SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame wide receivers coach Tony Alford tried to slip out of the LaBar Practice Complex Wednesday before this out-of-shape reporter ran him down near the gated entrance. Alford turned to another assistant and summed up his feelings with one word he requested be stricken from the record.
Understandable. It has, after all, been a tumultuous two weeks at his position.
"We're doing all right," said Alford, head tilted with a slanted smile that suggested some doubt. "You play with who is there."
Let's start with who isn't: Kyle Rudolph, Theo Riddick and possibly Michael Floyd. And so the 4-3 Fighting Irish will travel to East Rutherford, N.J., Saturday to take on Navy (4-2) with John Goodman and maybe Duval Kamara in the starting lineup.
Goodman, who said his play on special teams has increased his confidence as a receiver, is developing into a consistent threat with good size (6-foot-3, 207 pounds). Kamara, the biggest WR on the roster at 6-4, 225, has largely been a letdown as his career at Notre Dame nears its end. Saturday might be one of his final opportunities to leave a mark.
"Duval has had a good week so far," Alford said. "He's really actually had a pretty good past couple, three weeks in practice. Hopefully he'll make plays when called upon to do so."
However, junior quarterback Dayne Crist is still very much there, which is why there isn't as much gloom infiltrating Irish camp as on Irish message boards. Crist clearly drives ND's offense, no matter what it looks like. He is 155-for-261 passing this year for 1,855 yards, 14 touchdowns and just five interceptions, having quietly pieced together a debut campaign that only eight FBS signal-callers have eclipsed this fall.
And he's not sweating the injuries that have sidelined his most dynamic targets.
"Really, physically, I don't feel there's much of an adjustment [with new personnel]," Crist said. "We've developed such a chemistry with those guys throughout the summer. Really, this week was more about getting guys in together as a group and watching film together so we're on the same page. ... It's tough and it's disheartening, but at the same time, that's what happens late in the season in football -- there's injuries. I understand it and the team understands it. It's just part of the game. You miss those guys and it's unfortunate because they work so hard all year to get where they're at. It seems like the offseason is such a long time. But we're forced to move on to the next guy.
"Again, you credit our lack of panic to the chemistry that we were able to put in place in the summer. That's really what helps so much. We've got guys that can come in and really fill the void on any given play."
A couple things from head coach Brian Kelly:
On Floyd's hamstring: "We're just light running, mostly just mental stuff. Just making sure he's alert and knows everything that we're doing within our game plan. ... I don't want to do much with him until game time and we'll see how he feels."
On Armando Allen's hip flexor: "Yeah, he does [feel better]. He's much better. He had that cortisone shot that takes about two, three days -- he had it on Thursday -- and Saturday he was still sore, obviously. But he feels much better today."
On the Irish's schedule during fall break this week: "We have not encroached even on the 20-hour rule, which is waived during vacation periods. We could have them here 40 hours. So we've kept their schedule very similar and I think they appreciate the time to go back and relax a little bit. So, the energy has been good and the focus has been good for each and every practice."