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Football: Still Confident

Matt Gamber | Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two days after his first loss at Notre Dame, Irish coach Brian Kelly said his players still “believe they’re going to win games.”

“We’re building that,” Kelly said at his press conference Tuesday. “Now we have to work on some of the technical aspects of getting there.”

After the game, Kelly said he thought his defense looked tired, but he backed away from that comment Monday. Instead, he said, the defense needs to come up with a stop in that type of situation, and that responsibility falls both on the players and the coaches.

“That’s where we want to come up with a stop, clearly. I think as I watch the film, the coaches watch the film, we’re in a place where we need to make some plays,” he said. “We also have to help our kids to be in position to make some plays as well.”

The Irish spent Monday’s practice “correcting the errors in the game on Saturday,” Kelly said, before turning their full attention to an unbeaten Michigan State team that will host the Irish Saturday night.

“We don’t carry wins or losses with us, other than we have a 24-hour rule, then move on,” Kelly said. “We make our adjustments on Monday relative to the game plan that was just concluded, and we over the film, get back to work [Tuesday].”

Elston update

Irish defensive line and special teams coach Mike Elston, who missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed illness, is still not with the team, Kelly said.

In his absence, tight ends coach Mike Denbrock has shifted over to coach the defensive line, while several coaches have helped lead the special teams. Strength and conditioning coach Lorenzo Guess will coach the tight ends until Elston returns.

“We should have a pretty seamless transition,” Kelly said, noting that Guess coached Cincinnati’s tight ends last season. “Again, that is just for a short time. We’re expecting that coach Elston will be back with us pretty soon.”

Second signal-caller

Both freshman Tommy Rees and junior Nate Montana made cameos during the first half Saturday, when starting quarterback Dayne Crist was sidelined after the first Irish drive. Rees, who was listed as the backup last week, threw an interception on his first collegiate pass and was pulled for Montana shortly thereafter. Montana led the offense for the rest of the half, going 8-for-17 with an interception.

While Kelly did not commit to one as his backup on Tuesday, he said both will see significant practice reps this week.

“I think we’re going to settle on a package that suits both of them,” Kelly said. “We focused a lot on that in our preparation and in our meetings. I’m certain we’ll be in a much better place this weekend if we have to go to them.”

Road trip

Saturday’s contest at Michigan State will be not only Kelly’s first road game with Notre Dame, but also his first night game, with kickoff set for 8 p.m.

The late start will force Kelly to alter his pregame routine, he said.

“I’ve had some opportunities where we’ve taken the team to the stadium the day of the game and moved them around a little bit, just so they don’t become sluggish in the hotel,” he said. “I don’t know that we’re going to do that, but those are the little things you get when there’s a time change, going from 3:30 to 8. Then certainly being on the road, seeing the stadium – other than that, the preparation will be the same.”