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Notre Dame Football

Kelly declares all Notre Dame players available after COVID-19 testing

September 7, 2020

Perhaps the most bizarre or unique opening week of Brian Kelly’s three decades in coaching arrived Monday with the best news possible for Kelly’s Notre Dame squad: all hands are on deck as it pertains to the first of three COVID-19 tests this week.

"Once again, our preparation has been about our discipline off the field,” Kelly said Monday in a Zoom video with reporters. “And we have currently, as we go into our ‘Mental Monday meetings,’ we have no players that are in quarantine and we have no players that are in isolation, so we have a full roster.

“We tested again today. We had over 215 negative tests again today with an antigen test. We'll test again Wednesday and Friday. So, feel really good about the discipline of our football team. Like I said, we're excited about now playing some football on Saturday.”

Notre Dame is testing players for the coronavirus Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each game week, with Friday results guaranteed for quick turnaround prior to any Saturday games.

With tri-weekly COVID-19 testing now in place, and a precarious, unprecedented season now five days away as the No. 10 Fighting Irish prepare to host Duke Saturday (2:30 p.m., NBC) in their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference opener, Kelly acknowledges an ACC title now is part of the discussion. Ten of Notre Dame’s 11 games are against ACC foes, and the Irish are eligible to compete for and win an ACC title for the first time in the program’s rich history.

“Well, it’s never been a goal,” said Kelly, whose 2019 squad capped an 11-2 campaign with a Camping World Bowl win against Iowa State. “So it’s an established goal now, to win a championship, an ACC championship. It allows you to, our mission is to win a national championship and graduate all of our players.

“We’re able to talk in terms of a mission being to win a championship, now an ACC championship and if you win that, obviously you keep your mission alive for a national championship. So you’ve got both of them now in your eyes and in your vision for what you want to accomplish in your season.”

Notre Dame returns a bevy of key starters along both sides of the ball, including preseason second-team All-ACC quarterback Ian Book and preseason All-America selection Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Every member of the Irish’s projected starting offensive and defensive lines also owns previous starting experience.

“I don’t know that it changes a whole lot in terms of our standard, in terms of what we want to accomplish,” Kelly said of the temporary ACC residency for the Irish. “It’s one week at a time and living up to our standards means total preparation and our traits. I think they’re all kind of wrapped into one, I think the really interesting part of this is it brings a bigger focus in on certainly the week to week because you’re dealing with 10 ACC games, where we didn’t have that kind of focus in years past.”

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