SOUTH BEND – When you’re the fourth-ranked team in the country, moral victories usually won’t cut it during a college football season.
But 2020 is different, with victories coming by just taking the field during the COVID-19 pandemic. You don’t have to tell that to Notre Dame, who had over 30 players affected by a team outbreak in September that postponed a game and left them with a three-week gap between games.
Now comes a great accomplishment for Brian Kelly before the Irish face Louisville at home Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. Coming into the contest, Notre Dame didn’t have a player in isolation, which is a much different situation than just a few weeks ago.
“You feel complete,” said Kelly of having no players in isolation for the first time in a month as the team hosts the Cardinals. “You have your team together.”
It certainly makes the coach’s job easier, since Kelly has had to make adjustments like he never has during the pandemic 2020 season. It’s not even about putting more players on the field on gameday, but rather the ability for the team to be able to prepare for contests in practice.
Lack of depth with the players in quarantine did limit what the coach could do to get the group ready. That wasn’t a problem this week.
“You have competition. You have practices that are a lot different because their structured in a way brings that competitiveness out during your preparation,” said Kelly. “That’s extremely positive in so many areas. It also helps in terms of making sure the workload is balanced out amongst everybody on the team.”