Privately, Kelly and his players might seethe when they see Oregon and K-State score 60 or 70 points in a game. Publicly, they won’t say anything about it. When No. 1 Alabama lost Saturday night, the Irish didn’t dwell on it, even though it meant they would automatically move up to No. 3 (at the very least) with a win over BC.
“Style points are style points,” junior cornerback Bennett Jackson said, alluding to teams that run up the score. “We’re not caught up in that stuff. We couldn’t come out tonight and just be happy that another team (Alabama) lost. If we were thinking about that other stuff, we could’ve easily gotten off-track and ended up losing.
“Coach Kelly does a heck of a job of keeping those things in perspective. He brings a lot of energy to this group, a lot of character. He doesn’t let anybody on our team get too overwhelmed or too excited. He keeps reminding us about the task at hand.”
All-American tight end Tyler Eifert couldn’t have imagined that Notre Dame would be in the discussion for a national championship four years ago when he was recruited out of Fort Wayne, Ind., but now he insists he’s not surprised that the Irish are 10-0. It’s been a different philosophy under Kelly, he said.
“He’s brought a great discipline to this program,” Eifert said. “Coach Kelly unified this team when he got here. Not that we were a separated locker room before, but an offensive unit and a defensive unit can be (perceived) differently. With Coach Kelly, we’re just a whole team and we all rely on each other. And being (undefeated) is something the players talk about. It’s one of our goals and this is where we expect to be.”