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Kelly's Keys to Victory: Michigan

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - "They knew who they were playing back in January as they prepared for the game."

Since the last time Notre Dame walked off a football field, it's been no secret who awaited the Irish next.

"They know the University of Michigan and its tradition certainly," said head coach Brian Kelly, "so I just think that from a player' standpoint, this gets their attention."

In a battle of two strong defenses, Brian Kelly is confident that the depth of his group up front will be a strength on Saturday and beyond.

"We can stay after you for four quarters when you can go eight deep," he said. "There's not going to be a drop-off in terms of somebody has to play 60 or 70 snaps. So this will be the deepest group that we have put out there and we expect it to have great production for us."

Notre Dame finally has a returning starting QB for the first time in several years, and though Brandon Wimbush still has plenty to prove, Kelly and his staff are ready to let Wimbush play his own game.

"He's a playmaker and he's got to go out there with the confidence to make plays," Kelly said. "He's going to make some mistakes but as long as he understands that within the scope of the offense making good decisions."

As far as season openers go, it's as much a learning experience for the coaches as it is for the players.

But with so much talent back from last year's team that returned the Irish to the national conversation, Kelly sees no reason why that upwards trend can't continue.

"Each year there's different questions about teams," he said. "They've competed at the highest level. So I'm not really concerned about how they're going to show up and play against Michigan. We'll have to execute extremely well."

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