College football: Irish look to enhance home field advantage
BY Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or email@example.com September 7, 2012 11:52PM
DUBLIN, IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Everett Goloson #5 of Notre Dame runs with the ball during to the Notre Dame vs Navy game at Aviva Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Barry Cronin/Getty Images)
Updated: November 23, 2012 5:27PM
OUTH BEND — Brian Kelly wants to make Notre Dame Stadium a place in which opponents feel a sense of awe, reverence and intimidation.
What he doesn’t want is for his own players to feel that way.
“I felt at times we ran into the stadium like we were running into the Basilica, or running into the Grotto,” Kelly said. “We’re running into the stadium — a football stadium. I want us to feel comfortable in there. We were only in there six or seven times last year.”
To combat that, Kelly said he’ll hold every Thursday workout this season inside the stadium, instead of on the nearby practice field, turf conditions be damned.
“I want some energy,” he said. “It almost seems like there’s too much reverence there. It’s Notre Dame Stadium, it’s a football game. We want some energy.”
As for striking a bit more fear into the hearts of opponents, like Purdue in Saturday’s home opener? That’s a longer-term project. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said last month he was tired of hearing opposing ADs rave about how much they enjoy playing at Notre Dame Stadium — where piping in a little Ozzy Osbourne on third down has been a hot-button issue, and where the yellow-jacketed ushers are famous for asking the home fans to sit down and be quiet.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Irish are a pedestrian 17-16 at home over the past five seasons.
In response to that, the university announced this week its “Take a StaND” initiative, which simply asks Irish fans to — gasp! — take a more active role from the bleachers. A bold course at a staid university.
Still, Kelly knows that his players can affect that atmosphere more than any cutesy public-relations campaign ever will.
“If we do a better job on third down and get people off the field and score touchdowns, I think the place will go crazy,” he said. “We just have to get it to go crazy.”
Key player: Redshirt freshman Everett Golson knows he’s going to feel some butterflies during his first home game as ND’s starting quarterback. “It’s going to be tremendous, it’s going to be real crazy,” Golson said. “Playing in Dublin, my nerves were a little low because we didn’t really know anyone in Dublin — or, at least, I didn’t. So playing in front of 81,000 fans that you actually know, the nerves are going ot be there. I’m just going to stay calm and stay the course.”
Purdue will win if: Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve can take advantage of ND’s young corners, Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell. Both were shaky at times against Navy, and Purdue is no Navy.
ND will win if: The Irish don’t get caught in a trap between the hyped trip to Dublin and upcoming games against Top 20 Michigan State and Michigan. “I wouldn’t say we’ll get caught flat-footed,” Jackson said. “We’re excited for every opportunity we get to be on the field.”
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Purdue 20
— Sports editor Mark Lazerus