Thursday, September 12, 2013
Planning for success: Notre Dame
By Matt Fortuna
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Dan Fox was fielding questions from reporters Wednesday when a surprise visitor had a query from the back of the pack.
"When did you get a haircut?" Irish coach Brian Kelly asked, making a brief detour on his way to his office following practice.
"I'm due, I'm due for one again," quipped Fox, who chopped off his long locks this offseason.
No. 21 Notre Dame kept it light-hearted publicly this week, in light of its first regular-season loss since 2011. As the Irish hope to get back on the winning page Saturday night at Purdue, they are trying to put the loss at Michigan behind them.
One loss is one loss. The season is far from lost. And the players are not hanging their heads about no longer being able to run the regular-season table once again.
"I think it's been overall pretty, I guess I wouldn't say happy mood, but it's up-tempo," receiver TJ Jones said of the mood around the team this week. "We know that it's a loss, but we're not down about it. It's a week to prepare, it's a new week, a new game."
A game against a team that has not had much go right for it so far in the early tenure of new coach Darrell Hazell. After getting blown out by Cincinnati in the season opener, the Boilermakers eked out a 20-14 home win Saturday over FCS Indiana State, a game that featured two first-and-goal situations from the Syacmores' 1 fail to result in touchdowns.
Purdue ranks 116th nationally in total offense, and it is facing an Irish defense that was No. 1 nationally in points per game during the 2012 season before surrendering 42 to Alabama in the BCS title game and 41 more in last week's loss at the Big House.
"We just lost a football game," Irish nose guard Louis Nix said. "We went back already and evaluated the film and looked at a lot of mistakes that happened in the game, and we're moving forward to Purdue."
Irish players are hoping to use last week's defeat as a stepping-stone toward bigger and better things. And Purdue may provide the perfect opportunity for them to take out their frustrations.
"We probably needed that loss just to bounce back," Nix said. "Coming off last year, got to the national championship [game], and I think we just needed that. When we watched film and we evaluated it we saw that we made a lot of mistakes. We didn't play Notre Dame football, so I think that will set us in the right direction because I know I don't want to lose again."