Notre Dame Closes In On Top-10 National Ranking

Notre Dame Closes In On Top-10 National Ranking
September 20, 2012 – 5:45 am by Eric Schmoldt
It was hard to tell exactly where Notre Dame stood in the college football ranks after two weeks. The Fighting Irish won in a rout against Navy in an interesting season-opener overseas, then came back and topped Purdue by just a field goal. But Brian Kelly’s team made a statement this past weekend, going on the road to beat a top-10 team in Michigan State, 20-3.
As a result, the Irish are now closing in on a top-10 spot of their own. They’re only one spot away in the AP rankings and could boost their resume against a nationally ranked Michigan team this week.

Brian Kelly joined 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis with Dan Dakich to discuss just how good his Notre Dame team is, the emphasis on getting better up front, why he says he doesn’t feel pressure, if there has been talk of lowering academic standards, Notre Dame’s move to join the ACC in most sports and at least align with it to play five games per year in football and Manti Te’o’s Heisman hopes.
How good do you think this team is?:
“We’re better than at any time than I’ve been here in that we’re physically stronger. We can control the line of scrimmage, which, as you know, one of the basic tenets of playing good football and consistent football is up front. I think we’re thin in some areas and we’re young, but I think you put all those together, it’s a mentally tough football team and that’s a good one to have.”
Did you make a concerted effort to get better up front and how big a test was it for that area of the team against Michigan State?:
“I have a great deal of respect for Mark Dantonio and the program he’s built there. … If you’re going to play that kind of schedule, and the one that we have requires us to be good up front. When we got here, the first charge was to really build a defense, and I think we’ve done that and we’re getting better there. And then, from an offensive standpoint, we’ve lagged a little bit, but we’ve got a freshman quarterback out there that’s only going to get better.”
How much pressure did you feel when you first got to Notre Dame and how much do you feel now?:
“I don’t think it’s the pressure as much as it can easily distract you from the job at hand. We got into this business to coach 18- to 20-year-olds and develop young men. Notre Dame, and the job itself, there’s so many moving pieces, and at times I felt like I got distracted from the real focus, and that’s being with your players and developing your players. … Pressure is what you put on yourself every day. I think it’s just making sure that you keep the priorities straight as to why you’re in this business.”
Has there been any discussion about lowering the academic standards at Notre Dame?:
“I have not had a specific conversation relative to test scores as much as, here are the kind of kids that we’re going to recruit to Notre Dame. … I don’t want to bring in guys that are not going to fit into the atmosphere or the community here at Notre Dame. Our admissions staff has allowed me to recruit nationally. I think it’s incumbent upon me to make sure I get the right fit.”
Were you involved in the discussion in terms of joining the ACC?:
“I don’t think there could be a better fit. They match us in terms of the academics of the university, like universities. It’s great for all of our other sports and it really gives us a better postseason opportunity as it relates to bowl games for our football team.”
On Manti Te’o’s Heisman hopes:
“I don’t think that you could have a better ambassador at Notre Dame. It’s really a unique set of circumstances that we’ve had two extraordinary student-athletes in Manti and Skylar Diggins in a very short period of time here that represent all the positive things in college athletics. I think if he keeps doing what he’s doing, we may have to talk about him maybe adding a few letters to his last name. Just an incredible young man and what he’s overcome has been terrific.”
Listen to Brian Kelly on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis here
Tags: Brian Kelly, College Football, Manti Te’o, Michigan State Spartans, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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