Kelly wants Notre Dame to slug it out
Four games into the Kelly coaching era, third-and-16 from the opponent's 19-yard line and down 37-14 to a brash, bullying Stanford football team, Notre Dame called a timeout with five seconds left.
To this day, it remains the most humbling, lopsided and eye-opening of Kelly's 10 losses at the school -- but also the most poignant.
"I'm glad coach Kelly called that last timeout," ND's Theo Riddick said at the time, as ND slipped to 1-3 in 2010. "He reminded us to keep fighting. He reminded us that we're out there for a purpose and to represent ND. And that's what we're going to keep doing."
Fast forward to Thursday's ND football practice, with a physical, intimidating Stanford team again popping up on the schedule on Saturday. It was Kelly's thought back in 2010 that there was a lot to like in that Stanford template of success. And on Thursday night, he saw a mirror image of the team that pummeled his 2010 Irish.
"That's who we want to be. It's how we want to play the game," Kelly said of his seventh-ranked Irish (5-0). "We try to exert that physical presence both on the offensive line and the defensive line. It's who we're shaping up to be.
"So for us to go into a boxing match, using probably a bad analogy and rope-a-dope, that's not how I want to play. I want to go in there and slug away. I think that's the kind of demeanor we want our football team to continue to take shape with."
No. 17 Stanford (4-1) has won the last three games in a series that started with a clash of coaching legends in the 1925 Rose Bowl -- the Cardinal's Pop Warner vs. ND's Knute Rockne. The Cardinal has won 10 successive regular-season, non-conference games overall.
In what would seem to shape up as a game dominated by the defenses this Saturday, both teams are coming off landmark offensive performances. Stanford's 617 yards in total offense in a come-from-behind 54-48 overtime win over Arizona, is the Cardinals highest yardage total since 1999.
ND, meanwhile, missed a school record in first downs by two (with 34) in its 41-3 mauling of Miami (Fla.) in Chicago on Saturday night. The Irish put up their most prolific total offense output (587) since 2005 in that game, and their largest rushing output (376) since 2000.
"They (the ND players) know ultimately they can't win this playing a finesse game," Kelly said of the Stanford matchup. "They've got to win it by beating them at what they (the Cardinal) do well.
"I think we'll be able to go in there and play the kind of game we want to play. We've exhibited the kind of signs that would lead me to believe we can play that kind of football."
-- It's Kelly's preference that freshman defensive end Jarron Jones remain in play for a redshirt year, but the Irish coach is ready for Plan B.
Season-ending surgery earlier this month for sophomore backup defensive end Chase Hounshell may eventually remove the 6-foot-5, 299-pounder from Rochester, N.Y., from the list of seven freshmen who have yet to see game action for the Irish this season.
The other six are long snapper Scott Daly, center Mark Harrell, running back Will Mahone and safeties Chris Badger, C.J. Prosise and John Turner.
"We're keeping him alive," Kelly said of Jones. "He's taking a little bit of reps with the defense. (Defensive line) coach (Mike) Elston works with him in pre-practice.
"We prefer that he studies this year and works on those things. But certainly if we do come up with some injuries, we feel like he's capable to come in and contribute and help our football team."
-- Riddick's carries last Saturday against Miami were limited to five in part because of an elbow injury he suffered against the Hurricanes and in part because of the effectiveness of tag-teammates George Atkinson and Cierre Wood.