ND: Kelly says Notre Dame has the heads and hearts of champions
Posted: 11/06/2012 at 7:30 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
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Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scrambles during action against Pitt Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. (Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) looks to pass the ball during action against Pitt Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. (Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Now he wants to make sure Notre Dame has the mental capacity to prevent another scare.
“I told the football team that they had the heart of a champion in the way that they battled through triple overtime,” the Irish head coach said of his team’s win over Pitt. “But now that we understand that we will fight in battle, we’ve got to have the head of a champion, too. The head of a champion understands that each and every week you’re going to get the opposition’s very best. We have to be able to understand that when we play the game on Saturday.”
This Saturday will feature Boston College, whose 2-7 record makes the Eagles even easier to overlook than Pitt. But Kelly isn’t falling for that trap and he hopes his team isn’t, either.
“Boston College (is) a team that has played us very, very well,” Kelly said. “This past year obviously at home we had to make some big stops late to win the football game... So this is a team that, again, our players understand that if they don’t play their best they can get beat. A lot of respect for Boston College and the way they run their program and the way their kids play on a day-to-day basis.”
Kelly has been clear since Week 3 that his team is above the “noise,” the background chatter that inevitably comes along when a team starts winning big games. When Notre Dame is part of the conversation, that noise amplifies two or three times.
Every game they win, the Irish trek further and further into uncharted territory.
“This group has not been 90, so they have learned about how difficult it gets as you get down to just a few games left in the season,” Kelly said. “Everybody can make their season beating Notre Dame.
“This is new territory for them and they’re learning,” Kelly continued. “I sensed and felt in talking to our guys that they clearly understand that they can’t play the game any less than their very best if they want to win.”
While no one in a Notre Dame uniform has experienced this kind of success, Kelly has. His 2009 Cincinnati team went 12-0 in the regular season before losing to Florida in the Sugar Bowl. And he knows better than anyone to keep out of BCS politics.
Though Notre Dame is undefeated, it ranks fourth in the BCS standings behind Alabama, Kansas State and Oregon. Getting caught up in how the standings play out, Kelly said, is a waste of time.
“All we can do and all we can control is winning these football games,” he said. “If a field goal goes awry against Nebraska (versus) Texas (in 2009), it changes things. It could be the same situation again with Notre Dame three years later. I can’t control any of that. What I can control is to make sure that these guys play better against BC.”
NICHOLS LIKELY OUT
Offensive tackle Tate Nichols is likely out for the season after a PCL knee injury. Kelly said Nichols will undergo further evaluation before a final decision is made.