Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium to prep for coming season
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - There was no doubt was Notre Dame football was working towards on Saturday.
With just three weeks left before the season, preparation for rival Michigan meant once again getting comfortable in one of the nation’s most iconic venues.
“The stadium is a special place,” said Irish cornerback Troy Pride. “That’s where so many dreams can come true and where so many joyous moments can be. When you’re in that stadium, you appreciate everything around it and you just want to ball.”
Moving practice to Notre Dame Stadium had more than just emotional implications though, especially for specialists like kicker Justin Yoon who has shined thus far in fall camp.
While routinely knocking field goals through practice field uprights has boosted his confidence in one sense, he said there is nothing like the real thing. And this was as close as you can get in camp.
“It’s awesome to get that feeling,” said Yoon. “It’s great practice [because] this is where you will be kicking, first of all. Second of all, it’s a new sight. So can you switch over, flip your mentality and get used to the situation at hand as fast as possible?”
And of course, there’s something else to get used to – full contact.
The Irish had a few periods of putting pads on pads and going full speed, which the players, though already bruised and fatigued, were actually anxious to experience once again.
“It exposes you more to a game scenario and how everything’s going to work,” said lineman Liam Eichenberg, who is likely to start at left tackle in the opener. “Everything’s faster and things are coming at you quicker. You’ve got to be ready. You have to have your best when it’s needed.”
Their best will surely be needed in three weeks against the Wolverines, meaning it’s only going to get tougher from here.
Head coach Brian Kelly said the Irish will get much more full contact experience next week, before scaling back in the remaining two as they begin game preparation for Michigan.
“We’re 21 days so next week will be a lot of contact,” he said. “We obviously want to see the tackling on defense. We also want to see the live bullets from the quarterbacks. The live situation is invaluable for them as well. We saw some good things today in the live work that we can build off going into Monday.”