Friday, September 16, 2011
Live practice, weather set tone for Irish
By Matt Fortuna
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- An 0-2 start to his second season as Notre Dame's head coach had Brian Kelly deliver as deliberate a message as he could Wednesday, as he ran his first live practice with the program.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has not been happy with his team's attention to detail.
"Get it going, guys," wide receiver John Goodman said of the staff's message. "There were a few dropped balls and a few missed blocks here and there, but you can't have that. If you're trying to win out and be perfect the rest of the season then you can't have simple mishaps like that.
"It's all the little things, and if we go live, we go live. You can't complain. You gotta do what you gotta do, and we did and we're fine."
Steady rainfall in the late afternoon helped set the scene for a team preparing for a Michigan State defense that wishes to impose its will on opposing offenses.
Kelly called the session spirited and hoped to replicate situations his team has struggled in so far this season.
"There are certain situations, if you look at the Michigan game, we wanted to prepare some third-and-short stuff," Kelly said. "I don't think you can tag off at third-and-short; you gotta go in there and you gotta bang.
"So some of it was situational, and some of it was we just need to continue to play more physical football, so I think some of it is designed situationally and some of it is just a mental approach to how we wanna play."
There's no mistaking, however, that the players doing the hitting enjoy the nature of live action more than the ones taking the hits.
"I was excited," linebacker Dan Fox said. "At first you're always walking into practice, and when I heard it was gonna be a real physical day I was like, 'All right, let's go.' I was ready for it."
Goodman said the practice reminded the players that they need to be ready for every situation.
Despite the hard hitting, he said, it was more of a mental challenge than anything.
"You just gotta get in that mindset to get full-go," he said.
Still in search of win No. 1, Kelly said the staff has been harder on the team than usual when it comes to details.
"I think I've said this a number of times," he said, "I really like the way we practice. Our problem's been Saturday -- taking care of the football, attention to detail as it relates to specific assignments throughout the game. So we've been hard on them this week."