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Football: Almost ready

Laura Myers | Thursday, September 2, 2010

With just days until Notre Dame’s season opener against Purdue, Irish coach Brian Kelly is looking for perfection.

“Our guys are obviously at that point where they want to play on Saturday,” Kelly said after practice Wednesday. “We’re obviously excited about the opportunity, but we’ve still got some work to do.”

Kelly said Wednesday’s practice was a work day, and Thursday’s will be about perfecting skills before Friday’s walk-through.

“They’re anxious to play,” Kelly said, “but we’ve just got to pull the reins back a little bit and make sure that they continue to do what they need to do.”

The players, though, are looking ahead to Saturday.

“I’m waiting to feel what all the players feel the first time they run out of the tunnel,” freshman wide receiver TJ Jones said.

However, players are also feeling pressure for the first game.

“Purdue’s a good team,” junior center Braxston Cave said. “We’re going to have to bring our A-game.”

Offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said the coaches have a strategy to counteract any nerves the players may feel.

“We just get them to play fast and really concentrate on their assignment,” Molnar said. “When that happens they’re not thinking about the crowd or anything else, they’re just thinking about executing to the best of their ability.”

Kelly said the team would be ready for Saturday’s game.

“What we won’t be is not prepared,” he said. “… That’s the most important, at the end of the day, that my kids are prepared to play and that I put them in a good position.”

However, he refrained from making any sort of predictions.

“I won’t know until we start playing,” he said. “On paper, these guys are fine. But on paper is one thing. How does Dayne react when now it’s cover-zero and he has to react? I have to see him with the bullets flying.”

Overall, Kelly said Tuesday, the Irish need to focus on playing.

“At the end of the day, if you do that, if you play hard and give everything you have for four quarters, my experience has shown me that that’s going to be pretty good, and we’re going to have a lot of success,” he said.

“So that’s kind of how we’ve dealt with the burgeoning pressure of being at Notre Dame. We’re just going to go play.”