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Football: Team practices outside despite heavy storms

Laura Myers | Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A little rain wouldn’t stop the Irish from holding their fifth spring practice outside — but a little lightning did.

“This is wonderful weather. I appreciate finally getting back to reality here,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “We tried to … get our players to understand what it takes to develop their skill and that is to be mentally locked in for 24 [five minute] periods [each practice].”

Notre Dame resumed practice Wednesday after taking a week off for the Easter holiday.

Though it was raining hard, the Irish spent the first 45 minutes outside before thunder and lighting drove the team inside. However, once the storm cleared, the team moved out again.

“We had to move around a little bit today, we went inside, outside, but that obviously was part of the plan as well, we wanted to make sure we could keep their focus,” Kelly said.

Junior linebacker Anthony McDonald said he was not surprised about practicing outside in the rain.

“We’re going to be playing on nights like this during the season, so you’ve got to prepare somehow,” McDonald said. “We went inside for a little bit, but honestly I kind of like being outside in the elements. It makes you tougher. I’m a linebacker — you’ve got to be tough.”

After its last practice, on March 31, Kelly said he was not happy with the team’s performance. He said he saw improvements Wednesday.

“Today was small steps, but I was pleased that they got the message about how we’re supposed to practice on a day-to-day basis,” Kelly said.

Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph credited the break for the team’s improved performance.

“We got to go home over break, and it kind of gave everybody an entire week to sit down with their playbook and just learn,” Rudolph said. “I felt like today we came out and you could tell guys weren’t thinking, they were just playing. And when you don’t have to think about it, it just clicks like second nature.”

Despite the weather, the practice began with field goal kicks from sophomore Nick Tausch and senior Brandon Walker, who was sidelined for much of 2009 with a back injury. Tausch made the farthest field goal, a 50-yard kick. Walker converted all of his attempts but did not have time to try from 50 yards. 

Kelly said the energy was high for the first hour and a half of practice, but that he is still looking for the team to put together a good two hours. 

“We had the body language starting to show itself, a couple of our players were looking like they were defeated, like they were a little tired,” he said. “We made good progress. We started better and we gave it all we could for the first 15 [out of 24] periods.”

The Irish will hold their sixth practice Friday as they continue to prepare for the Blue-Gold Game on April 24.