Friday Focus

ND is ready to compete against a different jersey

Your weekly stop for final depth charts moves, quotes and notes from the latter portion of game week.

Brian Kelly's been known to surprise an opponent or two.

Who knew he'd spring the same on a site's writer?

Tomorrow will be what we call ‘Focus Friday,'" Kelly noted Thursday night while inadvertently taking the starch out of my planned weekly wrap-up column. "We're focused on the game plan and we'll watch a little film; move the guys around, stretch them out."

IrishEyes forgives Kelly for using the same alliterative name I had planned for this space each Friday afternoon. After all, his troops need to focus more than our readers…but new name suggestions would be appreciated nonetheless.

Sisyphus never completed the task, either

Kelly informed the media last night that his Tuesday practices are generally based on installation while Wednesday is a day of housekeeping, "maybe deleting, maybe adding" to Tuesday's look at the upcoming opponent.

Thursday practice? It certainly has a nice ring to it.

"We call it ‘Perfect Practice Thursday,'" Kelly offered. "We want perfection; we go fast and we demand that our players are locked in with the details in mind at first.

"That was the practice today – about 15 periods. We spent a lot of time in special teams; a lot of time in our two-minute offense; and then usually finish up with four-minute, end-of-game scenarios and controlling the clock.

Did the Irish approach perfection entering the season's first contest?

"I don't know if we ever get (to perfection), nor do I allow them to get there," he noted.

"I think this is always a journey, not a destination. We did some things today that I was impressed with. They knew what today was about. They knew that this can't be a day when you come out and you're not focused and locked in.

"We're still setting the tone for what our routine is going to be like in-season, so they clearly understood that they needed to execute today and I thought by and large they did a pretty good job."

Quotes of Note

Kelly wrapped up a week of Purdue practice with an event rarely seen around the LaBar Practice Complex in his previous 29 practice sessions dating back to early March.

A pre-snap huddle.

"This is also the time where we work on our huddle. Yes in fact we do have a traditional huddle," Kelly noted. "We love to go into a traditional huddle because that generally means we have the game in hand and we're taking time off the clock.

"I always love finishing the day with a huddle. That means it's close to game time."

The up-tempo no-huddle Irish of 2010 will hit the field Saturday with a clear vision and chain of command. Kelly knows he can trust his game day communication chain to operate at peak efficiency each Saturday. In part, that's why he hired them.

"When you go through that hiring process you're not just thinking about, ‘Well, he's a great recruiter,'" Kelly said. "You're thinking (additionally) ‘He's a person I can trust on game day when it counts. "All that goes into the evaluation of who you hire on your staff."

Kelly's eyes in the sky will be offensive coordinator Charley Molnar and running backs coach Tim Hinton. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco will likewise reside in the press box while calling the defense and will be joined by outside linebackers coach Kerry Cooks.

"We'll be talking down and distances; coverages and fronts…suggestions in the back end relative to coverages," Kelly said of Molnar.

"Tim Hinton will be looking at protection…I'm generally talking to (Hinton) relative to protections and things we may need to do."

As for his involvement with game day defense, Kelly monitors the situation over his head set.

"I'll listen to Coach Diaco in his communications with (defensive backs) coach Martin and (outside linebackers) coach Cooks," Kelly said. "Generally just making some suggestions in terms of what I see in the game."

On the sideline with Kelly will be offensive line coach Ed Warinner, defensive line coach and special teams coordinator Mike Elston, and wide receivers coach Tony Alford, the lone holdover from Charlie Weis' 2009 staff (Alford, a former All-WAC running back, coached that position for Weis and for his entire career prior to the Kelly era).

Restoring the Roar

Focus Friday (the team's) will conclude with the traditional Pep Rally with a few planned additions to spice up the proceedings.

"We'll announce, every Friday, our game day captains at the Pep Rally," Kelly said. "So at that time, our game day captains will be informed as their stature is also shared with all the fans at the rally, and that will be something that we continuously do throughout the year."

Tonight's Pep Rally will be held in front of Dillon Hall on the South Quad of campus.

Tidbits

    Senior backup tight end Mike Ragone is considered doubtful do to an inner ear infection. According to both his head coach and offensive coordinator, Ragone had made great strides prior to the malady suffered earlier this week.

  • Senior walk-on David Ruffer earned the place-kicking duties over incumbent Nick Tausch with a late-week push (Tausch hit 14 consecutive last season to set a program record.)

    "Ruffer, we felt had a great week," Kelly noted after wondering aloud how one local reporter seemed to acquire this bit of depth chart information. "The ball comes off his foot really well. So he's earned that starting position. That is a change in the depth chart from what you saw."

  • Expect Notre Dame to continue one constant from the previous era: if presented the opportunity at the mid-field coin toss, they'll start with the football.

    "I like to have the football. I think the only time that I look at deferring is if there's weather (concerns)," Kelly said. "By and large, my career has been about trying to get the football.

    "That's just been me traditionally. That's probably what will happen if we win the toss on Saturday."

Final Thoughts

I'll be stunned if Michael Floyd doesn't score Saturday...shocked if Ryan Kerrigan doesn't heavily impact the Irish backfield more than once…I'll be surprised if Carson Wiggs doesn't boot home at least two field goals…and I'll be concerned if a Purdue tailback sniffs the 90-yard rushing mark.

Look for each of the following players to be the MVPs of their respective position groups vs. the Boilers:

Michael Floyd (WRs); Armando Allen (RB...I was tempted to pull the trigger with the new guy, I must admit); Tyler Eifert (TE...not sure Rudolph is really ready); Chris Stewart (OL); Kapron Lewis-Moore (DL...faces fresh meat at right tackle); Darius Fleming (LB); Jamoris Slaughter (DB).

Don't judge senior right tackle Taylor Dever by his first start: he's in a tough spot with All Big-10 and potential All-America Ryan Kerrigan lined up in front of him. The Irish should (will) help Dever, but Kerrigan beats double teams for a living...just ask Sam Young, Mike Ragone and Trevor Robinson, each of whom were victimized on multiple occasions by the tenacious defender last September.

Game MVP: Michael Floyd
Defensive MVP: Darius Fleming

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