NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Another week of preparation is in the books as Notre Dame gets set to face another opponent. The Fighting Irish held their last practice of Navy week indoors on Thursday with rain falling in the South Bend area all day long.
"We had to have a good week of practice and I like the way we prepared," Brian Kelly said after Thursday's practice. "Now we've got to play. The things we've done the last few games, we're going to have to continue on offense and that is score points. And defensively the quarterback is really the guy that makes it happen."
Navy rushes for 292 yards a game and quarterback Keenan Reynolds averages about a fourth of that with a team-high total of 546 yards to go with a team-best 11 touchdowns. The sophomore is considered one of the top athletes to play the position in Navy's triple-option attack. He has also thrown the ball for 667 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Notre Dame has won its last two games against Navy by a combined total of 106-14 since losing 35-17 to the Midshipmen in Kelly's first season in 2010. Things have not always gone perfectly since then, but Kelly says that game was one of a pair of watershed moments for the program since he has been in charge.
"There have only been a couple of times since we've been here where we feel like we let the players down," said Kelly. "As coaches, you never want to feel that way. I take full responsibility for that. You want your team prepared and that's why we're in this profession is to prepare our kids and we weren't prepared properly. We've redoubled our efforts based upon that game to make sure that never happens again."
Exiled Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is the subject of a brief article in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated. Kelly is quoted in the article after an interview with Andy Staples. If Golson was still at Notre Dame he would have to have had Kelly's blessing for the SI interview, but that is not the case now.
"If he's here on campus and he's in our program and he's under my charge, I'm really good at giving advice," said Kelly. "But he's not in the program right now, so those are his decisions that he's free to make."
Golson remains in California working with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield, but Kelly says he is "hearing" Golson wants to return to South Bend "within the next few weeks". Golson would not be able to practice with the team during the current academic semester, but Kelly gave a theoretical scenario in which he could possibly practice with the Irish in December during bowl preparation.
"Theoretically, let's say he's admitted back into school on December 15th," Kelly began. "He would be eligible to practice, so if that's the case we would practice him in some fashion, but he would not, of course, be eligible to compete (in the bowl game)."
Kelly reiterated that the scenario is provided that Golson is first readmitted to school.
Kelly says nose guard Louis Nix will miss a second straight game and a second straight option team this Saturday. Nix is hobbled by a knee, but was more active this week than last week.
"He moved around a little bit," said Kelly. "Much more than last week. He's getting closer, but didn't get enough work for us to play him against an option team."
Nix will not dress for Saturday's game. Three other players have more optimistic outlooks for this weekend. Guard Chris Watt and defensive lineman Sheldon Day both practiced with the first team on Thursday, while safety Elijah Shumate worked with the second team defense. Kelly says all three will play this Saturday.
Kelly on Freshman Running Back Tarean Folston
"We actually have to slow him down a little bit (in practice)," said Kelly. "He's the classic - I use the line (from John Wooden) 'Be quick, but don't hurry'. He has a tendency to hurry things, so we have to slow him down on some things, because he'll miss some reads because he's a little too fast. I think it's just for him just still learning the offense - the little things here and there, but he had a good week of practice."
Folston doubled his season carries to 22 last week with 11 rushes for 47 yards against Air Force.
Kelly on Tommy Rees' Passing Accuracy in Notre Dame's Last Two Games
"It's been a combination of a number of things," Kelly said of the senior quarterback. "I would say settling in with the offensive structure and how it's moving forward. You know, plays and routes and things of that nature. "
"We played some really good defenses," Kelly continued. "I think we've got to take our hat off to some of the defenses that we played. They were outstanding defenses and made it difficult for us and for Tommy."
"And then I think his comfort level in the pocket has just risen over the last month where he has really become much more comfortable moving in the pocket. (He is) just a lot more confident out there."