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Notre Dame Football

Positive Vibes Surround Notre Dame Program Heading Into Saturday

October 15, 2020

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly was on edge last week as his Irish were preparing to play ball after two weeks off. 

It was a different tone this week as Kelly has almost a full roster available to him as only receiver Lawrence Keys III is missing (from the players who haven’t sustained season-ending injuries) as he is in the third stage of concussion protocol. 

Notre Dame had to move Shaun Crawford from safety to cornerback last week as three cornerbacks returned on Thursday of last week. Only Nick McCloud saw significant action. 

Kelly wasn't jumping for joy as he knows COVID is the X-factor, but it felt normal. 

"When you have all your guys back, you feel, from my perspective, you feel complete," stated Kelly. "You have your team together. You have depth. You have competition. You have practices that are a lot different because they are structured in a manner that brings that competitiveness out during your preparation. That's extremely positive in so many areas." 

Notre Dame didn't have to give players high reps in practice this week. Notre Dame didn't have to worry about workloads. 

And there isn't a concern of players being tired heading into Saturday's game against Louisville. 

"It also helps in terms of making sure the workload is balanced out amongst everyone on the team," explained Kelly. "As we worked hard to get back, the workload was not balanced out. We were getting guys back, but some had to carry a lot more of the load. 

"Quite frankly, many of you didn't know this, but it affected guys how they performed on Saturday because they carried way too much workload to get others back. They had to take a lot more reps than they normally did." 

Not only will Clark Lea's defense be deeper, but it will be simpler as they look to stop a Louisville offense that uses a ton of presnap movement. 

"If you look at what we felt were some concerns from last week, we tried to get the perfect call in there," Kelly said. "At times, maybe, didn't have our players with their cleats in the ground. We're going to be simpler and we're going to attack the line of scrimmage. We're going to be a physical football team. 

"There's a lot of eye candy there. There is a lot of misdirection, but we've got to keep things simple upfront. You're going to see us really get back to the basics and fundamentals from a defensive perspective." 

On offense, quarterback Ian Book is coming off his best game in 2020.

Following the Florida State win, Kelly mentioned he had a conversation with Book. 

"It was a conversation he had with us this week," Kelly said on Saturday. "He said he felt really good - as good as he's felt in quite some time. I don't know, maybe a perspective he had gained. He was very calm in the pocket. I thought he saw the field well and he was aggressive in pushing the ball down the field. 

"It was nice to see. If we continue to see that from Ian Book, he's going to be very difficult to defend."

Kelly felt it was a normal conversation despite Book being a veteran as the position always requires constant upkeep. 

"I don't know if there is any position that gets scrutinized more than the quarterback position," said Kelly. "Therefore, it needs to be constantly be evaluated and coached on a day-to-day basis. When I say coached and evaluated on a day-to-day basis, I'm talking about where can there be subtle improvements. 

"When you're successful at the position, you don't reach a point of destination and say I'm here and I've made it. That's constant conversations in our meetings about the things he can continue to do to be a better quarterback. 

"Whatever level people look at Ian Book and say 'He's a B quarterback or he's a B+ quarterback.' In his mind, he wants to be an A+ quarterback and so that is great because it always allows us for coaching and teaching on a day-to-day basis as it relates to a position that is scrutinized." 

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