WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - OCTOBER 12: Head coach Darrell Hazell of the Purdue Boilermakers looks on against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the game at Ross-Ade Stadium on October 12, 2013 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Nebraska won 44-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 184306943
Navy is ranked No. 10 nationally in rushing offense, averaging 292.1 yards per game. Notre Dame is 42nd in rushing defense, allowing 144.1 yards per contest.
Brian Kelly said Notre Dame played 60 players against Air Force. He said that is the most he’s had involved in a game since he’s been at Notre Dame.
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Updated: December 2, 2013 11:24AM
SOUTH BEND — November is right around the corner.
And for Brian Kelly that usually means more winning.
Notre Dame has a 10-1 record in November since Kelly arrived in 2010.
Stanford is the only team to beat the Irish, knocking off Notre Dame 28-14 in 2011.
Notre Dame has Navy, Pittsburgh, BYU and the Cardinal left on this year’s regular-season schedule.
The Irish will need another big November if it has any hopes of going to a BCS bowl this season.
Kelly said several factors come into play for a successful November.
“First of all, you’ve got to stay healthy. That has to do with being fortunate. But a lot of it also has to do with the way you train your group and making sure that it’s not a sprint but it’s a marathon and understanding how important November is and getting to November,” Kelly said during his weekly news conference Tuesday. “I think your guys have to be mentally and physically fresh as well. They have to feel as though when they come in in November that there’s an energy to them. They enjoy coming; that it’s not a chore.
“I think there’s a lot of things involved that there has to be great morale in the group and they want more. They want to come out and practice and prepare and win football games in November. So a lot of that has to work your way. You’ve got to be winning. I think you have to stay injury free and I think you have to have a comprehensive plan that prepares you for success in November that goes 365 days out of the year.”
Injuries have become a factor as of late. Outside linebacker Ishaq Williams will miss the Navy game because of a knee injury. Nose guard Louis Nix III did not play against Air Force because of knee tendinitis. He’s questionable for Saturday and another option team in Navy. Safety Elijah Shumate is dealing with a hamstring issue. Offensive lineman Chris Watt (knee) and defensive lineman Sheldon Day (ankle) are probable.
Kelly mixes things up to get through the grind of the season. That’s part of the reason why his teams have a 58-14 overall mark in November games.
“I think just the way you practice and making sure that you change some things up. And I don’t practice very long,” Kelly said. “We’ll go for about an hour and a half (Tuesday). Last week we took the pads off on Thursday. Haven’t done that in a long time. You just try to keep things moving in a sense that it’s quick. They know that there’s a start and there’s a finish. Pretty transparent with the schedule. You post it so they can see what’s going on. Today’s for us a Tuesday. They know what to expect in practice.
“I think it’s communication, transparency, they know what to expect when they come in, there’s not a lot of curveballs that we throw at them, and I think they just get into that routine that helps them really understand and shape the day. So they’re prepared when they get here.”
Kelly knows there’s a whole lot left to play for. It’s a message he’s shared with the team.
“We start the season just like every other program in talking about what our goals are. When we lost our second game (against Michigan), obviously the championship (game), getting back to it was obviously everybody’s goal. So we had to reshape our goals,” Kelly said. “And the conversation we had after the bye week was ‘all right we’ve got six games, what do you want to achieve?’ And our team wanted to win every game they played and have an opportunity to get back to a BCS game. So redefining (the goals).
“Then we broke them down into like we normally would, how we prepare, the will to prepare, to go out there and practice and understand how that’s going to dictate wins and losses. We’re down to two more games before bye week. So we can see how this is moving forward. I think breaking it down and showing them what’s in front of them and then highlighting obviously how important November is to get to those goals, it’s kind of where we’re at and it’s communicating where we need to go.”