Kelly: Irish ‘sick and tired’ of losingPublished 11:19pm Thursday, August 19, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
SOUTH BEND — Forget adjusting to game speed.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes the pace of the game will actually slow down for his players on game day after running intense, lightning quick practices to prepare for the season.
“We try to make practice more difficult than games,” Kelly said during Tuesday’s press conference at Notre Dame Stadium. “Every day that they’re out there, it is game speed. Sometimes, for the quarterback in particular, the game slows down on Saturdays.”
Tight end Kyle Rudolph said it has taken some adjustment by the players to the practices Kelly has implemented.
“It was something we really had to get used to in the spring,” he said. “But as practice went on, we got more and more used to the tempo. Early in the summer, we really worked hard on conditioning and doing the best we could to be ready here in August.”
Kelly says part of the reason for the intense practices is the need he feels to win right away, something he claims his team has really bought into.
“They knew there had to be a sense of urgency, relative to their preparation,” he said. “They were sick and tired of being sick and tired. They were 6-6 last year and they felt that walking around campus.”
Kelly expects a winning attitude from his team, because he is teaching them to quit everything that “detracts you from winning.”
“The first thing is you got to stop losing,” Kelly said when asked how his team will learn how to win. “How do you live your life? Do you drink beer on Thursday night and think you can be the best you can be on Saturday? Are you somebody who likes to hide in practice and pick your spots when you’re going to turn it on?”
Although Kelly said it is too early to say what his team’s identity is, he is hoping for the group to be hard-nosed and tough, mentally and physically.
“They understand how I want them to practice,” he said. “So coming to work every day has been a consistent theme relative to mental toughness and pushing through owies and little boo-boos. We’re hoping that our identity could become tough-minded.”
Michael Floyd setting the tone
When Kelly was asked about wide receiver Michael Floyd, he sighed.
“I thought Michael Floyd was overhyped,” Kelly said of his reaction after he first saw film of the star receiver. “I thought he was at times average.”
But since seeing him in practice, his opinion has completely flipped, now calling him a “dominant” player.
“In 20 years, I have not had a player who has worked as hard as Michael Floyd,” he said.
Kelly explained his comments about his initial thoughts on Floyd’s performance last year.
“He ran down the field, and they just threw it up,” Kelly said. “He wasn’t a precision route runner. He wasn’t asked to be.”
But Kelly said he has improved in that area and is now an unquestioned leader on offense.
“He has outworked everybody on the offensive side of the ball to the point where he has singlehandedly set the bar for where everybody else needs to bring their play,” he said. “I’m impressed. And believe me, I’m not easily impressed.”
Floyd isn’t concerned about Kelly’s initial impression of him.
“I just take it as a positive criticism and stuff I need to work on,” he said. “I see flaws in my game that I need help on. Him saying stuff like that really helps me be a better player.”
Backup QB situation still not decided
The competition for backup quarterback between junior Nate Montana and freshman Tommy Rees has been incredibly even thus far, according to Kelly.
“As it stands right now, Tommy Rees and Nate Montana are in really a very close, competitive situation,” Kelly said. “We need a little bit more time to decide who that number two is.”
Inside linebacker battle still on
The competition between Anthony McDonald and Carlo Calabrese for the inside linebacker spot has also been too close to call.
“Mac needs to be more physical, and Calabrese needs to be more finesse,” Kelly said.
Kick returners not a concern
Kelly feels confident with Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood as kick returners, calling them “dynamic.”
Bumps and bruises healing
Injured linemen Matt Romine and Dan Wenger have returned to practice, while tight ends Mike Ragone (heat sickness) and Kyle Rudolph (hamstring) are participating in individual work and are “close” to being activated.