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Football: A step back

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, August 26, 2010

Only 10 days separate Notre Dame from a game that counts, but in Wednesday’s practice the Irish seemed to worry more about that game than the practice at hand.

At least, that is what Irish coach Brian Kelly said was the cause for a sub-par practice.

“I’m actively involved in practice, so today I was a little more involved than I wanted to be,” he said after watching the Irish end practice with a couple of mental mistakes. “The problem we have is our guys are starting the transition [to the regular season] before I want them to transition … They are thinking about Purdue and they have a couple more days of practice they have to stay focused on.”

Junior quarterback Dayne Crist agreed with his coach’s assessment of the day.

“Sloppy. [Today was] sloppy on all aspects,” Crist said. “Today was definitely not one of our better days. I can’t really pinpoint one thing or another, but tomorrow, we’ll be sure that we are that much better.”

Kelly’s frustration after the practice stemmed from the fact that the team has already gone through more than 20 practices, and Wednesday’s practice focused on only certain situations.

“Today we wanted to get in some situations, the end of game situations. We were really focusing on those,” he said. “This is really the culmination of 20-some-odd practices in covering all the situations that may occur in a game.”

The red zone situations in particular troubled the Irish offense, Crist said.

“We definitely need to continue to make strides in the red zone and aren’t where we need to be fully, but I think we’re definitely making progress,” he said.

With a Sept. 4 date against Purdue looming, Crist said the team does feel its presence, but, as Kelly pointed out, needs to focus on the time before the game first.

“I think everybody out here wants to be playing against Purdue right now, right this second,” Crist said. “But we understand there is a lot of work left to do and we have to make strides in other directions.”


Injury notes:

– Three notable players, junior tight end Kyle Rudolph, fifth-year guard Chris Stewart and junior safety Jamoris Slaughter, worked out along the sidelines during Wednesday’s practice, and one more, senior linebacker Steve Paskorz, joined them off the field by the end of it.

Kelly said he did not know much about Paskorz’s injury after practice.

“He stepped wrong on the field. It was a non-contact situation,” said Kelly, adding the setback only created an opportunity for other linebackers.

“Next man in,” Kelly said. “[Junior David] Posluszny and [sophomore Dan] Fox have been working a lot in there. We are not going to leave ourselves shorthanded.”

As for Slaughter, Kelly said the training staff is simply being cautious with the safety’s groin strain as the team prepares for its season opener, and Stewart and Rudolph are following similar routes with their neck and hamstring injuries, respectively.

Although, Rudolph said he could be healthy to play against Purdue even before Sept. 4.

“I think if we had a game this Saturday, I’d be ready to go, but we’ve had our mind set on Purdue and we’ve been moving forward every day,” he said. “We are very fortunate it happened this time of year when we have the time to be very cautious about things.”