After win over Michigan, Notre Dame wary of 'letdown'

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune


SOUTH BEND -- Coming off an emotional, high-energy victory over Michigan last Saturday, Brian Kelly did not use the word "letdown," but the Notre Dame football coach is making a heavy effort toward keeping his players focused ahead, and that would be Purdue, this week's opponent.

"You're always on guard the next week," Kelly said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

Showing tape of the previous two games in the series -- both victories but both games that were still in doubt in the fourth quarter -- should help Kelly's cause.

"(They) have been real tough on us," Kelly said of the Boilermakers, who enter Saturday night's Shamrock Series game at 1-1, their win coming over Western Michigan before a home loss last Saturday to the hands of Central Michigan.

Saturday's game (7:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC) will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and Kelly expects the Boilermakers to be revved up to not only be playing a rival, but also on a national stage. Still, he is putting the onus on his team.

"Now it's about what we do and how we respond," Kelly said.

Kelly touched on three Irish players who have battled injuries. Sophomore wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr., who has been sidelined since camp with a groin tear, will begin going through team drills and work on cutting this week, and it'll be a case of seeing how he responds.

Senior linebacker Jarrett Grace, out since last October with a broken leg, continues to make progress, but Kelly called it a stage of slow progress and said there is no timetable for a return.

And fifth-year senior safety Austin Collinsworth, out with a knee injury, will not play this week.

The Irish and Boilermakers have met 85 times with ND holding a 57-26-2 edge. After 69 straight years of playing each other, the two will take five years off before meeting Sept. 19, 2020. The teams have met once before in Indianapolis, with the 1984 Boilermakers knocking off the No. 8 Irish 23-21.

Purdue's 26 victories over ND are the third-most of any Irish opponent, behind USC (35) and Michigan State (28).

• Kelly said there is no update on the five players who are at the center of the academic fraud investigation.

Notre Dame’s Cody Riggs, center, celebrates an interception during the Notre Dame-Michigan game on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN