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Football

Kmet discusses return from injury, team’s mentality before Virginia

| Thursday, September 26, 2019

The week after his return to the field from a broken collarbone, junior tight end Cole Kmet spoke with the media after practice Tuesday. After being out for about five weeks, he said he was unsure of his ability to return the way he did.

“It felt good, honestly, to get back on the football field,” he said. “I didn’t know how my conditioning would hold up and all that stuff, but I just went with it, and when you’re in the game — in the moment — you just kind of keep going.”

That’s exactly what he did, and when the Georgia week showed up, he was ready.

“When I got my X-ray, they said I should be cleared by Georgia, so that was the goal date from the beginning,” he said. “They gave me five to eight weeks, and I was on the lower end, so I guess I’m a quick healer.”

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish junior tight end Cole Kmet leaps for a catch near the sideline during Notre Dame’s 23-17 loss against Georgia on Sunday at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.

The Lake Barrington, Illinois, native wasted no time getting back in the action on his first play on the field.

“I knew the first play I was going in, the coach told me, ‘We’re going to get you going,’ and usually with him, if you make a play he’s going to come back to you,” Kmet said.

That’s exactly what happened. He totalled nine receptions — the most for an Irish tight end in a game since 1977 — for 108 yards and his first career touchdown and was named John Mackey Award tight end of the week. Kmet definitely stepped up to the plate, not at all timid due to his recent “quick” healing. He acknowledged that he had to “stay positive and keep working and wait for [his] opportunity.”

While Kmet had a successful night, the team was ultimately unable to secure the win. In their practice Tuesday, Kmet said the captains led with a mantra that stayed with him coming off that loss Saturday.

“We’re on to Virginia now,” he said. “That was the thing, you know, we’re on to Virginia. That’s our opponent this week, and we had a great practice today for Virginia, and we’re getting ready to go for this weekend.”

Head coach Brian Kelly told them they were going to have to bounce back this week and upon hearing that, there was only one idea that ran through Kmet’s head: “Let’s get to work. Gotta put your head down and get to work.”

Upon practicing and getting ready for this week’s game, Kmet conceded that Virginia has their strengths.

“Their defense is really good — they lead the nation in sacks,” he said. “They’ve got a good [defensive]-line, good linebackers.”

However, Kmet has full faith in himself and his Irish teammates as they try to rebound from last week with a win over the Cavaliers.

“The goal is to win a national championship, and that starts with beating Virginia this week,” he said. “[We’ll] take it day by day, week by week, and the rest will take care of itself.”

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