just go and play."