Brian Kelly's fourth different head-coaching job has been a challenge, as each new job has been. But the stepping stones, roadblocks, triumphs and losses in Year 2 at Notre Dame are nothing Kelly has not encountered in 19 seasons of head coaching prior to taking over the Irish.
"I think I've probably worn this out, but we're in the same process that I've been in in every job that I've had," Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. "We're doing the same things. I'm seeing the same kinds of results. They don't always equal wins, but we're clearly moving in the right direction with our football players and our football program. And sometimes it's disappointing and painful, but I would tell you that this is a very similar feeling that I've had before."
The Irish's 45-21 victory Saturday over Maryland notched them a spot in the national polls -- 24th in the AP, 25th in USA Today -- for the first time since the preseason, a sign of progress Kelly simply measured as meaning "we've played better football since that 0-2 start."
Kelly insisted, however, that winning has by no means become a habit yet for his 7-3 squad.
Separate win streaks of four and three games this season are not enough.
"Well just by the way we have shown over the past year-and-a-half, we can put together four wins in a row, and so we don't have the right to say that we have put it together yet," Kelly said. "When we put together eight, nine, 10 in a row, then we can clearly say we have moved from that constant-reminder phase to habit phase. And we haven't proven that that's the case yet."
Notes: Kelly probably won't know the status of Theo Riddick (hamstring), who missed Saturday's game, until he goes full-speed in the middle of the week, likely on Wednesday. Kelly said doctors met with Riddick on Sunday and liked his range of motion, adding that the receiver was pain-free. ... Manti Te'o (ankle) reported Sunday "as well as he has in the last three weeks," according to Kelly, who added that the junior should be back on track to getting on the field for every down. Te'o was limited to first- and second-down plays Saturday. ... Steve Filer (knee) will put off surgery to enjoy Senior Day festivities with his teammates this Saturday against Boston College.