FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame played exactly how coach Brian Kelly wanted in Saturday’s 23-13 win over BYU.
The Irish defense locked down when it needed to and the offense enforced its will against the Cougars (7-4). We want tough gentlemen, and I want tough guys on the field and I want gentlemen off the field, Kelly said Sunday. There have been times that we’ve played like gentlemen, and I don’t want to play like gentlemen. I want to play like the way we played on Saturday.
Kelly wants the win in the final regular-season home game to be just an appetizer for how Notre Dame finishes the season.
The Irish (8-3) returned to the Associated Press poll and BCS Standings, checking in at No. 25 in both, to set up a top-25 showdown at No. 8 Stanford (9-2) on Saturday.
The Cardinal are coming off a 63-13 win over California.
We’ll have to have the same kind of demeanor, Kelly said. You cannot play finesse football against Stanford. Oregon has shown that you can’t go in there and try to finesse them and play fastbreak football. You’ve got to play physical football against Stanford if you have a chance to win against them.
Notre Dame will have to continue its tough-minded play without one of the team’s starting offensive lineman.
Kelly said center Nick Martin suffered a significant knee injury against BYU and will not play this weekend or in the bowl game.
We’re still getting a little bit more information, Kelly said. We had an MRI. I’ll probably have a little bit more specific details (on Tuesday), but he’s out for the season.
Matt Hegarty, who stepped in when Martin went down with less than 2 minutes to play in the first quarter Saturday, will start against Stanford.
Martin is the second starting offensive lineman the Irish have lost this season. Right guard Christian Lombard had season-ending back surgery after Notre Dame’s win over USC on Oct. 19.
But even with the injuries, and missing Watt because of a knee injury, Notre Dame has continued to get strong play from its line.
I think it could be an absolute disaster, right, if you think about the entire right side as well as missing Chris Watt for a game, Kelly said of the line being able to handle moving guys in and out because of injury. You are talking about three or four different guys going in there on the offensive line at times. (Offensive line coach Harry) Hiestand has done an incredible job of putting this together as a unit.
Note: Blake Barnett, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior quarterback from Corona (Calif.) Santiago orally committed to Notre Dame, according to reports. The four-star prospect is the second member of the Irish’s 2015 recruiting class.