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Football: Snapping into perfection

Eric Prister | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

No matter how it is billed — a home game, a ‘home away from home’ game or just another game in the ‘Shamrock Series’ — Irish coach Brian Kelly said the Irish are preparing for Saturday’s game against Maryland like they would any other road game.

“We’re back on the road with Maryland this week, and I know it’s technically a home game, but we’re in Washington, D.C., and that’s Maryland’s backyard,” he said. “We are mentally preparing ourselves to go in to play on the road again and all that goes with that.

“We’ve had a pretty good understanding of how to play on the road and what is necessary. Other than the last couple of minutes of the Michigan game, we’ve been very good on the road over the last year-and-a-half, and we’re going to expect the same because we’re going to need it.”

The Irish will be without senior center Braxston Cave, who is out for the season with a foot injury. Senior Mike Golic will fill in for Cave, and Kelly said he is very confident in Golic’s ability to step in and be successful.

“Having said that, we’ve got a great deal of confidence in [Golic],” he said. “[He] came in, played very well for us [against Wake Forest]. I think when you look at the center position, there’s always a great concern because that guy is put in a very difficult situation, shotgun snaps, changing up the cadence, calling out some of the defensive fronts and structures, but [Golic] has done a nice job and we have a great deal of confidence, and that’s a next man in situation for us with [him] going in there.”

Kelly said while Golic does not have the physical power that Cave does, he has his own set of strengths to work with.

“One of the traits that we’ve liked about [Golic] from day one is his ability to snap the ball,” he said. “The other things have come. He’s gotten stronger, he’s more physical. He’s certainly not as strong as [Cave], but he is physically able to move his feet, get out and do the things, but I think it starts with snapping the ball. That’s really where he’s done a nice job and has been consistent in that respect.”

Junior receiver Theo Riddick will also be on the sideline for the Irish due to a hamstring injury, but Kelly said he was hopeful senior defensive end Ethan Johnson will return to the field, and that junior linebacker Manti Te’o and freshman defensive end Aaron Lynch, both struggling with ankle injuries, will also be ready for Saturday’s game.

The Irish, as a part of their recently established ‘Shamrock Series,’ will be wearing green jerseys and gold helmets with a green shamrock on the side against Maryland. Kelly said his sole concern when changing the uniform is the reaction of the players, who he said were fully in support.

“The only people I care about relative to the uniforms are the 105 guys that were in this room when we showed it to them, and they were excited,” he said. “All due respect to everybody else that has an opinion, I really don’t care about theirs, I care about what my players think, and our players love it. We’re going to stay with those kinds of things that still fall within our color schemes and our logoing, and kids like that stuff. So if our kids like it, then I can tell you I’m certain that the recruits like it, as well. And that’s really the only people that measure for me relative to who likes them and who doesn’t like them.”

Contact Eric Prister at [email protected]