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No faking: Irish football to stick with game plan

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Both Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and Alabama mastermind Nick Saban have had an awful lot of time to prepare for Monday’s BCS national championship game in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Sometimes, with that much time to think and to conjure, a coach can outsmart himself and get too cute. But Saban said last week that the Crimson Tide is going to stick with what’s worked so well in recent years. And Kelly said pretty much the same thing on Wednesday.

“I watched the games yesterday,” Kelly said. “There [were] a million fake punts, everybody’s got a fake here and a fake there. You’ve got to make sure you do what you do. We’re going to do what we’ve done. Alabama knows it. And Alabama knows that we know what they’re going do. It’s going to come down to the execution.”

Underdog mentality

Receiver Robby Toma laughed when a local reporter asked if the Irish were unaccustomed to playing the role of the underdog. Alabama is currently a 10-point favorite, despite the Irish’s perfect record and No. 1 ranking.

“We’ve played a lot of games as underdogs this year,” Toma said. “A lot of people doubted us. Nothing’s going to change. We’re going to compete for four quarters. We’re not going to guarantee a win, but we’re just going to go out there and play.”

Kelly said the Irish are well aware of the expectations — or lack thereof.

“Certainly, they’ve read all of the papers and all of the pundits that have us as underdogs,” he said. “But they really don’t think that much about it. They just go to work and prepare the best they can.”

Big talk

Notre Dame lore is loaded with memorable pregame speeches. But Kelly said he hasn’t given his much thought yet.

“You know, I just go with the moment,” he said. “I don’t have anything planned. I’ve got to sense the team — are they anxious, are they excited, are they loose? I’ll test that when we get to the locker room and figure out what needs to happen from there.”

Daniels on track

Kelly said that the Irish suffered no physical setbacks this week, and that everybody who was supposed to make the trip was on the plane Wednesday. That includes receiver DaVaris Daniels, who hasn’t played since breaking his clavicle at Boston College on Nov. 10.

“He’ll play a role,” Kelly said. “And we hope it’s a significant role.”



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