Did Irish players forget how to prepare?
After Notre Dame's 45-21 win over Maryland on Saturday night a FedEx Field, coach Brian Kelly said his team was starting to figure out how to prepare from week to week in order to win consistently, which seemed to contradict something he said that raised eyebrows (or at least these eyebrows) before the season.
He clarified things Sunday.
"Our players truly understand how to win football games now, and it starts with our preparation during the week, and they know that they have to bring all three phases. We'll look to repeat that next week, and that's the challenge to our football team."
Later, when Kelly was asked what he meant when he talked about understanding how to win, he added: "They understand the things they need to do consistently if they want to win. They can't just do them once in a while, but they have to do these things every single day, and they're starting to become habit forming. That's a good sign for our football team. As long as they continue to do those things, you'll get victories, and they're getting closer. We're not there yet but we're making progress."
If you'll recall, Kelly said during training camp that this team practiced and prepared as well as any team he has ever coached. If that's the case, why are they only now realizing what they must do to properly prepare for that week's opponent? Have they regressed? I asked Kelly.
"They knew what was necessary," Kelly said. "We didn't get it all the time. It's my job to find out why that doesn't occur. It's my job to lean on our team when it's not occurring. They understand how to do it. They have proven they can do it. We just haven't been able to get it week in and week out. We're making really good progress in that respect.
"There was a great knowledge base in terms of what they needed to do. Sometimes, it's like anything else, you have to stay on them. They knew what to do but we need to stay on them to get this habit forming."
Kelly said the dynamics change when training camp ends and the season starts.
"Then you have to get in the next phase and school and classes begin," he said. "Guys have other things on their plate than just football. When you're in training camp it's 100 percent football. When other things start to come into your life then how you balance all those things relative to your preparation takes on a different form."
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