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Notre Dame Football: Leading the Irish Road Warriors to Athens

Kelly’s players won’t let the background noise intimidate them in Athens.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Louisville Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


Brian Kelly gave the Irish faithful an update Thursday in his weekly radio segment as the Irish prepare for a high-stakes battle in Athens against the University of Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play in a packed stadium, and to prepare for this, Irish coaching staff cranked up the noise in the Irish Athletic Center, before the team headed in, and without telling the players. Book adapted and got a nonverbal cadence going. Kelly explained letting the players “sort it out” themselves proved their communication skills and cohesion.

A Few Shout Outs

It may be early in the season, but Kelly knows improvement and impact when he sees it. For example, Ian Book expressed disappointment in his gameplay during the first two games of his season, and Kelly looks forward to seeing Book learn from his frustration and act on it against the Bulldogs. On our now stacheless QB, Kelly said, “ You’re gonna see the best of Ian Book in Athens.” Kelly also explained the return of tight end Cole Kmet will “add diversity” as the Irish regain offensive aggression. The Irish coach also dropped Jonathan Doerer’s name to highlight his 61 yard field goal in Thursday’s practice. Kelly also expressed pride in Doerer’s fortitude on and off the field. According to Kelly, the Irish kicker is the team’s most improved player so far.

Distinctly Irish Leadership

When it comes to helping his players grow as men, Kelly said it’s the “fine print in the Notre Dame job.” Kelly explained the role of mentorship in the Notre Dame head football coach’s job description particularly through the situation of Javon McKinley. Kelly clarified the university initially questioned the value of even committing to McKinley after his arrest, but said McKinley has proven himself both on and off the field, showing a renewed commitment. Those two touchdowns last week were also pretty cool! Kelly knows it might be easier to coach players who have it all together, but finds his role especially rewarding. Kelly said “I’d rather have the Javon McKinley story.”

Getting After It

In addition to the Irish attitude and mentality, Kelly took the time to address Irish improvement and the holes in the Bulldogs’ structure. Kelly attributed much of his team’s improvement to a more obstructive pass rush, and said “We’re getting at the ball before the route finishes.” He went on to say, “We’re not rushing on quick game; we’re getting our hands up.” According to Kelly, this structure is likely to outdo Georgia’s often unstable defense.

To tune in for next Thursday’s segment of the Brian Kelly Show, stream online with,, or with the Fighting Irish app. Fans in the South Bend area can catch the show on WBST 960 AM or 96.1 FM.

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