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Irish snap skid, hit smoother road

October 6, 2010
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Brian Kelly got plenty of TV face time as he worked his spread offense from the sidelines and chewed out assorted players for various lapses during a pivotal victory for Notre Dame.

When Kelly lets a player know what he is thinking, whether at practice or during the heat of a game like Saturday night's 31-13 win at Boston College, he gets their attention.'

''I am clearly articulating why I am talking to him about a particular situation and demanding that intensity and that mental and physical toughness that our team - quite frankly - has lacked,'' the first-year Fighting Irish coach said Sunday.

Notre Dame's convincing victory snapped a three-game losing streak and paved the way for an easier stretch of the schedule over the next month.

Kelly said he's not as concerned with upcoming foes as much as he is how the Irish (2-3) improve over the span. His plan to make the Irish part of the national conversation again is still a work in progress and clearly the just-ahead schedule could helps things out a bit.

Pitt comes to South Bend this Saturday, followed by Western Michigan, a game against Navy at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and then another home contest against Tulsa - all very winnable games in October.

''We won't really have time to think about our opponents, we'll be so focused on the things we need to do to get better. And that's the honest truth. We're just so far from being a complete team,'' Kelly said.

Kelly's tried to keep with the same formula of success he had at three previous coaching stops but reiterated that what he's in charge of now is on a much larger scale than anything he's ever encountered.

''I've learned there are so many people who care about the success of the program,'' he said. ''You don't know that unless you are sitting in the chair I'm sitting in. There is just such a passionate following for football at the University of Notre Dame. I've learned that by being the head coach. I haven't really changed anything from the inside-out perspective.''

Kelly has worked at length individually with quarterback Dayne Crist, who ran for a TD Saturday and threw for a pair, while completing 24 of 44 passes for 203 yards with an interception.

''Our offense, it can be very efficient and then at times just have no answer for some things,'' said Kelly.

''We'll have a great run for a dozen to 15 plays and then we'll have a couple of three-and-outs because we either were in the wrong formation, the wrong check or the wrong identification of a pressure. And that's evolution.''

The defense held BC to 5 yards rushing and twice forced field goals after turnovers.

''We've been very resilient on what we consider those crucial moments,'' Kelly said. ''To me the foundation of building a championship football team is you got to have a great run defense.''

Kelly said two of three starting offensive linemen who were banged up Saturday - guard Chris Stewart (contusion) and center Braxston Cave (sprained ankle) should be OK. He said the Irish will have to be careful with right tackle Taylor Dever, who hurt his hamstring Saturday, an injury that doesn't appear to be serious.