NOTRE DAME, Ind. – If Notre Dame is not ranked first when the latest BCS rankings come out Sunday night it will not be Brian Kelly’s fault.
“I voted Notre Dame first,” Kelly said in his Sunday media teleconference of where he cast his vote for his team in this week’s coaches’ poll. “I had them second last week to Alabama. Of course, Alabama lost, so I’ll typically move up the next slot.”
The coaches’ poll is one of the components used each week in the crucial BCS rankings. Oregon received 44 first place votes and sits atop this week’s coaches’ poll. Kansas State garnered 14 first place ballots and is ranked second. Kelly was the only coach to vote the Irish, ranked third this week, number one. Those three teams each sport 10-0 records.
Kelly says he believes his team is “tested” thanks to a tough schedule that includes quality road wins at Oklahoma and Michigan State as well as a hard fought home win over Stanford. The latest knock on the Irish is they have lacked “style points” by failing to defeat the likes of Pitt and Boston College by bigger margins, but Kelly says the best style point his team has is its record.
“Without question,” Kelly said. “I think if you want style points look at our defense. Look at the schedule that we’ve played – 10 FBS teams. I think it’s pretty clear that this football team has been built around its defense and we’ve lived-up to that each and every week. We’ll just keeping working on one win at a time and let other people figure out where that puts us.”
Notre Dame is the only unbeaten team in the nation this year to play a schedule that consists entirely of FBS opponents. No. 1 Oregon has a win over Tennessee Tech to its credit, while Kansas State beat Missouri State. Not only has Notre Dame not played an FCS opponent this year, ND is one of just three schools to have never played a non FBS team.
“You have to play great defense to be number one in the country in scoring defense over the long haul,” Kelly commented of his team’s calling card. “Against BC – that’s the first time they hadn’t scored a touchdown this year.”
Notre Dame and Alabama are now tied for the FBS lead in scoring defense with just 11.1 points a game this season.
Daniels Done…For Now
Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels is done for at least the remainder of the regular season with a broken clavicle. Daniels was in street clothes and wearing a sling on the sideline at the end of the game in Boston. The team was back in South Bend for only a matter of hours on Sunday, but the sophomore had already had surgery. Kelly expects him to be back in action for Notre Dame’s bowl game.
“This will be a temporary setback for him,” Kelly said of Daniels. “We’ll have him out (for) probably three, three and a half weeks where he’ll start running and non-contact and he’ll be ready to impact our team in the postseason.”
Cornerback KeiVarae Russell suffered a head injury in Saturday’s game. Kelly says he is already clearing up nicely and expects him to be able to practice by Tuesday.
Running With Golson
Everett Golson continues to evolve as a quarterback. He was Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher against Boston College with 39 yards on 11 carries.
“I like the way our quarterback’s developing,” Kelly said of Golson. “He’s getting better and better each and every week and those are all positive things.”
Golson has now rushed for 258 yards on 79 carries this season. He is also the first Irish QB since Jarious Jackson in 1999 to rush for at least five touchdowns in a season. Kelly has continued to take the training wheels off the young quarterback over the last few weeks, especially when it comes to running the speed option.
“There was a hesitation for me calling those plays,” Kelly honestly estimated of his early thoughts on letting Golson run more. “(They) obviously require skill. They require repetition. Anytime you’re putting the ball out there on the perimeter there’s a risk factor. I wasn’t comfortable with that risk factor (but) I am now - the way he’s handling the option.”
Kelly says Golson read BC’s defense correctly every time Saturday night. The Eagles wanted to play the pitch, so Golson made them pay more times than not.
Louis to the Rescue
Louis Nix is not the player most people want to make angry. The 330-pound nose guard is happy go lucky off the field, but he is a force when he steps on the gridiron. Nix was ejected in the waning moments of last night’s game after things “got a little personal” according to Kelly, who says Nix thought a BC player took a “cheap shot” at an Irish teammate and Nix took exception.
“Late in the game like that when it gets a little chippy I think the officials are going to make certain it doesn’t escalate,” Kelly explained. “I can’t fault them on that.”
“Certainly we talked to Louis and he understands that he’s gotta control his emotions.”