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Brian Kelly says ND defense is ‘making progress’

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly watches replay as his team played Purdue during first half an NCAA college football game

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly watches a replay as his team played Purdue during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Updated: September 15, 2013 10:56PM



WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue had a great opportunity to pull even with Notre Dame with eight minutes remaining in Saturday’s game.

Irish running back Amir Carlisle had just fumbled, and following an unsportsmanlike penalty the Boilermakers took over at their own 44.

That’s when Notre Dame’s defense stiffened. Cornerback Bennett Jackson got credited for a sack on first down. Quarterback Rob Henry then threw two incomplete passes and the Irish forced Purdue to punt. The Boilermakers never had the ball again as Notre Dame survived for the 31-24 victory.

“We played much more physical,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said of the defense during a teleconference Sunday. “I was very pleased with that.”

The Irish limited Purdue to 38 rushing yards on 21 carries (1.8 yards per carry).

“Purdue, this offense, is built to run the football. That’s what they wanted to do,” Kelly said. “They weren’t able to do that.”

Notre Dame held Purdue to 294 total yards of offense.

“We’re still evolving. It takes time. Even if you’ve got guys that are veterans, we have some key positions that have some new players in it. They’re coming together,” Kelly said. “We’re playing great competition. We’re getting tested. We’re making progress. I like to make progress through winning.”

Kelly said the defense did a better job communicating.

“Some of the basic tenets that we’re looking for defensively are starting to come together,” Kelly said.

Notes: Quarterback Malik Zaire tweeted he was “cleared” as he recovers from mononucleosis, which prompted Kelly to respond during the teleconference: “Yeah, but he might be suspended for violating the rules relative to information.” … Linebacker Kendall Moore and safety Eilar Hardy will be back, Kelly said, after not traveling to Purdue because of a team rules violation.



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