Notebook: Florida QB's suspension gets Notre Dame's attention

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — On a day of jaw-dropping headlines Monday in college football, the one that may have hit closest to home for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was Florida quarterback Will Grier’s suspension.

The NCAA imposed a year-long penalty, which carries into 2016, after the Gators' starter tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Florida coach Jim McElwain said Monday that the banned substance was found in an over-the-counter supplement that Grier took, and called it an honest mistake.

It’s a potential mistake, Kelly said Tuesday, that he and his staff have to be extremely vigilant about when it comes to his own players.

“We do informational memos regarding that fairly regularly,” Kelly said. “I couldn't tell you how many times a year, but it's multiple times a year.

“As well as (we) follow up with our strength staff and our athletic training staff, where we'll do a walk-through in the locker room to check through cubbies to make sure that everything has been checked and approved.

“But we're still dealing with a young population that sometimes sees the marketed product out there and wants to try it.”

Florida is appealing the suspension.

“We try to do a great job of educating, and I think we do,” Kelly said. “But we're also concerned every day about it.

“I've had to go through this early in my career — I lost a player because of it. They pick something up at the local pharmacy and thought it was OK. So I know we constantly talk to our players about it.”

Adjusting to a brighter spotlight

Kelly admitted Tuesday he has yet to watch even so much as a minute of the Showtime Series, “A Season With Notre Dame Football,” which aired its sixth episode on Tuesday night.

“My coaches and recruiting staff have had several conversations (with recruits),” he said, “and have felt that exposing the program and giving them the opportunity to see us has been a positive thing.”

But not without some challenges.

“First of all, I would say it's no longer an experiment, it's a way of life,” Kelly said. “Especially when you go to the bathroom and you have one of those (microphones) on, and you go, ‘I've got to take this off.’

“So I think it's now become more commonplace, and everybody's much more comfortable with cameras and microphones and things of that nature around.

“It was a difficult transition early on. And we have a great staff that's working on it every day and has done a great job communicating with the staff, as well as with Showtime, where we feel like we need some space. So I think there's just been really good dialogue and communication between the football staff and Showtime, and it's making it work on a day-to-day basis.”

Three’s still a charm?

Maybe it’s because the Notre Dame offense is averaging more than 500 total yards per game for the first time since 1970, but not a lot has been made recently of just how ND’s three-way offensive play-calling formula is working.

Or even if it still exists.

Kelly said in preseason that he, associate head coach/wide receivers Mike Denbrock and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford would all play a role in the game-day function of calling plays.

With a redshirt freshman quarterback in DeShone Kizer, ND finds itself at midseason with Kelly Era-high national rankings in rushing offense (13th), total offense (14th), scoring offense (19th) and pass-efficiency (15th).

“I think it's just something that is a very fluid situation that we're all involved in play-calling,” Kelly said when asked why he’s chosen to keep it vague. “We all have input in what's going on. It all comes through me at the end of the day, whether we win or lose. It's going to fall on my shoulders.

“So really, at this point, (there’s) no need to talk about an individual. It's a group effort. And I know that with Mike Denbrock and Mike Sanford, we've got a great situation. And we really don't need to change it right now.”

The price of success

Temple’s first 5-0 start since 1974 is holding up putting a fine point on kickoff time and TV for its Oct. 31 home matchup with Notre Dame.

Those final details might not be etched in permanently until six days before the game takes place at Lincoln Financial Field.

What became known Monday is that the game, at the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium (69,176), is now sold out. Combined with the sell-out of the season opener with Penn State, it marks the first time since 1976 the Owls have sold out two home games in the same season.

ehansen@ndinsider.com

574-235-6112

Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said he and his staff are constantly monitoring the Irish players, hoping to fend off a situation like Florida is experiencing with the suspension of its starting QB due to testing positive for a banned substance. (AP Photo/JEFF HAYNES)

WHEN: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)

WHERE: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend

TV: NBC

RADIO: WSBT-AM (960), WSBT-FM (96.1), WNSN-FM (101.5)

LINE: Notre Dame by 6 1/2