Notre Dame football: Kelly, Irish eye season opener

Bob Wieneke


When Brian Kelly first met with the media at the start of fall camp, one of his early messages was how the team began to steer toward the 2013 season the day after the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game loss to Alabama.

On Thursday, during the school's media day at Notre Dame Stadium, Kelly reiterated that the time to move past the 12-0 regular season is, well, in the past.

"There hasn't been a lot of, 'This is what we did last year,'" Kelly said. "The focus has been on this year. That's what we went to work on after the championship loss."

What Kelly also sees is a different team personality-wise, particularly with the departure of star player and inspirational leader Manti Te'o.

"Sometimes we took on his personality as a team," Kelly said of Te'o.

In this group, the word consistency came to mind.

"They come to work every day with a consistency," Kelly said. "I know what I'm going to get from them."

Star defensive end Stephon Tuitt left the field during the media-viewing portion of Thursday's practice after colliding with Carlo Calabrese. Kelly termed it a twisted knee and said that doctors didn't see "anything major."

"We're not concerned at all," Kelly said.

Kelly also said that defensive end Tony Springmann will miss the season because of knee surgery.

Sophomore offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is in the mix to win a starting job, sat out Thursday's practice because of a concussion. Kelly said that Stanley is on track to return Monday.

The fourth-year coach said senior wide receiver TJ Jones will serve as the team's punt returner this season, and that junior running back George Atkinson will again return kicks.

Also on special teams, Kelly said that three players will share the chores in the Aug. 31 opener against Temple.

Kyle Brindza will get the first shot at punting, but Kelly also will use Alex Wulfeck in the punt game. Brindza also will kick off, but Kelly plans to use fifth-year senior Nick Tausch in the kicking game as well.

"We'll make a decision in Game 2," Kelly said.

Kelly announced Thursday that offensive tackle Zack Martin, cornerback Bennett Jackson and Jones will serve as captains this fall.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly fields a question during media day on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame opens the season against Temple on Aug. 31. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER