Notre Dame safety Eilar Hardy close to return

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

The biggest slice of news to come from Brian Kelly’s 15-minute briefing with the media Thursday came after the Notre Dame football coach had touched on topics ranging from this week’s matchup with second-ranked Florida State to feigned surprise that former Irish coach Lou Holtz had a teleconference this week.

Kelly said Thursday night that senior safety Eilar Hardy, the only of the five players at the center of the school’s academic fraud investigation whose fate had not yet been made public, could return to practice following the upcoming bye week.

“We have some work to do in terms of his academic work he’s working on right now in terms of trying to get that organized, but if we’re able to get some of those things organized, we’re going to bring him back to practice after we get back from the bye,” said Kelly, whose team is off the weekend of Oct. 25 before playing Navy the following week. “We have some things to work on — he’s working on right now, some of his classes, things of that nature — but I’ve invited him back on the roster to practice and then we’ll take it from there.”

Hardy has been out since Aug. 28. The other four – cornerback KeiVarae Russell, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore – had been sidelined since Aug. 15.

Russell, a junior, said late last week that he will not play this year but plans to return in 2015. Williams’ father, Shaun Williams, said his son would like to return next season for a fifth year. Moore, a fifth-year senior, said on an Instagram post that his ND career is over. Daniels, a senior with a fifth year available in 2015, posted on his Twitter account Tuesday the following:

“Not looking to transfer. ND was my team. ND is where my heart was. Unfortunately my time here is done, ready for my future,” he wrote.

Daniels’ father, Phillip, also said that his son was done at the school, but later posted that there is an option to return in 2015. Kelly said Thursday night that he has not spoken to DaVaris Daniels.

Kelly later was asked if Hardy is the only one of the five who has a chance to play this season.

“Eilar is the only one that I have talked to that would be back on the roster,” Kelly said.

A lot of noise

A week of preparing for Saturday night’s matchup between No. 2 Florida State and fifth-ranked Notre Dame in Tallahassee, Fla., included a fair amount of the Irish staff piping FSU’s “War Chant” through the sound system.

“We certainly don’t want to hear that War Chant anymore,” Kelly said. “We played it enough this week. Hopefully we’ll not hear it as much as we heard it this week.”

The fifth-year coach termed it a good week of preparation for his 6-0 team, the task now going south and playing well in a hostile environment against a team that also sits at 6-0.

“This is why they’ve come to Notre Dame, is to play these kinds of games that have relevance and are on the national stage,” Kelly said.

“It’s what college football and the pageantry and the excitement is about. It’s going to be like what other teams experience when they come into a night game here at Notre Dame Stadium.”

Saturday night’s game will kick off at 8:23 p.m. (Eastern) and will air on ABC.

Ball security

One of the keys for Notre Dame will be senior quarterback Everett Golson’s ability to protect the ball. Golson has tossed four interceptions over the last three games, and also has lost five fumbles in that stretch.

“He’s tired of answering the question about turnovers,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen him single-handedly take on that approach of, ‘I’m going to eradicate this.’”

Luatua’s status    

Freshman tight end Tyler Luatua is listed as day-to-day with a concussion. Luatua suffered the injury during practice and was not cleared for last Saturday’s game against North Carollina. Kelly said Luatua is still showing lingering signs of the concussion and has not been cleared for contact, although he has participated in practices.

Luatua last played in the Oct. 4 Stanford game.

Other than Luatua, the only injury is fifth-year senior safety Austin Collinsworth, who is out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury.

Blitz happy?

Notre Dame has blitzed frequently this season under first-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, but don’t expect the Irish to die by that tactic Saturday night.

“We know what we’re facing,” Kelly said. “Brian knows that we can’t walk in there and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna blitz them, we’ve got 87 different blitzes.’

“We’ll get crushed if that’s what we do.”

Laughing with Lou    

Posed a question concerning a topic former Irish coach and current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz discussed on a conference call Thursday, Kelly interjected.

“Lou has his own conference calls during the day?” Kelly joked. “I am not having any conference calls when I’m his age. I can guarantee you that right now. So you don’t have to worry.”

Squibs

With Saturday night’s game being played on natural grass at Doak Campbell Stadium, Kelly tried to have the Irish practicing as much as he could on grass this week. Bad weather Tuesday prohibited that, but Wednesday and Thursday practices were held outside. … Kelly said the Irish will hold a workout Saturday morning on the campus of Florida A&M.

Notre Dame safety Eilar Hardy is expected to return to practice after the bye week, Irish coach Brian Kelly said Thursday. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)