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Kelly excited to get started

Published 2:57pm Sunday, August 8, 2010

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly speaks to the media Friday afternoon. (The Daily News/Scott Novak)
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly speaks to the media Friday afternoon. (The Daily News/Scott Novak)

By SCOTT NOVAK
Dowagiac Daily News

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The day before Notre Dame officially opens fall football practice, new coach Brian Kelly met with the media to talk about the tradition and expectations of the Fighting Irish program.
Kelly spoke and took questions for nearly 40 minutes Friday about how he feels about his football team heading into fall camp.
Among the topics discussed were quarterback Dayne Crist and the Notre Dame defense.
Kelly didn’t hide the fact that he and his football team are ready to get after it.
In fact, the first-year Fighting Irish coach had his game face on already.
“I think we were ready to go two weeks ago, three weeks ago,” he said. “From my perspective, there’s been enough talk. We’ve analyzed, we’ve looked at the roster and we’ve talked about expectations. Now it’s about doing; it’s about getting the job done.”
Getting the job done seems to be one of the themes the Irish will be working under this coming year.
Kelly knows that expectations are high once again around “Irish Nation” and he wants his team to live up to those expectations as much as possible.
He also is smart enough to know that there are some areas of concern and some question marks heading into today’s first day of fall practice.
But there are also strength and things that this team will do well according to Kelly.
Among its strengths are the offensive line, which he says goes 10 players deep.
Another area that has shown a lot of depth heading into camp is at running back.
Among areas of concern is a lack of experience at the quarterback position and along the defensive line and the kicking game.
Kelly said that he has no concerns about Crist’s recovering from ACL surgery last year. He is now concerned with his footwork and mechanics.
Heading into camp, Kelly was asked if he had discussed any specific goals for the coming season.
His was response was typical of what Notre Dame fans can come to expect from him — honest and straightforward.
“We have not gotten into any specifics relative to what our goals are other than we’re here to win championships,” Kelly said. “Really, the big picture here still is about at the end of the day, winning. That’s really the only goal they know.”
From the end of spring ball to the beginning of fall camp, Kelly has been pleased with the progress the team has made.
“This is a different team from April,” he pointed out.
From the reports he got of the summer workouts, Kelly was pleased by them. After spending a lot of time trying to change the mentality of the program during his first couple of months on the job, Kelly is now ready to motivate those players in a way to get them ready to compete at the highest levels.
But he won’t be “sugar coating” anything when it comes to their work ethic and their performances both in practice and on the field.
During the spring drills, Kelly moved some players to new positions in order to help make the Fighting Irish a better football team.
He didn’t rule out the same thing happening over the course of the next few weeks.
In fact, although he wouldn’t go into any detail, he was going to speak to a few players about playing another position this fall.
Another area that Kelly has been working on since his hiring is getting to know the Notre Dame alumni and fans.
He made more than 150 appearances since then as an “ambassador” for the university.
“I want to be involved in the community,” he said. “I want to reach out to our alums that go from the East Coast to the West Coast. I think that’s what’s required of the head football coach at Notre Dame. But that’s not the only thing. The other thing is win football games.”
Kelly will get a chance to work on that when the Fighting Irish open up on Sept. 4 against state rival Purdue at Notre Dame Stadium.

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