Gristle of Notre Dame schedule arrives with visit from Stanford

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- Well before the start of the Notre Dame football season, October was considered the month in which the fortunes of the Irish season could turn, with games against Stanford, North Carolina and Florida State.

October looms, beginning with Saturday's visit from the Cardinal. The 4-0 and ninth-ranked Irish entertain 3-1 and 14th-ranked Stanford Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium (3:30 p.m. Eastern, NBC).

"We're going to have to play really, really good football on Saturday," fifth-year ND coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "We're excited obviously about taking on that challenge."

One of the big challenges will be cracking Stanford's top-ranked defense. The Cardinal have posted two shutouts and allowed just 26 points this season. During his opening remarks, Kelly listed a number of top performers from the Stanford defense.

"I could go on and on," Kelly said. "I could probably list 10 or 15 guys on that defense."

One of the focuses this week will be the play of quarterback Everett Golson. The senior threw four touchdowns in last Saturday's 31-15 win over Syracuse, but also threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. Golson this week was named the Independent Offensive Player of the Week.

"He wasn't too fired up about that," Kelly said. "His body language would suggest that that award should have gone to somebody else."

In injury news, slot receiver Amir Carlisle, who suffered a knee injury in the Sept. 13 victory over Purdue and did not play against Syracuse, is listed as the starter on the depth chart released Tuesday. He also is listed as the top kick returner, duties that were handled last Saturday by running back Greg Bryant.

The offensive line, which was reshuffled prior to the Syracuse game, is listed the same in terms of starters as it was last week.

With hearings expected this week for the five players -- cornerback KeiVarae Russell, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, defensive end Ishaq Williams and safety Eilar Hardy -- who are not allowed to practice or play because of an academic fraud investigation, Kelly is not sure about many of the particulars in terms of how he or the players will be informed.

"I just don't have any of that information," Kelly said.

Kelly was later asked if an announcement could serve as a distraction to his players.

"They're all pretty excited about playing Stanford," Kelly said.

Kelly was asked if he had testified on the behalf of any of the players during their hearings, but said he did not want to get into specifics.

With the academic fraud hearings concluded, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly could be facing reintegration questions. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)