Irish return from bye week to face Navy in San Diego
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Any opportunity for rest during football season is important. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said the latest was timed perfectly, as his team's bye week lined up with fall break for the rest of the student body on campus.
But now, it's back to work before the team heads West.
The undefeated Irish will meet a familiar foe in the Naval Academy, but travel all the way out to San Diego for the neutral-site matchup.
This weekend begins the home stretch of the regular season in which Notre Dame, now ranked number three in the country, will be favored in each of the final five games.
Still with nearly 9,000 miles of traveling over that stretch added to the pressure of national title hopes, Brian Kelly says the Irish need no reminders of how much work will be necessary to avoid slip-ups the rest of the way.
“They probably heard a million times when they went home how they didn’t play great against Pittsburgh," he said. "It’s a one week deal for us. We’re one day at a time and one practice at a time. They know where they are and they have to stay focused and stick with their process.”
That lesson is one Notre Dame didn't necessarily need, but one they got the last time they took the field in a 19-14 win against Pittsburgh.
Navy will present another unique challenge in that aspect despite a 2-5 record so far in 2018.
The triple-option offense can often be expected to create confusion for the defense, and to use much of the clock to keep the Irish offense off the field and limit chances to pull away.
But with the two teams meeting for the 92 time, and with four of the five previous games having been decided by 10 points or less, Kelly says there won't be any players or staff overlooking the Midshipmen.
“They’ve given us all we can handle year in and year out," he said. "There has to be an incredible sense of urgency on the offensive side of the ball, in maximizing possessions and quite frankly every snap. From a defensive standpoint, that attention to detail in everything you do is at a premium. We could use two more bye weeks to prepare for Navy.”