C.J. Prosise got back to normal this week.
After wearing a red jersey during practices leading up to the USC game to signify do-not-touch toward the defense, Notre Dame’s lead back returned to blue this week. That equipment change ranked among the bigger benefits of the week off after seven straight games, with Brian Kelly betting that five days off recharged the Irish.
“There’s so much stuff going on here with cameras everywhere and media all the time,” Prosise said. “I shut it down and let my body heal. A couple weeks ago I was a little slower in practice, now I’m feeling 100 percent and ready to go.”
Notre Dame practiced on Tuesday morning after USC, then Kelly dismissed the team for the week. Players returned Saturday, logged an extra practice on Monday, then fell into the regular game routine Tuesday. Kelly took advantage of Notre Dame linking its bye week with fall break, which allowed the getaway from campus.
It’s the second straight year Notre Dame’s bye matched with fall break. It falls that way again next season between home dates with Stanford (Oct. 15) and Miami (Oct. 29).
“If we could get that every year that would be a huge piece for us,” Kelly said. “So if we could craft that in scheduling, that would be very helpful to Notre Dame.”
Notre Dame is 7-1 under Kelly after bye weeks, with the lone loss at home to USC four years ago at night. Kelly is 18-2 overall after open dates.
While coaches scattered to recruit, most of the roster headed home, save Jerry Tillery’s quick visit to Ireland.
For Isaac Rochell, that meant hitting Zaxby’s and Waffle House in Georgia. Joe Schmidt surfed on the beach in California and ate fish tacos. James Onwualu visited his girlfriend at Indiana University, where she plays soccer.
“I know that when I’m away, I need to take time not taking ball,” Schmidt said. “Not thinking about drive routes and zone plays and what Temple’s quarterback is doing tonight.
“I need to figure out a way to get away from all that. For me, that’s laying on the beach, sitting on a park bench, looking at some water. I just have to train my body to turn off. For people who might be slightly obsessive like myself, it’s more difficult than you might think.”
Rochell, who said he watched Temple’s game at East Carolina last Thursday night during his break, said Monday’s extra practice was critical to resetting the program after the break. Even with a getaway that covered five days, it was enough to dull an edge Notre Dame had been sharpening the past three months.
“Because you really have a lot of rust whether you realize it or not and it really gave us a chance to knock off that rust,” Rochell said. “Personally, I felt the rust from the bye week. It felt really good to knock that off and come back Tuesday and get after it.”
Notre Dame did.
When it walks into Lincoln Financial Field tonight it should be a rejuvenated side prepared for a primetime test against Temple. From when the bye week fell to how Notre Dame used it, the Irish believe they maximized their week off and that it can help power the program toward the College Football Playoff.
“Our coaching staff has done a good job figuring out how best to treat the bye,” Schmidt said. “Especially with a veteran ream like ours, coach Kelly and the staff really understand how to approach that kind of week. Regardless it’s good, but when the fall break is on the same week, it’s perfect.”