Ready to Rebound

Notre Dame enters a week of game preparation following defeat for the first time since late-October 2011. The task at hand: a team struggling but one that took the Irish to the wire just one year ago.

NIne months followed a BCS Championship loss to Alabama. So too did a Champs Sports Bowl loss to conclude 2011. Prior to that defeat at the hands of Florida State was a month of preparation after a 14-point defeat at Stanford.

Not since USC took down Brian Kelly's Irish in mid-October 2011 has a Notre Dame team been tasked with putting a loss in the rear view mirror in order to get ready for game week and a Saturday matchup.

Well, any time you lose, you want to get back out on the field.  Our guys will get an opportunity to get back to work, and you know, obviously there's a number of things we've got to get better at. We start that today with practice and our preparation. We'll have to do a better job this week in our preparation."

That need for practice week improvement has been the prevailing theme since the clock struck zero Saturday night in Ann Arbor. It's an unexpected development for a program blessed with a healthy mix of returnees from a 2012 championship run, and a head coach that put his authoritative stamp on the program.

"Sometimes you try to get the feel for your team, and you know, it's a different year compared to last year," Kelly said. "Sometimes you don't invoke your personality in there because you're trying to get a feel for your team.

"Well, I got a feel for this team (now), so we're going to do it the way we need to do it. And we're going to practice and compete and do the things that we need to do to prepare. Sometimes you're kind of feeling your way through that a little bit as you get your hands on your team, learning more about your group.

"I think we've got a good sense and feel of where we need to go in our preparation and we'll be better prepared as we play Purdue."

Asked if he was concerned about a letdown facing a Boilermakers team that was hammered by Cincinnati and managed just one offensive touchdown vs. FCS program Indiana State, Kelly exclaimed, "Let down? They (ND) just lost. They lost a football game.

"Look, we've got to worry about all the things I just talked about:  The attention to detail, the way we work, all the things that we have to do.  We've got our own work to take care of.  We've got to be smarter, more disciplined. We've got to practice better. We've got to take care of a lot of things on our own.

"Purdue's going to be ready for Notre Dame. We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent.  But, look, we've got to put blinders on and we've got to focus on ourselves.  We're not a finished product.  We've got some work to do."

Secondary Concerns

Four personal foul penalties, including three in the end zone, each resulting in a touchdown thereafter. Four touchdown passes, gains of 61, 41, 31, and 22 (all vs. Michigan).

Notre Dame's secondary returned a trio of 2012 starters but its played below its expected level -- by any reasonable measure -- entering the season's third week. Kelly is much more concerned with the 10 that are to follow.

"They have got to play the game the way they can play it. In other words, more confidence," Kelly said. "They have got to go out there and compete, and they have got the ability to do it.  We've got to get it out of them. 

"Coach (Kerry) Cooks is going to make sure that those guys are competing in practice and we are going to get that carryover.  Keivarae Russell is a young guy and he was in a big stage, and he's going to have to use that learning experience from Michigan, he's going to have to carry that over, and he's a very smart, competitive kid...and I think he's going to benefit from it.

"Bennett Jackson is a captain for us and he has a responsibility to come back and bounce back from not playing his very best, and we are all confident he'll do that."

Russell and Jackson were both flagged for personal fouls in the red zone on third down; Russell's occurring in the end zone to set up a Michigan score. Each of Notre Dame's four pass interference penalties in close has led to an opposing touchdown (three total with two infractions occurring on Michigan's penultimate drive Saturday night).

"The key is to not make it two games or three games or four games," Kelly said. "It's to take this game, and play at a higher level and I'm pretty confident that they will."


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