By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SOUTH BEND —
Game week has arrived for the Notre Dame football team. And for the Fighting Irish, this Saturday’s 2013 season opener against Temple will be the first time the team has taken the field since last January’s disappointing loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
“Getting back on the field for our football team after a loss is the best recipe for any football team. Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s been a long time since we played that last game, and a lot of work, a lot of preparation leading into this first game against Temple.”
Saturday’s game will be Kelly’s fourth opener as Irish head coach, and the results so far have been mixed — two wins and a loss.
But Kelly said his players now know what to expect from him — and what he expects of them.
And the most key expectation at the moment, Kelly said, is playing mistake-free football.
“I think we all know openers tend to have some mistakes in them,” Kelly said. “We need to play a clean opener against a team that obviously is coming into Notre Dame Stadium and has nothing to lose, and our players understand that going into it.”
Even with hot temperatures — upper 80s to low 90s with high humidity — expected on Saturday, Kelly said he doesn’t expect any more substitutions than normal.
But with the Irish’s depth the highest it’s been in Kelly’s four-year tenure, the Irish coach feels good about several positions especially.
“It’s a lot deeper than we’ve had at any time,” Kelly said. “I think that there’s five running backs that can help us play. We feel like there’s a number of players at the receiving position that can play for us.
So I think we’ve got a lot more depth than we’ve had at any time coming into the season at this point.
Kelly is one win shy of 200 for his coaching career. If the Irish beat temple on Saturday, Kelly would become the second youngest (51 years, 310 days) to reach that milestone among college coaches with at least five years of experience or 50 victories at a school classified as a major college ... Zack Martin and Nick Martin will become the first set of brothers at Notre Dame to start on the offensive line together since Dave and Tim Huffman did it in 1978 ... Saturday’s game will be the 232nd consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. ... The meeting with Temple will be the first between the two schools.