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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly Still Cautious After Two Weeks Off

October 8, 2020

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly typically comes across confident even when there is concern. 

Over the last few days, Kelly has stressed concern about Saturday's game with Florida State as his team spent the last two weekends at home after a COVID-19 outbreak, where almost at least 39 players were missing from football activities. 

Kelly still seemed a little hesitant on Thursday, but a little more confident after seeing two days of practice. 

"At the end of the day, when you don't play for a couple of weeks, you worry about timing, execution and things of that nature," Kelly explained over Zoom. "I'm less concerned about it as we've gone through the week because we've gotten our legs back and we've gotten back into a football kind of routine. I think earlier in the week, when I was asked the question, there was a lot of uncertainty because I hadn't done it before. 

"As I've looked back on it, I think we've taken the right approach in terms of balancing this off and not doing too much with our guys, but doing enough off the field as well with film study and weight training that we haven't put our kids in position where they'll have dead legs when we go out on the field on Saturday." 

A calming voice in Kelly's ear might be his veteran offensive line. The unit is receiving incredible praise from PFF and Kelly didn't downplay the rankings.

"It's kind of what I've been saying since preseason camp," said Kelly. "I don't know if there is one guy that you would say is the best player in the country by far, but as a unit, the five of those guys together - it's the sum of the parts. It's all those guys working together. They've logged so many hours together that they pick up for each other so well. They communicate so well. 

"I think that's what we're talking about here. Five guys working together - there isn't a better unit in the country where all five work as well together. That's what we're seeing more than anything else." 

Kelly will also get receiver Kevin Austin Jr. back on the field for the first time in almost two years. 

"He's going to play and he's had a good week," Kelly said of Austin, who is returning from an August foot surgery. "No setbacks and he can certainly help us. We want to be careful. He's only going to be about 11 weeks post, so not that we're putting him in a vulnerable position, but he hasn't played full-speed football in a long, long time."

Kelly also touched on how Notre Dame is handling its players that have tested positive for COVID-19 once they return to action. 

"They are still going to be following the same protocols as everybody else relative to masks, social distancing," said Kelly. "They won't test for at least 90 days, so they will no longer test. 

"We do use them in a manner - for example, in a locker room setting; they would be sitting next to someone that is non-COVID. We're going look at the potential positives on the back end of this that they've already gone through the virus and are not going to be spreading it to somebody that does not have COVID. 

"They need to continue to follow the same protocols as everyone else other than they won't be tested. We will utilize the fact they've already had the virus and the virus is now not infectious and we'll place them in a position where they can help us if you will moving forward." 

NOTE: Linebacker Jack Kiser and defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa will not be available on Saturday, per Kelly. 

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