In his weekly Sunday teleconference with the media on Sunday, the second-year Notre Dame football coach was a little more measured in his responses, a little less creative, a little more detached from the macro view of the Irish program.
None of that, necessarily, is a bad thing, given the tremors his words touched off last week, both nationally and in his own locker room.
In that light, as ND (5-3) puts its 56-14 unifying rout of Navy behind it and begins the final third of its regular season with its first-ever trip to Wake Forest (5-3) Saturday night, here are a lot of little pictures that are infusing, surrounding and shaping the stretch run:
1. Life in the ACC: Notre Dame had the kickoff time changed six days before its game with the Demon Deacons, and fans may not know until three days before exactly how to set their DVRs.
If the Irish ever ditch independence and bring football into a conference setting, as many are speculating, this is what life might be like on home weekends as well.
As it stands, Notre Dame’s football game Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., will now kick off at 8 p.m. (EDT), after last week being penciled in for a 7 p.m. start, after originally fermenting as a TBA for the first half of the season. The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the scheduling tweak Sunday.
The game, one of a school-record six in prime time this season, will be a full national telecast, but whether you’ll be able to view it on ABC or ESPN2 depends upon where you will be watching the game. The other game in this window is Kansas State-Oklahoma State.
2. Life on the lighter side: Irish football fan Joe Axe of Toledo, Ohio, maintained both his sanity and his sense of humor last week through the Oct. 22 loss to USC and the subsequent Quit-gate, JumboTron-gate and Twitter-gate dust-ups.
While many of the ND faithful grumbled about Kelly not using his full complement of timeouts in the 31-17 succumbing to the Trojans, Axe decided to sell the unused timeouts ...
As of late Sunday night, no one has satisfied the minimum opening bid of $9.99, but Axe can claim a minor victory of sorts in that the eBay cyber-hall monitors haven’t caught on either.
Here’s the product description: For your consideration, I am offering today 2 Official, Brand New, Second Half timeouts from the University of Notre Dame Football Team. Both of these timeouts are brand new, however, they are out of the box, and technically expired.
I acquired these on the field right after the completion of the game against their bitter rival, the USC Trojans, on October 22, 2011. Both of these timeouts came up missing toward the end of the game, when a timeout was desperately needed, and the Irish defense needed a rest. Although many players and staff searched for them, they were hidden in the Notre Dame end zone, and went unnoticed.
Perhaps most amusing is that PayPal is the only accepted form of payment and that shipping is only available in the contiguous 48 states.
3. Life in November — and beyond: In his 21-year career, Kelly is at his best late in seasons — 51-13 (.797) in November, 60-15 (.800) in November-December-January games combined.
The last time Kelly was on the losing end of a game in November or December was Nov. 17, 2007 — a 28-23 setback to West Virginia while coaching Cincinnati. Since then he’s run off 15 successive November/December wins, including all four since joining the ND sideline.
Kelly goes into this November with no new serious injuries. Reserve freshman defensive end Chase Hounshell, who had to leave Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury, is not expected to miss any practice time this week.