Following a practice indoors due to inclement (read: awful) weather, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly walked into Wednesday night’s media meeting with a shiny new accessory.
And after a week of discussion regarding green jerseys, futuristic jersey designs, and of course, the ever-popular “inverse of the Michigan game” theory, Kelly presented the only certain change to Saturday’s dress code: new helmets.
“I’ve been frustrated with the color of the helmet,” Kelly began. “Ryan Grooms, our equipment manager, has worked diligently in getting this put together. We feel like we’ve finally got the gold the right way.”
Kelly’s frustrations centered on the seemingly ever-changing tint of the helmet’s gold.
“It’s not olive. It’s not those different shades that we’ve seen throughout the years,” he said. “It just has never gotten to the right color. We wanted it to be the Golden Dome. That’s the representation for me, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that’s the gold that we’re looking for. It still has the flake in it. The only difference is our managers won’t paint these any more.”
(Premium members can find helmet discussion and a photo link from UND.com can be found here.)
“The tints were changing so slightly, but visible to us. Even in the last couple years that I’ve been here the colors have been changing. We wanted something that we felt was right on.”
Kelly added that the mangers will still clean the helmets, just not paint them.
“They’ll still be the operation of cleaning them, but they won’t be painted. Not that they were painting them, they were doing more cleaning. We’ve already had it under an HD camera,” he continued. “It looks terrific…maintain the tradition of our uniforms with the gold helmet; we think it’s a great look.”
Asked, “What about the jerseys?” Kelly quipped, “No, we’re going to go with the helmet,” adding, “We’re going to wear our traditional colors: last I checked they were blue, white, and gold…and green.”
A full explanation regarding the decision for change and the maintenance process going forward can be found here.
The Irish haven’t defeated USC donning any shade of gold inside th Stadium walls since Bob Davie led the program in 2001. To do so this Saturday, it will likely be with a hobbled starter at left defensive end.
“He’s not 100 percent, but he’s been able to practice,” Kelly said of senior Ethan Johnson. “He did some team (work in practice) today. I’d say he’s in the mix, but I wouldn’t expect him to play his normal 50-60 plays.”
Johnson missed the Air Force game with the injury and the bulk of the Purdue contest, suffering an ankle injury when nose guard Louis Nix landed on his foot on the game’s second series.
His injury is less severe than the high ankle sprain the truncated Theo Riddick’s 2010 season.
“Theo was operated on, he had a separation,” Kelly explained. “I don’t want to say ‘garden variety’ (regarding Johnson), but this is your traditional high ankle ligament strain that just takes more time.”
In addition to requisite bumps and bruises, Kelly noted the Irish battled lethargy – a by-product of the University’s present fall break.
“I’ve always had a sense we need to wake them up a little bit,” said Kelly of the team’s lack of academic workload during the bye. “Jonas (Gray) made a couple uncharacteristic mistakes today. I said, ‘Do you need a math book, a bio book? Go read something. Have you been watching too much TV?’
“It just seems like when they’re off that much you want to kind of get them in gear. Because when they’re in school it’s a regimen, they’re in, they’re out. I’ve seen it where I want them to do a little bit more.”