Brian Kelly Says Notre Dame Likes Familiarity of All-ACC Schedule


Due to scheduling agreement reached several years ago, Notre Dame plays a handful of ACC teams each season. The 2020 season, if it does indeed happen, will see the Fighting Irish playing an all ACC schedule. If all goes well, the Irish could even find themselves playing for the first conference title, and in the first conference championship game, in school history.

As it stands, the season opener is scheduled for less than a month from now, Sept 12, against Duke (ND leads the all-time series 3-2. Today brought the very first day of practice in pads, and with it, full contact drills. Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly met the media today, via Zoom, and discussed the no-contact rules college football had set up until this month.

“As you can imagine, the one thing you can’t work on is the thing we need to work on, and that’s tackling,” Brian Kelly said.

“We hadn’t tackled since December. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t go into that first tackling scrimmage and think we were going to be flawless in that. You can’t duplicate tackling if you don’t have that skill down and work on it, and we’re a group that’s used to tackling quite a bit.”

In looking at the schedule this year, and all the Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, Kelly says that familiarity with their 2020 opponents will work to their advantage.

“We have a great deal of respect for the opponents we’ve played in the ACC,” said Kelly. “They’re well coached.”

“There are different systems, both on offense and defense, you’re going to get a variety,” Brian Kelly continued.

“One thing that we do like, obviously, in this makeup, is we’ve got a better sense of the teams because we’ve played a lot of them before, and that doesn’t always happen to be the case because when you play as an independent, you get different teams, different offenses and defenses each year.”

“So there’s a bit of a familiar opponent that helps if you will, playing in this ACC structure, but across the board you’re getting a variety of offenses and defenses, but the standard here is well coached, fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball, and again really good athletes that are going to challenge you week to week.”

tarean folston

Notre Dame has played everyone on the 2020 schedule at least once since 2015. They have faced an overwhelming majority of the opponents at some point between 2017-2019.

One of those ACC teams on the schedule, North Carolina, comes to South Bend in November, but don’t be surprised if the Tar Heels don’t even play football this season. Just one week into having the students back on campus, UNC-Chapel Hill went fully online, due to several clusters of coronavirus outbreak.

Or as the UNC student paper put it, so colorfully:

With 130 positive cases since students returned, and now none on campus, their football season is now in dire straits.

As for Notre Dame’s COVID case numbers, they were doing an outstanding job containing the virus, up until this week. According to WSBT, the university “is up to 45 positive coronavirus cases since students returned earlier this month.” So again, when it comes to making the schedule this season, the virus is in charge, not the college football brass.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.


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