Aug. 31, 2017
By John Heisler
Technology has added a heavy dose of immediacy to the process, compared to the old days when a Notre Dame football fan might wander down the driveway to pick up the Sunday newspaper and learn what the sportswriters were saying about the previous day’s game.
But, let’s suspend reality for a moment and consider what some of those headlines might say this week following the Irish season opener against Temple:
Wimbush debut a dandy: He throws for 2 TDs and runs for another
Adams and Irish ground game dominate Owls
Wimbush to St. Brown connection tough to stop for Temple
Irish tight ends play big role in opening win
Morgan proves he can be a game-changer
Upsized Notre Dame pass rush in full view for both Irish and Owls
Youthful Irish secondary earns its stripes
It’s early-but Irish already better than advertised
How many of those will be legitimate as of around 7 p.m. Saturday as the sun disappears behind the upper floors of Duncan Student Center?
All of them?
Most of them?
One or two?
That’s the beauty of college sports-there’s another set of live, reality shows playing out every Saturday on a campus or two near most anybody.
While Irish coach Brian Kelly may have a better handle on what to expect than most observers, he’s got two new coordinators and a handful of other new assistant coaches who will be going to battle Saturday for the first time with this Notre Dame roster.
The feeling likely is mutual in Philadelphia where Temple head coach Geoff Collins on Saturday will be assuming the role of a college head coach for the first time. Collins has been primarily a defensive coordinator by trade-including 13 years in that position, the last half-dozen at a combination of Mississippi State and Florida. He inherits a team that lost its previous head coach, Matt Rhule, to Baylor-but the Owls hope to build on a 10-4 record from 2016. That slate featured an American Athletic Conference title game win over 19th-rated Navy and a 34-26 Military Bowl loss to a Wake Forest team whose defensive coordinator happened to be Mike Elko, now in that same role on Kelly’ Irish staff.
Here are highlights from Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s comments Tuesday:
–“It’s been a long time coming for all of us to begin this season. Our team is ready to play. I don’t know that I’ve had many press conferences where I said, ‘Give me the team right now, we’d like to play today.'”
–“You go into an opener, you’ve got to be prepared for a little bit of everything. So that’s why sometimes it’s more important to worry about what you do and how you execute than trying to reach so far to think what might happen to you in the opener. Be sound and fundamental in what you do, and then kind of adapt to what happens during the game.”
–“As it relates to (quarterback) Brandon (Wimbush), there’s going to be some things in each and every game that he’s going to have to go through and fight through, a little bit of adversity each and every week. But he’s got such a great mindset. He’s going to be able to handle things quite well. He does a good job of putting something aside and moving on. He doesn’t dwell on a mistake and let it affect the next play, because he’s going to have that happen to him.”
–“We weren’t very good overall defensively (last year) in a number of areas. But, look, I mean, to play great defense, the basic tenets are not going to change, right? You got to be great against the run. We can’t give up the big plays that we gave up last year against the run. We’ve got to get the ball down and we’ve got to get it down by the line of scrimmage, not on the other end of the field. Component number two for us is in the back end of our defense–not giving up those big plays down the field. We gave up too many of them early in the season and it put us behind. We got better later, but early it became an issue, and we lost football games. Then the third, ball disruptions. We have to be able to take away the football. I think all three of those areas have been areas that we’ve seen growth in our football team. It’s what we have really drilled in our football team defensively to get better in those three areas.”
–“I want to see our players really go and play with a sense of ‘Welcome to my preparation, I have prepared myself for this opportunity, I’m here to dominate the day.’ Not play apprehensive, not play with weight on my shoulder. I’m at Notre Dame. Go play, have fun, be excited. You’ve prepared for this opportunity.”
–“I’ve always felt like there’s an expectation that you have to have being the head coach at Notre Dame. It’s God, country and Notre Dame. That’s a pretty high bar. You should live up to that bar. I didn’t live up to that bar (last year), so I think as the head coach at Notre Dame, every year is the same way: you’ve got to live up to that high bar, and this year is no different. We come into this year, our mission is to win the national championship. That’s a pretty high bar. So I think you feel that every single year.”
