NOTRE DAME, Ind. - It's on to Purdue. The Notre Dame football team is now five days removed from its 11-point loss to Michigan last Saturday. Nothing can be done about that particular loss now, but Louis Nix is among the Irish players who believe they can learn from the setback.
"We probably needed that loss just to bounce back," Nix said after Wednesday's practice. "Coming off last year (we) got to the national championship and I think we just needed that. When we watched film and we evaluated it, we saw that we made a lot of mistakes. We didn't play Notre Dame football. I think that will set us in the right direction, because I know I don't want to lose again."
Nix had four tackles against the Wolverines, including his first tackle for loss of 2013. The loss to Michigan was Notre Dame's first in a regular season game since falling to Stanford in the 2011 regular season finale. The last time the Irish had to prepare for an opponent in just a week's turnaround after a loss was mid-October of that same season.
"I see it (the same as) coming off a win," Irish linebacker Dan Fox said of trying to turn last week's defeat into this week's victory. "You look at it for 24 hours, you evaluate how you played and you move on. We're onto the next thing, which is Purdue."
"Obviously you're frustrated after a loss," Fox continued. "But there's no crack or anything. We stick together no matter what."
Fox led the Fighting Irish with 10 tackles against Michigan - his second straight 10-tackle effort to begin the season. Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson had as rough a night as anyone last weekend. As any good corner must do, Jackson must now have a short memory and use last week's game to move forward.
"You use it as motivation," Jackson said of how the Michigan loss can help him this week. "At the end of the day, even if we were to win the game we have a 24 hour rule. When Monday comes along it's Purdue, so we're on to the next opponent. Obviously we wish we would have won that game, but our thoughts aren't really on it any more. We're just taking each practice at a time, each week at a time and each game."
"I feel like we're definitely trying to push one another in practice," Jackson continued. "We have a high standard as a defense and we feel like we haven't played to that level or the level that we expect of ourselves. We're pushing to push that level up, push everybody through practice and just stay focused on our keys."
Running back Amir Carlisle led the Irish with 64 rushing yards last week, while also catching two passes for nine yards.
"There were many opportunities that we missed," Carlisle said. "I just attribute that to lack of execution, so that's been our emphasis this week. It's getting that execution on a level where we're going to finish plays out and we're going to finish drives out. That's behind us now and going forward we're just really focusing on Purdue and really focusing on execution."
The loss was an obvious disappointment, but it is obviously not the end of the world for the Irish. Ten games remain in the regular season this week and preparation for the next one has seen a different tone at practice.
"I think it's been an overall pretty, I guess I wouldn't say happy mood," said wide receiver T.J. Jones. "But it's up-tempo. We know that it's a loss, but we're not down about it. It's a week to prepare. It's a new week (and) a new game - another opportunity to get a W."
"We missed a lot of plays late in the game," Jones continued. "(We) had a couple minor errors that ended up costing us the game. We don't feel as if we were defeated and that's why we come into this week ready to prepare and work on those things."
Jones leads the Irish with 15 receptions for 232 yards through two games. He is well on pace to eclipse the 50 catches and 649 yards he recorded as a junior in 2012. Tight end Troy Niklas has seen a different focus in practice this week as well.
"Just an increased intensity in practice and lazar focus," Niklas said. "Losing exposes you and no one likes to be exposed. So, you've just gotta work harder to cover up those holes and whatever part of your game that they had exposed and just get better."
Niklas had five receptions for 75 yards all of last season while mentoring under Tyler Eifert, but he already has seven receptions for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season.