Brian Kelly can't imagine a letdown game coming off the loss to Michigan.
NOTRE DAME — Coming off an emotionally draining loss to Michigan, Brian Kelly hoped to move on to Purdue in his weekly meeting with the media.
The first half dozen questions focused on Michigan and the flaws the loss pointed out in Notre Dame’s team. When the questions finally did turn to the topic of Purdue, a reporter asked Kelly if the fact the Boilermakers managed only one offensive touchdown against Indiana State last week can set up the Irish for a let down.
“Let down?” Kelly said. “They just lost. They lost a football game. We have to worry about all the things I just talked about. Attention to detail, the way we worked. We got our own work to take care of.”
After weathering its first regular-season loss since it fell to Stanford in November 2011, Kelly said his team has taken to focusing on introspection. But between figuring out how to score more effectively in the red zone and how to prevent giving up 41 points on defense, the Irish know that its next rival game is just around the corner.
And Purdue is a rival. Kelly’s expression when asked if he thought the Boilermakers were a rival left no doubt.
“Any time you’re playing a team in-state, there’s certainly a recognition of that as a rivalry game,” he said. “Our guys know Purdue. They know how difficult the games have been.
“This is an in-state rival that plays really well against us. Just look at last year’s game.”
The Irish squeaked out a 20-17 home win against Purdue in 2012, saved in part by fourth-quarter heroics from Tommy Rees. Purdue is vocally excited about this year’s matchup, as made apparent in head coach Darrell Hazell’s press conference Tuesday, Sept. 10.
“For Purdue, this is huge,” Hazell said of the magnitude of the game. “They’re sending the blimp to see us.”
Kelly noted Purdue’s kicking game — which leads college football in average punting yards (49.9 per punt) — and defensive line as two particular areas of strength. Led by defensive tackle Bruce Gaston and defensive end Ryan Russell, Purdue will prove a physical matchup for the Irish offensive line.
“All signs point that it’s going to be a physical game up front between a very good offensive line and a very, very stout defensive line,” Kelly said.
Purdue (1-1) is coming off a 42-7 dismantling by Cincinnati in Week 1 and a close win over FCS school Indiana State last week, but Kelly knows what to expect when the Irish visit West Lafayette on Saturday, Sept. 14.
“Purdue is going to be ready for Notre Dame,” he said. “We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent.”