Notre Dame Football: Cal Golden Bears

Brian Kelly radio show recap

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
8:07
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It turns out USC running back Marc Tyler will travel after all.

Not that it changed Notre Dame's preparation one way or another.

"We don't change because of a guy who might be probable or he's questionable," Brian Kelly said during his weekly radio show at Legends of Notre Dame. "I think at quarterback, if there's really two different quarterbacks, you may have an additional gameplan for another quarterback. But for those guys that are playing those other positions, we just assume they're playing. We don't listen to what people are saying about who's in or who's out."

Tyler dislocated his left shoulder a week ago against Cal and has started the Trojans' last five games, though junior Curtis McNeal is still expected to start Saturday.

Tyler has carried the ball 83 times for 368 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season.

Meanwhile, Ethan Johnson's status looks murkier despite being cleared to play.

The defensive end sprained his right ankle nearly three weeks ago at Purdue. Kelly said the Irish's depth on the defensive line this season allows him to be more cautious with Johnson.

"He's getting better," Kelly said. "I don't think he's at a level where he can play 50, 60 plays. I expect him, if our coaches feel like he can help us you may see him out there."

Can USC slow Irish ground game?

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
10:30
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jonas Gray saw what USC did to Cal's rushing attack Thursday and, without hesitation, pointed to the strength of the Trojans' defense when asked about it five days later

"The front seven," Gray said Tuesday. "They block a lot of passes, they play a lot of games up front, they tackle well in the secondary. They're a physical group."

USC held Cal to 35 rushing yards in a 30-9 win that was the Trojans' most convincing defensive performance to date.

In its two previous games, USC had allowed 43 and 41 points to Arizona State and Arizona, respectively, the first time in school history it allowed 40-plus points in consecutive contests. The Trojans allowed a school-record 37 first downs against Arizona as well.

The Trojans are 56th nationally in total defense and 46th in scoring defense. But they rank 19th against the run, allowing 99.5 yards per game and have held three of their six opponents under the 100-yard mark as a team.

"I think they've got a specific scheme that they like to employ," coach Brian Kelly said. "It's very similar to what we've seen. They're very consistent in that respect. They're not gonna give you just one look. They played well, they tackled well. I think they got up on Cal and forced them to throw the football. I think one of the things that's really important to point out is Monte still has his influences in that defense. … You can still see there are some Monte Kiffin influences in what they do defensively.

"If they get up on you, they're a tough group to rally on. I think that's probably more of a difference than anything else.

Notre Dame, meanwhile averages 194 rushing yards per game, 30th in the nation.

Gray and Cierre Wood have accounted for the majority of those yards. Wood, an Oxnard, Calif., native, was recruited by the in-state Trojans before choosing Notre Dame, where he thought he would have an easier time making a name for himself early.

"I've never really been big on it," Wood said. "I was growing up and I see everybody going there, and I had a lot of friends and whatnot and it was always a big school, but it just seemed there was way too many people there and whatnot. And you hear about five different people on the team who like, you hear about them at one time and then you don't hear about them because something happens to them.

"But at the same time, you hear the next man in because there's five different running backs or five different tight ends and stuff like that. So I've always thought [of them] being like a great powerhouse but it's never really something that I was too big about, really."

Irish Lunch Links

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
12:00
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Rest in peace, Dan Wheldon. So, so sad.

Irish recruiting update

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
5:00
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No game this weekend makes this a relatively quiet week on the Notre Dame recruiting front, but our guy Jared Shanker does have what Irish fans hope is the first of lots of good news to report as the Oct. 22 game with USC nears.

Four-star Centerville (Ohio) defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo will be in town for his official visit next weekend. And he will be taking in his first-ever college football game.
“I’m pretty excited, I have a lot of expectations,” he said.

“People tell me, ‘Ifeadi you’re getting recruited by all these schools, it’s ridiculous that you’ve never been to a game.’ ”

He had better get used to them.

Rated the 51st overall prospect by ESPNU, Odenigbo stands 6-foot-3, weighs 212 pounds and runs a 4.62 40. The Irish crack his top five, along with Ohio State, Stanford, Cal and Northwestern.

Odenigbo has mixed feelings about the in-state Buckeyes' rough start and cloudy future, though he has yet to rule them out.

The situation is similarly murky for Irish commit Chris Brown, whose father, Joe, told GoUpstate.com a week ago that he wants his son to play at South Carolina. Chris since told The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) that he is strongly considering the in-state Gamecocks.

Brown, a three-star receiver out of Hanahan (S.C.) High School, committed to Notre Dame following his Sept. 17 official visit, when the Irish beat Michigan State.

Notre Dame is currently at 16 verbal commitments and ranks 11th in ESPN.com's Insider Class of 2012 rankings.

Irish face new challenges for bye week

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
3:30
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With four straight wins and two consecutive 500-plus-yard, zero-turnover performances, Notre Dame enters its bye week on a roll.

At 4-2 halfway through the season and on the brink of cracking the national rankings, the Irish's momentum is at a season-high. But Brian Kelly isn't worried about the bye possibly slowing that down, instead looking at it as the perfect opportunity for his team at the exact midway point of the regular season.

"I'm answering honestly from my perspective as a head coach, and having been a head coach for 21 years, momentum is needed when there's not a lot of wind in the sails," Kelly said. "When you have confidence in your ability, momentum is not a necessary part of that. I think that momentum then becomes a turnover in a first series and capitalizing on it with a touchdown. That to me is momentum within the game now."

The circumstances surrounding this year's bye week present a different set of challenges from last year's. Many of Notre Dame's players had mid-terms entering this past Saturday's game against Air Force, and next week -- the week leading up to its prime-time showdown with USC -- the school is on fall break.

Last year's bye came on Nov. 6, nine games into the season. At 4-5, Notre Dame was coming off consecutive losses to Navy and Tulsa, the latter coming in the aftermath of the Declan Sullivan tragedy.

Recharged coming off the bye week, the Irish ran over No. 14 Utah, 28-3, the first of four straight wins to close out the season.

Kelly said Sunday that Notre Dame was scheduled to lift weights Monday and run 11-on-11 action Tuesday and Wednesday to keep the players moving for their next game.

USC, which had a bye this past weekend, plays Cal on Thursday before its Oct. 22 trip to South Bend.

Kelly won't install the game plan for the Trojans just yet, instead just running some of their basic plays and defensive schemes.

"For example, if they run some two-by-two combination routes, I'm sure I've got a couple of those in my offense that we'll run against our defense without going into a scout team situation and a demo squad," Kelly said. "We are going to stay away from doing that and really go 11-on-11 so we get some good speed work. That's what I'm referring to more so than going scout team this week."

Different year, different situation, different feeling. But in a fast-paced environment, a midseason pause in the action for Kelly and his players is never a bad thing.

"I think we need it; we need a break," Kelly said. "Our kids, they have got a lot on their plate. As I said, we had a very stressful week this week. You know, they will have the bye week and then mid-winter break and that's going to be, you know, key for our guys to just relax a little bit."

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