Kelly's Keys to Victory: NC State
Saturday's game between Notre Dame and North Carolina state will be just the third time they have met on the gridiron, but with last year's hurricane conditions, there's even less knowledge on how the two teams actually match up.
"It really didn't show truly who they were or who we were in that game," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, "because you just didn't have the ability to exert force against the ground and be explosive and powerful."
If anyone has shown an ability to be explosive and powerful, it has been Notre Dame's offense. The Irish are averaging 317 rushing yards and 41 points per game, and Kelly hopes that will continue against a tough Wolfpack D.
"I think a lot of that has to do with collectively nine of the 11 guys blocking at the highest level," he said. "A commitment from everybody, receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, and then the talent of Josh [Adams] in terms of his ability to turn pedestrian plays into big-chunk plays."
On the other side, Notre Dame's improved defense has forced 17 turnovers thus far, with nearly all of them being turned into points. However, North Carolina State brings in a solid offensive unit of its own, led by quarterback Ryan Finley, who hasn't thrown an interception all year.
"Finley is very smart, knows the system, a veteran quarterback," said Kelly. "He knows exactly what his offensive coordinator wants from him. He just does a really good job of taking care of the football. Very smart."
While Kelly has been impressed with the quarterback, he knows the Wolfpack have plenty more weapons on that side of the ball.
"They do a great job of holding onto the football, sustaining drives, and scoring," he said. "I think they average 3.2 points per possession, which is really, really good. They've got a number of weapons on offense."
While the Irish had plenty to be proud of after a big rivalry win at USC, Kelly says there has been no time to celebrate with a team as talented as NC State coming in to Notre Dame Stadium.
"A deserving team where they're ranked, no question about it," said Kelly. "It's going to be a great challenge, one that our guys know they'll have to play very well to win the football game."