NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Fighting Irish will play on artificial turf this Saturday when they face Arizona State in Texas, but they will have a new home surface to play on when they host USC in two weeks. Irish head coach Brian Kelly confirmed Thursday that new sod is currently being laid at Notre Dame Stadium.
"We have brought in turf from the goal line to goal line (and) number to number," Kelly said after Thursday's practice. "We're pretty much re-doing the field. As you know, it was in poor, poor condition so early in the season, so we've really stripped it and are in the process of putting down sod right now."
The field likely suffered its worst damage during last October's rain-soaked overtime win over Stanford. Grounds crew members were busy replacing divots on the field during nearly every timeout last week against Oklahoma. School officials were on the field afterward surveying heavily damaged areas on the north side of the field.
Kelly has lobbied almost since his arrival at Notre Dame to get field turf in the stadium.
"I've made it pretty clear what I want for a surface," said Kelly. "That has not come to fruition at this point, but we're going to put the grass down and I'm hopeful that's going to get us through the season."
Bryant Shut Down
Kelly announced that running back Greg Bryant will not play again this season. The highly touted freshman from Florida is to undergo treatment for a knee injury.
"He does not look like somebody that we're going to be able to play this year," said Kelly. "He's going to get PRP done on his knee. He's going to be probably out for the next four weeks."
PRP is a plasma replacement therapy for soft tissue injuries, which in Bryant's case is what Kelly says is a "severe case of patella tendonitis".
Bryant has three carries for 14 yards rushing this season. He played against Temple, Purdue and Michigan State, but missed the Michigan game as well as last week's loss to Oklahoma.
Service Academy Progress?
This week's government shutdown has put Notre Dame's scheduled games at Air Force on Oct. 26 and a Nov. 2 home game against Navy in doubt. Kelly says progress has been made though to keep those games on the schedule.
"We expect to play the game at Air Force, because we're traveling there," Kelly said. "So we've gotten the green light on the Air Force game that that should go on even with the government shutdown."
"The Navy game obviously becomes more of a question," he continued. "We're talking with them right now as to how we may be able to facilitate that through a third party relative to travel arrangements."
Kelly says Notre Dame is "fairly confident" those travel arrangements for Navy will ultimately be worked out.
Kelly on Andrew Hendrix's Week of Practice
Hendrix made his first appearance of the season last week and is expected to see more playing time against the Sun Devils on Saturday. Kelly says the opportunity may have lit a fire under the backup QB.
"I thought he was a lot more engaged - just locked-in a lot more relative to every little detail of the offense," said Kelly. "I think you could probably hope to expect that from somebody who played last week, but I thought he had a great week. (He) really contributed to what we were doing this week."
Kelly on Sheldon Day's Return to the Field
Defensive end Sheldon Day injured his right ankle three weeks ago in Notre Dame's win over Purdue. He has gone through pregame warm-ups the last two weeks, but has been a game time scratch. Kelly expects that to change this weekend.
"He definitely is going to play on Saturday," said Kelly. "I don't know that you're going to see 50-60 reps, but he's going to be on the field on Saturday."
Kelly on Using More Two Tight End Offensive Sets
The Irish had success using the two-tight sets last week, with the obvious bump coming when it was time to running the ball.
"I don't think that our offense can sustain the balance that I'm looking for just out of two tight ends," said Kelly. "I think it has to be a significant part of what we do, but I think we have to spread the field as well."
"Last year it was a significant part of what we did and a lot of it was because it simplified the reads for Everett (Golson). When you get into two tight ends, you take away a lot of those calls from defensive teams."
Kelly on Ben Koyack's Performance Against Oklahoma
Koyack is yet to catch a pass this season, but the junior tight end has seen action in all five games this season.
"It was his best game - period - as an in-line blocker," Kelly said of Koyack's day against the Sooners. "He was aggressive at the point of attack. He finished his blocks. We just think there's so much more for him. He's a terrific pass-catcher. We'd just like to see it on a consistent basis."
"I love Ben Koyack," Kelly continued. "We just want him to go, you know let it go. It's just one of those things that I hope we see the next step. He saw himself on film have some success as a guy that can get in there and get after people (but) he really, really struggled in some other games earlier in the year."