Accepting the reality that star tight end Kyle Rudolph is lost for the season, and possibly done for good at Notre Dame (4-3), was easier for Irish fans Saturday after watching his two-headed replacement.
Tyler Eifert caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in a 44-20 victory over Western Michigan. Mike Ragone added one reception for 12 yards and helped clear rushing lanes for the Irish, who had 149 net yards on the ground.
"There's no question that Tyler [Eifert] and Mike Ragone did some very good things," ND coach Brian Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. "Both those guys together give you a very good combination at tight end. Obviously you get a lot in the pass game with Tyler and you get a little bit more in the running game with Mike. That's why we think they're a great combination."
Here are more questions Kelly answered as he closed the door on the Broncos and looked ahead to Navy:
How familiar are you with Navy's triple option?
"I played Army when I was at Central Michigan, but they were not a triple-option team as they are [now]. For me, it was a long time ago, going against teams that ran the triple option. (Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco) is very familiar with it. That's why we've prepared for it during the year. Our offense can't even give them that look because of the way offensive linemen play."
How is Michael Floyd's hamstring?
"Floyd, he was a little sore today, he played through a Grade 1 hamstring (pull). So we're getting further testing done on him today to see there he is."
Who else is hobbled?
"Theo [Riddick] was in a boot today. He's going to have to probably get an MRI. The X-ray was clean and the MRI would tell us if there's any further damage there. We'll do that today. ... [Danny] Spond is improving, he's out again this week. ... [Jamoris] Slaughter, we're going to do another MRI, because he's not improving to the level we need him to. He tweaked his ankle versus Pittsburgh and as you saw he was very limited [Saturday]."
Who will start at slot receiver for Riddick if he can't play?
"That's a good question. TJ Jones would probably be the guy who would move in there. (John) Goodman would then go to X. I've always tried to put the top four guys on the field. (Robby) Toma would back up the Z, Bennett Jackson would back up the X."
What will the week be like with students on fall break?
"The one thing in particular is we can adjust our clocks a little bit. It allows us to practice around noon time to get ready for noon time start. For our players, the adjustment will be pretty beneficial, but we won't go overboard with practicing. ... It comes at a pretty good time, obviously, we play this week and one more game and we're on a bye. Two out of the next three weeks they have a lighter schedule relative to academics and athletics. As I said earlier, we won't do much more. Just because the 20-hour rule is not in effect, we're not going to be too far from that. We'll try to practice earlier and give them evenings off so they're fresh coming into Saturday."