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Kelly’s task even steeper
SOUTH BEND, IND. (AP) - The promise generated by Brian Kelly’s arrival at Notre Dame still exists. It’s just been watered down early on by a 1-3 start that has exposed the Fighting Irish’s weaknesses and put them in a hole they weren’t expecting.
Dating back to last season, Notre Dame has lost seven of eight and another setback would match the skid at the end of last season that led to the ouster of Charlie Weis.
It’s hardly panic time in South Bend especially with a softer schedule ahead _ save for games against Southern California and Utah _ Kelly has worked through rough patches before in previous successful stops at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan.
“It’s just the expectations are different,” Kelly said Tuesday.
“It’s the same process that we’re going through in terms of building our program and doing the thing that we need to do to win for a long, long period of time.”
The Irish’s running game managed 44 yards last week in a 37-14 loss to Stanford and quarterback Dayne Crist threw an interception that was returned for a TD. He did pass for 304 yards, but most of that was after the game was out of hand.
And during the three losses _ last-second heartbreakers to Michigan and Michigan State preceded the Stanford setback _ the Irish have yielded 532, 477 and 404 yards, respectively.
Kelly’s not expecting big changes in the BC offensive philosophy _ no matter the signal caller _ and emphasized he’s more concerned with how his team performs and how he gets the Irish ready than what the Eagles try Saturday night.
“Look, I coach and I teach,” he said. “That’s what I do.”
Having Crist take more of a ball carrier’s role this week _ he was dinged on a carry against Michigan in the second game of the season _ is one way of enhancing the running game.
“There has to be an element in the spread that the quarterback can keep the football at some time, and we’re moving in that direction,” Kelly said. “He’s got to have an element of that within our offensive structure.”
Crist has started four games and is still learning on the job.
He’s passed for 1,155 yards so far, with eight TD passes and three interceptions.
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