The third game of the Notre Dame football team is on the horizon Saturday night in West Lafayette. The Fighting Irish football program had a setback on Thursday though with the passing of Frank Tripucka, who quarterbacked the Irish to a 9-0-1 record in 1949.
"I knew about Kelly Tripucka and didn't get the connection until I worked here at Notre Dame," Brian Kelly began on Thursday when asked about the elder Tripucka. "I thought Kelly Tripucka and then found out about Frank and being the legend that he was. (This is) obviously a sad time for the Notre Dame football family, but (he was) obviously just a great man and will be sorely missed."
Frank Tripucka backed-up 1947 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack for the better part of his first three years at Notre Dame. He was 85 when he passed on Thursday at his home in New Jersey due to congenital heart failure. His son, Kelly Tripucka, played at Notre Dame from 1977-1981. He helped the Irish reach the 1978 Final Four and then went on to play in the NBA from 1981-1991.
Champs In Town
The reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks have been on campus this week. The Blackhawks are holding training camp at Notre Dame's Compton Family Arena and spent some time with the Irish football team this week as well.
"I think anytime you're around a champion it brings out a lot of energy," Kelly said of the Blackhawks. "They were at practice and John McDonough, the president and CEO, got a chance to speak to the team."
"We like to have winners around us," Kelly continued. "So it was great to have them at the practice."
Kelly says appreciates the Blackhawks and their accomplishments, even though they beat his hometown Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is also a Notre Dame graduate.
Big Lou Is Back
Louis Nix ended his self-imposed media embargo this week. Prior to this week, Nix had only spoken to the media once since Notre Dame's training camp began back on Aug. 5. Saying he wanted to get his "mind right", Nix even missed media day three weeks ago.
"(There was) a lot of stuff (such as) home," said Nix. "A lot of stuff (like) school, because I'm trying to get out of here by December and have my credits (to graduate). (I was) just getting my work in order and stuff like that. I missed you guys. It wasn't anything against you guys, it was just getting a lot of stuff off the field in order."
Nix says he is set to complete his degree requirements as a film, television and theatre major this December.
A Kick Count
After splitting some kicking duties with Nick Tausch at the start of the Temple game two weeks ago, Kyle Brindza handled kickoffs, place kicks and punting last week against Michigan. Kelly has been concerned about the high volume of kicks and the toll it could take on Brindza's leg over the course of an entire season, but Brindza says he has a daily "pitch count" like a baseball pitcher would have to help pace himself.
"I do have a set number," said Brindza. "That includes with the team when we do field goals. I add that to just when I'm not with the team for practice. Say I kick 20 balls for field goals is the max, but if I feel bad one day and kind of just want to take a load off I might drop it."
"It's kind of like a pitcher," Brindza continued. "You might feel good and you want to throw that extra pitch, but you never know if that extra pitch is going to hurt you, so even though I feel good I just stop myself."
Brindza hit all three of his extra points and field goals of 24, 40 and 44 yards last week against Michigan. He also averaged 40 yards on two punts.
Even thought West Lafayette is not his home, Saturday's game at Purdue will be a homecoming of sorts for Amir Carlisle. The Irish running back's father, Duane Carlisle, is Purdue's Director of Sports Performance and the Boilermaker football team's Director of Strength and Conditioning.
Carlisle is a Santa Clara, CA native, but transferred to Notre Dame from USC after his father went to work for Purdue.
"Competing against my dad was actually a thought when I transferred to Notre Dame," said Carlisle. "I obviously didn't get a chance to be on the field last year when it happened, but it's a fun dynamic. It's still a must win game for us though."
Amir's two younger brothers were on hand for Notre Dame's season-opener two weeks ago, but Saturday will be one of the rare opportunities he will have to see his dad all season.
"I get to see him a few times, but usually their games conflict with ours both being on Saturdays," Carlisle said. "I think he'll be able to make it to a game or two this year."
The elder Carlisle was the San Francisco 49ers strength coach from 2008-2011. Frank Gore is among the players he worked closely with there and Amir was able to glean some good advice from the back who has topped 1,000 yards six times in his eight-year NFL career.
"He always taught me to have low pad level in the hole," Carlisle said. "And if a defender shows himself in the hole, pick a side of him and attack that side. That's teaching that I've really embraced and taken with me throughout my football career (since) high school."
Carlisle has taken the advice to heart. Despite his 5-foot-10, 190 pound frame, he has been one of Notre Dame's more physical runners through games and leads the Irish with 132 yards and a 6.9 yards per carry average.
The Defense Won't Rest
After giving-up 41 points last week, the Fighting Irish defense looks to get back on track this week against a Purdue offense that has scored just two touchdowns through its first two games.
"We just want everybody running to the ball," cornerback Bennett Jackson said of the defense's mentality this week. "That was one of our big goals just to get everybody moving full speed - just full-go really the whole game (with) no loafing around and slow play. That's something that we've prided ourselves on in practice this week tremendously - just to push the tempo of the defense."
Jackson is this team's third-leading tackler with 13. Dan Fox leads the Irish with 20 tackles - working in a three-man inside linebacker rotation with Carlo Calabrese and Jarrett Grace.
"I think it's been working really well," Fox said. "I (think) we have been improving every single day and that's what we're trying to do."
Calabrese is the team's second-leading tackler with 14. Grace currently ranks fourth with 10 tackles.