Two-game season for healing Irish

Notre Dame limped into its second bye week of 2013 with too few healthy competitors up front to hold a meaningful practice. Eight days later, they knocked off any potential rust, and with two games vs. quality opponents on tap, head coach Brian Kelly expects all hands on deck for Senior Day and the regular season finale at Stanford.

"There's nobody at this point that's definitely out," said Kelly with three practices remaining before game day. "I think everybody is at this point…their focus is to get out there and give it the best shot to play against BYU."

Among those on the mend are a quartet of defensive linemen including two-deep regulars Kona Schwenke (high ankle sprain) and Ishaq Williams (hamstring strain) -- both essential to the defense's cause against two of the nation's best rushing attacks.

"They practiced.  I was pleased with Kona," said Kelly. "I think Ishaq is going to be a day-to-day situation.  He practiced.  I thought he was a little tentative yesterday but I think he's going to get better.  I know our training staff was pleased.  Everybody was in the training room this morning.  We had no setbacks from anybody that practiced.  We were all taped up heavily if you were at practice yesterday, but they all participated and they all contributed in some fashion."

Among those taped were Kelly's recently "booted" youngsters up front, true freshman Isaac Rochell and redshirt-freshman Jarron Jones. Both were pushed into larger roles this fall because of early-season injuries and off-season defection, the ripples of which won't end until the 2013 season does.

Jones and Rochell shook off ankle sprains to practice Monday.

"They were all contributing to practice. I thought we had a really good day quite frankly," Kelly offered. "The energy was good.  I thought it was lively in our 11-on-11 action and those guys came through it pretty good.  Nobody took a step back from my report from (athletic trainer) Rob Hunt this morning.  Nobody took a step back from yesterday's pretty rigorous practice.  We were almost two hours out there, which is long and it was a physical practice."

A two-hour practice is nearly unheard of at this late juncture but Kelly felt Monday would give the team an edge heading into the standard Tuesday-Thursday stretch of a practice week after time off.

'We did a lot of one-on-one, seven-on-seven, things that we usually have in preseason camp," said Kelly. "And I didn't want to do it last Wednesday or Thursday and then have a break again.  I wanted to really line it up.  And the guys's legs felt good.  The comments were very positive about how we felt.

"We had a lot of guys that could not have practiced last Wednesday, and I really needed to know whether these guys could play to be quite honest with you.  So all of those combined was the rationale for going on Monday in that fashion."

The bye week gave Kelly's staff time to hit the recruiting trail, but that ongoing element of program building was the only aspect of the team's time off the field that was dedicated to the future.

"We are at this point right now that we are focused on how to win the BYU game more so than bigger picture issues," said Kelly when asked if he had begun self and program assessments. So any work that we did in the bye week was really focused on how do we get a W against BYU. That was our focus and then recruiting.  hose were the most important elements for our staff.  I think the staff has done a great job of balancing those two.

"We haven't walked away feeling like we didn't spend enough time preparing for BYU in the off-week and I didn't feel like we just said, hey, let's get out of here and let's start recruiting.  Hey, let's get on to 2014.  I thought it was a good balance by the staff and I thought it was a good week."

Speaking of 2014…

Kelly noted previously that he expected suspended quarterback Everett Golson to join the team for bowl preparation practices. (It's assumed Golson will run the scout team as he will not play.)

The fourth-year Irish head man reiterated that dual desire for December, though Golson must first be readmitted to the University.

"I don't think that I can make that decision, nor can I comment on that," said Kelly of the likelihood Golson will be accepted. "I think that application process has been submitted…and that decisions relative to admissions happen sometime in the middle of December."

Kelly then added with a smirk, "Though, if they wanted to give me the admissions responsibility, I would certainly consider it." Top Stories