Quick Hits from Brian Kelly's Stanford Week press conference

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Saturday's game presents a clear fork in the road.

Win, and stay alive in the playoff hunt.

Lose, and settle for the less satisfying postseason alternatives.

Before CFP No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1) meets Stanford on Saturday, however, head coach Brian Kelly met the media on Tuesday. Here are the highlights from Kelly's weekly address.

• No surprise here, but Kelly said that if Notre Dame beats Stanford, he believes it should earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. He cited the team's strength of schedule and quality wins as strengths on Notre Dame's resume.

• Kelly acknowledged that he has spoken with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford Jr. about the rumors that Sanford may be a favorite for the now-vacant Syracuse head coach job, and that Sanford won't allow those whispers to affect his preparation. "His focus is on Notre Dame," Kelly said. "He wants to be at Notre Dame."

• Kelly says that if his team has a weakness, it's that, "If we feel like the game is in our hands, we let up a little bit. That's unfortunate, but it's a little bit of who we are."

• Senior cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who fractured his tibia in the win over Boston College and will miss six to eight weeks, was also dealing with shin splints leading up to that game, Kelly noted. In Russell's place, Devin Butler, Nick Watkins and Nick Coleman will all receive an opportunity to play against Stanford. "We think all of them can contribute," Kelly said.

• In a game of this magnitude, Kelly said, Notre Dame's great players need to play great for the Irish to topple Stanford. He singled out wide receiver Will Fuller, defensive tackle Sheldon Day and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. "If they do (play great), we will (win). If they don't, we won't," Kelly said. "It's that simple."

• Kelly commended his team's attitude and its ability to persevere. "I think what I like about them the most is that they're not a bunch of whiners," he said. Despite injuries and adversity, Notre Dame's 127th team has continued to move forward, and that was no different in the wake of Russell's injury.

When asked if he will ever coach in the NFL, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly (far right) just says no. (SBT Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ)