Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Irish Get Back To Basics

September 9, 2019

Training camp ended for Notre Dame, mere days before the Fighting Irish opened their season with a methodical 35-17 road-win on Labor Day at Louisville.

Then a funny thing happened: camp opened up all over again.

“I didn't want to go a full week without contact and tackling,” coach Brian Kelly said during his Monday press conference. “We tackled. We scrimmaged. We didn't have a 50-play scrimmage; we got some live tackling in there with our (starters), our key backups.

“We worked on special situations that I didn't think that we were quite up to snuff in, and really spent a lot of time on those in particular. You could probably all figure out which those situations were, and then added some New Mexico into that as well. And they were long practices, they were tough practices. It was a physically demanding and mentally demanding week for our team.”

With the No. 7 Irish (1-0) having to utilize one of the earliest open dates in college football on the heels of their Monday debut, they logged back into the practice field in a more instructional and intense setting last week.

Notre Dame hosts New Mexico, coached by former Irish head man Bob Davie but currently being guided by interim Saga Tuitele after Davie’s hospitalization from a heart condition,
Saturday in its 2019 home opener and first game inside Notre Dame Stadium in more than 300 days.

The contest against the Lobos (1-0) signals the first home start in the careers of some half-dozen Notre Dame players, many on the defensive side of the ball. Center Jarrett Patterson, as well as defenders Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Drew White all are aligned for their first home starts.

The opener against the Cardinals followed by one of the team’s two open dates --- the Irish also break Oct. 19 before their visit a week later to Michigan --- allows the staff, Kelly said, to dial more directly into the teaching process.

“I mean, it is a bit unusual in terms of, you know, the way things are structured for the first couple of weeks where you're not really in a routine,” Kelly said. “Again, I think it affords you great teaching opportunities and it allows you to put together a practice schedule that really drills down on the things that you need to improve on. So, it’s kind of a give-take. You don't get the routine that you normally have, but you do, in fact, get to really have focused and detailed work on the things that you didn't get done that you would have liked to have gotten done in the first game.”

Grueling, physical practices, in moderation, also were designed by Kelly to reinforce the both tangible and intangible elements of “Notre Dame football.”

“I'll go back to what I have said, and I have said to them, they care so much, and they're so committed to what we want to accomplish that sometimes it gets in the way of their performance and that performance is focusing on their technique, focusing on the little details of their position,” Kelly said of his players’ response after the Louisville win. “They just, again, want it so bad. There's nothing wrong with that. They just have to emotionally get it centered into the right position so they can focus on the little details of their position. They will.

“They all did a nice job this past week of really refocusing and focusing on the most important things. I think you'll see a big difference in those guys.”

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