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Brian Kelly: “No update” on five players being held out

| Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Irish head coach Brian Kelly said he did not have any updates on the five players being held out of practice and competition following Notre Dame’s investigation into “suspected academic dishonesty” at his weekly press conference Tuesday.

Kelly said the players have not been made a part of meetings and said everything is status quo.

“We haven’t made that change [with their involvement in meetings] because I haven’t got any updates relative to where we are in the process and the timing of that,” Kelly said.

Kelly said Thursday he has been informed that Notre Dame’s investigation has been closed. The University announced Aug. 15 that junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell, senior receiver DaVaris Daniels, senior defensive end Ishaq Williams and graduate student linebacker Kendall Moore were being kept out of practice and competition. Notre Dame announced Thursday a fifth player is also being held out, and a University official later confirmed the player is senior safety Eilar Hardy.

Irish senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels catches a pass during Notre Dame’s 41-30 loss against Michigan last season on Sept. 7 .Observer File Photo
Irish senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels catches a pass during Notre Dame’s 41-30 loss against Michigan last season on Sept. 7 .

Meeting with Michigan

When Notre Dame and Michigan kick off under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday night, the two historic programs will be meeting for the 42nd time. Since the teams squared off in 1978, the Irish and the Wolverines have played every year except 1983, 1984, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2001.

“I think we all know the kind of game we’re gonna play here with this opponent,” Kelly said. “Each team knows each other very well. Certainly they’ve been great games.”

Kelly highlighted Wolverines graduate student quarterback Devin Gardner, who the head coach said “has played great against us,” and junior receiver Devin Funchess.

“[That’s] a one-two combination that is very dynamic,” Kelly said. “Funchess now being on the perimeter is a matchup problem, and he’ll be a matchup problem for everybody that he plays this year.”

As for the rivalry talk surrounding a series that doesn’t have another meeting currently scheduled, Kelly steered clear of anything controversial, even asking, “How did I do?” after one rivalry-themed question.

Notre Dame (.7332) ranks first in all-time winning percentage, while Michigan (.7326) checks in fractionally behind. The winner of Saturday’s tilt will claim first place.

“It’s something, certainly, that we talk about in recruiting, in terms of the elite programs and the tradition of our program,” Kelly said of the elite winning percentage. “It doesn’t help us right now, but certainly it’s something that when you’re talking about the great programs of all time it’s something that we’re very proud of.”

Of the last 29 games between the two programs, the contest has been decided by seven points or fewer 18 times. The Wolverines have outscored the Irish, 110-98, combined in Kelly’s four seasons in South Bend.

Why so many close games?

“I think two programs that have such great pride that they’re going to battle and fight to the very end,” Kelly said. “There is an immense amount of pride, both teams want to win this football game and that’s why regardless of what the teams’ records are and what the personnel looks like, there is just great pride in both programs.”


Personnel Updates

Sophomore receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (groin) has made good progress, according to Kelly, and was scheduled to partake in individual drills Tuesday as he remains ahead of schedule.

“If things go well, we will continue to progress him through the week, and if he has a great week he could be in a situation where potentially he could play next week,” Kelly said.

Senior linebacker Jarrett Grace (leg) continues to make significant progress in his movement and other body mechanics, Kelly said, but he’s still “a few weeks away” from being 100 percent.

“He’s not at 100 percent, but he’s getting better each and every day,” Kelly said.

Sophomore receiver Corey Robinson (thumb) is a little bit sore after playing Saturday against Rice, according to Kelly, but “everything looked great after the game.”

“He’s one of those kids that thought that was a great challenge in his life that he wanted to undertake,” Kelly said. “He was going to play and find a way to succeed.”

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

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