Notre Dame football: Kelly and Irish counting down to kickoff

Freshman Smith listed as starter at OLB

Bob Wieneke


With Notre Dame's season opener four days away, Irish football coach Brian Kelly emphasized a number of points his team needs to fulfill to be successful.

Play the game the right way. Attention to detail. Effort and enthusiasm. Get off to a great start.

"I think we all know that openers tend to have some mistakes in them," the fourth-year coach said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "We need to have a clean opener."

He'll see just how clean Saturday when his 14th-ranked team hosts Temple at Notre Dame Stadium.

The Irish are coming off a 12-1 season in which they vaulted to the No. 1 spot in the polls before losing to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.

"It's been a long time since we played that last game," Kelly said.

The Irish will be facing a Temple team that is under a new coach in Matt Rhule is a former New York Giants and Temple assistant.

"You know that this football team is going to be ready," Kelly said of the Owls.

Kelly faced a number of questions about the Pistol offense, which he plans to use at times this season. Kelly said that the team will still be primarily a shotgun offense.

"I think (the Pistol is) a piece that helps us complement the players we have," Kelly said.

In depth chart news, freshman Jaylon Smith is listed as the starter at outside linebacker over Ben Councell. They are battling for the job vacated when returning starter Danny Spond was forced to give up the game because of a medical condition.

"That's a guy that's going to play a lot of football for us," Kelly said of Smith.

Senior Austin Collinsworth is listed as the starter at safety. In the media viewing portions of practice, Elijah Shumate had worked with the No. 1 unit the majority of the time.

"I think that's a 1-A/1-B situation," Kelly said.

On offense, Ronnie Stanley is listed as the starter at right tackle with Christian Lombard starting at right guard. Lombard was the starter at right tackle last season. Steve Elmer is listed as the top backup at right tackle, and Kelly said either Stanley or Elmer could start.

"That's a very fluid situation," Kelly said.

Kelly said Tuesday that injured defensive lineman Tony Springmann, who is out for the season, had successful knee surgery. Running back Will Mahone will miss the Temple game because of an injury.

Saturday's game kicks off at 3:41 p.m. (Eastern) and will air on NBC.

Brian Kelly