Fighting Irish dont think bye week has hurt focus on USC
Posted: 10/17/2013 at 7:40 pm
By: Bill Beck
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Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees runs to an official to call a time out late in the first half during action at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 17-13. ¬ (Photo By Jennifer Shephard) ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬
Whether there is actual rest is a matter of perspective. For some of Notre Dame’s veterans, it’s not as easy as one would think.
Then again, it’s USC week.
“I really don’t go away from football. My mind was all about football,” said Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese. “I was watching extra film, getting a head start on this week. I didn’t tune it out at all. There’s some anxiousness ... you want to play. And it’s good to get some rest. I take it day-by-day and just watch film, focus on one thing one day and something else another day.”
Quarterback Tommy Rees said he settles into the same mindset — the week off is nice, but shutting off thoughts is next to impossible.
“You get a little down time to relax, kind of decompress a little bit, but it’s always in the back of your mind,” he said. “It never really stopped for me to be honest. My mind was always focusing on USC, getting ready to go.
“For other guys, they work differently. They need a break. Everybody came back ready to play. Everybody’s been extremely focused this week and it’s all been positive.”
Notre Dame, 4-2 and coming off a win over Arizona State in Dallas, has plenty of motivation exiting the bye week. The last two times USC visited Notre Dame, it’s followed an Irish week off. ND is 0-2 in those games and a modest 3-3 in post-bye week games since 2006.
During coach Tyrone Willingham’s three years (2002-04) and Charlie Weis’ first two seasons which followed, the Irish were 5-0 after the bye.
Zack Martin, a tri-captain, liked the plan this fall.
“You’ve gotta thank Coach Kelly because we had a great schedule last week. We were able to lift a few times and practice a few times and he gave us a couple of days off to get away from football,” Martin said. “It’s tough ... you always think about it. It’s never not on your mind, but anytime get away from the Gug for a couple of days with family and friends, it takes your mind off of it a bit.
“When we came in Sunday, we were ready to. It didn’t take long to get back into a football mode.”
More Bye Week
Kelly said this week that freshmen and backups received more looks and opportunities during this week’s workouts.
“We try to get guys who are not only just freshmen, but guys who are going to play significant minutes for us as we go through the next six weeks,” Kelly said. “It wasn’t just a Max Redfield or a Folston. It was Alex Welch getting a lot of work. It was Steve Elmer getting a lot of work. It was guys that are in our rotation, Jarron Jones, Ben Councell.
“So it wasn’t just freshmen. It was guys who are getting 10, 15 plays that just needed some more work.”
Sheldon Day, who started the first four games at defensive end, missed the Oklahoma game and Dallas road trip with a tender ankle. Going into the Arizona State game, he thought he was mentally and physically ready to go, but after entering the game for one play, he sat the rest of the way.
“I (didn’t) feel like I was 100 percent and I (didn’t) feel like I could really push off and deliver a blow to my opponent,” Day said this week. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling like I can impact this game. I’m as close to 100 percent as I can be.”