–“The mental preparation of our football team has been something that I’ve taken quite a bit of time to help develop. Total preparation for me is certainly the physical, the technical, the tactical has got to be part of that. But the mental is absolutely crucial. I think this football team is as prepared as any team that I have coached from a mental perspective.”
(Asked about early Irish scores in most games in 2016 followed by offensive draughts after that)
–“I don’t remember anything about last year. That’s somewhere else. If that was the case then we didn’t do a good enough job. Like I said, that was last year. This year is this year. We plan on scoring more.”
Here are details of introductions and presentations set to happen during the Notre Dame-Temple game Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium:
—Bob Crable, who played for the Irish from 1978-81 and was a two-time consensus All-America linebacker and two-time captain, will be introduced as the record 46th Notre Dame football player selected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The Cincinnati, Ohio, product remains Notre Dame’s all-time leading tackler on both a season and career basis, accounting for a record 187 tackles in 1979 and 521 in his career.
Joining him on the field will Thom Gatewood, a Notre Dame College Football Hall of Fame selection himself in 2015 and a National Football Foundation board member.
—The career of the late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president from 1952 to 1987, is being celebrated this weekend with the unveiling by the United States Postal Service of a commemorative Forever stamp in his honor.
The ceremony Friday in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center features remarks from Notre Dame alumna and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Postal Service Megan J. Brennan, and Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Postmaster General Brennan and Father Jenkins will be joined on the field Saturday by Jim Cochrane, chief customer and marketing officer and executive vice president, and Mark Tovey, a 1978 Notre Dame alumnus and central Illinois district manager for the postal service, for the presentation of a framed art piece featuring the Father Hesburgh stamp with his signature. The postal service has distributed the Father Hesburgh stamp to all post offices nationwide. It also is available at usps.com and 1-800-STAMP-24.
—Last June two former University of Notre Dame hockey standouts helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup for a second successive year. Both those players this week returned to campus for preseason hockey camp-with former Irish greats Ian Cole and Bryan Rust now two-time Stanley Cup champions.
—The University Saturday will pay tribute to an active duty U.S. Army officer and current Notre Dame student–Captain Daniel Flynn–as part of a series of student-military recognitions throughout the home football season.
A graduate of Loyola University and the University of Oklahoma with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Captain Flynn was commissioned as an officer in 2007. He has served combat deployments in Iraq, Kuwait and Egypt, and also has served abroad in Vietnam, Vanuatu and Laos. His military awards include a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal. He is now enrolled at Notre Dame as a doctoral student in political science, focusing on international relations and comparative politics under the direction of Professor Michael Desch.
—On Saturday Notre Dame recognizes members of The Office of Pre-College Programs with the Presidential Team Irish Award. They manage four summer pre-college programs geared towards advanced high school students who wish to experience what it would be like to attend the University of Notre Dame. They work hard all year for summer programs that bring hundreds of students to campus, and some, eventually into Notre Dame as college students. Their accomplishments are impressive. They doubled the number of applicants who apply to the domestic programs, increased their course offering by 30 percent and built two international summer programs so that students can go to Rome or Ireland.
The Presidential Team Irish Award recognizes teams of staff and faculty members who collaborate on a project, process, or initiative that significantly advances the University’s mission, organizational goals, and/or departmental goals through their efforts.
—In recognition of excellence in research, teaching, and service to the University, Notre Dame at each home football game is proud to present the 2017 Notre Dame All-Faculty Team. Saturday’s honoree is Ed Maginn, Dorini Family Professor of Energy Studies in the College of Engineering.
Maginn has been a member of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering for more than 20 years and currently serves as department chair. His research group is combatting climate change by developing new electrolytes for advanced battery technologies and exploring better ways to capture carbon dioxide that leads to global warming. In addition, Professor Maginn has been recognized for his work with students, having won five teaching awards during his time at Notre Dame.