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Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly kicks off Michigan Week after the bye with good injury news and thoughts on the Wolverines

Ah, yes. One of the most wonderful weeks of Notre Dame’s calendar is here. It’s Michigan Week for football. Hashtag: Remember the Six.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame
Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish return from their second bye week of the campaign to a familiar face: Michigan.
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

It may not have the pageantry of Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn, Miami-Florida State (when both teams are actually competent) to many across the country, but for Michigan and Notre Dame fans alike, this is one of the biggest games on the schedule every season ... where they actually play each other.

After their second bye week of the 2019 season, on top of a fall break for students on campus, the Irish returned back to work for their upcoming encounter against the Wolverines in The Big House on Saturday night in Ann Arbor.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly took to the podium for his weekly press conference before kickoff and heaped praise onto Michigan, along with providing some positive news on the injury front for both the Irish offense and defense.

Here’s some of Kelly’s talking points from Monday’s presser, starting with Michigan’s much-criticized signal-caller: Shea Patterson.

Patterson’s numbers weren’t completely terrible last season in South Bend against the Irish, throwing 30 times and completing 20 of those attempts for 227 yards, but was constantly under pressure from the Irish front and threw an interception while battling muscle cramps in the 24-17 Notre Dame victory.

Kelly also pinpointed arguably the most important player outside of Patterson for the Michigan offense in wideout Ronnie Bell.

Clark Lea’s defense did a fantastic job taking USC star wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. out of the contest in their last game, but Bell’s a stud in his own right. Outside of SC’s wideout group, Notre Dame’s secondary will have their hands full against the Wolverines’ perimeter players at times on Saturday.

Speaking of that Notre Dame secondary ...

Hurray for good injury news!

The Irish have had some much-needed time to lick their wounds and get healthy once more, and accordingly to Kelly on Monday, they’ve done just that on both sides of the ball.

Shaun Crawford, who has a lengthy injury history during his time in South Bend, dislocated his elbow in the Virginia victory, but could make his return to action on Saturday.

You probably caught the Jafar Armstrong notes in there, didn’t you?

On top of good news for Crawford’s return, Armstrong, who injured his groin all the way back during the Louisville win, hasn’t been himself all season, but now might finally be 100 percent and ready to contribute to a Notre Dame backfield that had a strong performance on the ground before the bye against USC.

The former receiver-turned-running back can be deployed as a versatile weapon for the Irish attack, providing some nice assistance for Tony Jones Jr., who has been a consistent and steady workhorse for the Irish in Armstrong’s absence.

Redshirting note on an Irish DB:

Taking the crowd out of it

It’s no secret that Notre Dame had their issues in their lone defeat this season against then-No. 3 Georgia with offensive communication, resulting in some costly penalties in the contest.

Kelly said on Monday that those issues have been and will be taken care of this week.

An easy way to avoid not having to deal with crowd noise from over 111,000 people? Score and score a lot.

Can the Irish #RTDB against the Wolverines?

Former Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand would’ve been proud of the Irish’s efforts up front on the offensive line for their stout run-blocking against USC.

The Irish pounded the ball down the Trojans’ throats to close that win out, but can they replicate that success offensively against one of the nation’s toughest run defenses on Saturday night?

Michigan has only allowed teams to rush for 3.03 yards per carry this season (17th in the nation) and have allowed just 838 yards (31st in the nation) on the ground all season so far.

Simply put, it’s going to be tough to run the damn ball against Michigan.

Translation: Michigan is tough and physical up front, so some of this game is going to fall on Ian Book’s shoulders, and he’s going to have to make some plays in and outside of the pocket for our team to have some success.

Notre Dame hasn’t won in The Big House since 2005, when the then-No. 20 Irish upset No. 3 Michigan 17-10 in Charlie Weis’ (gasp!) first season at the helm.

So, it’s safe to say that they’re due, right?

If you want to watch Kelly’s presser in full, you can below here: